Photographs of Sturry church, Canterbury
A tour around the church building with some history.
The church of Sturry belonged to the monks of St. Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury, from 1027-1538. Much of the current building is Norman.
The original church was built in the standard Norman pattern of nave (the centre part of the church), chancel (the eastern part of the church with the altar) and west tower. The Norman nave had north and south doors and high-level windows, 3 each side, of which traces remain.
In about 1200AD, the side aisles were added, and holes knocked in the nave walls to make arches.
Head stops with faces
In the late 14th century (about 1380), the north aisle was widened and the Memorial Chapel made or enlarged. On the outside wall, the head stops show monks and others with comic faces. (first 2 images below).
In the late 15th century the south aisle was widened. The roof of this chapel was made of flat lead (probably donated by Thomas Childmell - buried in this chapel in 1496). The head stops on the windows have mostly been re-cut, and show people with hats and headdresses of that time. (Second two images above)
The timber-framed porch was built in the early sixteenth century. It has been re-roofed and given brick sides, but much of the original woodwork remains. Inside, there is a memorial stone to Robert Dadd who died in 1640.
The tower dates from the 12th century building of the church.
It is in three stages, at present finished with a battlemented parapet. In the 13th century a spire was erected (like the one at Fordwich). This was either taken down or blown down in 1812 and never re-erected.
The west door, and window above it are Victorian (1855). Both inside and out, you can see signs of the old Norman windows.
Outside, the figures at the side of the window are the King (Richard II) and the Abbot of St. Augustine's (William Weld).
Most of the chancel is from the Norman building. There are still two Norman windows left, one to the north (blocked by the sacristry or old vestry), and one on the south wall.
In the 13th century, an aumbry (small cupboard) was made in the north wall. (see photo on left)
A piscina (a niche with a shelf and drain for washing communion vessels) in the south wall. Seats for the clergy were also made along the south wall.(see photo on right)
The chancel roof
The chancel roof was built about 1300 or later; it is of paired rafters and collars with one single tall strut for extra support.
The Victorians made many changes to the inside of the chancel; a reredos (an ornamental screen on the wall behind the altar) was put up, and many of the walls were painted. The choir stalls and altar rails were added in 1869. A rood screen (to separate the chancel from the nave) was put up across the chancel, with organ pipes above it. This was removed again in 1950 when the present organ was installed. The reredos was removed in 1972.
The nave is part of the old Norman church. The roof of the nave was put up in the 15th century. In Victorian times a timber ceiling was put up so that only the crown posts and tie-beams are exposed - and it looks just like an upturned boat!
The furnishings have changed with time. In medieval times, there was little in the nave except for a few benches and a font.
In the 17th and 18th century there was also a large pulpit, a simple altar rail, reading desk, communion table and box pews (as in Fordwich church). The Royal Arms were painted on a board and hung up over the chancel arch. The Creed (the statement of what Christians believe), the Lord's Prayer and the 10 commandments were also painted on boards and hung up for all to see.
In 1996 the side aisle pews were removed, and a few years later the nave pews also, having suffered from the damp conditions, and replaced in 1998 by chairs. The floor was re-laid with tiles matching those in the aisles.
In 1997 the facilities of the church were considerably improved with the building of a kitchen and disabled toilet in the south west corner of the nave. This has enabled the building to be used on a more regular basis by a wide section of the community. In 2000, considerable work was done on redeveloping the space beneath the tower.
When the kitchen was built the font was moved; it used to be beside the westernmost pillar of the south aisle. A special niche was made in this pillar, called a chrismatory, and the candle used at baptism was put here. This is can be seen just inside the kitchen.
The Memorial Chapel
The Memorial Chapel contains the War Memorial tablet. This is unusual in that it also records the names of the many civilians who died, especially on November 22nd, 1941, when a land-mine destroyed much of Sturry High Street.
Each year, on Remembrance Sunday, prayers are said for those whose lives are affected by war. The uniformed organisations (Guides and Scouts) take part in a Family Parade service. Wreaths are also laid on the war memorial in the churchyard.
The Memorial Chapel also contains a Memorial book, listing the names of people who have died.
Over the Lady Chapel Altar, the stained glass window shows the buildings of Sturry (now Milner) Court, the Manor House, the Barn and the Tudor Gate. This is unusual; most stained glass windows show either a scene from the Bible or church history, or try and portray something about God.
The lectern holds a large print copy of the Bible. From here passages of the Bible are read during services.
The Bible is very important to Christians. The Old Testament (first part of the Bible) contains the history of the Jewish people, the psalms (songs) of David, and writings from many prophets - some of whom spoke about Jesus. The New Testament (second part of the Bible) contains the 4 gospel accounts of Jesus life, a history of the early church, and letters written by early Christian teachers to churches.
The pulpit is used for preaching. Having listened to some readings from the Bible, the preacher may use these to explain part of the Christian faith.
Today there is a microphone in the pulpit which connects to the sound system, including Loop. Before this, the added height helped the preacher project his voice to the back of the church.
Early photographs (before 1869) show a second substantial carved pulpit against the first pillar on the south side of the nave.
"I baptise you in the name of the Father, the son and the Holy Spirit"
This font was made in the 13th century. At a later time, a ledge (decorated with roses) was added to the top of the font.
The font is used for Baptism. At baptism, water from the font is poured onto the person's forehead as a sign of new life with Christ.
Our Lord Jesus Christ has told us that to enter the kingdom of heaven we must be born again of water and the Spirit, and has given us baptism as the sign and seal of this new birth.
Baptism marks the beginning of a journey with God which continues for the rest of our lives.
The South Aisle
Stained glass windows often show stories from the Bible; the scene on the right of this one is Mary (on a donkey) and Joseph.
The West Gallery
Early on in the history of Sturry church building there was a west gallery, and from 1790 this was occupied by a band of singers. In 1813 a bassoon was bought (for 5 guineas) to accompany the singing, fiddles and flutes. In 1816 an organ was installed in the gallery.
But in 1855 the west gallery was taken down.
In 2000, a new gallery was built to provide access to the upper tower room and the bell ringing chamber. Underneath the gallery are storage cupboards and the lower tower room.
Compared with some other churches of the same period, St Nicholas, Sturry is not rich in ornaments, brasses or unusual architectural features. But it stands simply for what it is, the House of God in Sturry. Here, for over 900 years, the life of the village has been offered to God. Here, generations of people have experienced God's help and guidance through prayer and sacrament, and have been strengthened for their life and witness in the world outside. For the Church is, of course, the people of God, rather than a mere building.
Today the building stands as a symbol of the reality of God's presence amidst a changing, confused and sometimes indifferent society.
If you would like to visit this church, then why not join us for worship on Sunday or enjoy a warm drink at Coffee Morning on Wednesdays.