St George's Church - Church Street, Gravesend, Kent, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 26.646 E 000° 22.087
31U E 317104 N 5702498
Quick Description: This church is famous for being the burial place of Pocahontas an American Indian princess. She was buried in the chancel of the former church that was destroyed by fire.
Location: South East England, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 5/6/2013 2:51:42 AM
Waymark Code: WMH1B5
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
Views: 1

Long Description:

The church's website has a comprehensive history of which the following is an extract:

This historic building has been a place of prayer and worship for more than 250 years where people have come hear and uphold the Gospel of Christ. Many of the beautiful features mark the faithful lives and worship or parishioners and a catalogue of tastes performed by a pageant of people - some noteworthy, others not - hundreds seen, thousands unseen but all beloved of God.

The Chancel:
In the 1732 building, the chancel was a mere 10 feet deep. Its size and furnishings have undergone considerable change over the years but the "barley Stick" altar rails and the altar table are original. The table had a marble top and was intended to be undaped. It may have been reduced in width in 1892, the year the chancel was extended by 8 feet.

This extension gave rise to several major changes. The choir was moved from the west gallery to the east end and a new pulpit was placed in the chancel at the south side. The altar was set up on three steps, a cross and candlesticks replacing the almsdish, though the candles were not used till 1926. A shelf was provided for the flowers vases and a very fine reredos by Clayton and Bell was added. The altar rails were moved nearer to the high altar and the woodwork framing "The Ten Commandments" was transferred from the old chancel. The outer panels of this fine work were added in 1937 as a memorial to canon Gedge, the blind Rector, who presided at St. George's from 1899 to 1925.

Worthy of note are the small paintings attached to the altar rails. These were painted by Mrs Fletcher of Bycliffe in 1893 and copied from those painted by Fra Angelico at Florence. They are the last examples of the extensive Victorian paintings which once adorned the church; these were largely the work of Revd. J. H. Haslam, Rector from 1892 to 1899,who painted the ceiling of apse with "more than fifty angels taken from Benosso Gozzili's beautiful fresco in Florence".

During a more recent restoration (1968) the altar was moved forward,the rails restored to their former postion and the reredos dismantled.

The First People and the Name:
Gravesend owes its significance to its unique position on the River Thames, being the first secure landing place on the kent side. For centuries, the river carried out the bulk of traffic and, until the late eighteen hundreds, the journey to and from London would be safer and quicker by river (with the right tide) than by road.

When the Romans came to Kent, they needed a main supply route from the coast and built the road that became famous as Watling Street. It was guarded with numerous camps such as the one at Springhead, two miles south-west of Gravesend, where evidence of three Roman temples has been found. The first Christian to arrive here were probably missionaries making their way westward from Rochester after Justus became its first Bishop in AD 604. Those that stayed formed a settlment in the vincinity of Old Road, possibly to avoid raiders coming up the river. In 1838, a hoard of saxon coins dating to AD 878 was found near the inn, "The Pelham Arms". Twenty years after the Norman Conquest, the Domesday Book records that there were churches at Milton and "Gravesham". The name may be derived from the saxon "gereve" (cf old Scots "grieve"), which later became "reeve", a word meaning magistrate or sheriff; the word "ham" meant homestead. Other derivations persist, of course.

A prominent on is based on the Old English word "graef" (a cave, trench or grave) and "Graefs-end" may signify the end of the ditch or trench; for such a ditch, running down the centre of the High Street, marked the dividing line for hundreds of the years between the original parishes of Gravesend and Milton."

The church is Grade II* listed and the entry at the English Heritage website tell us:

"The church of St George, Gravesend is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * Parish church of 1731-2 by George Sloane and built under the 50 New Churches Act. * Chancel extended and N aisle added in the very late C19. * Early C18 communion rails, W gallery of 1764 and C18 George England organ. * Association with the American Indian princess, Pocahontas, who was buried in the previous church.

1731-2 by Charles Sloane, chancel rebuilt and extended eastwards in 1892, N aisle added in 1895-9 to designs by William and Charles Basset-Smith.

MATERIALS: Yellow stock brick with stone dressings, mostly Bath stone with some Portland stone repairs, Stonewold concrete tile roofs.

PLAN: Nave with W gallery and W tower largely set within the W end of the nave, N aisle, apsidal chancel with NE vestry.

EXTERIOR: Entirely Classical with relatively simple detailing. Tall, four stage W tower, only slightly projecting from the W end of the nave, with rusticated quoins and platbands. Gibbs surround to the W doorway. Tower windows with a mixture of tall, round-headed windows and occuli. Slender spire with a ball finial and weathervane. W end of the nave blind on the S, one window on the N. The C19 apse has a plain brick parapet above a platband and cornice, and a Venetian E window, reused from the original C18 apse. Windows in the E wall of the nave on either side of the nave added in 1914. The nave (S side) has a rendered parapet above a moulded stone cornice and two tiers of windows, the lower tier with shallow segmental heads, the upper tier taller, round-headed and linked by a platband. The C19 N aisle has 2-light round-headed windows with a transom, uncusped lights and a roundel in the head. The westernmost window is single light. The original N doorway has been re-sited in the W end of the aisle with a rusticated surround, keyblock, cornice and two-leaf door with fielded panels. Flat roofed C19 vestry in the NE corner with a plain brick parapet and stone surrounds to the windows and doors.

INTERIOR: The interior is plastered and painted except for the dressings and columns of the N aisle. The nave has a flat ceiling with a decorative plaster oval and 3 ventilators, and a deep, plain coved cornice with a platband decorated with small rosettes is supported on corbelled pilasters; these have been reduced in length above the N arcade. The chancel opens through a segmental arch on impost blocks decorated with rosettes. The apse has a plaster rib vault, and is lined with two tiers of panelling, the upper tier with reeded pilasters, a triglyph frieze and reeded shafts flanking the central light of the Venetian E window. W gallery of 1764 on slender timber posts and breaks forward in the centre. The gallery front has fielded panelling and a key frieze below the cornice. Good stair with turned balusters and a dado of fielded panelling. In the SW corner is an upper gallery with a plain front recessed into the space next to the tower.

Four bay N arcade of 1897 in a Beaux Arts version of an early C18 style, with segmental arches panelled on the soffit on polished, red Aberdeen granite columns with Tuscan capitals and bases.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: C18 communion rails with chunky barleysugar balusters; they have panels with Italianate painting of 1893, a remnant of a large-scale late C19 decorative scheme in the chancel that has otherwise largely been painted out. In the W gallery, a 1764 George England organ (not working) with good carved decoration to the case. Drum pulpit of 1907 with reeded pilasters with holly and ebony inlay, and curly brackets to the octagonal stem. Plain polygonal font of 1872 in a Perpendicular style.

E window glass of 1866 in a pictorial style with very little leading. S nave windows by Clayton and Bell; Heaton, Butler and Bayne, and Moore and Son. The nave NE and SE windows of 1914, and given by the Society of Colonial Dames of America in memory of Princess Pocahontas.

HISTORY There was a church (St Mary's) at Gravesend in the Anglo-Saxon period, but it was on a different site. The first church on the present site was built in the late C15 and became the parish church in 1544. This building, which probably comprised a nave, chancel and N aisle, and possibly a steeple or tower, stood some way to the W of the present church. The American Indian princess, Pocahontas, died in Gravesend in 1614 and is said to have been buried in the old church. That church burned down in 1727 in a great fire that destroyed most of Gravesend. The present church was built in 1731-2 to designs by Charles Sloane and funded out of the dues on coal coming into London as part of the 1711 Fifty New Churches Act. The chancel was extended E, retaining the apsidal plan and original E window, in 1892 and in 1895-9 the N aisle was added to designs by the firm of Basset-Smith."

The church's website lists the times of services:

Services Times:




 Week 1

 Family Service 

Holy Communion 

 Week 2

 Holy Communion

Informal service 

 Week 3

 Morning Worship

Holy Communion with healing 

 Week 4

 Holy Communion

Evening Worship 

 Week 5 

 Holy Communion 

Evening Worship 

Holy Communion at 10.00am

Prayer meetings in church:
Sundays 9.30am and Wednesdays at 9.15am

Wikipedia Url: [Web Link]

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