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Baptism Font - St Cosmus and St Damian - Blean, Kent
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member SMacB
N 51° 18.320 E 001° 03.188
31U E 364293 N 5685580
Quick Description: A plain octagonal font on a step in the S.W. corner of the nave of St Cosmus' and St Damian's church, Blean.
Location: South East England, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 9/10/2019 11:06:22 AM
Waymark Code: WM11980
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Dragontree
Views: 0

Long Description:
A plain octagonal font on a step in the S.W. corner of the nave of St Cosmus' and St Damian's church, Blean.

"The present flintstone church, roofed with Kent peg tiles, was rebuilt before 1233, by order of the Crown, and the "Calendar of Liberate Rolls" for 1233 shows Henry lll repaying the sum of £20.3s.8d to Walter de Kirkeham for carrying out this instruction.

From about 1200 onwards, the Eastbridge Hospital had acquired a growing interest in the area, the lordship of the manor being formally confirmed in 1359, and the Master of Eastbridge still remains the Patron of the parish. It would appear that the fortunes of the manor itself declined after this, and severe fire damage in the late 14th or early 15th century resulted in the site being abandoned.

It seems likely that the local population was then in decline in any case, possibly as a result of the ravages of the Black Death.
Depopulation was a continuing problem right up until the present time, since the local communities polarised towards either Blean or Tyler Hill, a process accelerated by the opening of the present main roads to Whitstable and Herne Bay respectively.

The rebuilt church of circa 1233 is characterised by the lancet windows of Early English Gothic style and has changed little, apart from the closing of two lancets in the west wall and their replacement during the 14th century by a window in the Perpendicular late Gothic style, plus a similar new window in the south wall of the nave.
This latter alteration coincided with the institution of the post of Vicar in the Blean (c.1375), and culminated in the building of the church's finest possession, its timber crown-post roof.

The church at this time was very colourful, with many of the windows being in stained glass (of which only a few fragments remain in one of the chancel lancet windows), a painted rood screen (the marks where it was fitted are still visible in the beams above the pulpit) and several wall paintings dedicated to St. Thomas, the Virgin Mary, and of course our "own" Saints Cosmus and Damian. With sets of candles in front of each, the impression would have been one of a highly coloured interior, typical of the medieval fashions.

Naturally, it all had to go in the religious upheavals following the Reformation, and whitewash became the order of the day - even the stone altar had to be broken up, its wooden replacement itself landing the then Vicar in serious trouble in 1551 as it was judged by the Archdeaconry Court as being "indistinguishable from the stone altar it had replaced!"

Hard times indeed - by the visitation of Archbishop Parker in 1573, it was reported that the church was "devoid of all glazing" - and we complain today of draughts! Apart from the walls and roof, the only major fittings remaining are the 15th Century stone font, the John Boys memorial of 1612 and the Communion Rails of 1697.

The Victorian rebuilding and extension was certainly enthusiastic, although unfortunately much of the original appearance of the church appears to have been obliterated in the process. The whole north wall disappeared to accommodate a sizeable extension, whilst the present single bell gable replaced the earlier wooden turret above the old building (the timbers from which are alleged to have been used in the stables of the then vicarage at Mulberry Down).

The old windows were replaced by new stained glass ones - including work by the well-known Victorian artist Henry Holiday.

In 2000, after considerable consultation within the parish, the opportunity was taken to re-order the church with the objective of making it more accessible for worship and community use. The restrictive pew layout and the poor acoustics were tackled. In particular the organ was moved to a more appropriate location at the west end of the church. The font was moved away from the main door to the eastern end of the (‘new’ Victorian) north aisle."

SOURCE - (visit link)
Approximate Age of Artefact: Not listed

Relevant Website: Not listed

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