St Helen's Church, Cliffe  Church

Image Source: Old Postcard


An absolute knockout of a church. From the first glimpse of the exterior, with its zebra-like stripes of flint and stone, you know that here is a church of great interest. In plan it consists of an aisled nave, transepts, chancel and west tower - all built on a prodigious scale. Although the church was heavily restored on two occasions in the nineteenth century there is still a great deal of interest and a visit here should not be rushed. The pillars of the nave have distinctive 'V' paintings contemporary with their fourteenth-century construction. The pulpit is of 1636 and shows some excellent carved arcading. Attached to it is a contemporary hourglass stand. The north transept has wall paintings depicting the martyrdom of St Edmund, but these were over-touched-up by Professor Tristram in 1932. Further paintings exist in the south transept and probably show the martyrdom of St Margaret. The base of the rood screen is fifteenth century while the rather insubstantial traceried top is an early twentieth-century addition. There is an elaborate tie-beam high in the roof with little quatrefoil piercings in the spandrels, but this could not have supported the rood as the remains of the rood loft staircase may be seen in its usual position. Outside the north chancel wall can be found a piscina and holy water stoup - all that remains of a medieval chantry chapel or anchorite's cell which has been demolished. The blocked-up doorway that originally gave access to it may be seen both inside and out. On the inside south wall of the chancel is one of the finest sedilia in Kent which together with its double piscina dates from the early years of the fourteenth century.



Church Data


1851 Census Details


Seating Capacity: No return

Morning Attendance: 200

Afternoon Attendance: 200

Evening Attendance: No service


Architecture Details


Original Build Date/Architect: Medieval

Restoration: J.P. St Aubyn 1864

Second Restoration: Romaine-Walker


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Queries Relating to this Church


Whilst I am happy to answer any historical or architectural questions for all churches on this site, I cannot answer day-to-day queries relating to Family History, services, burials etc. Please see the Contact page, for details of other organisations that may be able to assist with those sort of enquiries.


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