John E. Vigars Kent Church Photographs
Image Source: John Salmon
The north west spire is quite a local landmark, although surprisingly not from the seaside resort which grew up six hundred years after the present building was finished. Like its other Thanet neighbours, St Johns served an inland farming community and lost its centre of population as a new Margate turned to face the sea in the eighteenth century. The exterior is slightly forbidding, with well-barred windows and only the dainty ridge tiles on the roof breaking the austerity of the semi-urban churchyard. However the interior is an absolute treasure-house making this one of the most appealing interiors in the county. The long aisled nave has wonderful Norman arcades of strength and beauty and because there is no different in floor level between nave and chancel the church seems enormous. The aisles are paved with many black marble ledger slabs whilst the walls are peppered with tablets and hatchments of eighteenth and nineteenth century date. The most remarkable tablet is the gargantuan inscription of 1767 next to the north door. Of a more standard design is the early seventeenth century Cleybrooke monument in the south chapel which, amazingly, still retains its original funeral helm. Twentieth century re-ordering has added - rather than taken from - the enjoyment of the interior bringing the church bang up to date and making it relevant to modern worship. The Victorian stained glass - of which there is much - is a very mixed bag indeed with two south aisle windows of the 1870s by the respected firm of Lavers, Barraud and Westlake and a chancel window by Ward and Hughes. It is just as well that the studio which provided the series depicting the Beatitudes in the north aisle did not sign their work. They really do mark the nadir of the ancient art!
1851 Census Details
Seating Capacity: 1250
Morning Attendance: 922
Afternoon Attendance: 788
Evening Attendance: No service
Original Build Date/Architect: Medieval
Restoration: Ewan Christian 1875
Second Restoration: -
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