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St Mary's church | by Umberto Luparelli
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St Mary's church


This church was built on what was originally a small sandy island west of the old Saxon town. it is said that it is built on the site of a convent, but this is not confirmed.

The Danes raided the town a number of times, and the Normans built banks, or wails, to prevent flooding here, and erected the first church of St. Mary, of which some building work still remains inside the west end.

The church has had an unusually stormy history. It was severely damaged by French attacks in 1217, and again in 1457. In 1578 an earthquake caused damage to the building which may have been the reason for the collapse of the central tower in 1667.

Early documents belonging to the church date from 1311, and the registers from 1474. These are now housed for safe keeping in the County Archives Office in Maidstone.

The church contains some interesting remains of early chantries, including the ruins of an altar in the Jesus Chapel. The chancel has an unusually high aumbry in the north wall, believed to have once contained a Latine Cross in which was a relic of St. Bride's heart incased in gilt.

There are also some quaint epitaphs on tombstones and memorials and several escutcheons, including one of Charles XI. The church possesses one of the four floreated crosses in Kent, dating from about 1333.

St. Mary's Church is still consecrated and occasional services are held there. It is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust and Sandwich St. Mary's Community Trust. To help provide revenue to keep the church in good condition, as The St. Mary's Art Centre, it can now be hired as a venue for community events.

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Taken on July 29, 2012