St. Mary’ Church, Nonington, the 1938 guide and more.

Much of the following information is taken from a booklet published in 1938 by the then vicar, the Reverend Roger Bulstrode, who in turn used sources such as the Reverend Sidney Sargent’s ‘Brief Notes’ of 1912 and research undertaken by the Reverend Wilfred Powell, both earlier vicars of St. Mary’s.

On the history of St. Mary’s Church the booklet says:- “The parish church, dedicated to St. Mary the Virgin, has been the centre of faith and worship for more than 700 years. Nonington was originally a Chapelry of Wingham. On the foundation of Archbishop Peckham’s College at Wingham in 1282 it was made a separate parish, and served by a chaplain appointed and paid by the College. On the suppression of the College in 1547 all its property fell to the Crown. In 1558 Queen Mary granted patronage of the benefice, with that of the Chapel of Wymynswold, to Cardinal Pole, Archbishop of Canterbury. In 1596 Edward Boys, Esquire, of Fredville, bequeathed the small tithes to the Parson of Nonington and Wymynswold on condition that he should preach in Nonington at least once a fortnight. Wymynswold parish was later detached from Nonington in 1852”.

On the south wall of the nave of the church is a plaque with a list of incumbents of the parish researched
and compiled by the Reverend Wilfred Powell (1926-1937).

1282 John de Cnoville


1485 James Bowes

1507 John Rogers

1509 Roger Tolus

1514 John Cooke

1518 John Grene

1524 Thomas Piers

1526 Robert Nayle

1557 John Robinson

1557 David Robson

1567 John Melvyn

1580 John Domerichte

1595 William Brownsmith

1607 William Tye

Anthony Field (d.1626)

1611 James Hathway

1652 Samuel Wells

1695 William Lun

1705 Edward Lun

1765 Robert Greenall

1771 Bladen Downing

1818 Charles J. Burton

1821 Isaac Mossup

1835 Maurice H. Lloyd

1845 Thomas Harrison

1853 Matthew Enraght

1856 Algernon Coote

1871 Sholto Douglas

1873 Frederick S. C. Chalmers

1885 Frederick N. Carus Wilson

1889 John Piggot

1891 Sydney S. C. Sargent

1926 Wilfred Roberts Powell

1937 Roger Bulstrode

Additional notes on previous incumbents listed on the board.

1283 Galfridus de Nuningetun, ordained Deacon (Priest 1287). 1325 Theobald de Underdowne, Chaplain, grants 100 acres land and 40 acres pasture and 13s. rent in Goodnestone and Nonington to Thomas de Bonyngton. 1327-8 Stephen Esole, of Nonington, admitted to order of Acolytes. 1349 John Kemp, of Nonington, instituted priest to Sellindge. ** In the long gap of 200 years the names of certain clergy occur in connection with Nonington, but without evidence of their having charge of the Parish. They are- 1377 Richard Tonge ?. 1447 John de Stopindon held Ratling Canonry (died about 1447). William and Edward Lunn, father and son, were also Rectors of Denton. Robert Greenall was also Vicar of Waldershare ! 


A brass memorial to John Cooke is in the Chancel and a mural tablet to Anthony Field (north of Chancel) extols his merits in Latin and English, with many plays upon his name, such as:

“Loe here lies a Field whom once the Lord hath blessed With gifts of Nature learned arts and grace The fragrant sweet smell of this most fruitful Field A sweet remembrance of his name doth yield’.

 “Although he is here described as Gregis Christi Pastor, there is no conclusive evidence that Anthony Field was in fact vicar. James Hathway appears to have been re-appointed in 1626. Can he have been ejected, and his place taken pro tem by Anthony Field ?”

A Boys family marriage settlement of 1626 mentions a piece of land known as “Clerk’s Acre”, the annual revenue from which was given to the Parish Clerk as part of his wages as: ‘To Anthonies ffields occupied by Anthonie ffields clerk’therefore it appears that Anthonie ffields was in fact parish clerk and may have taken over as vicar temporarily. From the 15th to late 17th centuries the Boys family were the main land owners in Nonington and neighbouring parishes. St. Mary’s contains some Boys family monuments.



On the east wall of the Chancel is a monument of Bethersden marble containing two brass plates-an inscription , and above it a coat of arms
On the east wall of the Chancel is a monument of Bethersden marble containing two brass plates-an inscription , and above it a coat of arms

“On the east wall of the Chancel is a monument of Bethersden marble containing two brass plates-an inscription , and above it a coat of arms. The inscription is in eight lines of black letter and runs thus:- ‘Alys the daughter and heyre of William Simpson Esquyer. Vice Marchall of Calys and Catherine Genicot: wife to Francis Wilsford neere, 35 yeares; (by whom she had 6 sonnes, 4 daughter): depted constantly in the fayth of Jesus Christ about the yeare of her age 59, Junii 30 A.D. 1581, who now resting in the Lord hath receaved the end of her fayth, wich ys the saluation of her soule. 1. Peter. 1 Verce. 9’.
The brass armorial shield on Aly’s memorial has an interesting history which was described in an article by Mr. Ralph Griffin. F. S. A., in the Archaeologica Cantiana, Vol. XLVIII. 1936 (a copy of which was presented to the Vestry by Mr. H. W. Plumptre).

1581 Brass shield in Nonington Church. The arms of Wilsford impaling Simpson.
1581 Brass shield in Nonington Church. The arms of Wilsford impaling Simpson.

“The shield above is a fine example of artistic heraldry , and was recently found (circa 1937) to be ‘palimpsest’ i.e. an old brass that has been used a second time. When the back of the shield was examined it showed clearly to the expert eye that it formed part of a large Flemish brass of the sixteenth century, with foliage enclosing a plain centre such as one might expect to see on the margin of a large brass to carry the inscription. In the days when metal was expensive no doubt dealers often obtained and cut up old brasses in this way. Many of the missing brasses in our ancient Churches must have suffered a similar fate. But here is a point of special interest. Keen archaeologists have discovered two more pieces of the same Flemish Brass, showing identical foliage and lines. These are at Walkerne in Herts, and at Marsworth, Bucks. Both these brasses are dated 1583, a date so close to 1581 (the Nonington Shield), that we are well warranted in concluding that all three brasses are from the same London workshop that was using up a large Flemish brass, spoil from some monastic church in Flanders, plundered by the Puritans. A rubbing of the reverse is (in 1938)  in the vestry”.


The Reverend continues with detailed descriptions of other brasses in the Church.

BRASS TO JOHN COOKE. “Nonnington has only one other brass (except modern ones), a small strip on the chancel floor. The inscription runs as follows:- ‘Hic Jacet dominus Johannes Cooke quondam curat ecclesiae de Nonyngton qui obit septimo die Augusti mvc&xviii’. ‘Here lies master John Cooke, formerly curate of the church of Nonington, who died the seventh day of August 1518’. The date is expressed in an usual way, the ‘ampersand’ (the modern & ) before the X being easily read by the careless as an x. The correct reading is ‘1500 and 18’. John Cooke’s will was granted probate on October 31st, 1518. He bequeathed his best cloak to the rector of Chillenden, a book (Suma Angelica) to the Vicar of Wyngewold (Womenswold), and his bow to John Berry!”

Monuments and Memorials. “The earliest memorial in the Church is the Flat Stone in the nave to ‘ John Hamon and Mary and Margaret his wives, 1526’. From that date a large number of memorials are found, both on the floor and walls, including four Hatchments or funeral panels, to the Hammond family, the last being that of Douglas William Hammond, 2nd Lieutenant of the 2nd Battalion of ‘The Buffs,’ who fell in action near Hooge in Flanders on May 24th, 1915, aged 18 ½ years”.

The story of earlier memorial to a member of the Hammond family killed serving his country in the Crimea is recorded in “Memoir of Captain M. M. Hammond, Rifle Brigade”, by Egerton Douglas Hammond.
“In one of those deep ravines near Sebastopol, undisturbed now by other sound than bell of browsing sheep, is the burial ground of the Light Division. Thither very shortly the precious remains were borne to their last resting-place, with all a soldier’s honours. A white stone cross was placed over the grave; and at its foot a few summer flowers were planted. These simple lines record his early death and blessed end:—

‘Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.'”

In the country church of Nonington, the parish of his own home, a tablet has also been erected, bearing these words:


THE FLAT STONE IN THE NAVE. “The design on this stone has completely disappeared , and the surrounding inscription has also been so worn away by the feet of the faithful (and, I am told, the builder’s rubbish during the Restorations [in the later part of the 19th century]) that only a few words are legible. In the Topographer, Vol III., published in 1791, the following description is given:-

‘ Round the edge of a flat stone, having the figures of a man between his two wives traced on it this circumscription:”Orate pro aiabus Johis Hamon, Margarete et Margerie ejus uxoris qui qde Johes obiit IIII die Octobris Ano Dni MCCCCCXXVI(1526) quor’ aiabus ppicietur Deus. Amen”‘.


“In the vestry is a drawing of an exceedingly fine brass (15th century ?) ‘from a tombstone in Nonington Church’, but nothing is known about it and it does not now exist. There are two figures, a knight in armour, with sword and dagger on his belt, and spurs: and his wife in a striking head-dress. The knight’s head is uncovered-perhaps denoting that he died peaceably, not on the battlefield. The heads of seven girls and six boys are seen below”.
The pencilled notes in the lozenge on the write:”Found by Mrs. Egerton Hammond in safe at St. Alban’s Court and sent to Rev. S.G.H. Sargent”.

Mrs. Irma Hammond, wife of the late Captain Egerton Hammond, the last and mother of the above 2nd. Lt. D. W. Hammond, last legitimate male heir to St. Alban’s Court estate, gave, as a parting gift on leaving the parish after the sale of the St. Alban’s estate in 1938, electric light to the Church. Prior to the sale the Hammond family had for many years lived at Old Court House, until recently the Promise Centre on Pinner’s Hill, whilst renting out St. Alban’s Court mansion and parkland to tenants such as the Slazengers, of sporting goods fame, and the O’Briens, who bred German Shepherd dogs. Her grand-daughters, Peta and Judy Hammond-Davies presented the electric clock then in the Vestry. The wrought iron lamp standard then standing by the St. Mary’s church-yard entrance gate had been made by Mr. L. Milward at the Bishopsbourne forge, which is still in existence and producing wrought iron work.


“The earliest Plumptre memorial is one to Elizabeth, widow of Polydore Plumptre, Esquire, Barrister, and daughter of Kingsmill Eyre, Esquire, March 1812 The reredos of alabaster, carved and inlaid with mosaic, with the Commandments painted on tiles, was designed by Mr. (later Sir) T. G. Jackson, and was the gift of Mr. C. J. Plumptre in 1892”.


“The only remains of painted glass in Nonington Church is in a window in the north aisle, a figure with two children behind. There was once a coat of arms in the east window of the Fredville chancel (described in the Topographer of 1791) but this no longer exists”.   

“They are three in number, one of them being cracked and not used. They are inscribed as follows:- (1) c 1400 Ora pro Nobis Sancta Katerina. (2) 1683 James Hodgeson me fecit 1683. S Nash and Robert Payner c. wardens. (3) 1854 J Warner & Sons, Crescent Foundry, London, 1854″.

The Elizabethan Cup.

A sketch f the Elizabethan Cup
“Our cup, made in 1562 or 1563, is a very good specimen of the Elizabethan Communion cups of which 90 remain still in Kentish Churches. In other counties they were not adopted as early as in Kent-1562 is an early year. In many counties the old chalices were used until 1570, and Communion cups came in 1571-2 or later. The original of this sketch of the Nonington Church Cup in the Kent Archaeological Society’s Archives, but is unfortunately not dated and the artist is unknown, although it most likely dates from the 1930’s.
Communion cup
The cover is inscribed 1591, but is without date letters. The bowl is very deep in proportion to the height of the cup, with the reeded ornament usual on Elizabethan cups. It often occurs between the stem and the foot as well as between the stem and the bowl. Our Other cups and flagons are plated: one alms plate of pewter and one paten or plate of silver dated 1729. The first mark on the silver plate is hard to decipher, but may be a flower. It is probably the maker’s mark. The other marks are (2) a lion passant, (3) date letter for 1729-30, (4) leopard’s head crowned.” The cup is now kept at Canterbury Cathedral and is sometimes displayed in the Crypt.



“The earliest Parish register is a vellum bound book of fifty parchment pages held in Canterbury Cathedral Archives, along with a 1930’s transcription. The earliest entry is the burial of Rowland Pattisonne of September 21st 1538, the year Thomas Cromwell ordered every parson to enter every Sunday the births, deaths and marriages of the previous week in the presence of one or both Church Wardens. Unfortunately , these entries were made on paper and very few survived for long, so in 1598 Queen Elizabeth I ordered such records should in future be made on parchment and subsequently parchment copies were made of the existing registers. Nonington’s register therefore dates from 1598 but official records actually began in 1538, the entries between these dates is in the same hand-writing. The book bears the following inscription:- ‘ The Register of marriages, christenings and burialls in the parish of Nonington newly copied out Anno Dmi 1598 and in the 40th year of the Reigne of our Souvereigne Elizabeth by the grace of God Queene of England, France and Irland, Defender of the faith. Recorde Gulielmo Brownsmith Pastore et curato ibidem. Nascimur, Vivimus, Morimur. Nascimur et morimur quid enim fuit utile nasci’. The last entry in this first register is in 1728/29. There is a gap between 1650, the year after the ‘murder’ of Charles I, until July 16th. 1657. A note was made in the Register ‘ A new register to be kept in the parish of Nonington the Justices beinge to marry and the Regisser to aske the 29th of Septr. This to be put in execution in the yeare 1653. A simple and silly practice’.

One gruesome entry reads as follows:- ‘ 1607. June 22nd. JOHN HICKMORE a bachelor and a mason ript his owne bellie lyenge upon a bed at mother Goddins the Ale Wife by Nonnington Church which acte he did upon the Saturday about five of the Clock in the afternoon and he died on ye next day at noone.“ Qualis vita finis ita”  a sort of rhyming motto meaning “As in his life, so his end”- a sad reflection on the tradegy recorded’.

The next register covers the years 1727 to 1812 and has inscribed on the cover: ” Mr. Daniel Wood churchwarden. Mr. Vincent Payne overseer of the poor of the parish of Nunington in Kent for the year 1726″. This register is also in the Cathedral Archives along with Parish Vestry and other later Parish Council Records.



If you stand under the Chancel arch and look upwards, you will see the marks of nine mortice-holes, since filled in. And others, still open, are to be seen in the arch spanning the north isle. In the Middles Ages it was common practise to fill in the upper portion of the Chancel arch with a solid screen. This upper screen (or tympanum) would rest on the Rood screen or Rood loft, stretching across the Church, and might consist of wattle and laths, of canvas or boarding, attached to a timber frame-work hence the mortice-holes to secure the upper ends of the frame. The mark of a continuous groove is also visible in the Chancel arch. On the screen might be painted a Crucifixion, a ‘doom’ (The Judgement Day with the saved and lost on the two sides), or even the Royal Arms. Apart from their value in religious teaching by pictures or design, these ‘tympana’ sometimes served the very practical purpose of shutting out some of the dazzling light from an enlarged east window, and so displayed to better advantage the Great Rood or Cross at the east end of the nave. (‘English Church Screens”, by Aymer Vallance, devotes a chapter to the Tympanum and the Doom, and gives some illustrations of existing examples. Nonington is not mentioned). There is a Piscina on the south side of the sanctuary.”

(A ‘Piscina’ is a drain in a niche on the wall, usually surmounted by an arch and ornamented, if at all, in the same manner as doorways and arches of its period. It is usually on the south side of the chancel near the High alter).

“The tower is probably the oldest part of the Church (the hatching to be seen in the arch of the built-in doorway in the south wall of the knave may also be twelfth century). In the vestry may be seen two deep grooves cut by the bell ropes in the former south tower door, the ringer standing in the porch outside to ring the curfew or sanctus bell. The Porch was built as part of the restoration of the Church in 1887”.


A scratch dial was used by medieval parsons as a form of sundial to mark the times services of which there are about sixty in Kent. Many old country churches have one of these dials engraved on their south wall at about eye level. For the most part, all that remains to-day is a central hole with lines radiating from it, so we are not really sure what they originally looked like. It is possible that these lines were originally painted with the incised lines acting as permanent guides. Some dials have small holes in a circle or semi-circle round them which appear to have fulfilled the same purpose as the lines. St. Mary’s  Church,  Nonington, the 1938 guide and more.Although a primitive form of time keeper in the days before clocks, it had one advantage in that it automatically registered summer and winter time which would have been ideally suited to an agricultural community.

The Nonington dial is of the transitional type and dates from the 14th or 15th centuries, to mark the time it has twelve small holes in a semi-circle around a larger central hole. The dial is now built into the stone work of one of the chancel windows to the east side of the lancet window to the right of the porch. The hours of six, nine and noon are clearly indicated by dots or dotted crosses marking the hours of services or devotions of pre-Reformation Vicars of Nonington. There are several circles visible in the porch, these may have been Consecration Crosses. Erosion has unfortunately partially erased some of those features of the scratch dial that were clearly visible in 1938 when the photo on the right was taken, but much of it is still visible to-day.


Around 1900 St. Mary’s was featured on some inexpensive monochrome transfer printed porcelain, the monochrome printing was then are hand-coloured.


  • Brian Robertson

    My Great Grandfather William Shepherd widow of Sarah died i believe in 1934 , late of Gooseberry Hall is buried somewhere here, i hope to visit one day. If anyone should see or know of a Shepherd grave id be great full for information

  • Richard Browning

    Thanks..your work is fascinating in its detail and a great achievement..I just thought that the iron hut mentioned by Catherine Marsh must be the derelict one! Less glamorous to think it became a loo!

    I still can’t work out where the orphans were accommodated .!.but great toknow they were family of the cholera victims and ended up in our house..

    Mr Piggott appears on the Clergy of the Church of England database as being Nonington Curate in 1669. I hesitate to dare to question Rev Bulstrode.

    Thanks for all of this ..I have only searched the vicars who lived in the vicarage…an interesting group..regards Rick

  • admin

    The list I’ve got is from the Rev. Bulstrodes 1938 pamphlet. The metal hut was, I understand, the toilets for the old Snowdown Working Mens Club that was there before the newer one was built across the road.

  • Richard Browning

    John Piggot is not listed on the wooden board in the church as a vicar at this this a correction of that list..he is much much earlier.

    Also ( since we live in Hatchetts) I find the orphanage section very the metal hut they played in the one near the railway bridge at Snowdown colliery do you think
    Regards Rick

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