Church is open daily - 0900-1600
All are welcome to our services which offer opportunities of traditional and contemporary worship for young, old and families alike.
Ethelburga, daughter of King Ethelbert and Queen Bertha of Kent, married Edwin, King of Northumbria in 625. By her influence he was converted and baptised at the place where York Minster now stands. But he was killed in battle against “the heathen” in 633, and Queen Ethelburga fled for safety to Kent. Her brother, now King Eadbald, gave her a royal property in Lyminge. Queen Ethelburga founded here a double minster or convent for men and women, becoming the first Abbess.
When Ethelburga died in 647, she was regarded as a Saint and her remains were placed in the northern porticus of her church, which made the place a pilgrimage shrine.
The Abbey was overrun by the Danes about 840 but existed later in the ninth century without the nuns, who remained in Canterbury. About 965 the monks also went to Canterbury, and Lyminge became an ordinary parish.
The remains of the original Church, erected by Queen Ethelburga soon after she came here in 633, are to the east of the porch. A major archaeological excavation was carried out in 2019; details can be found here:
The eastern apse where the altar stood, and the beginnings of the rectangular nave (the north wall of which is continued under the present porch) can be seen clearly. In shape and materials this obviously Saxon Church resembles others in Kent, e.g. St Pancras at St Augustine’s College, Canterbury, and the Saxon remains at Reculver, all early 7th century.
An old Sundial or ‘Mass Dial’ will be found to the west of the Priest’s door into the Chancel, about 5 feet from the ground. Such dials were made between 1350 and 1500.
The Flying Buttress is thought to be of the time of Archbishop Peckham, about 1277. The diagonally placed buttress at the south-west corner of the nave was built before there was a tower at the west end.
The 15th century tower has the arms of Cardinal Morton - 1490, and Archbishop Warham - 1527, on either side of the west door. In the north wall of the north aisle part of a buttress of an older tower can be traced; this can also be seen inside.
The most ancient parts of the Church are the late Saxon Chancel and Nave. The north aisle and the tower are fifteenth century. Of the Saxon work, particularly noticeable are the round-headed windows, three of which are in the Chancel and one over the south door. These possibly date from the time of Dunstan - about 965, after the Danish conquest Many Roman tiles are used in the windows and elsewhere, presumably taken from buildings now destroyed. The present rough state of the walls is due to removal of the plaster in the nineteenth century ‘restoration’.
The reordering of the Chancel, by removal of the choir pews and pulpit and completing the tiling of the floor was finished in 2006. The opening of this area has enabled ease of access for the school children and space for Nativity plays, concerts etc.
The recess at the south-east corner (front right-hand side) of the Nave is by some considered to have housed the later shrine of St Ethelburga. The relics were removed to Canterbury by Archbishop Lanfranc in 1085. This now houses the Aumbry which was designed by Helen Burr and installed in 2006.
The East Window dates from about 1511 - the glass from about 1859. The arms of Cardinal Bourchier (d.1486) in the small window over the south door, and the bishop’s head in a south window of the Chancel are ancient. The alabaster Reredos, designed by the late Sir Ninian Comper, is a memorial erected by public subscription to Mr. John Howard of Sibton Park. The figures to the North are: The Holy Mother and Child, St Ethelburga; and to the south, St Paulinus (Ethelburga’s Chaplain and the first Archbishop of York) and St Dunstan.
The Tower contains a ring of eight bells. Of these the dates are 1631, 1727, 1759, 1785 (two), 1810 and 1904 (two - the gift of the then Rector, the Rev. R.D. Eves and his wife). The bells were tuned and re-hung in 2004.
The oak pews were made of oak locally grown, and worked by Lyminge men, c.1904.
The North Aisle may have been enlarged and converted from an earlier side chapel. The arcade of pillars between this aisle and the nave is fifteenth century.
A vestry was added to the north wall during the incumbency of Gerald Arthur Luckett, and was dedicated by the Bishop of Dover on 3rd October 1971.
The Church building, however, is not a museum but a living witness to the crucified and risen Christ.
The great history of this building and its continued life in passing ages and fashions serves as a reminder that the Christian truth is indestructible.
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Derek Smith 01303 862508 – Mike Chinneck 01303 863911
Disclosure & Barring Officer:
Kathryn Druery: please contact via the Churchwarden or Benefice Administrator Alison Dale 07985025381