Brief History of Eastry Church

979 Saxon Church
Ethelred, King of England, made over the Palace and Manor in Eastry to Archbishop Dunstan and Priory of Christ Church Canterbury.

End 11th Century. A new church was built by the Normans
Surviving details:
West entrance and Tower (on 3 arches - rare).
Narrow windows N & S of Tower.
East wall of nave (rounded roof with tie beam resting on ledge).

1164 Nov.2nd
Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, stayed at Eastry for a week on his way into 6 year exile in France.

Early 13th Century.
N & S walls of the nave rebuilt (Early English) including clerestory (5 lancet windows). These did not become popular until the 14th Century.
Possible date for raising height of roof and cutting back tie beam, plastered and painted in fresco with medallions.

Henry of Eastry elected as Prior of Christ Church Canterbury. He was Prior for 46 years until his death in 1331. In c.1327 an Octagonal pillar replaced faulty original on S side of nave (Decorated Period). Includes rare carved Dominical Circle on S-W face, this is a perpetual calendar for the Sunday or Dominical letter of the year.

Rood screen and Loft noted to be in a poor condition at date of Archbishop Wareham’s visit.

18th Century.
Biblical texts painted on spandrels (2 visible on N wall of nave - overpainted) and above Chancel arch in the Nave (obliterated).
1869 Restoration of East wall of the Nave:
Workmen remove old wood and canvasses painted with the Ten Commandments from above the Chancel arch. They remove thick layers of limewash, one containing stars on a blue ground, to discover 14 medallions (rows D and E). Roof restored to full (13th Century) height, large areas replastered including the ledge (repaired with bricks, tiles and hair plaster). Lower row of medallions covered up again.
See Figures 2, 3

Two upper rows (A & B) disclosed, also row E? Traces also found on E & N walls of the Chancel. Medallions may have been the background of the Rood, the Rood beam being placed on brackets (corbels) the stumps of which were found at this date. In that case the Rood would not rest upon the Screen.

Prof. E. W.Tristram visits Eastry, possibly waxing the two lower rows

Feb 1958
Monica Bardswell, Tristrams assistant, visits Eastry and makes a report on the condition of the Medallion decoration.

June 1987
Conservation by C.C.W.W. begins.


This page was created by Michael Kinns with the help of Mr.Jack Bones, using information contained in the report on the Restoration of the Wall Paintings in St.Mary's Church Eastry, dated July 1987.

Related page: Medallions in Eastry Church