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St Lawrence, Seal Chart, Kent

(PID:28809003921) Source
posted by alias Jelltex on Wednesday 10th of August 2016 04:31:00 AM

I rather got my churches in Seal mixed up, there is a much more ancient church in the main part of the village, but St Lawrence is a very fine Victorian church, situated at the edge of a large wood, and was found open. Despite coming here by accident, I have a soft spot for Victorian churches and glass, so this was one of those good mistakes! ------------------------------------------------ A romantic story and one of the most atmospheric Victorian churches in Kent. The story starts with the death of the six-year-old daughter of the local landowners whilst on holiday on the Isle of Wight. The daughter, Rachel was buried there at the Church of St Lawrence and here at Seal her parents started to build a church that resembled it. The architect was Howell and the builders Constable of Penshurst (both of whom were working on the patron's house to the north of the churchyard). The church - plain nave and chancel - opened in 1868. In 1876 two transepts were added in memory of another daughter of the patrons who had died aged 14 and the tower was a later addition of 1888. Today the interior is a period piece of late Victorian art. The east window designed by Henry Holliday is by Lavers and Barraud. In the south transept the faces in the glass represent the deceased daughter. Over the choir stalls are fine Venetian lamps, whilst the chandeliers in the nave were gifts from the patrons when the church was built. ----------------------------------------------- St Lawrence church is named after the parish of St Lawrence on the Isle of Wight - it was there that the 6-year old daughter of Mr and Mrs Wilkinson of Frankfield (the house you can see across the field to the north of our church) had died in 1866 while on holiday. In Mary Rachel's memory, the Wilkinsons built our St Lawrence's Church in 1867/8, and once completed, Mary Rachel's remains were exhumed and re-buried in our churchyard as the first entry in St Lawrence's Burials Register. (You can see a picture of Mary Rachel here as depicted in the top window in our chancel. File size is 1MB!) Indeed, the original building was modelled on Old St Lawrence Church, Isle of Wight (a tiny 12th Century church - see the pictures on the windowsill at the west end of the church.) 867Foundation stone laid on 8th October 1867 St Lawrence District was established (4 November, out of the chaplaincy of Seal, originally part of the large parish of Kemsing) by an Order of Her Majesty in Council, and the Revd B P Thompson, M A, was appointed Incumbent on the nomination of Horace Wilkinson, Esq. 1868Church built from Kentish Ragstone from the local Foxbury Quarry, and lined with soft yellow Speldhurst stone. The Pulpit is also of Speldhurst stone; The white roof of the porch is made of blocks of Otford chalk. Nave, chancel and open belfry. ( The architect was C H Howell of London) Church consecrated on 20 June 1868 - our annual Dedication Festival is held on a Sunday on or near this date.. 1876Two transepts added in memory of the Wilkinsons' third daughter, Annie Clare, who had died that year, aged 14 1877St Lawrence's established as a separate parish 2-manual pipe organ, built by A Gern of London, hand-pumped! 1888Nave lengthened, and addition of the tower and peal of 6 bells (Tenor 10 cwt) in memory of Sarah Wilkinson (sister to Horace and Conrad Wilkinson) The previous porch was removed and now forms the lychgate 1909Lectern provided (donated by Joseph Matthews) 1912Enlargement of vestry; Addition of dormer windows to the nave 1918/19Addition of dormer windows to the chancel, dedicated on 15 January 1919 (the anniversary of the day the commemorated son fell at the Somme) 1959Church Council discusses electrification of the church 1960Removal of the front transept pews (to widen the available space; one of the pews is now the one in the porch) 1960sElectricity arrives! 1967Complete rebuild (most recent rebuild) of organ, which was converted to electric pump 1988Radiant (infra-red) heating installed 1998Removal of two pews from the back of the nave (to create a more open meeting area) 2000Removal of one pew from the North transept to allow space for an electric piano 2002Toilet provided (with disabled facilities; it's actually located at the church end of the adjacent school building) 2005Church struck by lightning (select here for details of the fire, and of the restoration work) November: worship resumes in the nave 2006Fire damage completed, and chancel reordered (removal of inner pews) - celebrated at a re-opening service on 10th December 2009Plans for a second Garden of Remembrance (space for the burial of Ashes) in our churchyard On Bank Holiday Monday, 30th May 2005, at approx 12:15 pm, St Lawrence’s church was struck by lightning. The ensuing fire severely destroyed the roof of the chancel (East end of the church), and caused secondary (e.g. smoke) damage to the rest of the church Worship and other services continued! Repair work was undertaken; we were able to return to the cleaned nave by the end of November 2005, and the remaining repairs (including some re-ordering) were completed by late 2006 The church was (and still is) fully insured for the major direct costs We have lots of Thank You's to share Our celebration service to mark completion of the repairs took place on Sunday 10 December 2006 During a severe thunderstorm on 30th May 2005 (Bank Holiday Monday) lightning appears to have entered St Lawrence Church at the junction of the vestry roof and the lower edge of the chancel roof. (NB The church did/does have a lightning conductor on the tower, and we had just received a month earlier the certificate indicating it had passed all tests. Moral: Lightning conductors only reduce the chance of damage!) Two walkers who had been sheltering under the church lychgate from the thunderstorm saw the initial strike. Though without a phone themselves, they alerted a group of young people from local Sevenoaks Churches who (Praise the Lord!) had volunteered to spend their Bank Holiday Monday to prepare a children's garden area at the adjacent St Lawrence School. Like all young people, they had plenty of mobile phones to start making those necessary calls to the emergency services and contacts. (We had a month earlier updated the list in the church porch of our “Who’s Who” of church contacts – keeping an up-to-date noticeboard has always been one of our priorities of demonstrating we are a living church!) One fire engine was already attending another lightning strike (fortunately much less severe) at Lower Frankfield, so was on site within minutes. Eventually five appliances attended, with attention divided between getting irreplaceable items (altar frontals, etc) out of the church, and stripping off tiles from the roof to expose the burning timbers. Thanks to the fire crews’ great care in using the minimum amount of water, the resulting water damage has not been great. The chancel arch acted in effect as a fire break, and helped keep the fire to the chancel and vestry roofs. But there was considerable smoke damage throughout the church. On first inspection, there was no damage to the stained glass. A tin roof was been erected over the chancel, to help repair of its roof Safety screening was been placed around the damaged chancel and vestry area (with loose tiles and scaffolding etc it was a dangerous area!) A wooden screen was erected to completely separate chancel from nave. This was so that professional cleaning of the nave could take place independently (and sooner) than the longer-term repairs to the chancel and vestry. This screen was decorated by members of St Lawrence School and our own Sunday School 3 'roundels' by school and two by Sunday School) The organ was been completely dismantled, cleaned and rebuilt The electrical system in at least the chancel and vestry had to be replaced (inc. new heaters and lights). Again, we needed also to learn how much damage there may be to the electrics in the rest of the church Some of the church contents, for example linens and altar frontals, had some slight smoke or moisture damage; these were sent away to be professionally cleaned and/or restored. We began to consider some additional works which it would be prudent to undertake while workmen are on site. (e.g. since much of the electrical system needs replacing, what about better lighting, or improved heating?) We therefore expected and planned that in the end St Lawrence’s would emerge as an even better church! We were fully insured for all the obvious up-front costs (building repairs, cleaning, additional hiring costs of e.g. Village Hall, loss of fees or other income). NB We were obviously not covered for additional works which we felt we should take the opportunity of doing A letter of information was sent to all parish residents, to those on the Church Electoral Roll, and to others connected with the church

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