Author Topic: St Mary the Virgin .Upchurch  (Read 1999 times)

Offline MartinR

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Re: St Mary the Virgin .Upchurch
« Reply #43 on: November 17, 2020, 10:24:48 AM »
Thanks CAT.  I've downloaded it and will study it at my leisure.  I was particularly interested to see that there was a section covering what Dickinson calls "timber towers in the nave".  As a ringer I've noticed several of the smaller churches have adopted them to keep the weight (and swinging forces) of the bells off weak walls.  Where I first noticed this style was St. Mary's, Kemsing.  Anyhow, thanks and I'll stop straying off Upchurch.

Offline CAT

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Re: St Mary the Virgin .Upchurch
« Reply #42 on: November 17, 2020, 09:06:40 AM »
I found reference to the recent survey in the thesis of Alan Dickinson titled 'The Timber Towers and Spires of Romney Marsh and Hinterland'. A very interesting study that I'm sure will keep you interested for quite a while Martin R? See rmrt.org.uk/assets/timbertowers.pdf

Offline MartinR

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Re: St Mary the Virgin .Upchurch
« Reply #41 on: November 16, 2020, 04:46:13 PM »
Is that information available online?  The WP page doesn't reflect it.  Thanks.

Offline CAT

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Re: St Mary the Virgin .Upchurch
« Reply #40 on: November 16, 2020, 02:52:34 PM »
Lets not forget St Mary's Church, Willesborough, near Ashford, which shares similarities with Upchurch and Bexley, but definitely can't be use for navigation. 


Brookland, 'Clad' or 'reclad' in the fifteenth century? Recent survey of the Brookland belfry suggests that whilst some of the earlier timbers in the main tower show signs of weathering, this is not enough to show it was fully exposed to the weather for any long period of time, but instead periods of neglect to its other sheathing allowed weather ingress. This evidence implies the tower was always clad from the onset and that its current appearance occurred through a process of addition and adaption throughout the mid - late medieval periods and not as a single phase of alteration.   

Offline MartinR

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Re: St Mary the Virgin .Upchurch
« Reply #39 on: November 16, 2020, 02:40:45 PM »
Err, (Brookland was clad in C15, so would not have been visible prior to 1287).

Offline CAT

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Re: St Mary the Virgin .Upchurch
« Reply #38 on: November 16, 2020, 02:37:14 PM »
I quite agree Martin R regards the lack of use as a navigational point at Brookland, though worth considering the original route of the River Rother prior to the storm of c.1287, which would have seen Brookland closer to the river side than it is to the sea today. I could see the church tower/spire at Upchurch being utilised, but not constructed especially, though the other bipartite spire at Bexley is too far from the waters edge to be of any navigational use. 

Offline MartinR

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Re: St Mary the Virgin .Upchurch
« Reply #37 on: November 16, 2020, 12:23:49 PM »
Accepted that they are quite different, I was just drawing attention to the fact that Brookland could not be a navigation mark and does need to let the sound out which were the two theories put forward for Upchurch.  Given the chart information and position (it is not at the end of any reach or creek) I can't see the navigation idea.  Furthermore, it would often be in the distance against the sun (because it lies to the south of the river) which makes for difficult fine detail.  As a spire it is useful, but I personally don't buy the candle-snuffer design as a form of topmark.

Offline CAT

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Re: St Mary the Virgin .Upchurch
« Reply #36 on: November 16, 2020, 12:11:56 PM »
I had considered Brookland Bellfry Martin R, which in affect could be referred to as a triple 'candle snuffer', but dismissed this as not being quite the same as Upchurch, or Bexley church bipartite spires, both of which stand on stone towers and surmount the base of a traditional square pyramidical spire base. The Brookland belfry is a real oddity for Kent, and possibly unique in the county. Not to be confused with the timber west tower of High Halden church, though later in date is constructed similarly to that of Brookland with a central four-post square tower frame surrounded with an octagonal timber base. 

Offline MartinR

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Re: St Mary the Virgin .Upchurch
« Reply #35 on: November 16, 2020, 09:45:17 AM »
Have a look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Augustine%27s_Church,_Brookland which has a double candle-snuffer.  Originally it was an open framework, but was clad in C15.  Internally it is clear that the bells are carried on the original square frame mounted on massive ground beams whilst the cladding is carried on a lighter octagonal frame.  There's no chance of the original shape being a navigation mark, AIUI the break in the outline is purely to allow the sound of the bells to escape.  After all, enclosed quiet bells are a 21C phenomenon so as not to disturb the neighbours - historically the bells are meant to disturb them, and get them to the church on time.

Offline CAT

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Re: St Mary the Virgin .Upchurch
« Reply #34 on: November 16, 2020, 08:50:21 AM »
Interesting to know where in New Romney one of the other examples of this roof is. There is only one church in the town and it has no spire at all. I did wonder if it meant Old Romney, but that has a traditional 'Kentish' broach spire. I'll check the other Romney Marsh churches to see if any of those have this unusual spire type.

Offline grandarog

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Re: St Mary the Virgin .Upchurch
« Reply #33 on: November 16, 2020, 08:31:00 AM »
Sorry ,not clear info. Should have said in the square spire. The bell chamber floor is level with the top of the stone tower and the bell framework starts at that level,  rope wheels ,bells etc are all within.


Offline MartinR

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Re: St Mary the Virgin .Upchurch
« Reply #32 on: November 15, 2020, 09:50:16 PM »
A bit more on the navigational mark theory.  Imray chart 2100.5 just indicates a prominent spire in Upchurch, no bearings or leading lights.  Admiralty chart 1834 (folio 8.1) doesn't even show Upchurch, the area there is covered by a chartlet showing the southern end of Otterham Creek.

Offline MartinR

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Re: St Mary the Virgin .Upchurch
« Reply #31 on: November 15, 2020, 09:15:48 PM »
Thanks Grandarog.  Love's Guide isn't clear on this, it mentions the old bells as having been "recast", but then in the history it only says that the new bells were "cast".  Surprisingly the old inscriptions were not carried forwards.  Sorry to be picky, but if the bells are 2m above the clock face, did you mean that they are in the square tower or square spire?  I don't think I've ever rung there, so haven't had a chance to examine them.
Clocks as memorials were fairly common, the clock at Frindsbury looks very similar and that was also a memorial from around that time.

Offline grandarog

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Re: St Mary the Virgin .Upchurch
« Reply #30 on: November 15, 2020, 07:09:59 PM »
Thanks for that MartinR.
 In answer to your previous query .The bells are on steel cradles approx 2 Metres above the top of the Clock face in the square tower..There is nothing in the snuffer it just sits on top . The Clock was installed by public subscription after WW1 as a memorial to give thanks. The striking chime mechanism was added in 1925 when the Bells were rehung on a new metal system .The striking mechanism linkage goes up through the floor above the clock works to the bells above. There is a disconnect system operated by rope from the ground floor of the tower for when the bells are being rung. They are rung from the ground floor. Yes you are right about Rev Woodruff he was incumbent as Vicar of Upchurch from 1834 -1869.His Vault is directly in front of the Tower Door.The 5 G and 6 F Tenor Bells were recast in 1862 from the old bells at the behest of John and William who raised the cost of recasting. There have been a few problems with the security and safety of the bells over the years but they are all OK at the moment. Normally they are rung for practice on Wednesday evenings (Covid Exception) .
Photo below is of the Clock Mechanism.

Offline MartinR

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Re: St Mary the Virgin .Upchurch
« Reply #29 on: November 15, 2020, 05:27:45 PM »
A bit more information, particularly for Grandarog:
In 1862 two new bells were cast to augment the existing ring of 4 into the present ring of 6.  They were the numbers 5 and 6 (9-2-18 and 12-1-14 respectively) and may have been cast from the metal of earlier bells.  Both bells have the inscription "G. MEARS & CO. FOUNDERS LONDON 1862" around the crown (Mears were the then occupants of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry).  However on the body of the bells are the two lines:

REVd JOHN WOODRUFF VICAR
Wm SOLOMON CHURCH WARDEN

I would assume that the John Woodruff who was vicar in 1862 was Grandarog's grandfather, but how do the dates given of 1805-1860 tie up with the bells being cast in 1862?
See http://kent.lovesguide.com/tower.php?id=233