Contact Details For All Saints Church: The Rectory, Warden Road, Eastchurch. ME12 4EJ

The Reverend Chris Shipley: Tel: 01795 880 205      Email: chrisshply@gmail.com

 

Below is a detailed account of the history of the Church by David T Hughes to whom we extend our thanks for the information which has made up this article.

Eastchurch – the church to the east of the mother church at Minster – is of Saxon origin and is mentioned in the Domesday Book as Eastcyrce. The original site and the hamlet of Eastcyrce was situated approximately 1/4 mile south of its present position.
In 1192, Richard the Lionheart was shipwrecked whilst on his way home from the crusades and was taken prisoner by Duke Leopold of Austria who handed him over to Henry VI of Germany. After protracted negotiations by his mother, the Dowager Queen Eleanor, the Cistercian Abbots of Boxley (including Elias, Abbot of the Dunes) and a ransom of one hundred thousand marks, he was released and landed in Sandwich in 1194. As a reward, Richard granted “to the Monastery of the Dunes, in perpetuity, the church called Eastchurch and papal confirmation of the grant was made by Pope Celestine III in 1196; in 1313 the Abbey of the Dunes transferred these rights to the monks of Boxley. In 1391 in the registers of Pope Boniface IX is the entry of a grant to William Kypping for “Provision of the perpetual vicarage of Estcherche value 30 marks.”
In 1415 Richard de Sheppey was inducted as Abbot of Boxley and by 1431, the church at Eastchurch was in such a state of ruin and the foundations so unsound, that a totally new church was proposed. William Cheyne of Shurland offered three roods of ground in the South West corner of his state and as King Henry VI was only ten years old, the required licence was granted by Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. The new church was designed by one of the monks, William de Boxle and the work supervised by Master-Mason William Chegre. The foundations were laid on deep solid blocks of chalk imported from the mainland and diagonal buttresses were put at every angle and corner for strength. Three porches were added, north south and west and much of the material used was salvaged from the old church and re-used. The windows in the west porch and the two windows in the western aisle seem to have originated from the original. The first Vicar of the new church was William Nudds who served until his resignation in 1436.
The Abbey of Boxley moved to gain control of the vicarage at Eastchurch in order to increase their limited income, Pope Sixtus IV permitted the appropriation in 1472 but the licence from the Archbishop of Canterbury was not received until 1512. The transfer was finally realised in 1515 when the Abbey of Boxley was inducted in to the rights of the rectory and advowson (in English law the right of patronage of a church or ecclesiastical benefice, a right exercised by nomination of a clergyman to such church or other benefice). There then followed a long period when the church had no Vicar, only a Curate selected from amongst the monks.
In 1536 Henry VIII dissolved the Abbey of Boxley and the vicarage of Eastchurch passed to the Crown and, in 1544 the King granted them to Sir Thomas Cheyne of Shurland. After the death of his father, Henry Cheyne began to dispose of all of the possessions on Sheppey including the parsonage to Roger Livesey of Tooting. The Liveseys substantially rebuilt the parsonage and the son Gabriel and his wife, Anne Sondes were buried in Eastchurch Church where their handsome tomb still stands. Their son Micheal was one of the notorious parliamentarians who signed the death warrant of Charles I and at the Restoration in 1660 he was attained for high treason, his estates being forfeit to the Crown. In 1660 a petition was sent to the King and Robert Wilkinson was presented as Vicar of Eastchurch in 1661.
In 1665 a boundary ditch was dug around the churchyard and between the churchyard and the small vicarage cottage in the south-western corner. In 1684 James Jeffreys became Vicar; he had been Chaplain to the Duke of York (who became James II) and was the brother of Judge Goerge Jeffreys who was notorious for his brutality in the “Bloody Assizes” which followed Monmouth’s rebellion the following year.

In 1192, Richard the Lionheart was shipwrecked whilst on his way home from the crusades and was taken prisoner by Duke Leopold of Austria who handed him over to Henry VI of Germany. After protracted negotiations by his mother, the Dowager Queen Eleanor, the Cistercian Abbots of Boxley (including Elias, Abbot of the Dunes) and a ransom of one hundred thousand marks, he was released and landed in Sandwich in 1194. As a reward, Richard granted “to the Monastery of the Dunes, in perpetuity, the church called Eastchurch and papal confirmation of the grant was made by Pope Celestine III in 1196; in 1313 the Abbey of the Dunes transferred these rights to the monks of Boxley. In 1391 in the registers of Pope Boniface IX is the entry of a grant to William Kypping for “Provision of the perpetual vicarage of Estcherche value 30 marks.”
In 1415 Richard de Sheppey was inducted as Abbot of Boxley and by 1431, the church at Eastchurch was in such a state of ruin and the foundations so unsound, that a totally new church was proposed. William Cheyne of Shurland offered three roods of ground in the South West corner of his state and as King Henry VI was only ten years old, the required licence was granted by Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. The new church was designed by one of the monks, William de Boxle and the work supervised by Master-Mason William Chegre. The foundations were laid on deep solid blocks of chalk imported from the mainland and diagonal buttresses were put at every angle and corner for strength. Three porches were added, north south and west and much of the material used was salvaged from the old church and re-used. The windows in the west porch and the two windows in the western aisle seem to have originated from the original. The first Vicar of the new church was William Nudds who served until his resignation in 1436.
The Abbey of Boxley moved to gain control of the vicarage at Eastchurch in order to increase their limited income, Pope Sixtus IV permitted the appropriation in 1472 but the licence from the Archbishop of Canterbury was not received until 1512. The transfer was finally realised in 1515 when the Abbey of Boxley was inducted in to the rights of the rectory and advowson (in English law the right of patronage of a church or ecclesiastical benefice, a right exercised by nomination of a clergyman to such church or other benefice). There then followed a long period when the church had no Vicar, only a Curate selected from amongst the monks.
In response to a Visitation questionnaire in 1716, the then Reverend Richard Foster stated that there were “62 houses of which about on third are cottages or little better, but among the inhabitants there are no protest Dissenters though several of the meaner sort do too frequently absent themselves from the Public Services.” In 1721 Foster gave a house, one acre and one rood of land in Leysdown for the instruction of the poor children in Eastchurch to read and write the catechism with the teacher to be chosen by the Minister and Churchwardens.
In 1798 The Kentish historian Edward Hasted noted that the scarcity of water in the area makes the inhabitants careful to preserve rain and there are a number of spouts leading from the leads of the church into large tubs round it in the churchyard underneath. These have lids to them and are secured with locks for the use of those who have gone to the expense of putting them up; they make a grotesque and unsightly appearance. In 1827 John Barton held the church office and in 1835 he had the vicarage cottage, adjoining blacksmiths and a cobblers shop demolished, building a large rectory on the grounds of the latter. The wooden palings around the churchyard were replaced in 1863 at the front and Eastern end by a stone wall with £40.00 being allowed from the church accounts.
In 1870, the churchyard was full and the church again in need of repair; a drainage ditch was filled in to allow more room for burials and the grotesque water butts removed. Work began on the chancel and a subscription fund was set up for a new stained glass east window. The bulk of the work was done in 1872, the cost of which was met by public subscription. In 1873, the rood screen was repaired, the chancel steps altered, repairs made to the chancel windows and the chandeliers were renovated. Overcrowding in the churchyard soon became a problem again and in 1878 representations were made to the home office. In 1881 it was agree to remove the two paths from the ends of the church and a new approach made from the High Street to the south porch door. In 1892 a new extension to the rear of the churchyard was consecrated.
In 1921 a lych-gate was installed at the entrance to the church and dedicated to the memory of those killed in the WWI. In 1922 the church was badly damaged by fire which broke out in the choir vestry behind the organ. Villagers and personnel from RAF Eastchurch rushed to help and removed everything portable from the church including the pulpit; they could not save the organ or the roof which was badly damaged.
In 1987 a new modern rectory was built around the corner from the church in Warden Road; the old rectory was sold and is now a residential home.
All Saints Church is in in the centre of the village and is passed daily by visitors and residents alike. Few take time to go in and see the building and features for themselves, not least the ancient alms box with its three locks, one each of the respective keys being held by the Vicar and two Churchwardens. The ornate tomb of the Liveseys, the impressive rood screen and the memorial window donated by the friends of Eastchurch aviation pioneers Rolls and Grace who were killed in flying accidents. Next time you are in the village, go in and see for yourselves the heritage of your village.