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St John's Church

The Bells details and manufacturing foundary
Treble 5-0-11 - C# - 30.00"
John Wilner of Borden
in 1633
2nd 5-2-3 - B - 32.00"
Thomas Mears of Whitechapel
in 1834
3rd 6-1-0 - A# - 33.50"
Samuel Knight of Holborn
in 1730
4th 8-1-16 - G# - 36.50"
Samuel Knight of Holborn
in 1730
Tenor 11-3-3 - F# - 41.00"
Mears and Stainbank of London
in 1947

Short YouTube video of bell ringing on 15th July 2011

St John's Church Monuments

St John's Churchyard Monuments

Many churches in Kent are well known for their yew trees but St. John the Baptist at Barham is noteworthy for its magnificent beech trees.  

The Church guide suggests that there has been a Church here since the 9th Century but the present structure was probably started in the 12th Century although Syms, in his book about Kent Country Churches, states that there is a hint of possible Norman construction at the base of the present tower. The bulk of the Church covers the Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular periods of building. Many of the huge roof beams, ties and posts are original 14th Century as are the three arches leading into the aisle..

In the Northwest corner is a small 13th Century window containing modern glass depicting St. George slaying the dragon and dedicated to the 23rd Signal Company. The Church also contains a White Ensign which was presented to it by Viscount Broome, a local resident. The Ensign was from 'H.M.S. Raglan' which was also commanded by Viscount Broome. The ship was sunk in January, 1918 by the German light cruiser 'Breslau'.

The walls contain various mural tablets.   Hanging high on the west wall is a helmet said to have belonged to Sir Basil Dixwell of Broome Park.   The helmet probably never saw action but was carried at his funeral.

The floor in the north transept is uneven because some years ago three brasses were found there.   According to popular medieval custom engraved metal cut-outs were sunk into indented stone slabs and secured with rivets and pitch.   In order to save them from further damage the brasses were lifted and placed on the walls.   The oldest dates from about 1370 is of a civilian but very mutilated.   The other two are in good condition and dated about 1460.   One is of a woman wearing the dress of a widow which was similar to a nun.   The other is of a bare headed man in plate armour.   These are believed to be of John Digges and his wife Joan.

At the west end of the church is a list of Rectors and Priests-in-Charge - the first being Otho Caputh in 1280.   Notice should be made of Richard Hooker (1594), the author of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity.   The tiles incorporated into the wall were originally in place in the Chancel about 1375.   They were left by John Digges whose Will instructed that he was to be buried in the Chancel and "my executors are to buy Flanders tiles to pave the said Chancel".

The 14th century font is large enough to submerse a baby - as would have been the custom of the time.   The bowl is octagonal representing the first day of the new week, the day of Christ's resurrection.   The cover is Jacobean.

The Millennium Window in the South Transept was designed and constructed by Alexandra Le Rossignol and was dedicated in July 2001.  The cost of the project (approximately 6,500) was raised locally with the first donation being made by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey.

The porch contains two wooden plaques listing the names of men from the village who were killed in the Great Wars - among them being Field Marshall Lord Kitchener of Broome Park.

Something which might be of interest to genealogists is the fact that, particularly during the time of the Napoleonic Wars, the Church was frequently used for the marriages and baptisms of the troops that were in the camps on the Barham Downs. The Kent History and Library in Maidstone holds over 600,000 records that may help you.   Click Here for KCC Guide