KentSHIPBOURNEStGiles(paulbrittonSTAFF)1 PaulBritton

St Giles

St Giles is a grand 19th century estate church, rebuilt by the Cazalets of Fairlawne in 1881 and expensively fitted out.

Shipbourne, Kent

Opening times

Every day, 9am to 5pm or dusk if earlier.


Stumble Hill
TN11 9PF

The architects were Mann and Saunders. The church had previously been rebuilt in 1721 but of that building designed by James Gibbs nothing survives above ground apart from the large monument to its builder, Christopher Lord Barnard. The setting of the church, between Shipbourne common to the east and fields to the west is very fine.

There was a medieval chapel on the site of the present church, demolished in 1721, of which only a few architectural fragments remain inside the vestry. The Vane family of Fairlawne rebuilt the church in that year, using James Gibbs as their architect. Only the monument to Lord Barnard and two large burial vaults beneath the chancel survive from that building, which became unsafe and was replaced by the present church in 1881.

The present church is built of local ragstone with Bath stone dressings. It is cruciform with a prominent crossing tower. The style is loosely Gothic of the 13th and early 14th centuries. The Cazalets, who had bought Fairlawne in about 1870, were said to have spent £20000 on the building, a large sum, and clearly wished to make an impression. Their architects were the little known firm Mann and Saunders.

The interior is very striking and little changed since it was built. The expensive furnishings, including alabaster reredos, pulpit, font, pews, baptismal pew and fine organ by TC Lewis, all survive. The stained glass, extensive stencilled wall paintings in the chancel and the remarkable scheme of sgraffito decoration in the nave are all by Mayer of Munich.

The principal monument is that in the south transept to Christopher Vane, 1st Lord Barnard, who died in 1723. He and Lady Vane are depicted life size and seated on either side of a large urn. Their young daughter lies between them. The monument was designed by Gibbs and was probably carved by the young Michael Rysbrack. Lord Barnard's grandfather. Sir Henry Vane the elder, Secretary of State to Charles I, and his father Sir Henry Vane the younger, Governor of Massachusetts, leading republican politician during the Commonwealth, executed in 1662 both lie in one of the burial vaults beneath the chancel. There are a number of wall tablets in the chancel commemorating the Cazalets, of whom Peter, trainer of the late Queen Mother's race horses, who died in 1973 is the best known.

There are beautiful views from the churchyard to the west across fields and woodland. The Greensand Way long distance footpath passes through the churchyard. Refreshments and toilets are available at the Chaser Inn next to the church.

  • Magnificent memorials

  • Glorious furnishings

  • Famous connections

  • Enchanting atmosphere

  • Captivating architecture

  • Walkers & cyclists welcome

  • Space to secure your bike

  • Parking within 250m

  • On street parking at church

  • Level access to the main areas

  • Dog friendly

  • Accessible toilets nearby

  • Church of England

Contact information

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