Barfreston Church, Kent

The tiny Church of St. Nicholas stands in the remote and equally tiny village of Barfreston (sometimes Barfrestone) in the Downs between Canterbury and Dover. For any fans of Norman architecture it is more than worth seeking out as it is one of the most beautiful and well-preserved Norman churches in all of England.

The Church remains much as it was when it was built in the 12th Century, although the Victorians, inevitably, tinkered with it a little. However, they did so with remarkable restraint and the fine arcading and carved arches on the Church exterior are quite unmistakably Norman. The arch above the South Door is particularly striking with what is believed to be the first likeness of Thomas Becket amongst other figures.

The Church interior is stark and plain and could easily be imagined as what the tough Normans might have created.

One of the most endearing features of Barfreston Church is that it is too small to have its own belfry, so the church bell is housed in a yew tree just off one corner of the building which is operated from inside by a series of levers.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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