The religious history of Frindsbury, the oldest part of Strood, dates to 747 AD when Bishop Eardulf of Rochester obtained some land here. Further land was added in 764, 778, 840 and 994. In 998 Strood was pillaged by Danish troops and Frindsbury passed from church control into the hands of Harold Godwinson (Harold II of 1066 fame). It is unclear if a church existed at Frindsbury at this time, although it would not be unusual.
After the Battle of Hastings, William I gave the lands – like much of Kent – to his half-brother Bishop Odo of Bayeux. Odo was not a character of altogether strong morals and Archbishop Lanfranc of Canterbury successfully petitioned the King to take the land from Odo and grant it back to Bishop Gundulf of Rochester. Odo would later be stripped of all his lands in England and exiled back to France.
The first recorded church on this hugely prominent site was built around 1075 on the instructions of Paulinus, sacrist of Rochester. It was certainly here by the Domesday Book in 1086, but there is no record of its size. In 1122 a small wooden chapel of ease was built in central Strood which became a parish church in 1193. Frindsbury Church was rebuilt around 1127 and this rebuild forms the frame of the Church which stands today.
In the late 14th and early 15th Centuries the church was heavily rebuilt and extended. It was at this time that the tower was built to its current size, although the spire seems to be a much later addition, possibly as late as 1884 when the north aisle was rebuilt.
During the Victorian rebuilding some ancient wall paintings were discovered, although today they have all but vanished.
The riverside edge of the church grounds has now all but vanished due to the extensive quarrying which occurred over the centuries which makes Frindsbury Church visible from all over the Medway Towns and one of the dominant features of the area. A magnificent view can be had of the river from the church tower, although it is not often publicly accessible.
Photo - Andrew J. Müller
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