Grain Church, Kent

Grain is the only settlement on the Isle of Grain, often wrongly the title given to all of the Hoo Peninsula which separates the Thames and Medway estuaries. The Isle is actually only a tiny part of the peninsula right at its end.

It could be charitably said that Grain is a place of desolation and solitude. The drive takes you through masses and masses of anonymous power stations and industrial units as the road gradually gets smaller and smaller and huge lorries thunder towards you around blind corners.

By the time you reach the village of Grain you are just about ready to pray! So here is St. James’ Church, a tiny little church with an attractive aspect, standing between the village and what is generally referred to as ‘the beach’.

The church is, surprisingly, quite venerable, dating to the late Norman period. Aisles and chancel were added in the late 12th Century but were demolished in the early 19th when it became apparent that such a large church was going to prove unnecessarily expensive to keep.

The church survived without a tower until 1905 when the present one was appended to the end of the truncated church. Although there was some attempt made to reflect the Norman simplistic style of the rest of the church, it seems that the effort was half-hearted as the tower is actually shorter than the roof of the nave which is rather bizarre.

Unless the pleasures of Grain’s beach draws you, you are then faced with a long return journey back through the industrial wilderness that is unavoidable to get you back to the main part of the Hoo Peninsula – and even then you have some way to go before you feel you are back in civilisation.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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