Hoo, Kent

St. Mary's Church, Hoo, Kent

Of the three churches in Hoo – St. Mary’s, St. Werburgh’s and Allhallows – it is not completely clear which came first. However, St. Mary’s is the best contender as there is record of one Wifward de Hou passing part of the tithes of the parish here to the Priory of Rochester when he became a monk. This was around 1068 and strongly implies a church was already well established here.

By the time of the Domesday Book in 1086 Hoo St. Werburgh seems to have existed and was prevailant over Hoo St. Mary already. This is probably because the site of Hoo St. Werburgh was more suitable for habitation and that village grew as St. Mary Hoo shrank to a few houses.

Nevertheless, the church at St. Mary Hoo was rebuilt between about 1280 and 1350 as a fairly typical Kentish ragstone church with a castellated tower. All of this was heavily rebuilt around 1881.

Today the church is, unusually, a private residence and no longer has any ecclesiastical relevance. It is an odd feeling being the graveyard, which is still open to the public, but being aware that you are also standing in someone’s garden.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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