Lullingstone Parish Church, Kent

It could be forgiven for thinking that this is merely the Chapel for Lullingstone Castle. However, it is not. It is in actual fact considerably older than the Castle – actually something like 1200 years older!

Some reports state it is the oldest Christian site in England. In the Roman villa nearby is a Chapel dating to around 380 AD.

There is certainly indications that a Saxon church stood here and much of what remains today is built around a fairly simple Norman structure. It is dedicated to St. Botolph.

Although essentially Norman in basis, the majority of the extant walling dates to the 14th Century. The interiors are the most interesting thing about the church. The rood screen is Flemish and dates to around 1520, it bears the Tudor Rose and also the pomegranate badge of Katherine of Aragon. Some of the stained glass is also this old, with the remainder dating to the late 1700s.

The earliest parts of Lullingstone Castle (the gatehouse) date to around 1497, but the main building dates to the Queen Anne period. Queen Anne herself visited often and would have prayed at the Church.

Oddly enough, although in the grounds of the Castle, the Church is still the parish church – so if the castle is shut you can unlock the chain across the gatehouse and wander over to the church unmolested.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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