St Lawrence the Martyr Church, Godmersham
Visit the benefice website <www.kingswoodbenefice.co.uk> for more current information
Godmersham church is beautifully set among trees below the slopes of Godmersham Down and briefly catches the eye of motorists on the busy A28 crossing the River Stour. They are missing this delightful village frequently visited by Jane Austen whose brother owned the Godmersham Park Estate through which this walk passes. The church has much of interest.
Most of the nave was built shortly after the 1066 Norman Conquest, replacing a Saxon church first recorded in 824 as being ceded by the King of Mercia to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The tower with its curved apse (from where its six much later bells are rung) was added in the 12th century. In the 13th century the chancel was extended with three lancet windows. Much of what was added in subsequent centuries was lost in a restoration in 1865 when a new south aisle, porch and transept were added with a new font, pulpit, pews & painted chancel screen, giving the church a very Victorian appearance belying its true age.
Externally, banked slopes dating from 1865 surround the approach through the lych-gate to the south porch, affording an attractive view across the River Stour valley. A blocked Norman doorway in the west wall is visible, and toilet facilities are discretely situated at the end of a path at the back of the church. Adjoining are the Home Farm buildings of the Godmersham Park Estate and Heritage Centre <godmershamheritage.webs.com> which is worth a visit.
Godmersham had dropped out of the route due to a shortage of volunteers for refreshments, but enthusiastically rejoined it in 2015 to benefit from its share of the fundraising after becoming part of the King's Wood Benefice.