St Peter’s Church, Molash
Visit the benefice website <www.kingswoodbenefice.co.uk> for more current information
The name Molash derives from the Saxon words ‘Moul’ (to speak) and ‘Ash’, or ‘Assembly at the Ash Tree’ at a time when the whole area was covered by the massive Kingswood Forest of which now but a small part remains as the heart of the Five Church Walk. Wytherling Court in the parish is thought to have been a royal hunting lodge from where King John could visit his daughter at Chilham’s Norman Castle to meet 'Archbishop Langton' hence the name of four of the churches ministered by the rector is the Benefice of King's Wood .
Affectionately known as “the Barn Church” due to its plain layout of a single nave & chancel, it has indeed in recent years hosted a barn dance with straw bale seating but became better known for its music & art festivals. These were fundraisers for its restoration, as indeed is this annual walk which largely originated from the enthusiasm of its parishioners to secure its future when under a possibility of closure in 1976.
Constructed in the early 13th Century of local flint stone (like the other four churches on the route) it was presumably preceded by a chapel as evidenced by the adjacent yew trees over a thousand years old. The font is Norman, and what stained glass remains is old and very rare. The pulpit is 17th Century and the screen from Eastwell church (now an empty shell) had been borrowed but is back in situ. In the nave floor are some ancient vaults belonging to families of the long past.
The church, whose tower has recently had a tiled roof and a bell added, is above a priest’s vestry at the west end. The church is entered from the churchyard through an open porch in the south wall. Its simplicity, which belies all the careful restoration work throughout the past forty years, creates a lasting impression on all who enter it. But as the least populous parish on this walk it depends largely on fundraising events such as this for its maintenance.