St Michael’s celebrates its heritage with open day
On Friday St Michael’s church opened its doors as part of England’s largest festival of history and culture. Every September thousands of volunteers across England organise events to celebrate their heritage, community and history. Stories are told, traditions explored, and histories brought to life.
The vicar of St Michael’s, Rev David Ridley gave a short introduction to proceedings, prior to the ribbon cutting.
“This time yesterday we were making plans for something quite different from the way things have turned out.”
“We find ourselves now in a time of national mourning, and perhaps it’s appropriate that today we are actually formally opening the church because it is an opportunity for people to come in and find some space to be quiet and reflect.”
“St Michaels Church is being opened for people to come and have a look round and explore the history of the building."
“We also now have a candle, prayer and book of condolences if anybody would like to use that.”
St Michael’s Church us a Grade II listed building with 11th century origins, which was developed through major building campaigns in the 13th and 14th centuries.
There are many fascinating things to see, spaces to explore and historically interesting facts, for example did you know that the very first public school in Sittingbourne was founded in the south transept of the church in 1813 or that in 1762 the church was almost completely destroyed by an accidental fire.
One highlight for any visit to St Michael’s is ‘The Bayford Memorial’. Those unfamiliar with the expression ‘Easter sepulchre’ can examine one here
This notable example of medieval sculpture commemorates a member of the Lovelace family of Bayford who once resided in a substantial timber-framed building with a moat which was only accessible from Water Lane or Crown Quay Lane as it is known today.
Unfortunately for a site running back to the very origins of our town, it is now hidden away behind huge modern sheds on the edge of Sittingbourne’s industrial estate.
Have you ever noticed the odd placement of the font?
This originally stood in the Chilton Chapel and was moved around 1905 along with its stone and tile platform. The octagonal font has the coat of arms of the Archbishop Arundel.
There are also many specular stained-glass windows to examine, including ‘The War Memorial Window’ which dates back to the 1920’s in memorial of those who perished in the First World War.
There is one more one day on 14th September from 10am to 4pm, which includes the morning service at 10am and is followed by a place of welcome 11am-1pm. There is also a community hub and cafe.
Any questions about the above open day please contact, please contact Frances Davis on 07464 442843.
You can find out more about St Michael's on their facebook page
Heritage Open Days
If you want to find out more about the Heritage Open Days for 2022 which run from 9th-18th September then please visit https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/ It's your chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences – all of which are FREE to explore.