StGeorges Gravesend Wednesday 22 November 17

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Church History

Church History


This historic building has been a place of prayer and worship for more than 250 years where people have come hear and uphold the Gospel of Christ. Many of the beautiful features mark the faithful lives and worship or parishioners and a catalogue of tastes performed by a pageant of people - some noteworthy, others not - hundreds seen, thousands unseen but all beloved of God.

The Chancel

The ChancelIn the 1732 building, the chancel was a mere 10 feet deep. Its size and furnishings have undergone considerable change over the years but the "barley Stick" altar rails and the altar table are original. The table had a marble top and was intended to be undaped. It may have been reduced in width in 1892, the year the chancel was extended by 8 feet.

This extension gave rise to several major changes. The choir was moved from the west gallery to the east end and a new pulpit was placed in the chancel at the south side. The altar was set up on three steps, a cross and candlesticks replacing the almsdish, though the candles were not used till 1926. A shelf was provided for the flowers vases and a very fine reredos by Clayton and Bell was added. The altar rails were moved nearer to the high altar and the woodwork framing "The Ten Commandments" was transferred from the old chancel. The outer panels of this fine work were added in 1937 as a memorial to canon Gedge, the blind Rector, who presided at St. George's from 1899 to 1925.

Worthy of note are the small paintings attached to the altar rails. These were painted by Mrs Fletcher of Bycliffe in 1893 and copied from those painted by Fra Angelico at Florence. They are the last examples of the extensive Victorian paintings which once adorned the church; these were largely the work of Revd. J. H. Haslam, Rector from 1892 to 1899,who painted the ceiling of apse with "more than fifty angels taken from Benosso Gozzili's beautiful fresco in Florence".

During a more recent restoration (1968) the altar was moved forward,the rails restored to their former postion and the reredos dismantled.


The First People and the Name

Gravesend owes its significance to its unique position on the River Thames, being the first secure landing place on the kent side. For centuries, the river carried out the bulk of traffic and, until the late eighteen hundreds, the journey to and from London would be safer and quicker by river (with the right tide) than by road.

When the Romans came to Kent, they needed a main supply route from the coast and built the road that became famous as Watling Street. It was guarded with numerous camps such as the one at Springhead, two miles south-west of Gravesend, where evidence of three Roman temples has been found. The first Christian to arrive here were probably missionaries making their way westward from Rochester after Justus became its first Bishop in AD 604. Those that stayed formed a settlment in the vincinity of Old Road, possibly to avoid raiders coming up the river. In 1838, a hoard of saxon coins dating to AD 878 was found near the inn, "The Pelham Arms". Twenty years after the Norman Conquest, the Domesday Book records that there were churches at Milton and "Gravesham". The name may be derived from the saxon "gereve" (cf old Scots "grieve"), which later became "reeve", a word meaning magistrate or sheriff; the word "ham" meant homestead. Other derivations persist, of course.

A prominent on is based on the Old English word "graef" (a cave, trench or grave) and "Graefs-end" may signify the end of the ditch or trench; for such a ditch, running down the centre of the High Street, marked the dividing line for hundreds of the years between the original parishes of Gravesend and Milton.

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Service Times

Sunday Morning - 10AM
Sunday Evening - 6PM
Wednessday Morning - 10AM

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