St Stephen’s History & Architecture

597

St Augustine arrives in Canterbury

597

1170

Thomas Becket

Thomas Becket was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral on 27th December 1170 by knights who thought they were following King Henry II’s orders to rid him of ‘this terrible priest’

1170

1185

Archbishop Baldwin begins a new Cathedral Church at Hackington

Archbishop Baldwin fell out with the monks at Christchurch (what is now Canterbury Cathedral) and set out to establish a secular college of priests who were not monks, and therefore easier for him to control. The monks protested to the Pope, and after a few years the he ordered work to stop.

1185

1221–1267

Lady Loretta de Braoze Anchoress at St Stephen’s

Loretta lived in enclosure at St Stephen’s for over 40 years until her death but had an important ministry which included welcoming Franciscans to England and on at least one occasion advising the King. 

Find out more…

1221–1267

1533

The English Reformation begins

In 1533, Henry VIII broke with Rome and married Anne Boleyn. Thomas Cromwell was appointed as Henry’s chief minister. He helped Henry to break away from Rome, establishing Henry as head of the Church of England. This act also brought Henry much needed wealth. Over four years Cromwell ordered 800 monasteries to be disbanded and their lands and treasures taken for the crown, including St Augustine’s Abbey in Canterbury.

1533

1538

Becket’s Shrine destroyed

As the Reformation continued, the shrine of Thomas Becket that stood in the Quire of Canterbury Cathedral was destroyed.

1538

1538

John Bale’s play “King John” performed at Hackington

1538

1558

Elizabeth I becomes Queen of England

One of her first actions as Queen was to re-establish the English Protestant church – the Church of England. Attendance at church and the use of an adapted version of the 1552 Book of Common Prayer were compulsory.

1558

1563

Sir Roger Manwood comes to Canterbury

Queen Elizabeth I grants the Royal Manor of Hackington (St Stephen’s) to Sir Roger Manwood, her Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer. Sir Roger makes the Great House at St Stephen’s his principal residence.

1563

1570

Building of the Almshouses

Sir Roger Manwood builds a hospital at St Stephen’s to provide homes for the ages poor and needy. This comprised of six almshouses and one larger house to be the home of the Parish Clerk.

1570

1592

Sir Roger Manwood dies

Sir Roger Manwood dies on 14th December 1592 and is buried in a vault in the South Transept of St Stephen’s Church. A large tomb is erected in the transept.

1592

1611

King James Bible first published

1611

1939–1945

Second World War

The city of Canterbury was impacted by a number of air raids during the Second World War. Fortunately, St Stephen’s Church was undamaged but events still impacted the people of the parish.

Read more…

1939–1945

Although the St Stephen’s Church building we see today is a fairly typical small medieval village church, it has an unusually rich history, which is why it has Grade I listing, given to buildings of national importance.

You can find out why this is from the documents below.

General History

A Short History of the Church and area

This guide is based on “The Church of St Stephen Proto-martyr, Hackington – A History and Guide” by John Hayes written more than 50 years ago, updated and expanded with material from other sources  by Dr Peter D Toon, Reader at St Stephen’s In 2019

A Short Account Of The Parish Of Hackington Alias St Stephen’s Near Canterbury

An older, somewhat idiosyncratic account of the Parish of Hackington alias St Stephen’s near Canterbury made by Rev Philip P SOMERVILLE, Rector of St Stephen’s from 1906 to 1926, and published by Gibbs and Sons, Palace Street, Canterbury, in 1915. Amusing but should be taken with a large spoonful of salt!

Lady Loretta 

From 1221 to 1265 Lady Loretta de Braose, an English noblewoman lived at St Stephen’s as a anchoress; a woman who lived  her whole life alone in one room, usually attached to a church, spending her time in prayer and offering counsel to visitors through a window.

An introduction to Lady Loretta

A talk given by Rev Dr Julie Hopkins on the anniversary of Loretta’s death in 2019

The Lady Loretta and her sister

An older  and more romantic account of Lady Loretta’s life, with some information on her sister Annora, who was also an anchoress, at Iffley near Oxford.  This comes from an unpublished manuscript by Rev H E B Arnold, a priest in the early 20th century whose approach was somewhat less historically rigorous. 

You can read more about Annora here and more about the anchorite movement here.

Sir Roger Manwood

In the 1560’s Sir Roger Manwood, a civil servant of Queen Elizabeth 1 was given the house next to St Stephen’s church which had previously been used by the Archdeacon of Canterbury. He sponsored the building of the almshouses which still stand on St Stephen’s Green, had the south transept of the church rebuilt as a family mausoleum and donated the font which still stands in the church.

You can read more about his life here

For the 400th anniversary of his death a booklet on the association of Sir Roger Manwood and his family with St Stephen’s was produced.

The Roger Manwood Hospital Charity set up under his will still runs the alms houses on St Stephen’s Green.

The Architecture of the Building

A Guide to the Church

This guide is based on “The Church of St Stephen Proto-martyr, Hackington – A History and Guide” by John Hayes written more than 50 years ago, updated and expanded with material from other sources by Dr Peter D Toon, Reader at St Stephen’s In 2019

Report by Kenneth Jones 1932

A survey of the building by an authority on Kent churches

Kent Archeological Society Report 1993

A more recent report which disagrees with some of Jones’s conclusions

The Indenture for the Screen

A transcript of the commission for the screen now at the entrance to the Manwood Chapel, ordered in 1519 and delivered in 1522. The original is in the British Museum.