History and Architecture

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 account of Lady Loretta’s life, with some information on her sister Annora, who was also an anchoress, at Iffley near Oxford. An unpublished manuscript by Rev H E B Arnold, a priest and local historian in the early 20th century. 

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.