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History of Pembury

Pembury comes from the Old English ‘ingas’ meaning the ‘people of, people called after’ with ‘burh’ as a ‘fortified place’ combined with a warlord’s name; therefore, the ‘fortification of the people of Pepa’. The Textus Roffensis records Pembury as Peppingeberlia.


Pembury ‘Old Church’ - as known by - is a Grade: I listed building, dedicated to Saint Peter. The Normans built the nave and chancel between 1100 and 1147. John Culpepper rebuilt much of the church and added a tower around 1337. In 1355, he added the chantry chapel of St Mary in the churchyard. In 1798, Edward Hasted described the St Peter’s church as having a ‘spire steeple at the west end. It was built by one of the family of Colepeper, patrons of it, and most probably by John Colepeper, esq. in the reign of King Edward III’. In 1867, the architect R Wheeler carried out a restoration with some rebuilding of the chancel. In 2006, an organ installed in 1877, received a significant overhaul.


In 1710, the first turnpike road in Kent opened, running from Sevenoaks to Woods Gate at Pembury. With the new road came an increase in stage coaches, the passengers of whom needed refreshment along the route. Gradually the people of Pembury moved a mile to meet the new trade. Few stayed in the old Pembury. In 1785, the coaching inn dealt with 14 coaches per day, and by the 1800’s a need existed for a church in the new Pembury.


Pembury ‘Upper Church’- as known by - is a Grade: II listed building, dedicated to Saint Peter. The Victorians built it as a Chapel-of-Ease to the Old Church. The Archbishop of Canterbury, William Howley consecrated it on 28 September 1847. They installed a clock in the tower, in 1872 to celebrate the 25th anniversary, although, within 14, years, the steeple had to be renewed. They extended the north aisle in 1894. The 1990’s saw the building modernised, so contrasting with its mother church.