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History of Sheldwich

Sheldwich comes from the Anglian word ‘sceld’ meaning a ‘shield, protection; shelter’ with the Old English ‘wic’ as a ‘dwelling, specialist farm’; therefore, possibly a ‘protected farm’. 784AD saw the first recording of Sheldwich as Scilduuic.


Sheldwich parish church is a Grade: II listed building, dedicated to Saint James. The Normans built it in the 12th century, with the addition of the chancel and chapel in the 14th and west tower in the following century. In 1798, Edward Hasted described St James’ church as ‘a handsome building, consisting of one isle and one chancel, with a chapel in the middle of the south side of the isle, and a small chapel on the north side of the chancel. The steeple, which is a tower, stands at the west end, having a beacon-tower on the top, on which is a small leaden spire and vane. There are four bells in it’. Thomas Mears cast and hung a ring of six bells in 1801.


In 1888, an unknown architect restored the Sheldwich church built the north aisle and south chapel. 1899 saw the addition of the south porch. In 1997, Adisham church purchased the bells and frame. In the following year,  Whitechapel cast and hung a new ring of eight bells with the dedication carried out by the R’t Rev’d David Say, former Bishop of Rochester and Assistant Bishop in the Canterbury Diocese, on 11 July of the same year.