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History of Brenzett

Brenzett comes from the Old English ‘berned’ meaning ‘burnt’ and ‘set’ as a ‘dwelling, camp, stable, fold’; therefore, a ‘burnt fold or stable’. The Domesday Book records Brenzett as Brandet and Brensete.

Brenzett parish church is a Grade: II listed building, dedicated to Saint Eanswith, the grand-daughter of King Aethelberht, who welcomed St Augustine who subsequently converted him to Christianity. Eanswith served her noviciate in Normandy and became the founder and Abbess of the first nunnery in England, of Peter and Paul, built in Folkestone in 630AD. She is credited with performing a miracle during the building of the nunnery, when, by prayer alone, she caused a wooden beam, cut to short, to be extended to the correct length.

The Normans replaced the original Saxon chapel in the 12th Century, with extensions and additions over the next 400 years. In the 14th Century, they added a spire, although, a wooden frame had to be erected at the west end, along with an enormous buttress outside, to support it. An unknown London founder cast and hung a tenor bell in 1420. In 1630, John Wilnar added a treble, with Thomas Palmer completing the ring of three in 1669. In 1799, Edward Hasted described the
Brenzett church as consisting of ‘two isles and two chancels, having a spire steeple shingled at the west end, in which hang three bells’. Restoration work took place in 1826, 1876, 1902 and 1984.

RAF Brenzett, a Royal Air Force station during WW II, opened as an advanced landing ground on 14 September 1943. The RAF had set the opening date as March 1943 and construction work on the 300-acre site, of flat marshland, commenced at the beginning of that year. As part of fighter command RAF Brenzett, had two Sommerfield Track runways and eventually five blister hangars for the aircraft with most of the personnel housed in a tented camp.

To relieve pressure on their home base at RAF Kingsnorth five miles away, 122 Squadron occupied the airfield first, with Supermarine Spitfires. The airfield did not support the D-Day landings. Although, in July 1944, a Mustang wing (No. 133 Polish Fighter Wing), with three squadrons, used the base primarily for anti-flying bomb patrols. The airfield closed later that year on 13 December, when it returned to agricultural use.

The Mustang wing left in October 1944 and the airfield closed later that year on 13 December, when it returned to agricultural use.

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