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The History of Kent

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History of Eastchurch

Eastchurch comes from the Old English ‘ēast’ meaning ‘eastern, east’ with ‘cirice’ as a ‘church’; therefore, the ‘eastern church from Minster’.

Eastchurch parish church is a Grade: I listed building, dedicated to All Saints. The Cistercian monk William Nudds – who became the first vicar - designed the church and his lay brothers, from Boxley Abbey, carried out the construction in 1432. The Abbey of Our Lady of the Dunes, in Flanders, allowed the Norman church, built in 1243 and on a different site, to fall into disrepair. Consecration of the new church took place on All Saints Day 1432. Joseph Hatch cast and hung a bell in 1605, with John Wilnar adding three further bells – including a tenor – in 1632, and completing the ring of five with a treble two years later. In 1798, Edward Hasted described the church as a ‘large handsome building, of three isles and three chancels, with a flat roof, leaded and surrounded with battlements. The inside of the roof is wainscotted and painted, and it is handsomely pewed with east country oak. The steeple, which is at the west end, is a square tower, in which are five bells’. In 1911, Mears and Stainbank added a treble bell. Repairs became necessary in 1922, following a fire, which damaged the chancel roof.

The Short brothers in conjunction with the newly formed (Royal) Aero Club opened a new flying field at Eastchurch in 1910. The Wright Brothers contacted the Short Brothers to build ‘Wright Flyers’ under licence. Charles Rolls - as off Rolls-Royce and the first man to fly across the channel and back - learnt to fly at Eastchurch in a Short/Wright glider. A Memorial – placed opposite the church in 2009 – recognises the early pioneers.