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The History of Kent

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History of Little Chart

Little Chart comes from the Old English ‘cert’ meaning ‘rough ground’. The prefix ‘little’ distinguishes it from Chart Sutton and Chartham. The Domesday Book chronicles Little Chart as Litelcert.

Little Chart’s former parish church is a Grade: II listed building dedicated to Saint Mary the Virgin and the Holy Rood. The Normans built it in the 11th century as a two cell structure. In the following century, they added the north aisle as a private chapel dedicated to St Catherine, with the construction of the west tower and the southern porch in the next 100 years. In 1722, Samuel Knight cast and hung a ring of five bells. In 1798, Edward Hasted described St Mary’s church as a ‘handsome building of sand-stone, consisting of two isles and two chancels, and having a tower steeple at the west end, with a beacon turret, in which are five bells. The steeple is said to have been built in Henry VII.'s reign, by Sir John Darell, then of Calehill’. The Victorians carried out major renovations in the 19th century, with new windows and oak panelling. Alfred Bowell retuned the bells and augmented them to six in 1932. On 16 August 1944, St Mary’s received a direct hit from a flying bomb, with only the badly damaged tower and parts of the chancel wall surviving. The parishioners removed the bells and stored them by the railway line, resulting in the theft of the fourth bell. In 1955, John Taylor removed the bells to his foundry in Loughborough.

The new Little Chart parish church is dedicated to Saint Mary the Virgin, and built in 1955. In 1956, John Taylor cast a ring of six bells - from the five salvaged from the old church - and hung them in the new tower. On 29 September 1956, Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher dedicated the Little Chart church and bells to St Mary the Virgin.