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Kent Past

The History of Kent

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History of Mersham

Mersham comes from the Old English ‘hām’ meaning a ‘village, manor, homestead’ combined with a warlord’s name; therefore ‘Mærsa’s village/homestead’. The Domesday Book chronicles Mersham as Merseham.

Mersham parish Church is a Grade: I listed building, dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. The Normans built it in the 12th century as a small 36 feet by 25 feet construction. They later extended it in the 13th century, with new windows during the 14th and 15th centuries. In 1552, there is a record of five bells in the tower, which John Hatch recast in 1612. In 1798, Edward Hasted described St John’s church as consisting of ‘two isles and two chancels, having a handsome square tower at the west end, in which are five bells. In the north window of the high chancel is the figure of a bishop, with his mitre and crosier, praying, and the figure of a saint, with the dragon under his feet. On the rector's pew is carved in wood, a coat of arms, being A fess, in chief, three balls’. In 1847, Charles and George Mears added a treble to make six bells. Mears and Stainbank augmented the bells to eight in 1880. The Victorians carried out some restoration in the 19th century. In 1953, repairs became necessary with the discovery of a crack in the tower.