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History of St Margaret-at-Clife

St Margaret at Cliffe comes from the Old English ‘clif’ meaning an ‘escarpment, a hill slope, a river bank; therefore, a ‘church dedicated to St Margaret at Cliffe’. The Domesday Book chronicles St Margaret at Cliffe in the Latin form of Sancta Margarita.

St Margaret at Cliffe parish church is a Grade: I listed building, dedicated to Saint Margaret of Antioch. The Priors of St Martin in Dover built it around 1150, on a Saxon foundation. They added the tower late in the 12th century. The Reverend Bryan Faussett noted in 1759, ‘This Church is large, and high, and supported by many round, wrought Arches, and large tall Pillars. It has, also, round the Top of the Wall, on the out Side, many Small, round, wrought Arches and Pillasters. It consists of ye Chancell, Body, and 2 Side Isles. The Tower, which is very large and roomy, and adorn’d with Pillasters, Arches and carv’d Work, is at ye West End, and seems ready to fall. There were 3 Bells in it, wch. are now broken to Peices and lay in an Old Chest. They were taken down, for Fear of their falling, or overturning ye Tower; but what they were broken to Pieces for, I cd. not learn.’

In 1800, Edward Hasted wrote ‘The tower, which is square, had formerly four small turrets, one at each corner; but about the year 1711, that turret on the west side, with a part of the tower, fell down, and the tower having never been repaired, the other three turrets were probably taken down to make the whole appear more uniform.’ In 1864, the Victorian architect Ewan Christian carried out a restoration. In 1977, Whitechapel cast a chime of eight commemorating the Queen's Silver Jubilee.

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