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The History of Kent

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History of Upchurch

Upchurch comes from the Old English ‘upp’ meaning ‘up, higher up, upon’ with ‘cirice’ as a ‘church’; therefore a ‘church standing high up’. The Domesday Book chronicles Upchurch as Cerce.

Upchurch parish church is a Grade: I listed building, dedicated to Saint Mary the Virgin. The Normans built the chancel around 1300 with the nave and east chapel later that century. John Harding cast and hung a bell around 1550, with five more added, by unknown foundries, between 1632 and 1866. Edward Hasted describes the 15th century west end tower as ‘very remarkable, being a tower on which is placed a square part of a spire for about ten feet, and on that an octagon for the remaining or upper part to the point of the spire at top.’ The architect Sir Arthur Blomfield restored the church in 1875. Following a spell as prayer reader to the fleet, where he lived on a ship in the Medway, Sir Francis Drake’s father, Edmund, became vicar to St Mary’s in 1560.

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