Page:Notes on the churches in the counties of Kent, Sussex, and Surrey.djvu/31

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INTRODUCTION.

present use, of this county; that one alone, Swanscombe (on which see the Note), has been reported, on any sufficient authority, to contain vestiges of Anglo-Saxon architecture. (St. Martin's, near Canterbury, is considered more than doubtful; and the desecrated church in Dover Castle is excluded from this observation.) This may easily be accounted for. There is satisfactory evidence, that Kent was thickly peopled, and possessed numerous churches, before the Normans entered England; and the importance of this angle of the kingdom, both from its population, and from its contiguity to the continent of Europe, could not fail to render it valuable in the estimation of the sovereigns and their great nobility ; accordingly, we know that many parties of high political reputation, in different reigns, held estates of greater or less extent in Kent. Nor can it surprise us to discover, that, in the course of nearly seven hundred years, all the ecclesiastical buildings, with few, if any, exceptions, which the Normans found standing when they obtained dominion over the district, should have been taken down, in order to be replaced by more spacious and more elaborate structures in the styles of later ages. It is certain, not only that numerous persons during those periods enjoyed ample means for undertaking such costly works, but likewise that, for many generations, it was a common practice of the noble and the rich to expend magnificent sums in erecting a splendid, or in decorating a more simple, house of devotion. We have therefore reason to expect, that the Saxon churches should have disappeared throughout this county, which is the fact ; and that those now existing should be, generally, conformable to the tastes which prevailed in times long subsequent. Reference to the Note upon Swanscombe will show, that inspection has not quite convinced me of the Saxon character of any part of that church, though possibly some small remains of that date may exist. There is another church in the county, that of Apledore, a portion of which I would point out as meriting attentive examination.

The condition of Kent with regard to civilization, anterior to the Norman invasion, seems to have been superior to that of the remainder of England; as might be anticipated from its proximity to the continent of Europe. Up to A. D. 669, when it began to spread throughout England, the method of chanting in the services of religion, "sonos cantandi in ecclesiâ," was known only in Kent; but Bishop Wilfrid then carried back with him