St Edmund & St George

A Norman church with many additions and improvements over the last 900 years.

About this church

The first church on the site was dedicated to St Edmund and was built in the early 12th century by a Lord Norman de Verden, whose father served with William the Conqueror. A hundred and fifty years later Hethe had outgrown its small Norman church which was rebuilt and on a St George's Day around the turn of the 14th century it was rededicated to become the church of St Edmund & St George. The present church is Grade II Listed.

The south chancel has a restored 12th century priest’s doorway and windows. The stained glass window behind the altar is dated 1882. In the south wall the window is within red surrounds and the glass has a pleasing design but little is known about it. A south aisle was added in the 14th century and the clerestory in the 15th century. Part of the south aisle forms the hagioscope, popularly believed to be the place where lepers and others with an infectious disease were allowed to assemble to view and join in the service. In days when services were better attended it might have been used by an assistant priest giving the Holy Sacrament to a part of the congregation who used the opening or 'squint' to keep time with the Celebration of Communion at the main altar.

In the graveyard, still the village burial ground, the oldest memorial can be found on the right of the path leading to the church. It is a tombstone erected by John Whitbread to commemorate the burial of his wife in 1689. This is Grade II Listed. The church was restored by George Street in 1859, when a new roof was placed over the nave and chancel; a north aisle was added (said in 1848 by the Rural Dean to be needed for the poor); new windows were put in; the whole church was reseated and new furniture provided; the bell turret with open timber sides and wood shingle roof constructed.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Fascinating churchyard

Visitors information

  • Steps to enter the church or churchyard
  • On street parking at church
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome

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