St Laurence

It is likely that there has been a church on this site from at least 1100, maybe earlier, when Hawkhurst belonged to the Abbot of Wye, and then of Battle.

About this church

It was given to him by William the Conqueror as part of his thank offering after the Battle of Hastings. The first mention of the building is in a Charter of 1285 and the first rector whose name we have is Richard de Clyne in 1291.

The oldest part of the church is the chancel and north chapel. The great east window was built about 1350 and is of fine curvilinear design. It has been described as one of the finest pieces of architecture in the county. Most of the rest of the church dates from about 1450.

The reredos behind the high altar is Jacobean and was installed early last century, though we cannot trace where the panelling came from.

The south porch is the finest with a stone vaulted ceiling. The room over the north porch was used by the officials of Battle Abbey to receive their rent and used to be called The Treasury.

On 13th August 1944, a German flying bomb fell in the churchyard and did considerable damage. Part of it can be seen at the back of the church on the south side.

The font dates from around 1450. Note the face, the Green Man, looking towards the tower. The font cover was made by Dykes Bower in 1960 with oak from the Fowlers Park estate in the village.

The carving of the Last Supper on the north wall is probably German and dates from 1630.

The modern Madonna by the chancel arch was made by Mary Cox. On the South Wall is a memorial to Sir John and Lady Herschel. They lived for many years in the parish, and Lady Herschel is buried in the churchyard, Sir John being buried in Westminster Abbey. He was a great astronomer, Master of the Mint, a composer of music, writer of plays, and an early experimenter with photography.

The glass in the windows is mostly modern, as the old glass was destroyed by the bomb. In the west window there are a few fragments of earlier windows, gathered after the bombing, and some early glass has been placed in the Lady Chapel windows.

In the north porch you will find a memorial stone to Thomas Glover, a previous incumbent, the nephew of Bishop Spratt, of ‘Jack Spratt could eat no fat’ fame.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Magnificent memorials
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Famous connections

Visitors information

  • Level access to the main areas
  • On street parking at church
  • Parking within 250m
  • Accessible toilets nearby
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome
  • Space to secure your bike

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