St Nicholas

Built on high ground outside the current village centre with views south across the Rother valley, and north and west across the Weald, with the unusual five sweep Sandhurst windmill on the horizon.

About this church

St Nicholas is the parish church for Sandhurst, a small rural community in Kent whose population is around 1,500. The church was built on high ground which means that the top of the tower affords tremendous 360° views of the surrounding Weald countryside. The line of the old Roman Road from Rochester to Hastings lies some 200 yards to the south.

St Nicholas church is listed Grade II* as a building of outstanding architectural and historic importance. Most of the present nave and chancel date from the 13th century with the aisles and western tower added in the 14th century. The tower is a very early example of the familiar Kentish type though the top of the tower was remade in 18th century bricks. 

The Betherynden Chapel was constructed around 1450. The north porch was added during the 19th century.

Though much of the stained glass is 19th century, there are some medieval windows dating from the 14th and 15th century.

The tower supports a peal of six bells which are rung every Sunday and on other occasions as requested. The oldest bell, the John Bell, was cast in the churchyard around 1465.

Unfortunately, while away for refurbishment in 1961 it was dropped and cracked; it subsequently spent many years on the floor at the base of the tower. In 2008, new technology allowed us to weld and repair the damage and it is now in regular use again.

Internally, there is a well preserved set of rood steps though the screen and loft disappeared long ago. The font is decorated with window style tracery from the 14th century in line with the fabric of the church.

Like most churchyards, ours is a haven for wild flowers and wild life including yew trees, orchids, swallows, owls and butterflies.
Within the churchyard are several listed monuments, a listed mounting block to the north of the church and several war graves.

Notable people associated with the church include Titus Oates (‘The Liar’), the gothic revival architect Richard H Carpenter, actor/playwright Roland Pertwee and the poet Patience Strong.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Magnificent memorials
  • Glorious furnishings
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Fascinating churchyard
  • Wildlife haven
  • Famous connections

Visitors information

  • Bus stop within 100m
  • Level access to the main areas
  • On street parking at church
  • Parking within 250m
  • Café within 500m
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome

Other nearby churches


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.


St Dunstan

The old market town of Cranbrook shares with Tenterden the claim to be the capital of the Kentish Weald.

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