July 23rd, 2020

St Laurence, Hawkhurst

My father ran his engineering firm out of Hawkhurst. Later we used to take my mother there for appointments with her optician- and also to visit her slightly overwhelming friend Nora- who I'm afraid I didn't like. And because it was a place we went to on business I never paid it much mind. I thought of it as an ugly modern village- and had never made the detour to see its historic heart- which is delightful (see last post) and at a distance from the modern centre- indeed so far away that the Victorians built a second church- which is now redundant- alongside their busy new High Street.

The old church is mostly 14th and 15th century- and dedicated to St Laurence. I was surprised to find it unlocked. The churchwardens have thought things through- and had fastened the doors open so you could go in and out without touching anything- while inside they'd roped off the main body of the building, leaving part of the north aisle, a side chapel and the high altar accessible to visitors. I could have stepped over the ropes but that wouldn't have been neighbourly. It's a big, handsome building, rather plain and bare, and I didn't see anything inside I wanted (or could get at) to photograph.

The exterior is a different matter. Churches in Kent and Sussex tend to be short on exterior ornamentation but St Laurence has some excellent gargoyles. The pitting of the stone may have something to do with the flying bomb which exploded in the churchyard in 1944- and took out all the glass...