Architecture People

Red Roofs + White Gables + Blues Skies + Wickhambreaux Kent

Angels in the Architecture

“Delightful sunshine, with a light mist which promises a fine day.” Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre, 1938“The history of Wickhambreaux and its neighbourhood can be traced back over 1,600 years. Today the attractive valley of the Lesser Stour is made up of a network of small waterways, water meadows and manmade lakes. In Roman times this was a tidal creek, probably navigable as far as Littlebourne,” writes Dick Bolton in his 2005 guide to St Andrew’s Anglican Church. As for the church, “Today the existing building is uniformly of the 14th century, consisting of a square crenellated tower with a ground floor, ringing chamber and belfry. The nave, of three bays, is flanked by north and south aisles which both project westwards to enfold the tower.” It is one of five churches in Kent dedicated to St Andrew. The exterior is a jolly mosaic of black flint, cement render, Kentish rag stone, marine limestone, sandstone, Tudor brick and Victorian sandstone. The nave, chancel wall and ceiling are decorated with striking paintings resembling a starry night.Tucked away in this low lying undulating landscape, Wickhambreaux is sometimes described as the prettiest village in England and it’s not hard to see why. Quite grand, grand and very grand houses – The Old Rectory, Old Willow Farmhouse and Wickhambreaux Court – ripped straight from the pages of Country Life are dotted around the village green. A river runs through it. There’s a converted mill with a giant two storey gable. And the cottagey 800 year old Rose Inn with its cider garden. John Newman records in his classic Pevsner 2013 Guide, “One of the best villages in the country arranged not along a street but loosely round a triangular green.” King Eadred, he who first granted land for the village to be built in the year 948, would be impressed by the legacy.



Tiled Roofs + Brick Gables + Endless Skies + Littlebourne Kent

Angels in the Architecture

“I could feel that the success of the enterprise was in my hands; the moment had an obscure significance which had to be trimmed and perfected…” Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre, 1938The village of Littlebourne lies a few kilometres east of Canterbury in the valley of Little Stour River. It’s Godiva chocolate boxy or at least Charbonnel et Walker. The Conservation Area covering much of the built form is broken down into the ‘character areas’ beloved of planners. There are two Locally Listed and six Grade II Listed properties on Bekesborne Lane. Church Road has two Locally Listed, two Grade II Listed and the only two Grade I Listed buildings. The Green has four Grade II and High Street has 15 Grade II. Four Locally Listed and two Grade II Listed buildings are to be found on The Hill. Nargate Street has two Locally Listed and 17 Grade II Listed properties.

St Vincent’s Anglican Church and Barn are the two Grade I Listed buildings. This parish church is dedicated to St Vincent of Saragossa, Deacon, Martyr and Patron of Vine Dressers. The Domesday Book 1085 to 1086 mentions a church in Littlebourne. It probably was built in wood by the monks of St Augustine’s who kept vines in the parish. The framework of the adjacent early 14th century barn with its sweeping thatched roof shows evidence of reuse of earlier timbers which may have come from the first church building. The nave dates from 200 years earlier than the barn; the chancel, the following century; and enhancements continued right up to the 19th century with the insertion of stained glass windows designed by Nathaniel Westlake and executed by his company Lavers, Barraud and Westlake. The porch was added in 1896

Architecture Country Houses

Thatched Roofs + Dutch Gables + Cloudy Skies + Ickham Kent

The Gardens of England

“I have left cities behind me, and I have followed the course of rivers towards their source…” Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre, 1938

Ickham, Littlebourne and Wickhambreaux are three exquisite Kentish villages east of Canterbury and west of Sandwich. A compact and discreet part of the countryside, the villages lie along the rolling floor of this shallow valley surrounded by fields of corn or cows grazing among wintercress. This area of southeast England is Country Life country life. Midsomer Murders on heat. Medieval patterns of development. Victorian houses still considered ‘modern’ (slight exaggeration but Elizabethan to Georgian is the norm). The Old Rectory is the most popular house name in Little Stour Valley. The meandering Little Stour River eventually feeds into the Great Stour confluence at Plucks Gutter.

At the heart of Ickham is of course an ancient church. St John the Evangelist Anglican Church is Grade I Listed. Its Listing states: “This church originally belonged to Christ Church Priory. Early English with transepts added in second quarter of 14th century. Built of flint. Cruciform building with aisles to the nave, south porch and west tower with broached shingled spire. Norman west doorway with embattled moulding billet hood and scalloped capitals. The nave, aisles and tower are late 12th century, the chancel is 13th century, the transepts are 14th century, the south porch is 19th century. The whole building was restored in 1901. The north transept belonged to the owners of Lee Priory and has a 14th century tomb of Sir Thomas de Baa. Wall monuments. Double piscina. The churchyard contains some 18th century headstones with skull, urn or cherub motifs.”

A long row of thatched roof timber hung wall converted barns lines the one edge of the open space in front of the church off The Street. Set back on the opposite side of The Street are four converted kiln oast houses. Other landmark buildings in between the cottages along The Street include The Old Rectory (a patchwork of the best bits of architecture across a few centuries) and Ickham Hall (an early 19th century country house faced with Roman cement set in a mini estate behind a high wall). There are two Grade II* Listed Buildings in the village and 22 Grade II.