Tuesday, September 14, 2004

St Mary the Virgin Church,Downe kent

1400-1799 The steeple must have been built by the 16th century, because an inventory of 1552 refers to three bells. Two of these made by William Dawe of London (1385-1418) and one, maker unknown, dated 1511. The remaining three were added early this century.

Apart from the previously mentioned lancet window, the other windows were substituted during the Perpendicular period (15th or early 16th century), although they were extensively restored by the Victorians.

The font appears to belong to this period and is undistinguished, probably local work. At some time its stonework has been defaced.

The brass in the nave floor in memory of Tomas Petle and his wife Isabella is undated but probably late 15th century. The Petley family was prominent in Downe between the 13th and 16th centuries and a house in the village is called Petleys.

The Manning family was also numerous and important, and a brass in the nave records the death of John in 1543. Another brass in the chancel shows the family arms and motto and records that Edward, the son of the last Manning buried in Downe, died in 1622 at the age of 20, having been page to Prince Charles, later King Charles I.

During recent repair work, the nave floor was taken up and revealed the broken remains of inscriptions which had covered coffins, now disintegrated. One fragment refers to John Bederenden, a citizen of London, an MP and draper, who died in 1445, although it is not clear why he was buried in Downe.

In 1538, Thomas Cromwell, Vicar General to King Henry VIII, ordered registers of births, marriages and deaths to be kept. In our diocese of Rochester, Downe possesses one of the only ten to survive from this time, although it is now kept for safety with most of the church's old records at Bromley Library.

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