St Peter and St Paul is the small and ancient church of the tiny downland parish of Luddesdowne in north west Kent. The church, with a late Norman house and attendant farm, clustered among old trees at the head of two, long, raking valleys, is still a focal point of a scattered community of some two hundreds souls, little larger than it was when the Domesday surveyors of 1086 recorded 'a church here'.
The history of Luddesdowne Church, post-Conquest, is poorly documented and has to be read against the fate of the Norman knights and their successors who acquired the manor.
Following the church reforms of Henry III, many noblemen rebuilt their own small, cramped manorial churches, and this probably happened in Luddesdowne, where the earliest verifiable fabric, seen in the north and west walls, dates from the thirteenth century.
The tower and south aisle were then added in the 14th century, and so the church acquired the basic form in which it stands today. However, in 1865 the nave roof fell in requiring a major rebuilding. The reconstructed church was consecrated in 1867. Over the course of the next three decades the rector the Revd Alfred Wigan and his family furnished and decorated the church in accordance with their high church Oxford Movement tastes. Notably, they employed the firm of Heaton, Butler and Bayne to install stained glass windows and the fine set of wall and ceiling paintings which survive to this day.
Other historical features of note surviving in the church include a 14th century log ladder in the tower, three medieval bells, a 15th century brass, and a fine Caen stone reredos depicting the Last Supper installed in 1873 and designed by Ewan Christian.
A guidebook with more information is available in the church. The church is normally open for visiting on Saturday afternoons in the summer months. Please check the calendar before travelling.
There are some photographs of Luddesdowne Church on the website, if you click here