Old descriptions of St Nicholas-at-Wade

Tourist's complete guide to the Isle of Thanet and neighbourhood, by Spectator
Published by Alfred Brooks, 47, High Street, Ramsgate, c. 1875

St. Nicholas-at-Wade

Is a parish four miles from Grove Ferry, one and a half from Sarre, and nine from Canterbury. It is built on a hill, in the western part of the Isle of Thanet, and is a very quiet and healthy village. It derives its name from the Saint to whom the church is dedicated, and its being situated near the Wantsume, which was, it seems, when the church was built, become so shallow as to be waded, or forded through near this place. The church is an ancient structure, and was at first a chapel, to Reculver. It was probably built about the year 1200, and was made parochial about 1300 by Archbishop Winchelsea, who instituted a Vicar here. It is a handsome building of flint, with a lofty embattled tower. It has a nave, two aisles, and three chancels. In the north chancel is a brass fixed to a stone, bearing the following inscription:-

"Here lyeth buried the bodye of Valentyne Edvarod, Gentleman, who had two wyfes, Agnes and Joane; by Agnes he had four sones and two daughters, and also by Joane, his second wife, iii. sones and vi. daughters; which Valentyne deceased the xxv. of February, in the yere of our Lord God mccccclix.; after whose decese the sayde maryede with Thomas Paramore, and by him had a sonne and a daughter, and the said Joane deceased the fyfth day of April, in the yere of our Lord God mccccclxxiiii., whose soules God has taken to his mercy."

Effigies of this numerous progeny, in number amounting to seventeen, are shown on the plate beneath the inscription.

In the principal chancel are five beautiful black marble slabs, carved with armorial bearings. The pulpit is of carved oak. There is a new octagonal font of Caen stone. In the southern aisle are two recently inserted painted windows. On the north wall is a marble monument to the memory of Thomas Paramor, who had four wives, the second wife of Valentyne Edvarod being his third. He died in 1593. On the same wall is a marble slab in memory of Margaret, the daughter of William Willoughby, who died in 1627, and one in the same chancel to commemorate Valentine Everard, who died in 1618, and Mary, his wife, who died in 1624, besides many others of equal interest. The register dates from 1660. There are five bells. The view from the tower, of the distant city of Canterbury, with its Cathedral, the surrounding corn-fields, the river Wantsume, the Stour, St. Nicholas Marshes, and the North Sea, with the passing vessels, is very enchanting, being one of the finest prospects imaginable. There was formerly a vicarage in the street, near the church, but about the year 1620 it was destroyed by fire.

St. Nicholas Court was formerly the residence of the Bridges. It is a large building, a few hundred yards west of the church, surrounded by orchards and plantations. This village appears to be favourable to longevity, to judge from the following quotations from a local newspaper:-

"St. Nicholas. — Three of the oldest men have died within twelve days, aged respectively 80, 88 and 90 years. The last of these was Mr. John Page, who had been a member of the Wesleyan body for seventy-two years, and was the oldest member out of upwards of 700 in the Margate circuit. For over fifty years he took an active part as teacher in the Sunday school, and sought to cultivate his mind by reading the works of eminent authors — such as Milton, Young's 'Night Thoughts,' and the Word of God, which he had read through thirteen times since he was 57 years old. He was interred in St. Nicholas Chapel-yard, and his funeral sermon was preached the same evening by the Rev. R.J.T. Hawksley, of Margate. Our village is famous for the longevity of its inhabitants, the centenarian, Mrs. Brockman, residing in a cottage abutting on the highroad between Margate and Canterbury. She is in good health, and if she lives till the 29th September next, will complete her 101st year, having children of the first, second, third, and fourth generations, sufficiently numerous to form a small colony."

"A Centenarian. Mrs. Brockman, of Hale, in the parish of St. Nicholas-at-Wade, in the Isle of Thanet, attained, on Tuesday last, the very rare age of 101 years. Many of the younger branches of the family visited the old lady during the day; also several friends looked in and drank tea with her. The members of her family continue to increase in number from year to year, several in the fifth generation having been born since her 100th birthday, and she can still boast of having a somewhat numerous progeny, there being at the present time (1873) living four children, twenty-nine grandchildren, seventy-eight great-grandchildren, and eleven great-great-grandchildren — total, 122. Besides the above she has lost children, grandchildren, &c., to the number of thirty — making a grand total of 152. The old lady is in excellent health, and still retains possession of all her faculties. The anniversary was again commemorated by the neighbouring villagers; the ringers assembled in the belfry, and (assisted by those from Quex Park) sent forth merry peals during the evening."

Isle of Thanet Illustrated Guide
pub S.R. Wilson, 36, Harbour Street, Ramsgate; c. 1889


ST. NICHOLAS-AT-WADE is about two miles from Monkton; its name is taken from the Saint to whom the church is dedicated, and its near proximity to the Wantsume; about the time of the building of this church by the Monks of Christ Church, Canterbury, the river became so shallow as to be able to be waded through: this was about the year 1200, at which time it was only a chapel to Reculver, but in the year 1300 a vicar was appointed to it. Hasted says the name is derived from its situation "Ad Vadum," i.e. wading place or ford across the river Wantsum, at or near the site of the existing bridge at Sarre; the parish lies at the north-east corner of the Isle of Thanet. We quote from Archæologia Cantiana the following: "The church is built on high ground, and its tower is conspicuous for miles; it is like so many of the churches in this neighbourhood, being a combination of Norman and Early English. It has a good Chancel, the North or Bridge Chapel opening into the Chancel by two arches, and the South or Thomas a Becket Chapel by a single one; the Norman part was, no doubt, pulled down about the 12th or 13th century, as the Early English is clear and distinct. The walls of the Chancel, which was restored in 1875, are no doubt, Early English, and an Early English arch remains on the south side. The Chancel arch is Early English.

The Nave contains most interesting remains, and appears to have been part of the original Norman structure. The south arcade is of four bays, and the two arches to the east are equal in width, carried on Norman piers. The third arch is Early English; the next arch, abutting on the tower, is Perpendicular, and was probably reconstructed at the time when the upper stages of the tower were built. The south wall is decorated, and breaks back in an unusual way to meet the inner face of the south wall of the tower. This church should be noted as one of much interest, and should not be overlooked by visitors to the Isle of Thanet." Murray says, "The porch has a parvise chamber. The church is built or sea-worn flints, with much rough brick (Roman?) interspersed. The eastern dripstones of the tower window, encrusted with nests of the 'temple-haunting martlet,' represent heads of a bishop and prior. The whole building proves the care and expense bestowed by the monks on their off-lying manors." The visitor should not fail to see the old brass to Valentine Everard, his two wives, and son, who died in 1559, and upon which the following inscription occurs: "Here lyeth buried ye bodyes of Valentyne Edvarod Gentleman who had two wyfes Agnes and Joane by Agnes he had iiii sonnes and two daughters and also by Joane his second wyfe iii sonnes and vi daughters which Valentyne decesed the xxv daye of February in the yere of our Lorde God mccccclix after whose decease the layde Joane married with Thomas Paramor and by him hade a sonne and a daughter and the layde Joane decesed the fyfthe day of Apryll in the yere of or Lorde God mccccclxxiiii: whose soules God hath taken to his mercy."

A pictorial and descriptive guide to Margate, North-east Kent, and Canterbury
Second edition — revised
Ward, Lock and Co., Limited; London; c.1905?

St. Nicholas-at-Wade

(Bell Inn) is a delightful old-world village, where newspapers do not penetrate until 2 p.m., when it is too late to get excited about anything. The inhabitants have in consequence a marvellous reputation for longevity. St. Nicholas enjoys a brief period of excitement in the coursing season, but during the rest of the year its seclusion is rarely disturbed, except by a small carriage party or a casual cyclist. The Church has a lofty embattled tower, and standing as it does on a slight eminence, is seen for miles around. It is reputed to date from the year 1200. A curious feature is the parvise, or priests' chamber over the door, which can only be reached by means of a long wooden ladder. The carving of the Norman columns on the south side of the nave should be noted. The carved oak pulpit bears the date 1615. In the Bridges Chapel is a remarkable sixteenth century brass, and the South Chapel contains an ancient chest. The south chapel and part of the nave were restored in 1898. Some much-worn steps lead to the top of the tower, from which there is a fine view. The Reculver towers are seen across the marshes to the north-west, and in clear weather Canterbury Cathedral is visible to the south-west.

The addition "At Wade" is said by Hasted to have been given to St. Nicholas by reason of its position near the former Wantsume stream — Latin vado, Anglo-Saxan wadan, to go, to wade.