St. Margaret's Church

Saint Margaret of Antioch The Tower The Church Parish Chest

Saint Margaret of Antioch

Saint Margaret was the christian daughter of a pagan priest in Antioch, at a time when her religion was forbidden by the Emperor Diocletian. The story says that she was thrown into prison for rejecting the suit of a Roman Prefect. Whilst incarcerated, she was visited by Satan in the form of a dragon. This monster attempted to devour her, but she held onto her crucifix and the the monster spat her out! She became a popular saint in the fourteenth century, after her story had been brought back from the crusades.

St Margaret's still dominates the modern Rainham skyline.

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The Tower

The tower is made from Kentish ragstone, mixed with flint, and is turreted and battlemented. Built around 1480, it was once intended to be used as a beacon, connected with a line of other churches from London to the coast.

The tower stands 30 metres high.

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The Church

The building consists of a nave and chancel, with a north aisle and chapel, and north and south porches. The walls are mainly of flint, and the roof is tiled. The pillars of the nave date from the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries. During restoration work in 1924 the lower part of the east wall of the chancel was found to be of the 11th century.

Inside Rainham church looking east towards the altar.

There are a number of monuments and brasses in the chancel; Thomas Norreys, died 1624, James Donet, died 1409, William Bloor, died 1529, John Norden, died 1584, and to William Aucher and his wife, died 1514. At the eastern end of the nave is the "Tufton Chapel," underneath which is a crypt containing the coffins of several generations of Tuftons. Nicholas and George Tufton are both immortalised in marble. Hasted notes these "costly monuments" in his "History of Kent," and also a vault in the northwest corner of the north aisle, which he says is for the family of John Russell of Greenwich.

Statue of Nicholas Tufton

The boards that cover the space of the rood loft are painted with the white rose of York. It has been conjectured that this was made by Thomas St. Leger, who was once thought to rest in a marble tomb in the north side of the sanctuary. It is now known, however, that Sir Thomas was interred at Windsor, and the true occupant of this truncated tomb remains a mystery.

The roof of the rood loft.

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Parish Chest

In the chancel there is a parclose screen dating from the 15th century, while back in the Tufton chapel, writes Philip Rogers in 1939, "there is an old chest which is one of the most cherished possessions of Rainham parish. The chest dates from the early 14th century, and the parish records are now kept in it."

This chest is thought to date from the early 14th century.

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