all about All Saints and St Christopher's Churches
St Christopher's church sits by the A251 Faversham Road at the apex of the village green. It was once a hall house and still retains many period features. It became the village school, but after the second world war was used for worship when All Saints was declared unsafe. Nowadays it is the focus for Sunday worship from October to May.
All Saints is the parish church of Boughton Aluph and Eastwell, a village on the northern outskirts of Ashford in Kent. The parish has three churches in all: All Saints in Church Lane just off the A28 Ashford to Canterbury Road, St Christopher's by the Village Green at Boughton Lees (A251) and the ruined St Mary's by the lake in Eastwell Park. We are part of the United Wye Benefice, a grouping of eight churches including Wye, Hinxhill and Brook "down the hill" and the "upon the hills" group of Hastingleigh, Elmsted, Waltham and Petham in the Kentish Downs. In "normal" times All Saints is used for regular worship from late May to early October save for the last two weekends in June, and St Christopher's at other times. Services take place at 9.30am each Sunday: Holy Communion on the first, second and fourth Sundays, and Morning Prayer on the third. On fifth Sundays there is a shared benefice service at one of the eight churches. Details are posted weekly on the home page.
The church sits on the Winchester to Canterbury Pilgrims' Way and has been visited by groups of pilgrims from medieval times to the present day. It boasts some fine architecture and a possibly unique pilgrims' porch with tudor fireplace, and not surprisingly is listed Grade 1 (more detail here). However, it was almost destroyed by a stray fire bomb in the last war and the forced sale of the bells and pews to finance urgent restoration work has resulted in a large flexible space that is used nowadays for many different functions, the most important of which being the annual Stour Music Festival, the Five Church Walk and, more recently, the Wye Charity Ball in support of local charities. More and more it is also being used as a magical spot for wedding receptions (meal and dance) after the wedding ceremony. See pics here.
During these COVID-19 times it is difficult to manage opening times other than on Sundays but you may be able to request a key from Mrs Rita Hawes on 01233 627117. For some views of the interior see below, and for a "guided tour" click here.
Gone for good? Let's hope so
CHURCHWARDENS' APRIL NOTES
When you receive this Easter will be upon us but the Covid rules will still apply. It is hard to plan ahead but we are trying: St Christopher’s church at Boughton Lees is open each day for those who wish to have a time of quietness, and we intend to have All Saints open over Easter and then at weekends throughout the Spring and Summer.
Unfortunately as we write these notes we cannot predict when Services will start again, but there’s a good chance we’ll be back at St Christopher’s by mid-April. Normally we return to All Saints in the middle of May and until then we enjoy the heating at St Christopher’s. Our website is always updated so please check if you are unsure.
We thought that this might be a good opportunity to explain some of our thinking for the future, and ask for help:
We are fortunate in Boughton and Eastwell to belong to the Wye Benefice, and as such we receive the services of the clergy for two Sundays in each month. We do not have the option of finding a ‘retired’ vicar to fill the gaps - in this Benefice we are more fortunate than most (two clergy) and poaching is not allowed!
As churchwardens we have led services and we look forward to Paul and Maureen Burnham joining us again but we need help and ideas from others in the Parish regarding the occasional non-clergy-led service. We do not need to conform to the C of E service format but we should need to talk it through, and if hymns are planned (eventually we shall be able to sing) the organist would also need to be in the picture. We have lots of talent in the Parish so please feel able to contribute with your ideas about the service you’d like to see. Now is the chance to make a difference. Please don’t miss it.
Hopefully we shall also be able to have some activities at All Saints this summer. Our planned picnic and band was cancelled last year but other plans are being made. It is so nice to see so many enjoying sitting on the bench or under the yew tree on the millennium seating. Meanwhile, keep safe and well. Contact either of us if you have questions or offers of help
Clare Hardwick 01233 623618 Rita Hawes 01233 627117