2020 was the 900 yrs Anniversary of the presence of a church in Hernhill
In his excellent book, A History of Hernhill Church (Pub December 2020), Peter Willcock traces how some of the national events and state-imposed changes affected many alterations to the church building of St. Michael’s. In 2011, for example, work was completed for the installation of a WC and kitchenette at the base of the tower together with reallocating the vestry and organ. Over the years, many changes to the building are the result of wear and tear which quite recently made it necessary for the west window of the church to be renovated.
St. Michael’s Church, Hernhill has always held a prominent position in the centre of the village overlooking the village green and Red Lion Pub. Since Saxon times, a church has been situated on the present site. The original wooden building was replaced in the 12th century by a flint and stone structure dedicated to St. Stephen and stonework from this time still remains in the south wall.
It is thought that the rebuilding of the church in the 15th century and re-dedication to St. Michael’s and all angels, was the result of a pledge by Lady Elizabeth Martyn. Lady Elizabeth, wife of John Martyn, Lord of the Manor of Dargate, made a pledge that if John and his son returned home safely from the battle of Agincourt (1415), she would rebuild the church. St. Michael’s remains one of the few wholly perpendicular churches in Kent and many of its architectural features date from this period.
People have gathered in St. Michael’s to worship, to celebrate joyful events, to find comfort and peace in times of sadness and simply to visit the beautiful building. Today, there is an active church life. The local Church of England Primary School use the church for Christmas, Easter, Harvest and end of term services and, sometimes, for History and RE lessons. The church is used for other community events such as concerts, talks, art exhibitions and flower festivals. In November 2021, the craft fair in the church was revived after its demise for two years due to the covid pandemic; it was a very successful and joyous occasion.
Most recently, a monthly event in the church known as ‘Breathing Space’ has taken place in the evening for one hour. It is a time for peace and quiet reflection. Music is played and, occasionally, a choir is invited. In July 2021, we said goodbye to our vicar the Reverent Jean Burrows on her retirement. Jean was appointed in 2007 and she is, to date, the only woman priest on the long list of priests, since 1283, recorded in church.