(thanks for this transcription go to Jenny Sargent; the documents were passed to the Society for archiving from David Bage's effects)
Copies sent to: The Rev. B. Minchin
Archdeacon of Canterbury
Cyril P. Griggs, A.R.I.B.A.,
1, Manor Road,
Folkestone, KENT CT20 2RZ
CHURCH OF ST. CATHERINE KINGSDOWN, NR. SITTINGBOURNE, KENT
QUINQUENNIAL REPORT OF THE STRUCTURE
The steeple is immediately over the porch or the south side of the nave.
Vertical walls above the porch are lined with a rather soft red brick which is structurally satisfactory but the faces of some of the bricks are spalling. Louvered window openings on two levels have brick arches over or store lintels.
The steeple itself is stone throughout and appears satisfactory.
There are four small openings at the top of the steeple and this is where birds gain access. These should be covered in wire netting but access to fix it would be very difficult. There are four further openings near the base of the stonework and these have been covered in wire netting. They are unglazed and obviously in really rough weather, a certain amount of rain has penetrated and run down the wall. Openings below the stonework of the steeple are all salts with slates and have been wire netted to keep put birds.
There is a bell frame to take two bells but the bells and fittings have been removed. I assume that the bells have been moved to a safe place because according to the records, one of the bells is dated early 14th century and must be one of the earliest bells in the county.
There are some furniture beetle holes in the frame but these appear to be old and I could find no sign of activity.
The floor to the bell chamber is boarded and appears satisfactory but could not be properly checked as it is thick with twigs from birds nests. There is the usual trap in the middle and the bell chamber is reached by a ladder from the ringing chamber below. The ladder has a number of furniture beetle holes and although they look old, it would be wise to treat this with an insecticide to prevent further deterioration.
The ringing chamber itself again has a boarded floor but this could not be checked as twigs from birds nests are about two feet thick. This should be cleared as it will encourage vermin and beetle
From the ringing chamber, stone steps lead down on the east side to the porch, where there is a good oak door which is normally locked.
The walls to the south porch are faced internally with coursed stone which is structurally sound but the face has deteriorated in places. I can only suggest cleaning down and treating with a colourless stone preservative.
The ceiling over the porch has rather nice oak framing with softwood boarding over and all appears to be in good condition. There are two old nests of martins or swallows and these can do no harm as there is no external door to the porch.
The roof over the chancel has been lined to form a kind of barrel vault, the panels being formed in what appears to be thick ply wood, inlaid with coloured veneered wood to form a good Victorian pattern.
I found a fair amount of active furniture beetle in these panels, particularly on the south side.
This does require fairly urgent treatment and the panels should be treated both sides.
I would advise that the work is carried out by a specialist firm who I imagine could access all round by taking out a middle panel on each side, but this would have to be investigated further.
The remaining timbers in the chancel roof are of softwood stained and appear generally sound.
The roof over the nave is similarly constructed with softwood but lined with diagonal match boarding over the top of the rafters. The length of the roof ids divided into four bays and supported on curved brackets which bear down on carved stone corbels. These brackets support the rafters and purlins but the tie beams are at high level and not very effective. As a result, the roof has settled and spread slightly on both sides but is slightly worse on the south side where it can be seen that the curved brackets have opened up about an inch.
The walls are well built and of a good thickness and as stated, the corbelled brackets take ,most of the weight. I therefore imagine that the settlement observed is very old and could have taken place soon after the church was built.
The roof is sufficiently well built and well pegged that in my opinion, there is no danger of any collapse. It would however be advisable to check this at the next quinquennial inspection and if there is any further noticeable movement, we should then have to insert some steel ties at the base of the roof truss.
The timbers are all in softwood and stained and I could find no evidence of active furniture beetle.
The vestry roof is similarly constructed but on a much smaller scale. He roof is lined with horizontal match boarding and all appears satisfactory except for possible weather penetration at the north end and in the east valley. The timber is now dry but stained and could be an old leak which has been repaired.
Walls to nave and chancel are all in good coursed stone which has been extremely well built and has at some time had the surface distempered.
There is a small settlement crack in the chancel arch and a vertical crack on both sides of the chancel arch on the wall immediately below the corbelled arch supports. These are only thin cracks and very dirty so they are obviously old and it would appear that there has been no further movement for some years.
There is a vertical crack under the west window of the nave but this has in the past been filled and there is no evidence of further movement.
There is a similar vertical crack in the middle of the north nave wall but again, this has been filled and there is no further movement.
Walls of the vestry are lined with vertical match boarding and this is generally sound but there is some active furniture beetle. There is also active furniture beetle in the cupboard containing the altar covers.
Windows are all in stained glass and appear satisfactory. One window on the south side is bowed outwards but it appears weatherproof and generally sound. Opening fanlights are rusted and require attention but I am personally happy to leave them as they are as ventilation is not normally needed and such opening do trap birds.
The chancel floor is part stone and part ceramic tiles and all in good condition.
The aisle floor in the nave is of red and cream chequered quarry and ceramic tiles which are all level and satisfactory but the colour has worn off the ceramic. Old original heating grilles are still in place but the holes filled.
Pews are all on raised oak boarding and this appears sound and free from beetle.
The floor to the vestry appears sound and satisfactory and is built over the solid floor of the boiler house.
The south porch has a stone slab floor which is satisfactory.
The altar table is satisfactory and free from beetle but iron supports to the altar rail are rusting and require cleaning and painting.
Choir stalls are of oak, sound and free of beetle.
The pulpit consists of a raised stone floor with carved stone front panel and all is satisfactory.
Pews are all stained and varnished and I could find no evidence of any active beetle.
There are some furniture beetle holes in the organ front and also in the form behind the organ and it is possible that there may be some activity here.
The font is of carved stone on a raised stone platform and is satisfactory.
An old fireplace in the vestry is in fair condition.
This is situated under the vestry on the north side and contains the remains of a derelict heating system. It is brick vaulted and reasonably dry.
External stone steps lead down to the boiler house but the area is choked with rubbish and requires clearing out. The door to this boiler house has no lock and is open.
A new overhead electrical supply appears to have been recently installed and this now serves the vestry with a light and heating point with two further heating points in the nave, one by the vestry entrance and one by the organ. I understand that finance was not available to instal a system in the church but an opportunity suddenly arose when a cheap supply could be obtained and this was wisely accepted for future use.
The church is at the moment adequately supplied with a piped Calor gas system for lighting and heating. Supply is from two cylinders in the. porch and there are two further spare cylinders on the north wall of the church.
There are two further oil lamps suspended in the nave for emergency
The steeple and south porch are faced in stone and all appears to be in good condition.
An iron finial and supports at the top of the spire, together with a secondary iron finials are all rusting and now staining the stonework. These require rather urgent derusting and repairing. They are at a considerable height but you may be able to find someone willing to do this from a ladder as scaffolding would be very expensive, probably in the region of £400.
The steeple is fitted with a satisfactory copper lightening conductor on the west side.
The stone alcove and statue of St. Catherine over the south porch is beginning to deteriorate and could with advantage be cleaned down and treated with a stone preservative
Roofs to the nave, chancel and vestry are all pitched roofs, covered in patterned clay tiles which are all in good condition except on the vestry where a few tiles require refixing. The tops of some ornamental ridge tiles have been broken but the ridge tiles themselves appear to be sound.
Walls are all faced in stone with ragstone filling and are generally in good condition.
Ivy is getting quite thick on the south side and east walls and in several other odd places and this should be poisoned because although it looks attractive, it is detrimental to the stone fascia.
Gutters and down pipes are all of iron which is now rusting rather badly. It is still sound and requires cleaning down and repairing.
A collar to the down pipe on the south chancel wall is broken and the down pipe to the west gutter of the vestry requires refixing.
An Elder tree now growing out of the base of the north east chancel buttress should be destroyed.
The only entrance to the church is by the south door and there is no hard path from the south boundary.
Apart from an area near the south side of the church, the south side of the churchyard is very tidy with well cut grass. The north side of the churchyard is however rather overgrown and neglected.
There are some nicely placed old yew trees which are undoubtedly older than the church itself but frame up the church beautifully as you approach it from the south.
I would suggest that the south east boundary fence requires checking. It is now hard up against the south east chancel buttress and I feel that this is wrong. There should be access all round the church.
The above is a report on the condition of the church and certain recommendations have been made for repairs or rectifying defects. These comments are not intended as a specification, which must be much more detailed.
It should also be noted that before any work is executed, the Diocese should be notified and either a faculty or an Archdeacon’s certificate be obtained.
It is strongly advised that the architect should be first consulted on all repairs etc.
Cyril P. Griggs