Margate Parish Church (St John the Baptist) Monuments

The Parish Church in Margate, St John the Baptist, commands a fine aspect from something of a hill, found by continuing up the High Street from the town centre all the way. It contains a goodly number of monuments, the interest of this page, but first a few words on the building itself. It stands in its churchyard, and is a long, low building save for the three storey tower with spire. It is built of flint, with freestone dressings at the corners and around windows and portico. Rather than a higher central nave and two lower aisles, there are three equal height pointed roofs, with the West Tower at the end of the northernmost one.

St John the Baptist, Margate.

The building was originally put up as a small chapel at ease of the mother church at Minster, also in Thanet, in Norman times, later becoming a separate Parish Church in its own right. It was extended as the town grew, to its present length. After the normal periods of prosperity decline and neglect, it was restored in the 1870s by Ewan Christrian, PRIBA, who restored and redesigned many churches, and his is the spire of the North Tower, replacing a very short one (see the engraving below), as well as a new porch, also on the north side, augmenting the one to the south, and he also removed galleries from inside; further changes have taken place in modern times.

View of Margate Church before the tall steeple was added.

Inside, the Church really is rather large, with its three long aisles and lofty wooden roofs, and though the side aisles are divided from the nave by Gothic arches with solid Norman pillars to the north changing to later octagonal shafts further down, this is open enough to enhance the sense of space rather than restricts it. There remains a small gallery at the West end from which the whole interior can be best seen. All down the walls, and up in this gallery, are the monuments.

View of nave, and aisle with monuments.

Monuments

There are over 60 stone wall panel or mural monuments within the Church. There are four from the 16th and 17th Centuries, with writing on black panels, Classical frames and much decorative carving, of whih the Cleybroke monument has a pair of characteristic kneeling statues and the Valentine Petit memorial has decorative figure sculpture. From 1700 is a cartouche monument – a shield shaped panel surrounded by carved drapery, cherub heads and so forth, an elegant sculptural and ornamental alternative to the more architectural rectangular Classical monuments of the times. Minor sculpture of the 18th Century can be found on two of the memorials, and towards the end of that century are a couple of rather plain oval panels, and the first of the white panels on black backings which dominated the early 19th Century. Over half the monuments in the Church are of this white on black type, with a range of simple designs, with some minor sculptural decoration, through well into the Victorian period. Intermingled among them are several obelisk monuments, where the upper part of the monument consists of a black panel cut to obelisk shape evocative of Egypt, and hence death and rebirth. The mid-Victorian period saw a renaissance of Gothic monuments, as blind windows, and there are two of these, both from the 1860s, in St John the Baptist. Finally, in the 20th Century, World War 1 saw a rejection of ornament and a move to austere, unornamented panels, and there are several of these in the Church. Regrettably, nearly all the monuments are either unsigned or seem to have had their signatures deliberately obliterated, but the productive partnership of Bacon and Manning is represented by one monument, and there is another by the relatively obscure monumental mason W. Wood. We consider them in date order:

16th and 17th Century Monuments

Monument to Henry Crispe, d.1588.

Cartouche to Captain John Petit of Dent de Lyon, d.1700.

Monuments after 1700

William Payne monument.

Compositions based on the oval: Rich, Carden and Benson.

19th Century Monuments:

20th Century Monuments:

Brasses

I did not see the ancient brasses in the Church. There are several modern brasses from the late 19th and earlier 20th Centuries:

Also in the Church:

Finally, outside in the Churchyard survive a goodly number of headstones, including a group of double-headstones, some of which are pictured below, and the odd chest tomb and casket, adding considerably to the ambience of the Church.

The pictures of the monuments inside the church are included here with kind permission of the church authorities; the website of St John the Baptist, Margate is at http://www.stjohnschurchmargate.org.uk/churchfamily-history/.

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