Church of St Mary the Virgin

Church of St Mary the Virgin

Church of St Mary the Virgin
4.5
10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Monday
10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Tuesday
10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Wednesday
10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Thursday
10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Friday
10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Saturday
10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Sunday
10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
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  • JanChan
    United Kingdom366 contributions
    Champion champing surrounded by history
    This atmospheric church combines Saxon roots with a medieval building, a 17th-century brass, 18th-century box pews and 21st-century accommodation! And in 1605 the Fordwich authorities paid 10 shillings (50p) to the King's Players, the London theatre company of which William Shakespeare was a member, and for which he wrote his plays. The venue for their performance might well have been St Mary's church, according to its very knowledgable custodian, and maybe featured William himself. What more do you want? Well, the church now offers “champing” — that is, camping inside the building, where you are put up in one of the box pews! You might have some interesting dreams…
    Traveled with friends
    Written August 15, 2021
  • TheReidsUK
    Aveley, United Kingdom5 contributions
    Champing in Fordwich!
    So this weekend it was off Kent for a spot of Champing. That would be camping in a church. Arriving at the Church of St Mary the Virgin in Fordwich (England’s smallest town for you pub quizzers), the church looks quite unassuming, partially concealed as it is by the trees that surround it. On pushing through the heavy wooden door though and stepping through, you are transported back hundreds of years. This is a fascinating Norman church that has been extended and enhanced over the centuries resulting in a quite eclectic feel. There are 14th century windows, a clay tile floor, proud organ pipes and the stars of today’s particular show, the 18th century box pews. These pews will be our ‘rooms’ for the night! Fordwich is about 3 miles from Canterbury, so after a trip into the city to explore the cathedral and watch a spot of rugby over a beer or two, it was back to Fordwich for an excellent three course meal in the Fordwich Arms, a charming pub right next to the church. And so onto the event itself, the champing! We distribute our stuff amongst the box pews and I select one toward the rear and deposit my airbed on the floor of the pew – the foot well if you will. The seat of the pew acts as a shelf for my bag and a candle. We lock the heavy wooden door with the ancient wrought iron key, light a raft of pillar candles and prepare for the night. It is March and it’s cold, there’s no getting away from that, but with a few layers on its OK – it’s all part of the experience! It is very dark outside now and the light from our candles flickers off the various features of the church. I thought it might be eerie but it isn’t at all. It’s actually very, very peaceful. We share a final beer sitting in the chancel then it’s off to our pews and into our sleeping bags. I sleep much better than I thought I would and I’m only slightly disorientated when I wake up to find myself in a church! My colleagues gradually rouse themselves too and after a cup of tea and a quick brush of the teeth we head out for a stroll along the river Stour before returning to the Fordwich Arms for a hearty full English breakfast. All in all, an unusual but enjoyable experience and an interesting tale to tell when you return to work on Monday! http://www.visitchurches.org.uk/champing
    Traveled with friends
    Written March 23, 2015
  • Mick J
    23 contributions
    Church + camping = champing
    The trend for unusual places to stay reaches its apogee with the opening of a small number of churches owned by the Churches Conservation Trust for overnight stays. Facilities are spartan--air mattresses, a kettle, a toilet tent but this isn't about creature comforts. It's about spending time in complete seclusion in an extraordinary building and experiencing it (literally) in different lights and drink in its atmosphere. You can read, you can meditate, you can listen to music, you can even pray. What you must do is sing a bit (or a lot), and read a poem from the pulpit to experience the excellent acoustics of the church. We chose to listen to a recording of Macbeth as the light faded, and were delighted to learn later that Shakespeare had performed in Fordwich--possibly in the church itself--in 1605. We supplemented our trip with dinner in the Fordwich Arms, a huge breakfast in The George and Dragon (included) a trip down the river with Canoe Wild and a visit to the tiny but fascinating town hall.For a tiny town Fordwich has much to explore. It's not the easiest night's sleep--you will wake with the birds as the sun streams in through the church windows-- but a wonderful, revitalising experience none the less.
    Traveled as a couple
    Written July 27, 2015
These reviews are the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor checks reviews for fraud.
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Rob6079
Canterbury, UK54 contributions
A wonderful old church open daily thanks to the work of the trust that takes care of it. Nestled in the smallest town in England this is a haven of peace within a picturesque and charming little settlement. Spend time marvelling at the sheer age of the pews and tombs within, and contemplate the tranquility. There is even a tomb purporting to hold relics of St Augustine of Canterbury. This church is beautifully looked after and totally unspoilt. 25 minutes from Canterbury by bike along a largely traffic-free cycle way. Also a short walk from Sturry Rlwy Stn. Time your visit after 1130 if you want a coffee in the local pub or on a Summer Bank Holiday or August Wednesday if you wish to visit the old Town Hall as well.
Written August 18, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

ITSARHINO
Folkestone, UK4,375 contributions
Oct 2018 • Friends
We had to have a nose in here. Beautiful and ancient from the outside , even more so inside. Great atmosphere , loads of history to imbibe. There has been a church on this site since 620, the present building is from the 11/12 th centuries. It has old family pews with doors, stained glass windows and a delightful spire a top it. The latch to the door of the church rattled from the effect of the wind, akin to a Dickens novel. Worth a visit and a small donation for the up keep!
Written October 13, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Hi lobster64, Thanks for taking the time to leave a review, really glad you enjoyed your visit and thank you for making a donation. We have over 350 churches across England so hope to see you at another CCT church soon. Best wishes, Rachel M
Written October 23, 2018
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Sue N
Traverse City, MI47 contributions
May 2015 • Couples
St. Mary's Church, Fordwich, has special meaning for our family: it is our ancestral home. Recently my son and I fulfilled a dream visiting St. Mary's with our 1597 family Bible. Visitors enter the church through the South porch door into an 1100s era church where history can be seen, felt, and imagined. One of the most interesting features inside the church is the Fordwich stone, which looks like a sarcophagus, was carved around 1100. It is thought the stone may have originally come from Canterbury and that the relics of a saint may have been placed beneath it--perhaps, even, St. Augustine. Of great interest to us is a Benefactions memorial plaque bearing the name of one of our cousins. The are postcards, a brochure, and a little booklet available for a small fee (a box for donations is close by), the booklet being especially useful in helping visitors remember their visit. We are grateful The Churches Conservation Trust has maintained this church, and like to imagine that our ancestors would be pleased to know we had "come home." [free site to visit, but leaving a donation is considerate and appreciated!]
Written August 11, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Hikemike
11 contributions
Jul 2019
On a chance visit to Fordwich my wife and I stumbled upon this small exquisite anglican church dating back to Norman times set in a fairly overgrown churchyard adjacent to the river Stour. It has a fascinating history throughout the centuries and although no longer used for services is maintained by the Churches Conservation Trust. It provides a window of how pilgrims and local people worshipped in the past with interesting features such as the wooden box pews and a shelf for leaving loaves for the poor. Well worth a visit whilst in the tiny town of Fordwich.
Written September 4, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

RCL222
Canterbury, UK93 contributions
Mar 2019 • Solo
I always enjoy visiting this beautiful church.
I recommend it to anyone.
Fordwich town is also beautiful
Written March 19, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Lestermusic-uk
Ramsgate, UK372 contributions
Oct 2018 • Solo
Fordwich is the smallest town in Britain with fewer than 400 people living there at the last census.
The Church of St.Mary the Virgin is a most interesting place to see and I found the woodwork from construction to the pews amazing. St.Mary's is run by the Churches Conservation Trust and is Grade 1 listed.
Though the original church dates back to 620, much was rebuilt in the 11th and 12th centuries.
Being near to Canterbury, Fordwich acted as a port for boats going there via the River Stour.
This is a wonderful church to visit and take in the pretty town too.
Written October 6, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Hi Peter, Thanks for taking the time to leave a review, really glad you enjoyed your visit. We have over 350 churches across England so hope to see you at another CCT church soon. Best wishes, Rachel M
Written October 23, 2018
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Ferial E
Carlisle, UK215 contributions
Feb 2018 • Couples
Lovely building and it's good to know that the CCT is still arranging for Services to be held here. It's soooo cold though - understandably.
Written February 12, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Hawkins S
Antigua7 contributions
Oct 2017 • Friends
Really enjoyed visiting this little church we went during the week it was a wet day. so interesting seeing the different brasses on the floor and the stain glass window.
Written December 3, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Wayne D
Key West, FL530 contributions
Jun 2017 • Couples
Saint Mary the Virgin of Fordwich is an ancient church, dating back to 620, though much of the church has been reconstructed, starting in the 11th and 12th centuries. It is redundant, with services now being held elsewhere. It is a Grade I listed structure, managed by the Churches Conservation Trust, which keeps it open to the public.

The church is well worth a visit, even compared to the nearby Canterbury Cathedral. The exterior is simple in its construction, compared to the cathedral, but there are still a few quirks (check out the gargoyle-like heads on flanking the window over the altar from the outside). The church yard/cemetery surrounds the church, with many headstone carved skull staring at you as you walk into the church.

The interior of the church is very nice, with 18th century box pews sitting below medieval stained glass windows. Near the altar there are said to be visible architectural elements from the Saxon period. The church houses the Fordwich Stone, an altar-like structure that is said to have been the original tomb of St. Augustine.

A visit to the church can be quick or long. I suggest reading the church history (in the church on a table with other literature) at the start of your visit and find the items it lists. I also recommend Champing, where you can camp out in the church overnight (Google "Champing" and/or go to the Churches Conservation Trust website).
Written June 26, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Marcus S
Canterbury, UK27 contributions
Dec 2016
The graveyard at the church of St Mary the Virgin in Fordwich has some unusual tombstones in it with skull carvings. Not the usual fayre among more typical crosses, cherubs and doves of peace, the skulls on the stones located to the left of the church door are particularly impressive... and photograph well for anyone interested in documenting them. Inside, the church is welcoming and has space for "champing" i.e. church camping, by prior reservation on the Champing website.
Written January 2, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Church of St Mary the Virgin, Fordwich

Frequently Asked Questions about Church of St Mary the Virgin

Church of St Mary the Virgin is open:
  • Sun - Sat 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM