Copyright Kent Past 2010
The History of Kent
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History of Wye
Wye comes from the Old English ‘wīg’ meaning an ‘idol a shrine’; therefore, a ‘heathen temple’. The Domesday Book chronicles Wye as Wi.
Wye parish church is a Grade: I listed building, dedicated to Saint Gregory and Saint Martin. The Saxons built the first church with the sole dedication to Saint Gregory. In the 13th century, the Normans rebuilt it with the additional dedication of St Martin, the favourite saint of William the Conqueror. In 1447, Archbishop John Kempe, born in Wye, rebuilt the church to a much larger scale, converting it to a Collegiate Church. There is a record of five bells in 1552. In 1572, Robert Doddes cast four bells bearing the Kempe Arms. In the same year, lightning destroyed the steeple and some of the bells. In 1593, Robert Mot recast four of the five bells, and added a treble the next year to augment the ring to six. In 1686, the tower collapsed, during Matins, demolishing the whole of the east end. They rebuilt the tower together with a smaller chancel in Queen Anne style in 1706. In 1734, Richard Phelps added two trebles.
In 1798, Edward Hasted describes the Wye church as being ‘small, but neat. It consists, of three isles, the middle one having an upper story and range of windows. There is only one small chancel, new built, circular at the east end, which does not reach near so far as the old one, which extended several feet further, Mr. Chamberlain Godfrey's monument, in the church yard standing, as is said, where the altar formerly did…. In the steeple are eight bells and a clock, which were completed in 1774’. In 1878, the Victorians carried out restoration works including the removal of the galleries in the nave, along the south and west walls, new pews and moving the organ to the chancel. In 1943, a bomb destroyed the west window and subsequently replaced in 1951 by a window with an agricultural theme. Whitechapel cast and hung two bells to make ten in 1999…. More
John Kempe Archbishop of York built the college of Saint Gregory and Saint Martin, under license from King Henry VI, in 1448. Walter Bucler, the queen’s secretary, purchased the college and its possessions for £200, on 13 March 1545.