Cathedral of the Weald


If you read about my recent visit to the delightful Weald town of Cranbrook you will have seen my reference to St Dunstan’s church which is known as the ‘Cathedral of the Weald’. Wealth from the cloth industry enabled successive enlargements of the medieval church in the 15th and 16th century.

This delightful church is well worth a more detailed look around, so let’s go inside.


Around the church are information panels providing details about particular interesting objects within.

The Font


This font is Victorian from 1852, and example of early Victorian Gothic and made of Caen stone. The white marble carved figure behind commemorates Thomas Webster, an artist, and the Alexander Window above was installed by Col Alexander in memory of his wife and three children.

 The Green Man


Although of pagan origin it is not unusual to find carvings of the Green Man inside a Christian church, even Canterbury Cathedral has 80 of them. When this church was built Cranbrook was surrounded by dense forest – the Weald. Four circular oak shields depicting these fierce-looking woodland spirits can be found here.

The church contains some splendid stained-glass windows


The St Thomas Chapel


This beautiful serene corner of the church is named after St Thoma a Beckett, who by the 15th century had replaced St Dunstan as England’s most popular saint. I loved the light flooding through the clear leaded windows.

The South Porch

This porch was built around 1390. The wooden door added in 1569 at a cost of 17 shillings and 7 pence (£2k today). On the ceiling is a stone-carved Green Man.

And a final look at the church surrounded by the old graveyard with interesting headstones.

If your interest is windows then Dawn from ‘The Day After’  invites participants to post pictures of any windows that  they find curious, inviting, photogenic, or in some way tell a story.

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I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

29 thoughts on “Cathedral of the Weald”

    1. I rather liked the inclusion of the full immersion font to try and win back the Baptists! So now I’m left wondering if all Baptists have full immersions!

      1. I think they do Jude. My sister in law is quite religious, and her church even does baptism in the sea, at special events. They also have a full-size baptismal font in the local church. No doubt a ‘proper’ Baptist will be able to answer you in more detail though. x

  1. Then St Dustan’s was standing when my historical hero was alive – Richard III. It’s a wonderful church. I think all mediæval churches are, really; because back then, everyone KNEW that god existed and all that went with it. There was NO DOUBT. Must’ve been amazing.
    Super post, Jude !

  2. Gorgeous tour Jude and I really love the lighting coming in for several of the photos. As always I appreciate your creativity and variety of angles and perspectives .

  3. This is the kind of cathedral tour I love – not quite so large in scale and relatively rural so the grounds and headstones are part of the history. Brings the history more alive for me than some of the huge city cathedrals. The candelabra piece is exqusite, and I live your light/ shadow photo! I’ve been trying a few shadow photos with our native grasses as the September sun is at a good angle for that.

    1. Well, it is just a church, but known as a cathedral as it is the biggest in the region, just like our local St Laurence is known as the Cathedral of the Marches. They are both much, much smaller than the ‘real’ cathedrals. And, yes, I agree about the shadows. Must get out and take more photos this month.

  4. What a lovely old cathedral. Jude. The stained glass windows are gorgeous. I love the Father Time on the clock, and the beautiful Royal Coat of Arms, Yes I believe that Baptists do have full immersions.

  5. I love the stone floor and simple wooden vaults. We have churches around her with green men – I think they were hedging their bets back then.

    1. I think the point is that paganism wasn’t anti-christian, it was just pre-christian and perhaps the church thought that by trying to Christianise local customs they’d get more people in 🙂

  6. Splendid photos of splendid stained glass windows: I love your galleries of that illuminate colour as one loves the unattainable! Thanks for the images of the green man, and for that lovely shot of the shadows on the floor below the leaded window. You inspire me to go and check out the two churches in Bodalla, both mid 19th century, and our local country graveyard.

    1. Missed this comment too! Thanks Meg for you lovely words. Churches and graveyards do interest me, though not from any religious context, purely the history and architecture.

    1. Perhaps it never made it over the pond! I suppose here in the UK we take all this ancient stuff for granted 🙂
      (I like the new avatar)

  7. What a gorgeous cathedral and it looked like a lovely day for you. The stained glass windows are beautiful. You know, I never heard of the Green Man before Jude, so now I’ll be looking out for him! I love the way you bring in these deligthful little historical snippets alongside your always beautiful photographs.
    Hope you have a lovely weekend. We are off to Brighton for an early birthday (mine!) celebration with the boys. See you next week 🙂 xx

    1. You do surprise me not knowing the Green Man. I imagine there are images of him in and around Somerset. That region strikes me as being especially pagan England. I am very late to this comment – must have missed it when away looking after the grandchildren! I know you had a lovely birthday, mines next weekend and we are going to have a few days in Dorset. I shall have to see if I can get as good photographs as yours from there!

      1. I’m sure hubby knows all about the Green Man…I’ll ask him! He must be around here in Somerset. I’m surprised at myself for not knowing about him!! But now, thanks to you Jude, I do 🙂 Your birthday trip to Dorset sounds lovely…I’ll be intrigued to know where you go. Who knows, I might bump into you as we are right on the border 😉 I have no doubt that you’ll snap many gorgeous pics…and I wish you a very Happy Birthday in advance… 🙂 xx

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