St Thomas à Becket, Fairfield
St Thomas à Becket Church in Fairfield stands alone in a field on the Marsh, surrounded by water courses and sheep. A causeway was built in 1913, and until then the church was more often than not surrounded by water during the winter and spring.
Fairfield, the village it once served has long since disappeared, but the church has survived and is now part of a parish which includes the villages of Brookland, Brenzett and Snargate.
The church is dedicated to St Thomas à Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 until his murder in 1170. The church was built as a temporary structure of timber lath and plaster in c1200 to support the local farming community. From the outside it looks rather severe – the 13th century timber frame was encased in brickwork in the 18th century, and its immense roof covered in red tiles.
But entering the interior is like going back in time – the Georgian interior feels as though little has changed for over 200 years. Close the heavy door behind you, and all is peaceful and silent, except for the muffled sound of the wind. It is truly evocative of a bygone age.
In 1912 the fabric was in a very poor state and a complete rebuilding within the timber framework took place. However, the inside of the church was, fortunately, left untouched. It is Georgian, with a three decker pulpit, box pews and texts boards. The pews are still painted white with black linings.
The font is plain, and a design unique in Kent. The bowl has seven sides, perhaps a reminder of the seven sacrements of the church. It was originally located on the north side of the church, but is now in the centre, underneath the turret.
This iconic church has been used as a filming location, including 2011 BBC adaption of Great Expectations, Great Expectations (2012 film) and Parade's End (TV series)
St Thomas à Beckett Church holds services at 10am on the first Sunday of every month. Further information can be obtained from the vicar Rev Shuna Body. email 01797 343977
The church is kept locked. The key can be obtained from Becket Barn Farm, Fairfield, TN29 9RZ, which is on the opposite side of the road a few hundred yards to the west of the church.