St Lawrence Parish Church serves all who come to us, and the St Lawrence ward of Seal Parish Council within the District of Sevenoaks in Kent, UK.
The parish consists of three communities:-
the hamlet of Bitchet Green, the hamlet of Stone Street, and part of Seal Chart (‘Chart’ means ‘common’), both North and South of the A25 road.
- Services are held every Sunday and Tuesday and midweek on feast days.
- Our worship includes both modern (Common Worship) and traditional (Book of Common Prayer) services.
- We have a Sunday School. Other groups include bell-ringers (we have a peal of six bells), a prayer group, and a Bible study group. We have a small and enthusiastic choir.
- While about half our worshipping family comes from our own parish, many others feel drawn to St Lawrence’s by the friendliness of the congregation and the beauty of the church building.
- We are a Church of England Church, within the Diocese of Rochester, but also have strong ecumenical links. We have signed a Covenant with the local Methodist Church (The Drive, Sevenoaks), and a Declaration of Ecumenical Welcome and Commitment with the United Reformed Church in Sevenoaks, and we are a founder member of Churches Together in Sevenoaks and District.
Why is our church named after St Lawrence?
St Lawrence church is named after the parish of St Lawrence on the Isle of Wight – it was there that the 6-year old daughter of Mr and Mrs Wilkinson of Frankfield (the house you can see across
the field to the north of our church) had died in 1866 while on holiday.
In Mary Rachel’s memory, the Wilkinsons built our St Lawrence’s Church in 1867/8, and once completed, Mary Rachel’s remains were exhumed and re-buried in our churchyard as the first entry in St Lawrence’s Burials Register.
(You can see a picture of Mary Rachel here as depicted in the top window in our chancel.)
Indeed, the original building was modeled on Old St Lawrence Church, Isle of Wight (a tiny 12th Century church – see the pictures on the windowsill at the west end of the church.)
Like most churches, St Lawrence’s has adapted to the on-going needs of its community and congregation. Some of the highlights are:-
|1867||Foundation stone laid on 8th October 1867
St Lawrence District was established (4 November, out of the chaplaincy
|1868||Church built from Kentish Ragstone from the local Foxbury
Quarry, and lined with soft yellow Speldhurst stone.
The Pulpit is also of Speldhurst stone; The white roof of the porch is
Nave, chancel and open belfry. ( The architect was C H Howell of London)
Church consecrated on 20 June 1868 – our annual Dedication
|1876||Two transepts added in memory of the Wilkinsons’ third daughter,
Annie Clare, who had died that year, aged 14
|1877||St Lawrence’s established as a separate parish
2-manual pipe organ, built by A Gern of London, hand-pumped!
|1888||Nave lengthened, and addition of the tower and peal of 6
bells (Tenor 10 cwt) in memory of Sarah Wilkinson (sister to Horace and
The previous porch was removed and now forms the lychgate
|1909||Lectern provided (donated by Joseph Matthews)|
|1912||Enlargement of vestry; Addition of dormer windows to the
|1918/19||Addition of dormer windows to the chancel, dedicated on 15
January 1919 (the anniversary of the day the commemorated son fell at the
|1959||Church Council discusses electrification of the church|
|1960||Removal of the front transept pews (to widen the available
space; one of the pews is now the one in the porch)
|1967||Complete rebuild (most recent rebuild) of organ, which was converted to
|1988||Radiant (infra-red) heating installed|
|1998||Removal of two pews from the back of the nave (to create a
more open meeting area)
|2000||Removal of one pew from the North transept to allow space
for an electric piano
|2002||Toilet provided (with disabled facilities; it’s actually
located at the church end of the adjacent school building)
|2005||Church struck by lightning.
November: worship resumes in the nave
|2006||Fire damage completed, and chancel reordered (removal of
inner pews) – celebrated at a re-opening service on 10th December
|2009||Plans for a second Garden of Remembrance (space for the
burial of Ashes) in our churchyard
The above is, of course, just a very small sample of entries from the full inventory!
Click here for a description of our stained glass windows