We went to Lower Halstow mainly for a trip on the splendid Thames Barge, the Edith May, but also had time to take in the little church of St Margaret of Antioch.
Once the site of major brickworks, there is little evidence of Lower Halstow's industrial past apart from the quay, were boats similar to the Edith May would once have been loaded with bricks.
Thames Barge - Edith May
The Edith May spent most of her life carrying wheat and grain products from East Anglia to London. She was built in 1906 by J & H Cann of Harwich, and remained in trade until 1961.
In the 60s and 70s she had an illustrious career as a racing barge. Then in the mid 80s she was fitted out for charter work, but essential maintenance work was neglected and she fell into a sad state of disrepair.
She was bought by her current owners, the Gransden family, in 1999 who spent the next ten years restoring her to her current resplendent condition, using mainly reclaimed materials and timber.
She is available for group charter in the summer, and is open as a tea room between October and April. See the official web site detailed below, for more information.
Look out for the Whitstable Oyster Yawl Thistle F86, an earlier Gransden family restoration project, which is usually moored in Faversham Creek.
External Links and References
Thames Barge Edith May
The official site with information on sailings as well as the history of the barge, etc. http://edithmaybargecharter.co.uk/
St Margaret of Antioch's Church
St Margaret of Antioch's Church at Lower Halstow has been a place of worship for a very long time. Indeed the very name of the village comes from the JutishHalig Stow, meaning holy place.
The chancel is believed to date back to the 8th century, and may have replaced an earlier wooden building.
The walls are constructed from field flints and rubble stone, together with reused Roman tiles. In the south wall you can make out a blocked up Saxonround arched window.
The nave and aisles date from the 12th century, the tower is late 13th, and the porch and vestry are modern.
Inside there is much to see, including the unusual lead font, believed to date back to 1160-1180, and the, sadly deteriorating, remnants of the medievalwall paintings.
The East Window dates from 1920 and is based on a painting by Pio Ximenes know as Abide With Me, commissioned by card publishers Messrs Raphael Tuck & Sons Ltd. A later version of this painting is currently in Shipley Art Gallery.
In 1917 the nephew of the wife of the then vicar of St Margaret's, Brig-General Roland Boys Bradford VC MC
asked Tucks to produce what was at first going the be a Christmas card, but later became a souvenir picture for his men after he was appointed Brigadier General. It was to be based on the hymn 'Abide With Me' which his battalion were in the habit of singing at dusk and before going into battle.
Bradford was killed in action 30 November 1917 aged 25, and the cards were never produced. He was one of the four heroic Bradford brothers of Whitton Park, two of whom were awarded the Victoria Cross, Britain's highest medal for gallantry.