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Bring your church and village to life

In 1994 I retired after 44 years in the Nat West Bank - and was not sure how I would spend my time.

I soon found out. Within a few days I saw a notice that the Friends of Kent Churches were due to visit our 11th century church of St Peter- in-Thanet the following Saturday. They wanted six people to act as guides. I had three days to prepare, so offered my services. The visit went well, and I noticed that several visitors also wanted to be shown around the village.

In view of the interest shown it was decided to arrange guided tours of the church and village, which lies one mile inland from Broadstairs in East Kent. I did the necessary research, and we planned to start the following March. We also decided to intersperse the tour with short presentations or vignettes by costume characters to portray people from the past. The principle is called First Person Living History, and must have been successful as last season we welcomed our 15,000th visitor. We have received awards, both local and national. The volunteers and local residents say it has given

everyone a sense of pride and ownership for the church, where the tour starts and finishes, and for the village. Visitors say the tour is an entertaining and enjoyable experience, which is difficult to put into words – you will just have to pay a visit!

Following the success of this tour we also run one-hour guided walks round the churchyard, which is one of the longest in England. The Churchyard Tour explains about interesting graves, using visual aids. The two other tours are of the World War I and War World II graves. These are simpler tours, but have proved popular.

Details of all four tours can be found on our web site

Booking is essential either on 01843 871200 or through the web site. All tours are free, and are put on by our team of 110 volunteers. 

Above: Revd John Wesley with visitors, who visited the village to open a new Wesleyan Chapel next to the Parish Church.

Above: A meeting of the Overseers of the Poor. One of their duties was the destruction of vermin, the local rat-catcher is part of the group.

Brian Sleightholm, Chairman,

St Peter's Village Tour Kent

Above: A soldier explaining to the High Sheriff of Kent and the Mayor that the church tower was used as a signaling station by the Royal Navy in the Napoleonic Wars. The tower is therefore allowed to fly the White Ensign.

Above: The medieval characters of Mr and Mrs Richard Culmer. He was a successful shipbuilder who died in 1495. In his will he left six acres of land to local people, which are still an open area and allotments.


rural mission

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