The Church has not been in use since sometime in the 16th century. The date at which it was abandoned is uncertain, but the records of a visitation in 1511 indicate that it was in a state of disrepair at that time, and bequests during the early years of the 16th century show that repairs to the fabric continued to be necessary. It is most likely that the church was not used at all after the Reformation. English Heritage manages the Stone Chapel and the site is freely open to the public.
G.W.Meates, an archaeologist and author specializing in Roman and early Christian culture, recorded that buttresses were added to the north wall of the nave during the 13th century because wooden beams had rotted; this suggests that the building was based on an earlier structure already old by that time. Saxon and Roman remains found during Meates’ excavation in 1967 indicate a long period of use at the site, spanning more than a thousand years.
The remains consist of walls standing about a metre above ground level, somewhat higher at the east end. The walls enclose three distinct areas; the nave to the west, the sanctuary to the east and a section linking the two. The walls of the nave and the sanctuary are mainly of flint, bonded with a mortar rich with broken seashells. But construction of the centre section is quite different: the walls here rest on a foundation of flint and consist of layers of tufa blocks, each around 30cms square, separated by a double layer of red brick 3cms thick. This construction is typically Roman, and Meates’ discovery of Roman coins dating from the 3rd and early 4th centuries AD confirms this section as Roman in origin. The size and nature of the foundations revealed during the excavation suggest that this was a mausoleum. The building was windowless, with a barrel vaulted roof and a stout door with megalithic stone frame. Stones which formed the door frame can still be seen, reused in the 13th century buttresses. The sill of the door is still in situ.
The site is now somewhat remote from habitation, though a road ran to the north of the church until the early part of the 19th century. In Roman times however, the area was quite heavily populated: there was probably a Roman camp on Judd Hill and a cemetery of substantial size has been found a few hundred yards to the east of the church. A number of Roman artefacts have also been found in the field in which the church stands. The ‘Itinerary’ of Antonius puts the Roman station Durolevum 16 miles from Rochester and 9 or 12 miles from Canterbury. It is quite possible, but so far unproved, that the site on Judd Hill is this station.
It is known that Pope Gregory directed St. Augustine not to destroy pagan buildings in AD 601, but to adapt them for Christian use. King Ethelbert of Kent allowed St. Augustine to build and repair churches in the area. It is tempting to think that this little church at Stone is one of the churches St. Augustine converted, but there is no proof that the fabric dates back so far.
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