St Mary the Virgin Reculver

Standing in the Churchyard, at the eastern end looking north-east and south-east respectively, you can see the locations of two 3 rd Century Roman forts: Regulbium (Reculver) and Rutupiae (Richborough). It was at Reculver, some 400 years later, that an early Christian chantry (monk’s chapel) was established by St Augustine’s pilgrims from Rome, whose mission it was to plant a church on the pagan isles of Britain.

The well-known church by the sea, also dedicated to St Mary the Virgin, with its two distinctive towers, was the product of 12 th century Christian church building fervour and incorporated the earlier Saxon remains. This lasted up to 1809 when the church authorities decreed that it should be demolished and rebuilt inland. The towers have been kept as a navigational mark, and sea defences have been added at various times in recent years to try and avoid their collapse into the sea.

The present site of the church, on the hill a safe mile or so inland, was chosen for its aspect overlooking the Reculver marshes. With its two forts at either end, the extensive River Wantsum once flowed here, allowing trade shipping direct into the city of Canterbury, the home of the mother church of the Anglican Communion.

The first church, poorly built in 1810, only lasted about 60 years. The present church was consecrated in 1878 and is the second structure on the chosen site. It is a simple and relatively plain building with seating for just a hundred or so. Obviously it is way off centre as far as Beltinge is concerned, but the beautiful, quiet site adjoining the school more than makes up for this.

Parish Boundaries

The church’s boundaries encompass the eastern part of Beltinge, including Bishopstone, Hillborough and Reculver itself. Eastwards, the boundary extends to the River Wantsum across the marshes and southwards to the railway line and the Thanet Way (A299), abutting the parishes of Chislet and St Nicholas-at-Wade, Herne and Hoath. To the west, the boundary is adjacent to that of St Bartholomew, Herne Bay.