St James the Great, Elmsted
Elmsted lies deep in the North Downs of East Kent surrounded by the parishes of Hastingleigh, Waltham, Stelling Minnis, Lyminge and Stowting. One of its boundaries runs along Stone Street a Roman road between Lympne and Canterbury. It is often missed by travelers as there is no village centre and 230 people live in about 100 dwellings scattered around the parish. Within Elmsted are the hamlets of Bodsham, Northleigh and Evington Leas and various so called ´streets´ where small collections of dwellings are located such as Hill Street, Whatsole Street, Maxted Street and Misling Street. There is no shop or doctor but there is one pub, the Timber Batts and a Church of England Primary School both situated in the hamlet of Bodsham. The school has just over 80 pupils and has recently joined in Federation with Saltwood School. The Christian ethos of the school is reflected in the way each child is valued and the respect and understanding evident between pupils, and between pupils and staff. A family service is held at the school on the 2nd Sunday of the month.
The prevailing landscape is hills, valleys, sheep, grass, woodland and narrow, sunken and remote lanes. St James Church emerged in the late 11th or early 12th centuries and its incumbents can be traced from about the 14th century. Elmsted was not mentioned by name in Doomsday although Bodsham was. There is also good evidence that areas in Elmsted once known as Barton and Dene are in Doomsday as well. There were five manors: Bodsham and the Liberty of St Augustine, Elmsted Court, Barton alias Longport, Dean Court and Southleigh alias Mizling. The Honywoods
were the most prominent family and lived at Evington from the 1400s until early 1900s.
Other major families include Argar, Cloke, Court, Dunkyn, Fordred, Hopkins, Impett,
Lushington, Maxted, Newport, Rolfe and Spaine.
Elmsted has about 25 listed buildings most of them old and magnificent examples of our
past history.The parish church of Elmsted, dedicated to St James the Great, is situated
on the North Downs of East Kent about 160 metres above sea level. The building
consists of nave and chancel, north and south aisles and chapels, a west tower capped
by a belfry and spire and a south porch, all impressively extensive given its remoteness.
Similar to other downland churches in the area are the walls of flint. The exterior view of
the chancel and flanking chapels forms the three gabled east end so typical of Kent
churches. The very good 19th century organ has two manuals and pedals and ten
speaking stops. The church has kitchen facilities, a lavatory and the old vestry is used
for children´s work. The churchyard belongs to the Church and the Parish Council
maintains the perimeter flint walls. The grass is cut on a rota system and many of the
grave stones have been re-positioned around the edge.
Each year the church raises money by hosting lunches/teas on May Bank Holiday Sunday and provides community carol singing at Christmas.All parish expenses and parish share are paid in full when due. 10% of the Parish income goes to charitable causes, especially Testimony Faith Homes, a Christian ministry for the residential care and education of orphaned children in Eldoret, Kenya.