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KENT’S ‘HISTORY LESSON’ CHURCH ACTS TO PROMOTE AWARENESS OF THOMAS CRANMER’S  BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER image

KENT’S ‘HISTORY LESSON’ CHURCH ACTS TO PROMOTE AWARENESS OF THOMAS CRANMER’S BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER

5th March 2021

A Kent church which offers a variety of visual ‘history lessons’ to visitors is the latest
to join the Prayer Book Society in a bid to strengthen its work promoting awareness
and use of the Book of Common Prayer.

The 17th-century church of St John the Evangelist in Groombridge near Royal
Tunbridge Wells has used the 1662 Book of Common Prayer compiled by Thomas
Cranmer for as long as anyone can remember, reports Fred Howe, a member of the
congregation and committee of St John’s.

St John’s draws its close-knit 20-strong Sunday worshippers of all ages from a six-
mile radius of the church. Mr Howe believes that they prefer the traditional language
of the Prayer Book to that of Common Worship which is prevalent in most other local
churches.

‘We are keen to bond with churches which are enthusiastic about use of the Book of
Common Prayer,’ says Mr Howe.

A host of history lessons await visitors to St John’s. The church was built in 1625 by
John Packer, Clerk to the Privy Seal and Patronage Secretary to the Duke of
Buckingham, as a thank-offering for the safe return of Prince Charles (later King
Charles I) from Spain.

Notable features of St John’s include a stained-glass window bearing the Coat of
Arms of the Duke of Orleans. He is said to have been taken prisoner at the Battle of
Agincourt in 1415 and held in Groombridge pending payment of a ransom.

The church’s pulpit and font are Jacobean, the one-handed clock is 17th century and
the pipe organ dated 1885 was made by J. W. Walker.

A wall plaque in the church connects with William Oswell, a former pupil of Rugby
School who accompanied the Victorian explorer Dr David Livingstone when he
discovered Lake Ngami in what is now Botswana.

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