Furnishings and monuments galore bear testimony to St Mary’s rich history. To name just a few: in the wall between the chancel and the 15th century vestry is the mysterious tomb of a reclining robed figure whose identity is not known for sure. Also in the chancel are the 13th century piscina and sedile, and the splendid stone altar, a rare survival from the Elizabethan purge in favour of wooden communion tables.
The magnificently carved pulpit dates (probably) from 1574, although its tester is dated 1622. They were bequeathed by Mary Honywood, who is chiefly known for having left 367 living descendants, as recorded on her grandson’s tomb by the altar. Some had lively careers in the army and politics. Mary was the daughter of Robert Atwater of Royton Manor, and married Robert Honywood of Pett Place, Charing. Mary was a remarkable woman, supporting those who suffered for their faith under Mary Tudor; when John Bradford was burned at the stake, Mary appeared in person and had to run for her life when the mob turned on her. The photograph shows her holding a prayer book, and pointing to a Venetian glass which she had thrown to the ground declaring ‘My soul is as surely damned as this glass will break’. It remained intact.
Don’t miss the impressive 15th century choir stalls with their misericord seats and poppy heads, or the lectern, which with its swinging head is a rare music desk dating back for at least 500 years. On the south wall is a faded mural of St Michael overseeing the weighing up of souls passing to the next world, and behind the left-hand column of the west doors, about five feet from the ground, is a mason’s mark, one of fourteen still visible in the church.