Broken Tower

Holy Trinity Church, Milton Regis
Photo © Penny Mayes, April 20 2005

From all parts of Kent men came to do their homage to the Conqueror, to offer him gifts, and, as his own poet adds, to kiss his feet. At an unknown point in the neighborhood of Canterbury, known as the Broken Tower, William pitched his camp, and, like his rival earlier in the year, he was here somewhat checked in his progress by a severe sickness. Like Harold, he is said to have struggled with all his power against the weakness of the flesh; but it is plain that his sickness acted as a real check to his advance, for he stayed in the neighbourhood of the Kentish capital for a whole month. But even this time of unwilling inaction was not wasted. Where William could not be present in the flesh, he could be present by the terror of his name and in the persons of his messengers. Kent and Sussex might now be looked on as conquered. William now stretched forth his hands to the West, and sought for the submission of the ancient capital of the West Saxon Kings. Winchester, the city of Aelfred and Cnut, once the morning-gift of Emma, was now again the morning gift and the dwelling-place of the widowed Eadgyth. --Freeman

The location of Broken Tower is unknown but a possible candidate is the ruined Church of Milton Royal. An account in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle states “...some ships went within the Isle of Sheppey and did much damage there and made their way to Milton Royal (Regis) and burnt it to the ground.” This act was carried out by the exiled Earl Godwin and his family and would accont for the Church being being in a state of disrepair at this time. Milton was a Royal estate conveniently located only a short distance from Watling Street, one of the main routes to Canterbury.

Holy Trinity Church, Milton Regis

The church has a long history. It is believed to have been originally constructed by the Romans on a Pagan site of worship. There was a Roman villa nearby, and Roman bricks are still visible in the church walls.

The Cathedral records of Ely in 680, refer that Seaxburh of Ely,(Queen Sexburga, Abbess of Minster in Sheppey) left her 'life' at the doors of 'Mylton' Church. This should not be taken to mean she died, but that she left her secular life by taking the veil as a nun.

The present church is of Augustinian foundation though with substantial additions and rebuilding in the Saxon and Norman periods. Other parts added were a family chapel and chancery by the local Barons (the Norwode or Norwood family) in about 1420. In the 13th Century, Stephen de Northwode built a manor in the Parish of Milton. The house was known as "Norwood without Sheppey" and also known as "Norwood Chasteners."

The church also claims to have one of the thickest-walled Norman tower and to be one of the oldest churches in Kent

Local legend tells that after the village had moved to its current location, the church was going to be rebuilt in the centre. However each time stones were moved from the old site to the new place, St Augustine came down and put them back overnight. He had put the church where he wanted it to be and did not want it moving!

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