This article appeared in the Autumn 1969 (Issue #17) edition of the Kent Archaeological Review.
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Ruxley Old Church.
The owners of the Ruxley Manor Garden Centre kindly gave permission for a programme of preservation and investigation of this much neglected building. Work commenced under the direction of the writers, in April, 1968.
The initial site clearance offered many problems. The church had been used since its desecration in 1557 as a barn, chicken house, stable and machine shop. Before we could even enter the building we had to spend many week-ends removing old timbers, doors and boxes from the entrance. Once inside we were then faced with the problem of removing rubbish which reached to the roof timbers. This included 23 steel roof frames each of which required ten men to carry it outside.
The next stage was the back-breaking job of removing an area of 5-inch thick reinforced concrete which covered an area of nearly 450 square feet. In addition a machine platform of solid concrete 2-feet thick had to be removed from the east end and a large donkey machine mounted on a similar block at the west end.
Once the interior was cleared of rubbish and concrete we made a survey and prepared plans. A committee meeting was then held and it was decided to establish the original floor-level of the church, and the whole area was covered by a six-foot grid.
Excavation began at the south-west corner and after about an hour a mass of flints appeared. These were carefully exposed to reveal a feature which appeared to have a regular pattern. As work extended across the grid we soon discovered that these flints formed part of the foundation of an earlier structure which passed beneath the existing west wall of the church. A preliminary investigation was carried out beyond the west wall to confirm this fact.
Proceeding with the excavations we then uncovered what appears to be the foundations of a two-cell church. Work on this is still in progress. Our investigations have also established that an even earlier burial ground exists and possibly a much earlier structure than even the two-cell church.
To enable the work to be continued during the winter months, the roof, which was half blown away, was repaired. This was done as an emergency measure to protect the newly exposed foundations. We also backfilled a small section of foundation which we had exposed outside the west wall to protect the chalk from frost damage. This will be examined again when the weather improves.
Although our Club has its headquarters at Tooting, the majority of workers are interested local people. Guidance on the site has kindly been provided by Mr P J Tester and Lt-Col G W Meates. Visitors are welcome on Sunday mornings only.