St Alban's Church - A brief history

A Christian chapel was established in Frant nearly one thousand years ago, in 1087, as a dependency of Rotherfield. The chapel was probably a timber structure into the late 12th or early 13th century, when a stone building gradually replaced it. A north aisle was added in the 15th century.

We do not perhaps consider what an enormous effort it was for a small poor parish to build their own church; work often had to stop for years at a time. It is unlikely that Frant could have afforded much professional help, and the church seems to have been slightly ramshackle as a result.

Bills for repairs - so what's new! - increased throughout the 18th century and when a boy was killed in 1819 'by a stone falling from the old tower' it was decided that nearly everything would be pulled down and rebuilt 'because it is in such a ruinous state'.

The major work was completed in 1822, with extensions being added in the 1860s. The stump of the old tower was re-encased in stone and it remains the oldest part of the building. Unfortunately only fragments of stained glass remain, after a flying bomb landed nearby in 1944.

Did you know?

Two of the six bells in St Alban's Church tower were cast in 1633 during the reign of King Charles I - and the same year as Samuel Pepys was born. They are still rung regularly today 370 years later. The other four bells were cast between 1715 and 1777. All six bells are considerably older than the present Church building. The bells were not a matching set until 1981 when they were tuned and re-hung by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

On Christmas Day 1966 - with the Church filled to capacity - the organ broke down! This led to the organ being identified as an extremely valuable French instrument, built by August Gern. Gern worked with Aristide Cavaille-Coll to build the organ in Notre Dame.

Among the attractions of the churchyard is the Ashburnham memorial to a Frant retiree, which is inscribed: Lieutenant Colonel John By - Royal Engineers - 1783-1836. While organising the Rideau canal building scheme in Canada, John By founded a town called Bytown to house the workers. In 1855 Queen Victoria renamed the town Ottawa, which became the capital city of Canada.

During the Napoleonic era, a military camp was situated near Groombridge. In 1779 eighteen soldiers died from smallpox and were buried in the churchyard.

St Alban's Church needs your help

We need to raise £73,000 to pay for:

St Alban 's Church receives no income or funding to support the Church's ministry and building other than that generated by the worshipping congregation and supporters of St Albans.

Happily the building itself is in a reasonable state of repair. An efficient heating system was installed in 2003 which ensures that the Church is always warm and comfortable. (However, in a building such as this, the task in on going and increasingly costly.)

All the money raised as a result of fundraising events and appeals will go towards the three projects above.

Help to preserve 1000 years of village history

What does St Alban's Church mean to you?

The church here in Frant means many things to those who know it, both locals and visitors to the village.

Your help is needed

St Alban's Church needs your help to preserve and care for the Church building and the churchyard.

Please give your support

Friends of St Alban's Church

If you are willing to be a friend of St Alban's Church and assist either by organising or supporting fundraising events, or by giving a donation, please click here