In 1876 Hartley was described as a quiet,
out of the way place with hop gardens on every hand, three or four comfortable
farmhouses, a smith's forge and a few scattered cottages. The church of
All Saints is mentioned as the only building of interest. The present
building dates from the early 12th century and, like so many others, probably
replaced one of Saxon origin. Amongst our neighbours, the churches of
Fawkham, Ridley and West Kingsdown are of a similar age.
The church, which is flint with tiled roof,
is a simple one comprising nave and chancel without aisles or chapels.
A vestry and porch were added in the 19th century. All that remains of
the Norman church are two small round-headed windows, one to the left
of the porch as you enter the church, and the other in the north wall,
and the impressive south door which still contains the original oak panels
and wrought iron hinge work.
During the 13th century the chancel and chancel
arch were rebuilt and, with the insertion of two large windows in the
nave, the church took on its present shape. The only other remaining part
of the medieval church is in the nave roof. Looking up, one can see the
fine oak tie beams linking the north and south walls. On the top of these
are three crown posts indicative of a 15th century date.
There is little in the church to remind us
of the next three centuries. The parish registers should start in 1538
but the earliest register is lost. Now the registers of baptisms, marriages
and burials start in 1712 and continue without a break to the present
day. A Book of Remembrance was placed in the chancel in 1981 and records
the names of departed loved ones.
During the last hundred years the church has
undergone some necessary repairs and alterations. The east wall was rebuilt
and vestry added in 1860-3. The stained glass in the south windows is
of Victorian origin. The west wall and turret were rebuilt in 1892 and
the porch in 1899. The bell turret, which existed in medieval times, is
known to have been extensively repaired in 1750 and again in 1818. This
caring work continues and the east window, which was filled with stained
glass in 1898 to the memory of Adam Tait, was restored and re-ordered
by the Friends of All Saints and parishioners with the generous assistance
of the P & O Company in 1987.