For over 800 years people have worshipped in this flint built church. Today few signs of its early medieval past remain. The building was enlarged extensively in the 19th century, but some 13th century structures still exist in the tower and the west wall, and the late 15th century nave roof survives unaltered.
The chancel was extended in 1832, the north aisle was added in 1856, the spire in 1861, and the south aisle and organ transept in 1879. The latter was the gift of Lord Sackville Cecil and designed by John Oldrid Scott, the son of the more famous architect Sir George Gilbert Scott who designed the earlier alterations in 1856 and 1862. The chancel was redesigned in 1904-5, which may be the work of Sir Thomas G. Jackson. The south porch was added in 1963. A new Vestry extension in 2005 provides useful new facilities. Most of the stained glass windows date from Victorian times.
Memorials to famous people
Within the church are memorials to some of the famous residents of Hayes including two Prime Ministers, William Pitt, Earl of Chatham and his son William, who became Britain's youngest Prime Minister in 1783 at the age of 24. There is also a memorial to Sir Vicary Gibbs, Lord Chief Justice of England in 1814. There is an imposing wall monument, a white marble cartouche with drapery, to Ann Cleaver who died in 1737. The earliest brasses are of five priests – John Ostler (1461), John Andrew (1479), John Heygge (1523), Robert Garrett (1566) and John Hoare (1584).
In the peaceful open churchyard stands the imposing memorial to Sir Everard Hambro as well as the graves of many other notables, including General Alexander Mackenzie Fraser (1809). There is also the grave of 9yr old John Panis of the North American Panis tribe, brought to this country as a slave in 1763.
There is a detailed and fascinating 2 volume account of the history of Hayes published in 2012 and written by Jean Wilson and Trevor Woodman: ‘Hayes - A History of a Kentish Village’. For further details, please refer to the website: www.hayeskenthistory.co.uk