Barfrestone is a tiny village situated at the northern boundary of the Bewsborough Parish. It is 1.5 miles from Shepherdswell and 1 mile from Eythorne.
St Nicholas Church is one of the most important, small Romanesque churches in England, particularly noted for the fine 12th century carvings round the south door. It was given a 4* rating in Simon Jenkins ‘England’s Thousand Best Churches’ and
John Betjeman described it as ‘one of the best late Norman churches in Kent’. In the medieval period Barfrestone was a ‘stopover’ for pilgrims on their way to Becket’s shrine.
There are many visitors to the church, which is open throughout the daylight hours. Ministry to visitors is an important part of the church’s mission and as part of this ministry there are copies of the Bible in several European languages available.
A small congregation attends the regular 9.00am Sunday service using the Book of Common Prayer. Visitors often join, attracted by its traditional style of worship. The annual St Nicholas Day Evensong, and Compline services during Holy Week, are well supported within the village and by congregations from across the Parish. The Harvest Thanksgiving and Remembrance Sunday services are fully supported by the local community.
The church is an important focus for the small, but highly supportive, village community.
The principal fund raising event is the annual Art Exhibition and Sale of Work, held in the Victorian barn of a local farm. The success of this popular event is only possible through the help and goodwill of both the local community and members of the other churches of the Parish. The proceeds of this sale enable St Nicholas to pay its Parish Share commitment – with a little left for other uses.
St Nicholas has a lively and active group in the Friends of Barfrestone Church. The Friends has been in existence since 2000 and has a membership in excess of 80 people. Since its inception, the Friends group has been a major contributor to the maintenance of the church’s fabric. It has an annual newsletter and members are invited to the Patronal Festival on 6th December. The service is very well attended and a light supper is enjoyed afterwards
The church is well maintained, but the recent Quinquennial Inspection reported a need for remedial work. This is being undertaken in conjunction with conservation work to the unique stonework and carving. The work is scheduled for completion by the end of 2018. Funds are available for this work.
The LCC is exploring the provision of disabled access and toilet facilities as projects for the immediate future. Initial consultations with the church’s architect have taken place.
Barfrestone has a population of about 60 people living in 24 dwellings. There is an arable/livestock farm with a Certified Location caravan site, micro-pub and a small manufacturing facility. All are involved with the church in some way. There is no local authority housing in the village. All dwellings are owner occupied or rented.