The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Riverhead was consecrated in 1831 as a Chapel of Ease to Sevenoaks Parish Church. Built to a design by Decimus Burton on land donated by the Amherst and Lambarde families, it encompasses a large open Nave with no intruding pillars and a Chancel in Early English style added in 1886.
St. Mary’s originally came under the authority of Canterbury but became part of the diocese of Rochester in 1905. This is noted by the engraving of the crests of Rochester and Canterbury on the inner West doors. Lancet windows bearing the shields of significant local dignitaries are to be found on each side of the Nave, and the Chancel and Sanctuary are dominated by a depiction of ‘Christ in Majesty’ in the form of an Italian glass mosaic. Above the south porch is the beautiful stained-glass Good Shepherd window paid for by monies (£45 !) collected by the children of Riverhead village and installed and dedicated in 1908.
Stained-glass windows in the Chancel, the Lady Chapel and at the north-east corner of the Nave are the happy result of many benefactors and the details can be found in a comprehensive guide available in the church.
Like most churches, the upkeep of St. Mary’s requires continual attention, not only to maintain the fabric of the building but to keep its facilities relevant to current needs. This has been achieved thanks to the generosity of the congregation and support from local people and charitable trusts; in recent years we have seen the installation of a magnificent electronic organ, a first-class sound system catering for those who are hard of hearing, and many other items that have enhanced the beauty of the church and contributed to our worship. In 1999 we saw the building next to the church of a well-equipped church hall with attendant facilities.
History of St. John the Divine
In 1908 the community of Dunton Green was separated from Otford and became a parish in its own right with its church of St. John the Divine, built in 1890. Mr Samuel Wreford was the local squire and the principal benefactor of the church but sadly in 1985 the falling congregation sadly meant that the church had to close and the parish came under the care of the vicar of Riverhead, and the congregations in the two villages came together as ‘the Parish of Riverhead with Dunton Green, worshipping at St. Mary’s Riverhead.
For further information please refer to the paper copy of our Parish Guide (please contact the Vicar for more information) which gives a much fuller picture of the history of the church and its community.