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Gallery: Churches of Kent
by Peter Kessler, 30 August 2009. Updated 13 May
Holy Cross Church Westgate stands alongside
the ancient Westgate in Canterbury. A large number of the city's churches
no longer exist or have only more recently been deconsecrated, and Holy
Cross is one such church. Canterbury’s West Gate was rebuilt in its
current form in 1381. The previous Holy Cross Church building had (like
St Mary Northgate) stood over the gate, and was now rebuilt alongside it.
This is the building seen today, despite later changes.
In the nineteenth century the church was
extensively renovated, and the tower was completely rebuilt in 1871.
The church remained active into the 1960s, until many local houses
were demolished for the new ring road. Failing to find it a new
purpose, the church was declared redundant in 1972, and in 1978 it
was converted into the city's Guildhall (the medieval version of
this had been demolished by its supposed guardians in 1951).
St Peter the Apostle Anglican Church in St
Peter's Street is thought to stand on the site of a Christian church
built during the Roman period and which was possibly rebuilt by St
Augustine after he landed in AD 597. Evidence of its early origins
can be seen in the tower, which incorporates Roman tiles, and in its
lower levels where Saxon quoins or cornerstones can be seen. The
tower in its present form dates from around 1100 and houses four
ancient bells cast in 1325-1637.
By the middle of the 1600s the parish of St Peter's
was the home of many Huguenot and Walloon refugees who had fled France
and the Low Countries. As early as 1681 St Peter's was united with the
adjoining parish of Holy Cross, and this connection only ended in 1959.
Having survived a threat of demolition, in 1872 the church was in need
of repair and was closed for a few years. Services were suspended between
1923-1959 but have now fully resumed.
St Peter's Methodist Church lies a little
way back from St Peter's Street. John Wesley first visited Canterbury
in 1749, at a time when Methodists still worshipped within the Anglican
Church. Eventually the need arose for a separate building, King Street
Chapel (now lost), using materials from the recently demolished St
Andrew's (Old Church). The polygon chapel was primarily a preaching place,
although its organ was later transferred to the current building.
St Peter's was built in 1811, and it became the
main place of worship for the Wesleyans in the city. By about 1820
the Sunday School had 37 members, and in 1851 a church census says
St Peter's had 1100 seats and a healthy congregation. Alterations
over the years cut back the gallery, and lowered the pulpit, while
moving it to one side. In 1976 the sanctuary area was enlarged and
the pulpit was lowered even more. The latest alterations were
completed in 1998.
Canterbury Pilgrims Hospital of St Thomas,
formerly Eastbridge Hospital, lies on the western side of
St Peter's Street, over the River Stour. The hospital was built by
Edward FitzOdbold and endowed by Archbishop Lanfranc to receive, lodge,
and sustain poor pilgrims. In 1313 the hospital's master and brethren
became responsible for maintaining the East Bridge. In 1576 the hospital
was said to be ruinous, and became an almshouse soon after. It was
restored in 1933.
All Saints (Old) Church was located on the
corner of the High Street and Best Lane, and its churchyard still exists
behind the railings there. The medieval church is mentioned in 1616, but
the tower was demolished in the 1700s to make space on the crowded road
(and is seen here in the 1780s). A new, yellow-brick, Regency church was
built on the same site in 1828, but closed in 1902 and, its role as a church
hall no longer needed, the building was demolished in 1937.
St Augustine Anglican Catholic Church lies
a little way along Best Lane from All Saints' former churchyard. Increasing
liberalisation of the Anglican church in the USA saw this denomination created
in Illinois in 1978, and it arrived in Britain in 1992. This church was formed
in May 2005, originally meeting at Canterbury City Cemetery Chapel. The
present building used to be a nonconformist chapel which had become secular in use.
It was reconsecrated on 20 September 2008.
The Religious Society of Friends Meeting House
(Quakers) lies alongside the River Stour at 6 The Friars, on the
northern side of the street. Quakers first met in the Friends
Meeting House, Canterbury Lane, which was opened in 1688, and
which could hold about two hundred and fifty members. The building
was altered in 1772, but destroyed in the June 1942 Blitz of the
city. The Quakers eventually found this new meeting place close to
the Marlow Theatre.
One print on this page contributed by Stephen Bax.