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Gallery: Churches of Kent
by Peter Kessler, 30 August 2009. Updated 13 May
The remains of the Blackfriars Monastery
lie on both banks of the River Stour, reached by St Peter's Lane on
the north bank and by St Alphege Lane on the south. The building shown
here is the former hall while on the north bank is the former convent
building (next photo). Of the religious houses in Canterbury, that of
the Dominicans, or Black Friars, was one of the smaller. The house is
said to have been the first the Dominicans possessed in England (Oxford
is a rival).
They were established here about 1221 by Henry III
(1216-1272) and the surviving buildings date to that period. In 1658 the
monastery was owned by Peter de la Pierre, a Huguenot surgeon, and was
used by the Baptists as a place of worship. In 1732 the Unitarian General
Baptists bought the property and the cloister garth which they converted
into a cemetery. The building was restored about 1905, which is probably
when part was converted into apartments.
The Unitarian Baptist Chapel, one of two
general chapels in the immediate area (the other being the lost
Orange Street Independent Chapel), used the Blackfriars hall
on St Alphege Lane. The Baptists purchased the property in 1732. It
was always well-filled, with many influential families attending, but
small tenements sprang up, blocking in the chapel, making it difficult
to find, and numbers declined. Canterbury Baptist Church's opening
probably sealed its fate.
The Jewish Synagogue, King Street, lies on
the north-western side, set well back from the street in its own
gardens. It replaced the St Dunstan's Street synagogue, which was lost
to the building of the railway station. In September 1847 Sir Moses
Montefiore was invited to lay the foundation stone of the new synagogue
on a site which was once occupied by the Knight Templar. The synagogue
closed in 1947, the last operating synagogue in Canterbury to do so.
St Mary Northgate was built into the North Gate
and city wall. Its tower was one of the wall's bastions. The chancel was
fully over the road which led out of the city, while the building was no
wider than the tower, which was encased in red brick in 1702 and extended
upwards by two stages. In 1832, the North Gate was demolished, leaving the
tower, north and south walls and nave roof propped up. A new east end and
south aisle were built to make up for the lost chancel.
The old south wall was then demolished and iron
pillars erected to provide a large space for the congregation. The
1832 work is all that can be seen from the main road; yellow brick
and large, plain, pointed windows. It was closed in 1888, and became
first a hall for St Gregory the Great and then a restaurant for a time
before being reclaimed by the church until 1975, when it became
King’s School Music Centre, while the school's observatory has a
viewing dome in the tower.
The Primitive Methodist Chapel, St John's Place,
sits on the north side of the street, just off Northgate in the area
known as The Borough. Its date of construction is unknown, but the
Primitive Methodist split from the mainstream occurred in 1811, and
a minister was lodging in Broad Street in the early 1850s. A new
property in Palace Street was purchased in 1876 (see below), so this
chapel was sold to St John's Board Schools in 1876 for use as an
St John's Hospital used to stand on the
northern side of Northgate, opposite the modern Lanfranc House. A
black arched gateway in the Tudor-period buildings on Northgate now
marks its existence, with the stone building shown here (possibly the
chapel) visible through the hatch. The hospital was founded in 1084 by
Archbishop Lanfranc. It survived the Dissolution, but in 1747 the chapel
bells were sold off, and the north wall, steeple and north aisle were
St Gregory's Priory stood on the southern side
of Northgate, founded about 1074 by Archbishop Lanfranc. The priory was
damaged by fire in 1145, and was closed during the Dissolution. The
churchyard continued in public use until inclosed by Sir John Boys. The
priory remains were torn down about 1848 and the area used for
pottery-making, but the Chapel of St Thomas stood until about the
1940s. Lanfranc House, near the Victoria Row corner, now occupies the site.
The Primitive Methodist Chapel, Palace Street,
lays back from the street and is hemmed by surrounding buildings.
Intended as a replacement for the old building on St John's Place,
it was built in 1876 as a response to the Methodist split of 1811,
with Primitive Methodism more akin to evangelism and concentrated more
on the working classes, especially in the North of England. The 1932
Methodist union ended the split and the building is now a classroom
for King's School.