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Gallery: Churches of Kent
by Peter Kessler, 30 August 2009. Updated 13 May
St Alphege Church is on the south-west
corner of St Alphege Lane and Palace Street. As with the two similarly
named churches in Seasalter, this Saxon church gained its name because the
body of Archbishop Alphege, who was killed by Vikings in 1013, was
landed at Seasalter as part of its procession to Canterbury Cathedral, and it
rested here overnight before being taken through the cathedral
gates. The dedication of the church before this is unknown.
The church was described as 'ancient' in 1166,
although the current building, with two gables facing Palace Street,
and knapped flint walls, is probably Norman. The octagonal font is
Perpendicular, and the font cover is seventeenth century. In 1974
the parish of St Peter the Apostle, and St Alphege with St Margaret,
and St Mildred with St Mary de Castro, was formed. In 1982 the
church of St Alphege was declared redundant and now houses the
Canterbury Environment Centre.
Guildhall Street Congregational Church was
built to a design by John Green Hall (designer of St Thomas Catholic
Church) in 1876, the year after the Presbyterians broke away to
found St Andrew's Church. In 1942, the members merged with those at Watling Street
Church. In 1948 the building was declared unsafe and closed. It
was purchased by William Lefevre to incorporate into his shop, removing
the top of the building. It was later taken over by Debenhams.
The Salvation Army, Canterbury Corps, is
located on Whitehorse Lane, a narrow turning off the High Street. The
Salvation Army have maintained a centre here for 123 years (in 2009),
being opened on 3 February 1886 in what was described by a local
newspaper as being 'an old rag cutting factory'. Their first meeting
was plagued by a large and unruly mob who tried to trip people as they
left, and hustled and knocked them about as they made their way to the
The Poor Priests Hospital stands on the
north-western side of Stour Street, bordered by Water Street to the west,
and opposite Hawk's Lane. It was founded in 1220 by Archdeacon Simon Langton
to aid clergy who fell sick while visiting Becket's shrine, and was dedicated
to the blessed Virgin Mary. The chapel and part of the hospital were rebuilt
in stone in 1373 by Thomas Wike, and all of it escaped suppression by Henry
VIII, probably due to its hospital character.
In 1575, the hospital was surrendered to Queen Elizabeth,
and immediately granted to the mayor and commonality of Canterbury. The
buildings became a workhouse in 1727, as well as a bride well, and a blue-coat
charity school, for the use of sixteen poor boys of the city, to be called Blue
Coat boys. In later years the building was a regimental museum for The Buffs
until 1979 and then the Canterbury Heritage Museum, although this was threatened
with closure in 2010.
The remnants of Greyfriars Chapel lie over the
Stour between Water Lane and St Peter's Street. The Franciscans, or Minorite
Friars, settled near the Poor Priests Hospital in 1224. Alderman John Diggs
moved them to the small island above Water Lane about 1270, where they built
the priory and chapel, remaining there until the Dissolution. A workhouse and
a pig-fattening farm used the site afterwards, but the surviving building is
now back in the hands of the Franciscans.
The First Church of Christ Scientist lies in this
small building on the northern side of Beercart Lane, close to Stour Street
in the western part of the city. The Beer Cart Arms pub is to its immediate
right as shown here. In the late seventies the Christ Scientists were
using the former Blackfriars Monastery hall at the top of St Alphege
Lane, but the date at which they moved into their present premises,
which appears to be part chapel and part bookshop, is unknown.
The Parish Church of St Mildred is also known
as the City Centre Parish, Canterbury. Despite being located within the
city walls, the church, which dates back to the Saxon period, is in a very
sleepy area between Gas Street and Church Lane, close to Canterbury Castle.
St Mildred was the daughter of Merewald, king of Mercia, and became abbess of
Minster Convent. The church is first recorded in the 1070s, but was
virtually destroyed by fire in 1246.
Built into the original eighth century construction are
huge quoin stones on the south-west corner (to the right here), which may
have come from the ruins of Roman Canterbury. The windows were added in the
1300s along with the tower on the north side of the church. The tower was
demolished in 1836 and just a stump remains (visible in the previous photo).
The north aisle was built in 1486. The parish was merged with St Mary de
Castro's when the latter was closed.