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Gallery: Churches of Kent
by Peter Kessler, 13 May 2010. Updated 13 December
The Church of St Gregory the Great in
Canterbury lies in a heavily-wooded churchyard a little way off
North Holmes Road, to the east of the city itself. It was a late
addition to the city's large number of churches, designed by George
Gilbert Scott and completed in 1851 as a memorial to the late Archbishop
William Howley. From the start its relatively remote location placed it
at a disadvantage, and a daughter church, St Columba (see below), failed to solve the problem.
With the closure of the nearby barracks, the Garrison
Church was ideally placed to take over, and St Gregory's was closed down
in 1978. It sat vacant for some years, becoming a target of vandalism
before being restored. The church is now St Gregory's Centre for Music,
part of Canterbury Christ Church University. The grounds have been sealed
off from the general public, but applications to visit the building
or tend and inspect graves can be made to the university solicitor.
All Saints (New) Church is on Military Road,
immediately east of Canterbury, close to St Gregory the Great (above).
It is not the first church of that name in the city, All Saints (Old
Church) being its ancient forebear. This All Saints began as Canterbury
Garrison Church of St Alban, constructed in the 1840s as part of Northgate
military barracks for regiments such as the 9th and 17th Lancers, the 8th
Hussars, a battery of the Royal Horse Artillery, and the East Kent Militia.
Details of services from 1917 show it being used
for worship after Parade Service on Sundays, although it was also
open to the public for all services, which were conducted by the
Reverend A R Witt, MA. The closure of the military barracks left it
vacant, but it was ideally situated in the centre of St Gregory's
parish, so when that was closed and sold to Christ Church College in
1974, the Garrison Church was purchased and renamed All Saints
Church. It opened for services in 1978.
St Columba's Church lies at the south-west
corner of Sturry Road and Reed Avenue in eastern Canterbury. The
church seems to have been built as a mission for St Gregory (see
above), being dedicated in 1937. It was hit by fire in 1972, at which
time the Kentish Gazette mentioned the caretaker living at 2 Reed
Avenue, which is next door. The church was incorporated into the
new parish of All Saints (see above) in 1976, and the building was
certainly sold. It is now a shop.
Canterbury Spiritualist Church is hidden
away at the south-west corner of Kirby Lane and Beckets Mews, close
to St Dunstan's Street. The Spiritualists offer clairvoyance
services along with spiritual healing which is strongly favoured by
those seeking alternative forms of therapy, but they do not profess to
offer a religion. The building was given as a gift to the church in
1953 by P J Chittenden. There is a second branch at Pettman House,
Hanover Square, Herne Bay.
The Jewish Synagogue, St Dunstan's Street
lay on the northern side of St Dunstan's Street, approximately where
the Canterbury West level crossing is today. Jews settled as early as
1730 in Canterbury, and this synagogue was founded in 1762. It stood
for nearly a century, but in December 1846, the congregation assembled
for the last time, before moving to King Street. The building was taken
down in 1858 to allow the railway to run through the street.
The Parish Church of St Dunstan is on the
corner of St Dunstan's Street and London Road. It was one of the many
churches founded by Archbishop Lanfranc (1070-1089), who attached it
to his Priory of St Gregory. In 1174 it formed a stage in the pilgrimage
of Henry II to Thomas Becket's shrine. Henry dismounted at Harbledown,
and walked to the church where he partly stripped and put on the hair
shirt and cloak of the pilgrim, before walking barefoot to the cathedral.
The little Norman church almost certainly became a
place of note for other pilgrims who followed Henry's example and paused
at St Dunstan's before passing into the city. The vicarage was established
and endowed by Archbishop Reynolds in 1322, and two chaplains were maintained
by the Roper family which lived nearby for several centuries, at Place House,
or St Dunstan's Place, which stood opposite the churchyard. Only the old
gateway of the mansion remains.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
is one of the most recent arrivals in the church's 'ward' of Canterbury.
Its spiritual leader is a member of the congregation who has been asked
to serve in this position, under the church's practise of using a voluntary
lay ministry rather than paid clergy. This church is on Forty Acres Road,
close to St Dunstan's Church - a haven for local genealogists as it holds
copies of the registers for births, marriages and deaths.