History Files


Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of Kent

by Peter Kessler, 13 February 2011



Dover Part 11: Churches of Dover

Christ Church

Christ Church once stood on the southern side of the Folkestone Road, opposite the site of Wesley Hall (see below) and next to the Renaissance Public House (formerly the Alma). Land was surrendered from a garden (forming nearly an acre of ground) and the foundation stone was laid on 2 August 1843. The church was built between 1843-1844, and consecrated on 13 June 1844. The etching here was created soon afterwards, while the church gained a parish from St Mary's.

Christ Church

The building of the church, near one of the city's former medieval city gates, opened up the area for speculative builders eager to cash in on supplying a congregation, but that congregation did not remain. Probably due to falling numbers, the church was closed in 1973, demolished in 1977, and by 2010 no sign of its existence remained. A block of flats was subsequently built on the site (further back from the boundary wall shown here). Only the pub survives.

Wesley Hall Folkestone Road

Wesley Hall Folkestone Road stands on the northern side of Folkestone Road at the junction with Priory Road. It was opened as a Methodist chapel in November 1910 to replace Snargate Street Chapel and Buckland Church, on part of the site of St Martin's Priory. In 1917 it was badly damaged in an air raid. Rebuilt in 1920 it was again bombed on 2 October 1941. By 1949 it had been restored, but closed in 1981. The building is now used by Dover College as the Menzies Hall.

Dover Tabernacle

Dover Tabernacle was located on Priory Road (shown here), although the exact location is unknown. The tabernacle's Baptist members formed their church in 1873. They initially held Sunday services and a Sunday School in Wellington Hall, with week-night services in the Gospel Hall at the rear of a house in York Street, before moving to their new building on this street. It later passed to the Salvation Army, who in turn sold it to be demolished in 1913 for a post office (now gone).

St Edmund's Chapel

St Edmund's Chapel stands on the eastern side of Priory Road, backing onto Biggin Street as the two streets converge. It was the first and only chapel ever dedicated by an English saint to an English saint. It was also the first chapel to be dedicated to St Edmund of Abingdon, archbishop of Canterbury between 1234-1240. It was built by Bishop (later Saint) Richard of Chichester in 1253, upon the invitation of the monks of the Maison Dieu, in their cemetery for the poor.

St Edmund's Chapel

The chapel, built in rubble masonry and dressed in Caen stone, was surrendered to Henry VIII on 11 December 1544. Over subsequent centuries other buildings were erected around it, and it was forgotten until 1884. When rediscovered, hemmed in by shops and a blacksmiths, it was surprisingly intact. It was fully revealed when enemy shells destroyed two of the shops on 24 August 1943. The ruins were cleared and a small garden was created in front of the chapel.

Dover College Chapel

Dover College Chapel was built as a guesthouse, well within the grounds of St Martin's Priory. The monks moved here from St Martin-le-Grand soon after 1140 where they built the priory and remained here until the Dissolution. Afterwards, the guesthouse served as a barn before falling into disuse and disrepair. Dover College was founded in 1871, so the building was renovated and consecrated as the chapel, one of three original priory buildings still in use.

Salem Chapel

Salem Chapel stood on the north-east side of Biggin Street, opposite Priory Street. It was erected in 1840 by dissatisfied members of the Pentside Chapel, who formed Salem Baptist Church. The chapel stood about four metres (yards) back from the street behind a small burial ground. This was built over when the chapel was enlarged in 1879. Renovated in 1900, in 1969 the members moved to the larger premises of Dover Baptist Church. Boots the Chemist now stands here.

St James (New) Church

St James (New) Church stood on Maison Dieu Road, but its exact location is unknown. A best guess would be the corner of Pencester Road, opposite St Paul's Catholic Church. The church was constructed as a replacement for the ancient church of St James, which was sited much closer to the waterfront. That was found to be too small for the burgeoning population of Victorian Dover, so a new church was needed, and a site on Maison Dieu Road was selected.

St James (New) Church

The new church was built between 1860-1862, mostly by W Moxon who withdrew due to financial problems before it was fully completed. When it opened it became the main parish church. The old church was used by a group of French Protestants for a few years and was eventually restored in 1869. The new St James Church survived the Second World War relatively unscathed, but much of the parish it served lay in ruins and it was declared redundant and demolished.

Four photos on this page contributed by Dover History Scrapbook.

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