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Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of Kent

by Peter Kessler, 25 April 2010. Updated 24 December 2010

 

 

Thanet Part 11: Churches of St Lawrence, Chilton & Ramsgate

The Parish Church of St Laurence-in-the-Isle-of-Thanet

The Parish Church of St Laurence-in-the-Isle-of-Thanet is on the High Street at the junction with Newington Road in St Lawrence (only the church uses a 'u' in its spelling). The church was established in 1062 by the Manstons of Manston Court, Minster-in-Thanet, making it the oldest in Ramsgate. It was built as a fortress and refuge in a period of Danish coastal attacks. The tower could be used to repel attackers while the large nave was able to shelter the populace.

The Parish Church of St Laurence-in-the-Isle-of-Thanet

Monks from Minster Abbey would conduct services and, with no pews, the congregation either stood or knelt. In 1175 the church had become too small so an aisle and porch were added, initiated by Richard de Manston. From 1220-1225 the St Thomas Becket Chapel and the St Catherine of Alexandria Chapel were added. In 1275 St Laurence became a separate parish, with its own graveyard. Heavy restoration work was undertaken in 1850-1870. The clock was added later.

St Lawrence Methodist Church

St Lawrence Methodist Church is on the northern side of the narrow Chapel Road, near the junction with the High Street. The chapel was built by Wesleyan Methodists and opened in 1897, and the event was marked by two corner stones on either side of the entrance, one of which was laid on behalf of the Sunday School by A J Rowe on 9 September 1897. The chapel is now a nursery, although perhaps only recently so, as it is still marked on some OS maps as a church.

The Alder Memorial Healing Sanctuary

The Alder Memorial Healing Sanctuary lies on the south-western side of the footpath which leads alongside 23 Chilton Lane, Chilton, on the western edge of Ramsgate. The church, which is a small, modern, brick block, is for the practise of spiritualism, or what the church terms 'communication with spirit'. Evenings of clairvoyance are usually held on a Sunday service and hymns are sometimes also sung, along with a recitation of the Lord's Prayer.

New World Church

New World Church resides in the relatively unmarked Smuggler's Barn (otherwise known as The Old Barn), which is the farthest building in the row shown on the left in this photo. This evangelical church is located on the northern side of Pegwell Road, in the centre of a small and peaceful seaside community which has fine views over Pegwell Bay towards Sandwich, landing site of both Julius Caesar and the first wave of Angles and Jutes of the Anglo-Saxon Invasion.

St Augustine's Catholic Church and Abbey

St Augustine's Catholic Church and Abbey is on both sides of St Augustine's Road. The church was built in 1847-1851 as a masterpiece of neo-Gothic design by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-1852) at his own expense, and he is buried in the churchyard. The building contains Whitby stone and local flint. The first Benedictine monk arrived in 1856, founding the Subiaco Congregation Monastery, and the abbey buildings were added in 1861. The monks left in 2011.

Sailors Church

The Sailors Church is on the shoreward side of Military Road, beside the southern end of the harbour. It was opened for services on 8 July 1878 by Christ Church Ramsgate as a Harbour Mission & Sailors Home. In 1936 it was the Sailors Mission Church. The Fishing Fleet Apprentices (or Smack Boys) lived upstairs when ashore and many people rescued from shipwrecks were cared for here. The Ramsgate Home for Smack Boys, founded 1881, is next door.

St Augustine's Mission Hall

St Augustine's Mission Hall is situated on the western side of the junction between Florence Road and Cannonbury Road, midway between St Augustine's Catholic Church and Christ Church. The Catholic church was built privately, and the accompanying abbey was founded in 1856, but although this mission hall existed in 1936, its date of founding is unknown and its ultimate fate is equally unknown. It was clearly out of use in early 2010.

Christ Church

Christ Church, sits at the western end of Vale Square, a leafy but slightly run-down area on the west of central Ramsgate. The church was opened for services in 1847, at a time when Ramsgate, which is essentially a post-Napoleonic Wars creation, was expanding rapidly. It was designed in the Victorian ersatz Early English style with three aisles, a northern entrance, and an eastern tower of the style familiar to many eighteenth and early nineteenth century churches in Kent.

Christ Church

The west porch was rebuilt to commemorate the church's jubilee in 1897. The living is a vicarage which is in the gift of the Church Patronage Trustees. It was held for a long period from 1931 by the Reverend Percy M Townend MA of St John's College Durham, although he was a surrogate. During the summer the church joins others at the Sailors Church in Ramsgate Harbour on Sunday evenings, which mission Christ Church founded in 1878.

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