History Files


Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of Kent

by Peter Kessler, 7 August 2011



Tunbridge Wells Part 3: Churches of Tunbridge Wells

St Augustine's Catholic Church

St Augustine's Catholic Church is laid back from the southern side of Crescent Road, next to the private entrance to Calverly Park. The original church building was erected on the corner of Grosvenor Road and Hanover Road, a little to the west, in 1837-1838, and a campanile was added for a clock and bells in 1889. It was a handsome stone building, but it was demolished in 1968 and the present low church building put up on this site. A Tesco Metro now occupies the old site.

St Peter's Church

St Peter's Church occupies a cluttered plot on the southern side of Bayhall Road, with an opening onto St Peter's Street. The church was built on Windmill Fields in 1874-1875. In 1876 it gained a parish from Holy Trinity and it was enlarged in 1886. The design was by Cronk & Cronk. The Gothic church appears to have undergone much alteration in more recent years which has created more space for meetings and clubs but which has harmed the appearance of the building.

Salvation Army Bayhall Road

Salvation Army Bayhall Road (Royal Tunbridge Wells Corp) lies behind a stone wall at the north-east corner of Bayhall Road and Pembury Road. The citadel was opened in 1970, replacing the former citadel in Varney Street (below), which was subsequently demolished. The Army has come a long way since that early citadel was opened in 1886, when members were often attacked on their way to outdoor services with sticks and stones used by townsfolk who wanted rid of them.

Mount Pleasant Congregational Church

Mount Pleasant Congregational Church sits at the north-west corner of Mount Pleasant Road and York Road. An Independent congregation was revived in Tunbridge Wells in 1830, and for several years it occupied the old Mount Sion Presbyterian Chapel, which had closed in 1814. The building was enlarged and repaired, but was soon too small, so Mount Pleasant replaced it, built between 1845-1848. It also closed, probably in 1972 at the union with Presbyterians.

Salvation Army Varney Street

Salvation Army Varney Street citadel was opened in 1886, just nine years after the founding of the Salvation Army. The exact location is unknown. When the founder, 'General' William Booth, visited the town in 1909 he was given a civic reception and accorded a friendly welcome. The citadel closed in 1970 when the Bayhall Road site replaced it (see above). The entire street was subsequently demolished and the area rebuilt as the Royal Victoria Palace shopping centre.

Hanover Chapel

Hanover Chapel stands on the western side of Hanover Road, approximately thirty metres (yards) south of the junction with Grosvenor Road. The chapel was built in 1834 as a Strict & Particular Baptist Chapel. The building now seems to be the meeting place for Tunbridge Wells Christian Fellowship, although this group also have a modern premises on the other side of the same street which was thoroughly renovated and modernised in 2007.

Tunbridge Wells United Reformed Church

Tunbridge Wells United Reformed Church occupies the inside corner between Grosvenor Road and Mount Ephraim, with its main entrance on the latter street. The red brick building started life in 1901 as St John's Free Church (Baptist), and was designed by local architect Herbert Caley. In 1939 it became St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, and a URC in 1972. Elsewhere in the town, Bethel Congregational Chapel, Tutty's Village, was built in 1839 and closed in 1894.

Friends Meeting House (Quakers)

Friends Meeting House (Quakers) stands on the northern side of Grosvenor Park, immediately behind the building that faces onto Gosvenor Road (on the left here). In 2010, the Friends were looking at demolishing the current building which dates from the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. In partnership with a non-profit housing association, the suggestion was that a new building could be put up which was part single bed flats and part meeting house.

Culverden Evangelical Church

Culverden Evangelical Church is at the north-east corner of St John's Road and Culverden Square, heading northwards out of the centre of Tunbridge Wells and on a busy trunk road. The chapel building was constructed in 1923 and is a small but attractive brick building painted in a warm cream colour. The church has a membership of about fifty people and operates as a Christian Fellowship organisation, part of the Evangelical Alliance.

Salem Chapel

Salem Chapel stood on the eastern side of St John's Road, opposite Culverden Park. It was built in 1866 by Thomas Edwards, who lived in the adjoining cottage. When James Mountain resigned from Emmanuel Church in 1897, he brought his congregation here until a new church could be built, changing the name to St John's Road Free Church. It was used by Brethren in 1903-1934 and then sold. In 1935 the bus company purchased it and later built a garage on the site.

In Depth
In Depth


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