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Gallery: Churches of Kent
by Peter Kessler, 7 August 2011
Tunbridge Wells Part 4: Churches of Tunbridge
St John's Church occupies a large plot at the
south-east corner of St John's Road and Queen's Road. The church was built
in 1858 and gained its own parish in 1859, taken from Holy Trinity. In 1896
it underwent alterations and enlargements which saw the original small tower
and spire replaced by the current four-tier tower. It is in the Early English
style, and is constructed of rag stone, with Bath stone dressings. The
architect was Gough of Lancaster Place, London.
Woodbury Park Cemetery Chapel and the
cemetery itself consists of an attractive and sheltered wooded site
behind the bus garage (formerly Salem Chapel) on the southern side
of Woodbury Park Road. It was consecrated as Trinity Cemetery
in 1849. Virtually full by the 1870s, the cemetery was closed for
burials in 1935 and the site began to decay. It has been completely
repaired and restored since 2006 by the Friends of Woodbury Park Cemetery.
Tunbridge Wells Baptist Church occupies a plot
on the eastern side of Upper Grosvenor Road, opposite Grosvenor Walk. Members
of the Baptist congregation formed a new church in 1873, opening the Gothic
Baptist Tabernacle on the northern side of nearby Calverley Road in
1883. The building was brightly 're-electrified' in 1928, but was closed in
1938 when the present building was opened. The old tabernacle building was
The Brethren Meeting Room is on the southern side
of Hill Street, off Goods Station Road. This unassuming north-facing red
brick building was originally the location for the small Hill Street
Wesleyan Methodist Chapel. This chapel was closed at the Methodist union
of 1932, when its membership was amalgamated with that of Camden Road (see
below). The Brethren then moved here from Salem Chapel. There is also a
York Street Brethren Meeting in the town.
St Barnabas Church stands boldly at the north-east
corner of Stanley Road and St Stephen's Court. The foundation stone was laid
on 11 May 1887 and the church was built in 1889-1890, replacing St Stephens
Mission, which had been opened in 1870. The church gained a parish in 1881
from St James Church (see below). The building is of red brick and stone and
was designed by J E R and C P Cutts, architects, of London. The site is now
very hemmed in by dwellings.
Albion Road Congregational Church is at the
south-west corner of Albion Road, overlooking the junction with Granville
Road to the west. The Gothic building was erected in 1873, thanks to the
generous help of two gentlemen residents of the town, to serve the then-new
district of the town beyond the Camden Road. It accommodated 400 on the ground
floor, but it was closed around 1929. The building has since been converted for
use as a private residence.
The Church of Christ sits in a narrow site on
the southern side of Commercial Road, approximately thirty metres west of
the junction with Camden Road. The yellow brick building was erected in 1877
to serve as the Christians Meeting House. From that date it was
occupied by the Disciples of Christ. The church also has a meeting
place in Cambrian Road, High Brooms, which is now a north-eastern suburb
of Tunbridge Wells.
Calvary Church Camden Centre, 'The Church in
the Market Place', is on the southern side of Victoria Road, opposite
the curve of Albert Street to the immediate north. It possibly replaced
Camden Road Primitive Methodist Chapel on Camden Road, just
metres to the east of the current site. This opened in 1857 (rebuilt
in 1878), along with Down Lane Primitive Methodist Church (1874-1884).
The latter was sold and the former closed in 1980, prior to demolition.
St James Church Tunbridge Wells occupies
a wide plot at the north-east corner of St James Road and Sandrock
Road, overlooking Stone Street. The church was built in 1860-1862
and gained a parish of its own in the same year, taken from Holy
Trinity Church. It was erected to serve the spiritual needs of this
increasing neighbourhood, at a cost of £6,000, and was consecrated on
15 May 1862. Of the 1,050 sittings which the church contains, about 400
were free in 1898.
The wood and stone used in its construction were presented
by Ward & Ward of the Calverley Estate. The design was based on Ewan
Christian's Whitehall Place, Westminster, and an additional aisle was added
on the northern side in 1883 to accommodate overcrowding. The church is
constructed of rough dressed coursed local sandstone with ashlar quoins to
openings and buttresses. The roof is a large gabled nave with gabled aisles
to the north and south.