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Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Kent

by Peter Kessler, 13 May 2010. Updated 13 December 2012

Canterbury Part 7: Churches of Canterbury

Catholic Church of St Thomas of Canterbury, Canterbury, Kent

The Catholic Church of St Thomas of Canterbury was built behind the former site of St Mary Magdalene (whose tower is on the right here). The church name plaque on the wall outside the building states. 'In the chapel of the English martyrs are some relics of St Thomas, martyred in Canterbury on 29th December, 1170'. The church, which was built about 1750 following the re-establishment of Catholism in Canterbury, has one bell in the enclosed central turret

Catholic Church of St Thomas of Canterbury, Canterbury, Kent

In 1855, Mary Ann Wood gave the house at 60 Burgate Street (now 59 Burgate) for the use of 'a priest in the city of Canterbury', which allowed Catholic worship to begin in the city for the first time since the reign of Mary Tudor. The church was built on the old St Mary Magdalene burial ground in 1874-1875. It was designed by John Green Hall, who was also responsible for St Lawrence in York and the Guildhall Street Church, and was opened for worship on 13 April 1875.

St Michael Burgate, Canterbury, Kent

St Michael Burgate existed close to the northern side of the approach to the Burgate. The church was probably Norman, erected during an ecclesiastic building-boom. Its date of closure is not known, but 1349 (the closure of both St John's and St Edmund's) or 1486 (St Mary de Casto) would be most likely. Its parish was united to St Mary Magdalene and the church's remains converted into a dwelling house. By 1852, some of the old church walls still stood.

Zoar Strict & Particular Baptist Chapel, Canterbury, Kent

Zoar Strict & Particular Baptist Chapel lies in a modified 'D' turret in the city wall, on the eastern side of Burgate Lane. This Baptist persuasion formed in 1633. In 1801 a cistern for the city's water supply was moved from St George's Gate and housed in the turret, but in 1845 the present chapel was built over the reservoir. The Particular Baptists and the New Connexion united in 1891 to form the Baptist Union of Great Britain & Ireland, and the chapel is still in use today.

St Mary Queningate, Canterbury, Kent

St Mary Queningate (or Queeningate) lay behind the Queningate itself (now represented by the square tower here, which was the old Roman Postern Gate), opposite the entrance to Lady Wootons Green. The church, or chapel, is believed to have been Saxon, but it was a minor one which was poorly recorded. In 1381, the rector exchanged it for St Michael's Church, proving its existence at that date, but no later. It was probably closed in 1486, but some foundations survive.

Church of St Paul without the Walls, Canterbury, Kent

The Church of St Paul without the Walls shares the parish with St Martin's (below). It is located on Church Street, just outside the city walls, and may stand on the site of a Roman cemetery chapel as it is sited just outside the Burgate, close to a site which has produced Roman burials. A Saxon church certainly existed here, but the current building, with its round, Early English pillars, was built in the thirteenth century, and a burial ground was established in 1591.

Church of St Paul without the Walls, Canterbury, Kent

In the fourteenth century the church was extended so that it joined up with the free-standing tower. In 1490 a parishioner named Richard Cram donated towards a new pair of organs. A Victorian print of the church shows the outer walls to have been rendered in white, but this was removed to redisplay the original knapped flint walls, probably in 1876 when the church was enlarged and partially rebuilt, with a new aisle and vestry being added.

St Martin's Church, Canterbury, Kent

St Martin's Church is the very first Anglo-Saxon parish church. Around AD 580, King Ethelbert of Kent gave his Christian wife a place of worship in an old Roman building on this site. When in 597 Pope Gregory sent Augustine to convert the pagan English, he and his party were also allowed to worship here, extending it before constructing the first Canterbury Cathedral. The Roman red bricks that were used to build the walls of the present church can still be seen today.

St Martin's Church, Canterbury, Kent

It is debatable how much of the original, Roman-brick church survives. Saxon building work replaced some of it when the church was extended in the seventh century. Many of the Saxon, or perhaps even original Roman, windows have been blocked off, possibly by Norman work. In 1845 the vestry was built, so the west end of the north wall had to be pulled down, but the church remains in use, around 1429 years after it was first given to Queen Bertha for worship.

Stodmarsh Road Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Canterbury, Kent

Seventh-Day Adventist Church is on the eastern side of Stodmarsh Road, close to the Littlebourne Road junction. Adventist roots go back at least to the early 1800s. Then William Miller, a Baptist preacher, predicted Christ's second coming in 1844 and, despite the lack of a positive result, he managed to retain a small number of his followers. The Stodmarsh church is comparatively new, while the single-storey extension to the side of the church was erected in 2003.

All photos on this page by P L Kessler. Additional information by Tricia Baxter.



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