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Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Kent

by Peter Kessler, 30 August 2009. Updated 13 September 2019

Canterbury Part 12: Churches of Westbere, Broad Oak & Hersden

Parish Church of All Saints, Westbere, Kent

The Parish Church of All Saints, Westbere, is at the lower end of the leafy Church Lane, close to most of the houses in this hamlet. The building consists of one isle and a chancel, and dates mostly to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Some of the walls were built from re-used material, suggesting that this church replaced an earlier Saxon building. In 1640 the church was valued in the king's books at fifty pounds sterling, with seventy-two communicants.

Parish Church of All Saints, Westbere, Kent

Early photos from 1756 show that there used to be a timber-framed porch by the south door (on the wall shown here), which has since been replaced by a low window. The former squat, square bell tower at the western end was replaced by the bell cote, probably during the nineteenth century. The bell cote contains three bells, visible here. They are sometimes rung before Sunday service, but small bells like these, cast around 1853, usually have a poor tonal quality.

Parish Church of All Saints, Westbere, Kent

Inside, the nave is a simple hall with a timber-framed roof, and a chancel which appears to have been built at a different period in time. Many of the furnishings, such as the pews and the organ, were added in Victorian times. Colourful tiles in the chancel are Victorian. They were white-washed in the 1950s and only uncovered around half a century later, in 2001. The altar used to be at St Albans in nearby Hersden (below), a daughter church which closed in 1970.

St Anne's Convent, Westbere, Kent

St Anne's Convent is on the approach to Westbere and is more formally known as the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions. Adèle Euphrasie Barbier was born at Caen, Normandy, France, on 4 January 1829. As Sister Maria and Mother Marie, she was austere and deeply spiritual, wearing a hair shirt and chains. She served in the Southern Pacific islands and New Zealand as a missionary, but she died at her order's house, here in Westbere, on 18 January 1893.

St Alban's Church, Hersden, Kent

The former St Alban's Church, Hersden used to sit at the north-east corner of The Avenue and St Alban's Road. It was founded in 1929 as a daughter church of All Saints, Westbere (above). Apparently not a great success, the church closed in 1970. Demolition followed in 1978 when the site was being prepared for the St Alban's housing project that now stands there (pictured). The alter moved first to Hersden Methodist Church (below) and then All Saints in 2001.

Hersden Methodist Church, Hersden, Kent

Hersden Methodist Church is on the northern side of The Avenue at the village's eastern end, roughly fifty metres west of the Catholic church (below). It was founded in 1929 as part of the newly-built Chislet Colliery Village for miners from Wales and the north - the name 'Hersden' was adopted in the same year. The alter from St Alban's (above) was moved here in 1970 and in 2001 to All Saints Westbere (above). Today the church also serves as Hersden Community Centre.

Five photos on this page by P L Kessler, and one copyright © Bill Boaden, and reused under a cc licence.



Images and text copyright © all contributors mentioned on this page. An original feature for the History Files.