Seasalter Christian Centre is on
Faversham Road in Seasalter, almost literally round the corner from
Seasalter Old Church. This brand new centre manages the needs of
parts of the new, larger congregation that Seasalter now enjoys. It
was built in 2006 to provide a light and flexible space to both its
congregation and the local community. Opened at Easter 2007, it
contains 250 seats in an air-cooled auditorium with flexible
sound-proof partitioning and adjustable lighting.
The Church of St Alphege on Whitstable
High Street is the main parish church for nearby Seasalter.
Whitstable's own parish church is All Saints, about a mile inland,
and Seasalter Old Church, also called St Alphege, now serves the
massive new estate which was built nearby. Like the original
church in Seasalter, this church is named after the archbishop of
Canterbury, St Alphege (1005-1013), who was captured by Vikings and
then killed at their encampment at Greenwich.
By the nineteenth century, the Old Church was
dilapidated and too far removed from the rapidly-expanding main
population in Whitstable, so in August 1844 the first stone was laid
by Sir Brook William Bridges in this replacement on the High Street.
The stonework makes it look much older than it really is, giving it
the appearance of being Seasalter's original church. The pole on the
church tower carried red flags during the First World War to warn of
German air raids.
St John's Methodist Church on Argyle Road
was completed in 1868 and opened by the president of the Wesleyan
Conference. This building replaced earlier wooden and brick buildings
on Middle Wall which were built in 1819 and 1857 respectively. The
disused brick building was rented to the Baptists in 1869 and
purchased by them five years later. The Wesleyan Schools hall which
lay alongside the new Methodist church (on the far right) was opened
Although the brick building was a great improvement
on the early days of meetings in a private house (from 1813), in the
late 1800s the church had many problems with echoes, draughts, lighting,
heating, and damage to the windows caused by boys with catapults. In
1932, union was effected between three branches of Methodism, and the
simple 'Whitstable Methodist Church' gained its present name. A major
refurbishment was undertaken in 2007-2008.
Whitstable Congregational Zion Church stands
on the western side of the High Street, directly opposite St Alphege
(New) Church. It was on this site that the Baptists erected their first,
wooden, church building in 1792. The membership faded away by 1808, so
the building was taken over by the Independents. In 1833 they replaced
it with a brick building which opened on 16 July of that year. This
building was burnt down during a large fire in the town on 5 October 1854.
Rebuilding work on the Congregational church started in
1855. This resulted in the grand building (previous photo), which was enlarged
in 1860. The town's Presbyterian membership joined the church in 1972, when
it became Whitstable United Reformed Church. The old building was sold
in 1980 and converted into the Playhouse Theatre, which opened in 1982. The
members moved into the former hall, which lays behind the Playhouse on Middle
Wall (shown here).
The Salvation Army citadel for Whitstable
is located on the western side of the High Street, just a few metres
north of the Playhouse Theatre, and almost directly opposite Gladstone
Road. The citadel existed as early as 1901, but its precise date of
construction is unknown. Its use must have declined by the 1990s and
it closed. The disused building was converted about 2007-2008 into a
bookmakers, and there was a great deal of public disquiet about the change.
Whitstable Baptist Church is on Middle Wall,
north of the URC building. The first Baptist church in Whitstable was
later used by the Congregationalists (see above). This present building
was constructed by the Methodists in 1857 to replace an earlier wooden
building on the same site. When they moved to a new building in 1868,
this old building remained empty until it was rented to the Baptists in
1869. They purchased it five years later for the sum of £500.
The year 1869 is the date taken as the founding
of the Baptist church in Whitstable, and it recently celebrated its
140th anniversary. In 1889, despite the fluctuating nature of the
congregation, the building was renovated and the lighting was
attended to and improved, all for a cost of £60. In addition, a
stone plaque under the lefthand front window when facing the church
reads: 'Unveiled by Mr and Mrs R T Lang. To commemorate enlargement
August 2nd 1911'.
Nine photos on this page by P L Kessler, and one
kindly contributed by M Kessler.