Christ Church is the main parish church
for Herne Bay and is located in William Street, just south of the
High Street. Herne Bay was late to be developed, initially being
little more that an outpost for fishermen from the village of Herne,
two kilometres inland. Sir Henry Oxenden was a local landowner, and
it was he who donated a tract of land which was to be the site of the
town's first church, which was opened in 1834, probably to a design
by A G Clayton.
Initially, it was a nonconformist chapel, but it
was purchased by the Church of England in 1840. The transepts and
chancel were built in 1868. Its west front was altered - and
visually damaged (see the previous photo) - in 1878. Either side of
the church are two little square single storey buildings dating from
1839. These extensions housed schoolrooms and have quirky octagonal
buttresses terminating in pinnacles. Bells were added to the church in 1895.
Herne Bay Baptist Church is on the High
Street just to the east of the old Methodist Church. It was opened
in 1879 as the Baptist Chapel. As with Christ Church, this building
is a simple brown-brick construction with its street elevation given
a Classical dressing. Although in Classical terms the assemblage of
motifs on the street gable, carried out in plain render, is rather
gauche, this part of the building still makes a very valuable
contribution to the character of the town.
The chapel is of interest internally for its original
full immersion baptismal pool under the floor. The Victorian High Street
is apparently raised up around here to produce basements in buildings
abutting the street, and this certainly helped with the incorporation of
the pool. The inscription on the keystone at the foot of the main wall,
underneath the triple window, reads: 'This stone was laid by C H Dean Esq
for C F Allison Esq of London, February 26th 1879'.
Herne Bay Methodist Church, on the corner of High
Street and Beach Street, was built in 1885, of Kent ragstone, a splendid
example of polygonal stone walling (over brickwork) typically combined with
smooth ashlared dressings. The tower, topped by a slender ragstone-faced spire,
is a key landmark in the town. The building remained empty from 2002, when the
Methodists joined forces with the United Reformed Church, worshipping from
their Mortimer Street church.
Herne Bay United Church (Methodist and URC)
is on Mortimer Street, which runs parallel to the High Street,
although the church also has a less attractive frontage there. This
former Herne Bay Congregational Chapel was opened in 1864, in
a building of plain brick, with ashlared dressings and gables clad
on top in coursed ragstone, a common practise in the town. In 2002
the Methodist congregation from the High Street joined the United
Reformed Church here.
The Salvation Army community church is on Richmond Street,
close to the town's bus garage. This building was opened in 1907,
five years before the death of William Booth, an ex-Methodist
minister who was encouraged to found his own 'Christian Mission' in
1865. By 1912, his Salvation Army was at work in a total of
fifty-eight countries. Herne Bay's small Salvation Army band still
go out to play around the town, most notably when the Christmas
lights are switched on.
The Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses is
located on the relatively quiet and leafy Station Road, just a few
hundred metres south of the west end of the High Street, which is
notable for its surviving but long-disused black gas lamp standards
manufactured by 'Beck and Co. Ltd London'. A new building, this one
follows a fairly standard pattern for a Kingdom Hall, with the same
colour scheme being used in the brickwork, apparently wherever this
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic
Church is at 3 Sea Street, at the western end of the High
Street, although the main body of the church building looks out over
the far more narrow Clarence Road. The church was built between
1889-1890 as an example of the more refined Victorian work, and is
regarded as a local landmark. It was gifted to the Passonist
Priests, who were founded by St Paul of the Cross (1694-1775) and
who continue to run it today.
The building's form is relatively simple,
allowing the random coursed ragstone walling, which is very typical
of central Herne Bay's churches, to feature as a major aspect of the
building's character. It is certainly a building that has been
designed to be seen from all sides in order to appreciate it fully.
Inside, there is a Gothic Revival three-tier altar which is still
seen by a congregation of four hundred, half the 1890s figure but
still respectable for the twenty-first century.
Eight photos on this page by P L Kessler, and
two kindly contributed by M Kessler.