History Files


Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Kent

by Arthur Percival & Peter Kessler, 1 January 2020

Swale Part 2: Churches of Dunkirk, Boughton Street & Hernhill

Christ Church, Dunkirk, Kent

Christ Church, Dunkirk, is on the south side of Canterbury Road. The area gained its name from the nearby Dunkirk House whose owner wanted to remember times spent in French Dunkerque during English occupation in 1658-1660. The church was built after the 1838 Courtenay Riots to cure the area's lawlessness. Though early Victorian, it was a Georgian preaching box disguised as a Gothic building. It was made redundant in 1988 and is now a private residence.

Boughton Street Primitive Methodist Chapel, Kent

Boughton Street Primitive Methodist Chapel is on the north side of The Street, about fifty metres west of the Bounds Lane junction. In the Victorian period this was a long line of trades and labouring households along the London Road. With the nearest Anglican church being the distant St Peter & St Paul (see links), the Wesleyans (below) and Primitive Methodists moved in. Post-war, this chapel was closed and converted into a private residence known as The Old Chapel.

St Barnabas Church, Boughton Street, Kent

St Barnabas Church, Boughton Street, is on the northern side of The Street, about fifteen metres west of the Colonel's Lane junction. It was built because the parish church, St Peter & St Paul, was too far away and the area was being claimed by the two Methodists churches. Built by public subscription in 1896 it replaced a small mission in a former stables of 'The George' public house. It remains in use today, for occasional services and as a community hall.

Boughton Street Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Kent

Boughton Street Wesleyan Methodist Chapel stands on the southern side of The Street, about seventy metres east of Gas Lane. Built in 1844 it initially had a spire, later removed. The popularity of Methodism in the early Victorian period saw a spate of chapel building, and Boughton Street had no immediate Anglican presence to offer any opposition. Pre-war congregations tumbled though, and conversion of the chapel into apartments was completed shortly before 2005.

Church of St Michael, Hernhill, Kent

The Church of St Michael, Hernhill, lies on the eastern side of Church Hill, around eighty metres south of Crockham Lane. It is unusual among medieval churches in being all of a piece - the entire structure was rebuilt about 1450 and as a result it is beautifully proportioned. The earliest church here was a Saxon wooden structure which was replaced in 1120 by the stone-and-wood Church of St Stephen. Masonry from that building is still identifiable today in the south wall.

Church of St Michael, Hernhill, Kent

The present stone-and-flint church was constructed on the site around 1450, and is one of a few wholly Perpendicular churches in Kent. The main door and the bell tower door are fine examples of fifteenth century joinery, and the rood screen a good example of sixteenth century workmanship. The interior was restored in the 1800s and, consequently, much of the furniture dates from this period. The bell tower houses eight bells which were refurbished in 1997.

Three photos on this page by Arthur Percival, one from Ray's Photo Collection via the 'History Files: Churches of the British Isles' Flickr group, and two copyright © David Anstiss and John Baker, both reused under a cc licence. Additional information from Demography, Society and Culture in Rural England, 1800-1930, Barry Reay, UC MA, 1996.



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