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Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of Kent

by Peter Kessler & Arthur Percival, 22 November 2009. Updated 5 September 2010

Swale Part 5: Churches of Faversham & Preston-next-Faversham

Faversham Baptist Church

Faversham Baptist Church is on the western side of St Mary's Road. The congregation was formed in 1868 and held its first meetings at the Gatefield Lane Chapel just around the corner (the Faversham Club since about 1887). The foundation stone for the new chapel was laid on 31 July 1872, and it opened for worship in February 1873. No one seems to know who the architect was. The bricks were local stock, made by hand in immense quantities, mostly for London.

St Saviour's Church

St Saviour's Church is on the west corner of Whitstable Road and Cyprus Road. It was named after King Stephen's abbey of St Saviour, which was founded in 1147 in Faversham. Also known as the 'tin church', it was build in 1885, or soon afterwards, as a 'daughter' to the parish church of St Mary of Charity, to serve the new parishioners in an expanding town. The corrugated iron sheets cover a softwood frame, making these 'flat pack' buildings very quick and cheap to erect.

St Saviour's Church

The corrugated sheets used in these churches are thicker than those which were used in other buildings, giving this generation of tin churches a much longer life span - ideal for their main intended purpose of being shipped out to the colonies. This church is also a rare survivor of its kind in Britain, although many survive elsewhere in the former empire, especially in New Zealand. To ensure its preservation it has been listed, and some repairs were carried out in 1991.

Cyprus Road Gospel Hall

Cyprus Road Gospel Hall is a bit of a minor surprise, as it sits on the western side of Cyprus Road, very close to the rear of St Saviour (see above), and is entirely unseen from the main, Whitstable Road. The date of the hall's construction is unknown, but it may have been immediately pre-Second World War. More recently the roof supports had to be renewed. Unfortunately there is no data available on the hall or the congregation which may have used it.

St Catherine Preston-next-Faversham

The church of St Catherine Preston-next-Faversham lies just a little way south of Faversham Station and is dedicated to St Catherine of Alexandria, a virgin martyred by the Roman emperor in the early fourth century AD. The settlement of Preston was founded by the Anglo-Saxons - its name means priest's farmstead or manor - and until the Reformation the area was owned by the monks of Christ Church, Canterbury. The Domesday Book of 1086 refers to it as Prestetone.

St Catherine Preston-next-Faversham

The twelfth century Norman church removed any traces of the previous building, and consisted of a nave and chancel, but no aisle, and probably a bell turret at the western end (on the left here). The church was extensively restored in the mid-1800s under the Reverend James Peto. The spire, north aisle and porch were added in 1867, shortly after the 1858 arrival of the railway saw Preston's size start to increase rapidly so that it has since merged into Faversham.

Two photos and text on this page kindly contributed by Arthur Percival.

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