History Files


Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of Kent

by Peter Kessler, 20 September 2009

Thanet Part 1: Churches of Birchington-on-Sea

All Saints Parish Church in Birchington

All Saints Parish Church is a Kentish cobble and ragstone construction on the corner of Station Road and Canterbury Road, in the heart of Birchington-on-Sea, to the south of the railway station. This junction has been an important meeting point between the roads to Margate and Canterbury for centuries. The church itself dates to around 1350, when it began as Birchenton Chapel to the manor of Monkton and the nearby church of St Mary Magdalene.

All Saints Parish Church, Birchington, Kent

The church was only assigned a curate until the later part of the nineteenth century, when the Victorian interest in the seaside towns of Thanet forced up the population. The church building has grown to possess a nave of 28.65 metres (94 feet) in length, and the south wall is a late addition, although precisely when is uncertain. Co-founder of the pre-Raphaelite movement, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, died 1882, is buried in the churchyard, just to the left of the church doorway.

Birchington Baptist Church, Kent

Birchington Baptist Church is on Crescent Road, close to Station Road in Birchington. In common with many Baptist congregations in East Kent, it was the middle of the nineteenth century when those in the town opened their first church building. This was in the building now used by Mullany's Roofing in Canterbury Road, which was erected in about 1852-1854 and which remained in use for about forty years in total.

Birchington Baptist Church in Kent

Following this, the members used the Institute at the back of the Square for about twenty-five years, while they raised funds to build a more permanent chapel. In the early 1920s, concerted efforts were made to achieve this, directed from a tent on land owned by a Mr Barrows. In 1925 the foundation stone was laid on the chapel which is still in use today. This building has now served for nearly ninety years, weathering all the Kent coast and North Sea can throw at it.

Birchington Methodist Church

Birchington Methodist Church lays well back from Canterbury Road, hidden from all but the most direct view. Methodists have had a presence in the village since as early as 1778, initially meeting in each other's homes. When it was felt that there were enough members to support a purpose-built chapel, they set about raising funds. The Methodist Chapel was eventually built in 1830. At its opening on 16 September, two reverends from London preached to the congregation.

Birchington Methodist Church in Kent

In 1883, Reverend Thomas Perfect, one of the church's ministers, owned Yew Tree House, just across the road from the chapel. He also owned the little plot of land behind Evergreen (now The Smugglers) and built a terrace of five houses on it, now known as Perfect Cottages. The church building continued to maintain its current appearance until shortly after 1960, when it was painted entirely white. The church has since been restored to its original appearance.

All photos on this page kindly contributed by M Kessler.



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