St Saviour's Church occupies the space
between St Mildred's Road and Ivanhoe Road, facing sideways onto
Westgate Bay Avenue in Westgate-on-Sea. The new church was designed
in the Gothic style by Charles Beazley, a London architect, and was
intended to be an integral part of the exclusive development known
as the Westgate-on-Sea Estate. It was built of Kentish ragstone with
door and window arches of Bath stone, and was consecrated on 23 July
The Grade II listed church possesses a fine organ
and quality stained glass including a five lancet east window by
Charles Kempe and six others from his studio. The War Memorial
Chapel was designed by the William Morris studio. The church has a
ring of six bells. In 1975, five of those were transferred to St
Saviour's Church from the deconsecrated Holy Cross Church in
Canterbury. Three of the bells date to the early 1600s and one was
cast in 1300s.
Christ Church United Reformed Church
is also on Westgate Bay Avenue, a short way east of St Saviour's
Church. The red-brick building was opened in April 1884 as the new
town's Congregational Church, pipping the Anglican church to its
first service by three months. In 1972 it became the URC church with
the merger of the Congregationalists and the Presbyterians. The
original foundation stone which was dated to 12 June 1883 was
replaced by a Millennium stone in 2000.
The Catholic Church of St Peter sits to
the south of the town, on the Canterbury Road. From 1904, the local
Catholic congregation was allowed to worship at Tower House instead
of at St Austin & St Gregory in Margate (now St Augustine's
Conference Centre), but quickly grew too large for it. In 1937 the
parish acquired Westgate House with its five acres of land, and work
began on adapting the main house for use as a temporary church.
On Sunday 4 July the church building was opened
with a celebration of Pontifical Mass. The local population dwindled
during the war and the church stood desolate most of the time. Bombs and
mines exploding in the vicinity of the building shook down ceilings, and
broke windows and roof slates. In 1958, a generous donor paid off the
remaining debt and construction of a new church began in February 1963.
The church was formally opened on 11 May 1964.
St Augustine's Chapel lies almost
immediately alongside St Peter's on the Canterbury Road. In some
sources, its history has seemingly been confused with that of the
Ursuline Convent which lays a little further to the west. The
latter formed a school in Westgate 1904, after the nuns were banned
from teaching in France. St Augustine itself, a magnificent French-style
chapel, was built in 1905-1915 by F A Walters as part of another convent
school named Les Oiseaux.
Westgate's Catholics were allowed to attend mass
at the chapel, instead of at the parish church of St Austin & St
Gregory in Margate. By 1935 the numbers attending mass at the convent,
swelled in the summer by many visitors, was so great that it was
clear that the people of Westgate needed their own church (St Peter's).
St Augustine's, with 456 year-old carvings (in 2010) from France, became
a boy's school in 1971, and is now a conference and wedding centre.
The Parish Church of St James Westgate &
Garlinge is on the Canterbury Road in the direction of Margate.
Before the 1860s, Westgate consisted of only a farm, a coastguard
station which had been built in 1791 and which still stands in Old
Boundary Road, and a few cottages for the crew that surrounded it.
During the late 1860s, businessmen developed the area into a seaside
resort for the middle-classes, starting with a stretch of sea wall
with a promenade on top.
A housing estate was built with the intention
that the resort would benefit its residents as a 'gated community',
rather than serving the occasional tourists. The opening of a
railway station in 1871 led to the rapid expansion of the
population, which reached 2,738 by 1901. The demands of the
increasing population led to the building of St James' Church in
1872. In 1884, it was reported that Essex was hit by a tremor so
large that it caused the bells of St James to ring.
Garlinge Methodist Church lies a little
under two hundred metres east of St James, serving the community
of Garlinge from the corner of the Canterbury Road and High Street
Garlinge. The two brown-brick buildings, with the church on the
left here and the hall alongside it, are a blend of both modern
and traditional styles, inside and out. The seating area in the
church is fully modern, with chairs for the parishioners replacing
fixed pews in the downstairs area.
All photos on this page by P L Kessler.
Additional information by Kate Billson.