The Parish Church of St John the Baptist,
on Victoria Road at the southern end of the High Street, is the
most senior of the three parish churches in Margate and Cliftonville.
A centre of worship for over 950 years, the first building on this
site was constructed in around 1050 as a chapel of ease to St Mary's
Minster. Monastic priests would walk to St John's, and to other
chapels at St Peter's and St Laurence, to celebrate masses and to
minister to the local inhabitants.
The chapels eventually became parish churches and
a small fishing hamlet called Meregate or Margate developed around
St John's. The first stone church was Norman, with
extensions being added in around 1124 (the north chapel), and 1200
(the south chapel), although fire gutted the church in 1250. The
tower was added during the repairs, and the spire joined it in the
1520s. The church was restored in 1877, when the old galleries were
removed and the floor lowered.
High Street Pentecostal Church is at the
southern end of the main shopping area. Its Pentecostal congregation
became the New Life Christian Fellowship in the 1920s, the result of an
evangelistic outreach crusade held in the Empire Cinema in Cecil
Square, near where the library now stands. The Fellowship moved here
in 1989, to what had been the Plaza Cinema, before heading to St John's
Business Centre on 25 May 2003, leaving this building vacant.
Although Cecil Square Baptist Church is
the common name for this church, its official name is Margate
Baptist Church. The north-facing entrance is on New Street, close to
the High Street. A Baptist congregation began meeting at the
Shallows, between Margate and St Peter's, in 1762. Later an outreach
was made to the growing town of Margate, originally meeting in the
High Street, before transferring to Love Lane, two streets to the
north of New Street.
In 1800 the Shallows divided into two separate
churches, with one remaining nearby in St Peter's. The Margate
Church grew rapidly and, in 1815, moved into the current building in
New Street, which was called Ebenezer Chapel. This building
is still in use today. In 1899 the building was extended from the
rear into a converted building in Cecil Square, which is the
frontage shown here, and the church became known as Cecil Square
The Union Church is on the corner of Union
Crescent and Pump Lane, east of Cecil Square. The building was
constructed in 1860 at a cost of over £3,000, although some of the
land was sold to the Post Office. Next to the church is the former
church hall and Sunday School, which was built in 1872. The Methodists
and United Reformed Church (formerly the Congregationalists) in Margate
combined, probably in the 1980s or 1990s, to produce the Union Church.
The old church building became too large for
the congregation's needs, and perhaps too expensive to maintain.
In 1982 they moved into the church hall (shown here). The rear was
extended in 1987 to improve access, giving the building entrances
in Union Crescent to the main upper floor and in Union Row to the
lower floor with kitchen, coffee lounge, and function rooms. The
old church building was sold to local Muslims and is now Margate
The Salvation Army Margate Citadel
is at the eastern end of Union Crescent, on the corner of Addington
Street. The town was the home of George Scott Railton (1849-1913),
son of a Methodist minister and one of the unique personalities who
helped form the character of the Salvation Army, so it was natural
that a citadel be founded here, probably at the start of the
twentieth century. After his death, Railton was laid to rest next to
the movement's founder William Booth.
The site of Holy Trinity Church as seen
from the south, is on Trinity Square. The church's foundation stone
was laid in 1825 by Dr Manners-Sutton, archbishop of Canterbury, and
the elegant building was designed by architect Mr William Edmunds of
Margate. In 1829 the church was consecrated by Dr William Howley,
the new archbishop of Canterbury, and a bell was purchased from
Thomas Mears. It was hung for ringing in a large frame 2.9 metres (9
feet 6 inches) high.
This line drawing shows the former church from
the north, with Margate lying beyond. In 1943 it was struck by an
enemy bomb which failed to detonate properly. The bells and contents
survived, and services continued in the hall for some time, but in
1956 these moved to St Mary's Chapel in Northdown Park (now Holy
Trinity, Cliftonville). The old building was demolished in 1958 and
the site is now a car park, with a perimeter wall built from the
Two photos on this page contributed by M
Kessler, and one by C Stephen.