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Gallery: Churches of Kent
by Peter Kessler, 25 April 2010. Updated 5
Thanet Part 11: Churches of St Lawrence, Chilton
The Parish Church of St Laurence-in-the-Isle-of-Thanet
is on the High Street at the junction with Newington Road in St Lawrence
(only the church uses a 'u' in its spelling). The church was established
in 1062 by the Manstons of Manston Court, Minster-in-Thanet, making it the
oldest in Ramsgate. It was built as a fortress and refuge in a period of
Danish coastal attacks. The tower could be used to repel attackers while
the large nave was able to shelter the populace.
Monks from Minster Abbey would conduct services
and, with no pews, the congregation either stood or knelt. In 1175
the church had become too small so an aisle and porch were added,
initiated by Richard de Manston. From 1220-1225 the St Thomas Becket
Chapel and the St Catherine of Alexandria Chapel were added. In 1275
St Laurence became a separate parish with its own graveyard. Heavy
restoration work took place in 1850-1870. The clock was added later.
St Lawrence Methodist Church is on the northern
side of the narrow Chapel Road, near the junction with the High Street.
The chapel was built by Wesleyan Methodists, opening in 1897. The event
was marked by two corner stones on either side of the entrance, one of
which was laid on behalf of the Sunday School by A J Rowe on 9 September
1897. The chapel is now a nursery, although perhaps only recently so, as
it is still marked on some OS maps as a church.
The Alder Memorial Healing Sanctuary lies
on the south-western side of the footpath which leads alongside 23
Chilton Lane, Chilton, on the western edge of Ramsgate. The church,
which is a small, modern, brick block, is for the practise of spiritualism,
or what the church terms 'communication with spirit'. Evenings of
clairvoyance are usually held on a Sunday service and hymns are
sometimes also sung, along with a recitation of the Lord's Prayer.
New World Church resides in the relatively
unmarked Smuggler's Barn (otherwise known as The Old Barn), which is
the farthest building in the row shown on the left in this photo. This
evangelical church is located on the northern side of Pegwell Road,
in the centre of a small and peaceful seaside community which has fine
views over Pegwell Bay towards Sandwich, landing site of both Julius
Caesar and the first wave of Angles and Jutes of the Anglo-Saxon
St Augustine's Catholic Church and Abbey
is on both sides of St Augustine's Road. The church was built in
1847-1851 as a masterpiece of neo-Gothic design by Augustus Welby
Northmore Pugin (1812-1852) at his own expense, and he is buried
in the churchyard. The building contains Whitby stone and local flint.
The first Benedictine monk arrived in 1856, founding the Subiaco
Congregation Monastery, and the abbey buildings were added in
1861. The monks left in 2011.
The Sailors Church is on the shoreward side
of Military Road, beside the southern end of the harbour. It was opened
for services on 8 July 1878 by Christ Church Ramsgate as a Harbour
Mission & Sailors Home. In 1936 it was the Sailors Mission Church.
The Fishing Fleet Apprentices (or Smack Boys) lived upstairs when ashore
and many people rescued from shipwrecks were cared for here. The Ramsgate
Home for Smack Boys, founded 1881, is next door.
St Augustine's Mission Hall is situated on the
western side of the junction between Florence Road and Cannonbury
Road, midway between St Augustine's Catholic Church and Christ
Church. The Catholic church was built privately, and the accompanying
abbey was founded in 1856, but although this mission hall existed in
1936, its date of founding is unknown and its ultimate fate is equally
unknown. It was clearly out of use in early 2010.
Christ Church, sits at the western end
of Vale Square, a leafy but slightly run-down area on the west of
central Ramsgate. The church was opened for services in 1847, at
a time when Ramsgate, which is essentially a post-Napoleonic Wars
creation, was expanding rapidly. It was designed in the Victorian
ersatz Early English style with three aisles, a northern entrance,
and an eastern tower of the style familiar to many eighteenth and
early nineteenth century churches in Kent.
The west porch was rebuilt to commemorate the church's
jubilee in 1897. The living is a vicarage which is in the gift of the
Church Patronage Trustees. It was held for a long period from 1931 by the
Reverend Percy M Townend MA of St John's College Durham, although he
was a surrogate. During the summer the church joins others at the Sailors
Church in Ramsgate Harbour on Sunday evenings, which mission Christ
Church founded in 1878.
Nine photos on this page by P L Kessler, and one
kindly contributed by Sam Weller, via the 'History Files: Churches
of the British Isles' Flickr group.