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Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of Kent

by Peter Kessler, 14 February 2010

Tunbridge Wells Part 1: Churches of Paddock Wood

Anglican and Methodist Church of St Andrew Paddock Wood

The Anglican and Methodist Church of St Andrew Paddock Wood lies at the southern end of Paddock Wood, on Maidstone Road opposite the junction with Ringden Avenue. The town is a new one, grown up around the railway from 1842, so in 1851 a simple ragstone two-cell church, with a large nave and relatively small chancel was erected on the present site and dedicated to St Andrew. This served the growing town until the night of 4 November 1940.

Anglican and Methodist Church of St Andrew Paddock Wood

On that night, a bomb hit the church, destroying it. In 1953 the foundation stone was laid for a new church, designed by Cecil Burns. Corbens of Maidstone were the contractors. Ragstone from the old church formed the foundations and base, with utilitarian red-brown brick above. The most noteworthy feature of the new church is the rose window at the west end - striking both inside and out. The church now also pays host to the town's Methodist congregation.

St Justus Catholic Church and Hall

St Justus Catholic Church and Hall is to the north, on Mount Pleasant Road about 75 metres west of the Maidstone Road junction. The first building here was the present hall (to the right of this photo), which was opened as a small church in 1950. The increasing size of the town's population made it necessary to expand the church premises. The present presbytery was purchased in 1978, and dedicated on 1 March 1981 by Archbishop Michael Bowen.

Paddock Wood Christian Fellowship

Paddock Wood Christian Fellowship lies diagonally opposite St Justus. It began in 1956 when Archie Friday, a Kentish businessman with a zeal for evangelism, came to Paddock Wood and founded Paddock Wood Pentecostal Church in a rented room above the 'John Brunt' public house in Church Road. The present building was erected in 1960. The church declined during the late 1960s, but was re-established in the mid-1970s by Archie's grandson, Peter Friday.

Wesleyan Chapel

The Wesleyan Chapel was built on Commercial Road, due east of St Justus, with its rear facing the entrance to Ewins Close. One of the oldest places of worship in Paddock Wood, it is Victorian in appearance. Although the town grew from a railway junction and then a village in just 160 years, that growth clearly was not enough to sustain a separate Methodist congregation. It moved to share the Anglican church of St Andrew, and the building is now a Citizens' Advice Bureau.

Paddock Wood Baptist Church

Paddock Wood Baptist Church is at 42b Commercial Road, at the rear of the building which is on the western side of the road heading towards the railway station. An unusual meeting place for a modern congregation, it is shared with ARC Counselling service, and is reminiscent of the early nonconformist meetings that would be arranged at private premises supplied by a member of the nascent congregation, before they could afford a dedicated church building.

All photos on this page by P L Kessler.



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