The Parish Church of All Saints, Westbere, is
at the lower end of the leafy Church Lane, close to most of the houses in
this hamlet. The building consists of one isle and a chancel, and dates
mostly to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Some of the walls were
built from re-used material, suggesting that this church replaced an earlier
Saxon building. In 1640 the church was valued in the king's books at fifty
pounds sterling, with seventy-two communicants.
Early photos from 1756 show that there used to be a
timber-framed porch by the south door (on the wall shown here), which
has since been replaced by a low window. The former squat, square bell
tower at the western end was replaced by the bell cote, probably during
the nineteenth century. The bell cote contains three bells, visible here.
They are sometimes rung before Sunday service, but small bells like these,
cast around 1853, usually have a poor tonal quality.
Inside, the nave is a simple hall with a timber-framed
roof, and a chancel which appears to have been built at a different period
in time. Many of the furnishings, such as the pews and the organ, were
added in Victorian times. Colourful tiles in the chancel are Victorian.
They were white-washed in the 1950s and only uncovered around half a
century later, in 2001. The altar used to be at St Albans in nearby
Hersden (below), a daughter church which closed in 1970.
St Anne's Convent is on the approach to
Westbere and is more formally known as the Sisters of Our Lady of
the Missions. Adèle Euphrasie Barbier was born at Caen, Normandy,
France, on 4 January 1829. As Sister Maria and Mother Marie, she
was austere and deeply spiritual, wearing a hair shirt and chains.
She served in the Southern Pacific islands and New Zealand as a
missionary, but she died at her order's house, here in Westbere,
on 18 January 1893.
The former St Alban's Church, Hersden used
to sit at the north-east corner of The Avenue and St Alban's Road. It
was founded in 1929 as a daughter church of All Saints, Westbere (above).
Apparently not a great success, the church closed in 1970. Demolition
followed in 1978 when the site was being prepared for the St Alban's
housing project that now stands there (pictured). The alter moved
first to Hersden Methodist Church (below) and then All Saints in
Hersden Methodist Church is on the
northern side of The Avenue at the village's eastern end, roughly
fifty metres west of the Catholic church (below). It was founded in
1929 as part of the newly-built Chislet Colliery Village for miners
from Wales and the north - the name 'Hersden' was adopted in the
same year. The alter from St Alban's (above) was moved here in 1970
and in 2001 to All Saints Westbere (above). Today the church also
serves as Hersden Community Centre.