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Gallery: Churches of Kent
by Arthur Percival & Peter Kessler, 14
June 2009. Updated 1 January 2020
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church
is on the western side of Tanners Street, precisely midway between
Napleton and South roads. The building was erected as a school by
the gunpowder factory owners for the children of their staff. The
Georgian building next door was built for a tanner about 1747 (now
the presbytery). The Carmelites took over the parish in 1926,
gaining this site in 1937. The old school, now the Empire Cinema,
was converted into the church.
The Gospel Mission Hall is at the north-eastern
corner of Tanners Street and Napleton Road, opposite Reeves Passage. The
hall (shown here in 2005) is an Independent church which is not affiliated
to any sect and, although the date of its founding is uncertain, in 2010
it continued to flourish. The hall's band, which is now known as the Mission
Brass, was photographed on the steps of the hall about 1925, at which time
it was called the Gospel Mission Band.
Union Chapel (Bible Christians) stood on
the east side of Water Lane, but may not have been a purpose-built
chapel. Records show that it existed by 1823 and lasted at least
until 1837, but apparently handled only baptisms. It stood at the
corner with Thomas Street (a relatively new addition which can be
seen at the far end of Water Lane here). Water Lane itself was lost
north of Thomas Road along with the chapel itself. The red wall and
railings mark its approximate position.
Partridge Lane Chapel lies midway along
the southern side of Partridge Lane in northern Faversham, close to
Shepherd Neame's brewery. Nonconformity arrived a little late in the
town, becoming apparent by 1789 when the Countess of Huntingdon's
Connexion of Independent nonconformists opened this plain red-brick
box of a chapel. With ideas about worship adapting, it was superseded
by the Congregational church in 1878 and is now used by Shepherd
Faversham is a town with a long and interesting
history, but Christianity is only documented here from 1070 despite
its proximity to Canterbury. In that year, William the Conqueror
signed a charter which gave the parish church of St Mary of
Charity to the Abbey of St Augustine at Canterbury. However,
Faversham's parish boundaries were established around AD 636, which
strongly suggests that a parish church was established here at about
The present church, situated at the junction
of Church Street and Church Road, is one of the few dedicated to
St Mary of Charity. This is one of the town's surviving links with
Faversham's Abbey of St Saviour, whose mother church in
France was similarly dedicated. Construction of the great abbey
by King Stephen and his wife was completed in 1147, and the parish
church fell on its southern boundary. After Stephen's reign, the
abbey fell from favour and was eventually demolished.
The size of the church is an indication of the
town's importance in the Middle Ages. The former medieval central tower
and most of the Norman nave were demolished in 1753 after being found
to be unsafe. The famous 'crown spire' which is shown here in a view
from the churchyard to its south, was built between 1794-1797. The
painted column on the right of this photo was put in place in the
north transept in around 1320, and survived the rebuild.
The choir vestry dates from the fourteenth or
fifteenth century. It was probably a chapel initially. Pre-Reformation,
it must also have been used as a school as there are pupil carvings
in the crypt below it. The transepts, chancel, and north and south
chancel chapels were all rebuilt around 1320 after the townspeople
had set fire to the church, destroying the original (presumably
Norman) structure. The church also contains two fonts (one Georgian,
one Victorian of 1860).
St Mary's also contains a canopy tomb in which
the remains of King Stephen are said to have been reinterred after
being removed from Faversham Abbey (although it was also said that
his bones were thrown into Faversham Creek). Faversham is one of
the few places outside London where a king of a united England and
his queen (and son) were buried, in this case in the abbey church.
The abbey was demolished after 1538, and only a few outbuildings
This view of St Mary of Charity looking towards
the north-west was taken in 1865 or 1866 by William Saxby, the town's
first professional photographer. It is literally impossible to take
a photograph of the full length of the church today, because the
churchyard is full of trees which obscure the view, even in winter.
It's generally said that, in terms of floor area, Maidstone parish
church is the largest in Kent, but in truth Faversham manages to
beat it by a whisker.
Four photos on this page by P L Kessler and five
by Arthur Percival, and one kindly contributed by Ralph Wood.