History

With the rapid development and growing population in South Chatham during the 1920s and 1930s, there was a need for a church in the area. However, it was not until May 1931 that the Rochester Diocesan Society and Board of Finance completed a conveyance to purchase some land in Wallace Road in order to erect a building that would serve both as church and community hall.

As this piece of land was within the parish boundary of St John's Church, it was felt that St John's Church Council and congregation would take responsibility for the erection of the building and all accessories. On 14 June 1934 the foundation stone was dedicated by Bishop Linton Smith and the Revd G P Phelps was appointed the first priest-in-Charge.

Within a year more space was was already needed to accommodate the growing congregation. A large hut was bought at a cost of 14 and became the centre of the children's work in the area. The field next to the church hall became the centre of community activities, the venue for football and cricket matches as well as the annual summer fetes.

It was soon becoming clear that a bigger church building was needed together with a permanent vicarage but in September 1939 World War II was declared and all plans for expansion had to be put on hold. However, in February 1944 the Church Council received a letter from Diocesan Board of Finance sanctioning the appointment of an architect for a proposed new church on the Wallace Road site.

It was not until 1948 that a proposal was put forward to find another site for the new church building but by 1951 there was still not sufficient money for the new building to go ahead.

In March 1955 the site at Huntsman's Corner was purchased by the Church Council and planning permission applied for. Later that year an appeal was launched by the vicar and the churchwardens in order to meet the cost of building which was estimated to be in the region of 35,000.

In July 1958 Mrs Chevasse, the wife of Bishop Chavasse (who had been tireless in his efforts to assist the expansion of St Stephen's Church), laid the foundation stone and the building was completed and consecrated in October 1959. The church hall in Wallace Road continued to be used for some time but was eventually closed at the end of 1992 and sold in 1995. The former Lady Chapel at St Stephens was demolished and in the area of the Garden of Remembrance an annexe was built which provided a meeting hall, welcome area, kitchen, toilets and offices, all directly accessible from the church.

 


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