Benenden - Catholic Chapel

New Pond Road, Benenden, Kent

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A charmingly modest ‘colonial’ style chapel built in the 1930s by Messrs Colt, a local firm specialising in timber framed buildings.

In  the  1920s  a  Travelling  Mission  was  providing  Mass  at  the  Benenden  Chest Hospital. A local Catholic, Mrs Scrymsour-Nichol arranged with Goudhurst for Mass to be said in the garage of her home on New Pond Road, which she had converted into an oratory. In 1931 she had the present building erected on part of her land, designed and built by Messrs Colt of Bethersden. Colts, founded in 1919, specialized in timber framed houses and the firm is still in business. A contemporary newspaper article  described  it  exaggeratedly  as  “built  in  the  early  English  style  of  which examples are to be found in Gloucestershire.” The cost was about £450 and it was originally intended that a school and priest’s house would be erected on the one acre site. The church is now a chapel of ease to St Theodore, Cranbrook (qv). 

The chapel has a lightweight timber frame clad externally in white-painted weatherboard with a cedar shingle roof. It comprises a nave with three semi-circular headed windows to either side, a lower sanctuary at one end and porch at the other, each with smaller semi-circular headed windows. The porch has a pair of utilitarian doors (an alteration according to an old photograph, which shows a smaller porch with  a  single  semi-circular  headed  doorway)  and  a  cross  on  the  gable.  It  has altogether a wonderfully charming colonial character.   The interior has a high matchboard panelled dado and is otherwise finished in large painted panels with a flat beading covering the joints. None of the furnishings require special note. The pine pews were probably brought from elsewhere.

Diocese: Southwark

Architect: Messrs Colt of Bethersden

Original Date: 1931

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed