Chatham - St Paulinus (Chapel of Ease)

Manor Street, Old Brompton, Chatham ME7

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Built in 1788 as a Methodist chapel, where John Wesley preached on several occasions, the building was sold in 1892 to the Catholic Church. It is a plain building which has been much altered, and is now in a state of disrepair. The building’s primary significance lies in its historical associations; it lies within the Brompton Lines Conservation Area.

The village of Old Brompton was founded in the 17th century to provide accommodation for the dockyard workers. John Wesley first visited (Old) Brompton in 1753. A first chapel in the area was built in 1770 in Rochester, while meetings continued in the barracks at Brompton. On 4 December 1788 the Methodist chapel in Manor Street opened, with Wesley preaching. When he visited again the next year the chapel was already too small. Originally, the building had galleries around all four sides, with a total seating capacity of 500. In 1810, the building was enlarged. Eight years later, a Sunday school was built behind it (since demolished). In 1892 the chapel   and   school   were   sold   to   the   Catholic   Church,   when   the   Methodist congregation moved to a larger chapel in Prospect Row (demolished in the 1960s). The pulpit from which Wesley had preached was sold off separately.

The original galleries have been removed and the fenestration altered. As the chapel was built on a slope, it has an undercroft below the west (liturgical east) end. Originally, the west side had tall, open arches, possibly used for stables. These are now blocked up and hidden by render. The undercroft is accessible by a door at the southwest corner. The school at the rear and the undercroft were originally reached, as now, by a narrow alleyway (once vaulted) to the left (south) of the main facade. In the 1960s or 1970s, the land to the rear of the chapel (including the site of the former school) was sold when Flaxman’s Court was created.

  

The chapel was built as a Methodist chapel in 1788 and enlarged in 1810. In 1892 it was sold to the Catholic Church, and possibly altered then. It is built in rendered brick, with a hipped tiled roof with a gable to the east. The plan is rectangular. The west facade has three windows, a cross modelled in bricks and a stone and concrete porch with two columns.

At the west there is a lobby between the repository to the south and the sacristy at the north, all below a gallery. At the east end, the nave has two windows on either side. The sanctuary has a fine carved Gothic Revival reredos, between statues of the Sacred Heart and Our Lady. The remainder of the sanctuary furnishings are modern. The Stations of the Cross are framed reproductions. There is a small confessional in the northwest corner, beside a statue of St Joseph. The flat ceiling has a circular, decorative ventilation grille.

Diocese: Southwark

Original Date: 1788

Conservation Area: Yes

Modifications: Later additions

Listed Grade: Not listed