New Pond Road, Benenden, Kent
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.
Architect: Messrs Colt of Bethersden
Original Date: 1931
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed