Mallard Close, Temple Hill, Dartford, Kent DA1
A striking high-peak tile-hung church of 1985, built in the grounds of the former St Vincent’s Industrial School, which had moved to Dartford in 1876. There are re-interred school burials of local importance and the parish centre and Hubert House community centre are based in former school buildings.
The Presentation Brothers had founded St Vincent’s Industrial School for Boys at Tanner’s Hill, between New Cross and Deptford. In 1876, the school moved to buildings erected the previous year at Dartford, comprising schoolrooms, workshops and general offices.
After the Second World War the school was developed and modernised. However, by then the system for custodial sentences for young offenders had changed, and ‘open’ premises were no longer suitable. The school, then called ‘The Community Home’, closed in July 1982. That year the parish of St Anselm’s was divided, creating the new parish of St Vincent’s. A new church was built in the school grounds and the school gymnasium was converted to a parish centre. The former residential unit became ‘Hubert House’, a community centre administered by the Catholic Children’s Society (now Cabrini Children’s Society). Burials of brothers, staff, boys and friends of the school were moved to a memorial garden to the south of the church. The rest of the former school, including the chapel, was demolished and a housing estate built on the site.
The new church was opened and consecrated on 3 May 1985 by Archbishop Bowen. The architects were Tomei & Mackley, with the consultant architect Dr Sir Liam McCormick. The building contractors were G. E. Wallis & Sons Ltd. With its triangular section, the building follows a type of churches with high-pitched roofs which were first popular in the 1960s.
The church of St Vincent was built in 1985 by the architects Tomei & Mackley, with the consultant architect Dr Sir Liam McCormick. The building is externally hung with clay tiles. The interior is timber panelled. The rafters rest on footings with stretcher bond brickwork. The plan is rectangular and the section triangular.
The tile-hung west facade has the main entrance below a covered walkway which connects it to the presbytery. Beside it are two doors to service rooms in the northwest corner. The east facade, also tile-hung to the floor, is equally plain, with a triangular projection with a side window which lights the sanctuary. There are two dormer windows at the southwest, with a metal cross on the roof ridge above.
A narthex at the west houses a lobby, a lavatory and a repository. The inner doors have etched lower panels commemorating the opening and consecration. Beyond is a small chapel, presumably used for weekday services. It is separated from the nave by a glazed screen and can be used as additional seating for services. The chapel has its own altar, and small timber Stations of the Cross. It is lit by two skylights in the north roof slope. The holy water stoup is made from silver, in the shape of a bowl held by two hands. At the west are two stained glass window panels donated by Canon Tadeusz Kurczewski, chaplain to the Polish patients at Mabledon Hospital, Dartford, between 1955 and 1985. The windows were made by patients under the supervision of Henryk Szutc. There is a statue of St Anthony at the northwest, and one of the Sacred Heart at the northeast. On the south side of the central corridor is a confessional, a shrine to the Virgin, and the sacristy (accessed from the nave).
Both chapel and nave have low fenestration at dado level, of two segmentally-headed windows per bay. The floor between the brick footings, adjacent to the windows, is covered with large, loose flint pebbles. The nave has three bays, with a one-bay sanctuary. The northern roof slope also has skylights, one per nave bay. Attached to the benches are tall standard lamps. The south side has a further series of Stations, painted on canvas. At the west, beside the door to the sacristy, is a painted panel of the Virgin and Child. In the northwest corner is an unpainted timber statue of St Joseph. At the southeast corner of the nave is a small shrine to St Anthony. The east end’s triangular projection is rendered white, with a timber statue of the crucified Christ hanging in front of it, without a cross. The sanctuary furniture is of matching white, roughly textured stone, with silver detailing such as the font’s bowl and the pulpit’s desk.
Architect: Tomei & Mackley, with Dr Sir Liam McCormick
Original Date: 1985
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed