Cemetery Road, Gillingham, Dorset
Although of earlier origins, this is essentially a structure of 1930 and of no particular architectural distinction. In its use of local stone it sits comfortably in its surroundings.
From 1900 Fr Thomas Matthews rented Pierston House at Milton on Stour (just outside Gillingham) where Mass was said for local people. This arrangement ceased in 1907 and Major Freame of The Chantry, Gillingham converted a cottage in Cemetery Road for use as a church, the first St Benedict’s church. This church was gutted by fire in 1929 and from the insurance was created the present church, incorporating another, adjoining, cottage. The church was opened on 20 July 1930. A photograph of the fire damaged church shows that the basic shape of the cottages informed the rebuild, probably using the same footings or foundations. A transept and sacristy extension was added in the 1970s.
In the following description compass points will be taken as if the altar faced east (it in fact faces west). The small church comprises nave with south aisle and porch, sanctuary and north and south transepts, though the sanctuary does not project east of the transepts. It is largely built of coursed rubble stone under a tiled roof. The north transept was added in the 1970s and is partly rendered. The south aisle and porch are roofed with the nave under a continuous pitch, the porch projecting a little further than the aisle. The aisle has a group of three Crittall windows within a concrete frame with broad mullions. The north side of the nave has three cross-windows with small pane casements of domestic character. Similar windows to the transepts and narrower windows to the sanctuary. Circular windows set high up in the north and south walls of the transepts.
Internally there is no division between nave and sanctuary and the aisle opens to the nave with a broad opening under a concealed beam. The transepts have plain round-arched openings to the sanctuary. Heavy queen-post roof trusses partly concealed by the boarded ceiling. The walls are plain plastered and painted white. Dark-stained Gothic timber altar with three trefoiled arches. Fittings otherwise not special. On the west wall hangs an oil painting of the bust of Christ with the Crown of Thorns, framed in a moulded gilt frame.
Architect: Not established
Original Date: 1930
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed