Rectory Lane, off East Street, Harrietsham, Kent
A simple nineteenth-century mission church, originally for Anglican use, built for railway construction workers and a rare example of such a building surviving in ecclesiastical use.
What is now the Catholic church was built for the workers on the construction of the Maidstone to Ashford railway which opened in 1884. It continued in use as an Anglican Mission Chapel until the 1960s but around 1970 was sold to the Catholic Church as a chapel-of-ease in Maidstone parish. In 1977 it became part of the Bearsted and Harrietsham parish. The church was extended with a new narthex around 2000.
A black-stained weatherboarded building with a tiled (or shingle) roof. The old part forms a gabled rectangle. It is said to be a converted barn but the internal joinery suggests it was purpose-built as a modest timber framed chapel. The circa 2000 narthex is built in a similar manner, forming an L-plan. Five-light west window, the individual lights with three-centred arched heads. A single bell on a bracket above and a relief carving of The Good Shepherd to the left. The side windows are set high up, in double pairs, again with arched lights. The east window is tripartite with a flat head.
The interior is simple with exposed timber frame, the king-post roof trusses set at close centres. They are made up of paired planks and have diagonal braces which pass through the collars. Moulded wall plates. No tie beams. Matchboard-panelled dado. The underside of the roof is plastered and divided into numbered panels, the numbers referring to donors who paid for the replastering. Nineteenth-century open backed pews with fleur de lys heads and sunk quatrefoils in the ends of the armrests. Nineteenth-century freestanding timber confessional with depressed ogee arches and a dentil cornice. Painted crucifix purchased in Rome, circa 1985. Jimmy Hamilton, the husband of the donor of the crucifix, was responsible for some of the joinery in the church, the tabernacle and possibly the corner cupboards either side of the altar. Probably nineteenth-century plaster Stations of the Cross set in elaborate Late Gothic-style frames.
Architect: Not established
Original Date: 1881
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed