Clarence Road, Herne Bay, Kent CT6
Built for the Passionist Fathers in 1889 at the expense of Dionysus and Catherine Broderick, who also gave their house to be the presbytery. The designer was the London architect Albert Vicars, and the commission came on the back of Vicars’s rebuilding of the Passionists’ mother house on Highgate Hill, London. The Herne Bay church is a tall and quite impressive exercise in the Second Pointed Gothic style. Internally the most impressive features are the three altars with their elaborate reredoses.
The large Regency house adjacent to the church (no. 3 Sea Street, The Retreat), which is now the presbytery (and is listed Grade II), was once called Belmore Hall and was the residence of a French newspaper proprietor named Lassaux. He sold the house to a Mr and Mrs Broderick from County Mayo in Ireland who in turn gave it to the Passionist Fathers in 1889, together with a substantial endowment which covered the building costs of a new church. Immediately to the east of the church is a small cottage which was apparently once the laundry of the main house. The church was designed by the London architect Albert Vicars. A southwest tower and spire were intended but never built.
The church is in the Second Pointed style of Gothic. The building comprises a tall aisled nave and chancel under a continuous pitched roof, a western porch, the square base of an intended southwest tower and a transeptal projection within the width of the aisle at the north end of the nave. The walls are faced with Kentish Ragstone, with freestone dressings and window tracery. The roofs are covered with Welsh slate. The west front has a lean-to porch across the nave front with twin pointed arched doors. Above is a large four-light pointed window with elaborate tracery. To the right of the porch is a square single-storey projection with two-light windows in each face which is the base of the intended tower. Exposed brickwork at the southwest angle of the nave shows where the tower was to be attached. The west end of the north aisle has a two-light window with a trefoil in the tracery. The north and south walls are each of seven bays, divided by pilaster strips, of which the first five bays are the nave, with lean-to aisles on both sides with three-light traceried windows and similar but smaller windows in the clerestory above. The sixth and seventh bays on the north side have a transept within the width of the aisle. On the south side the wall is unfinished brick. The east end has a single large rose window with elaborate tracery.
The interior is simple and dignified with plain plastered walls and floors covered in carpet. The north and south nave arcades are of five bays with wide pointed chamfered arches carried on cylindrical stone columns with moulded capitals and bases. The nave has a canted and boarded timber ceiling, with principal trusses carried down onto marble wall-shafts. The aisle roofs have exposed timbers with the main beams braced down onto the spandrels of the nave arcades. At the west end of the nave is a timber organ gallery. There is no chancel arch. The sanctuary extends for two bays east of the nave and the first of these bays has blind pointed arches on each side carried down to the ground. The side altars are set directly at the end of the nave aisles. Both the high altar and the side altars have elaborate carved stone reredoses which are presumably original. The original altar has been brought forward as part of a reordering, in which the sanctuary rails and other fittings were presumably removed. The timber benches of the nave are presumably original and probably the organ also.
Architect: Albert Vicars
Original Date: 1889
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed