Mill Road, Hythe, Kent CT21
A combined church and school building of the 1890s with the church forming the upper part. The architect Alfred Purdie used the simplest Gothic detailing, presumably in the interest of economy. The interior of the church space with its open scissor-braced roof has considerable character.
Hythe has always been a residential town but from the mid-nineteenth century the population was augmented by military personnel from the School of Musketry and Shorncliffe Camp. The first Catholic priest was Fr Chevalier who opened a Mass centre in 1854, but from the 1860s civilian Catholics were obliged to attend Mass at the School of Musketry. In 1891 an Augustinian mission was established in Hythe under Fr Edward Selley, who purchased a large site fronting the main road between Hythe and Sandgate and commissioned the Catholic architect Alfred Purdie to prepare plans for a large church with a school and a priory. Fr Selley was replaced in 1893 by Fr O’Gorman who abandoned his predecessor’s scheme, sold the site to purchase a new site nearer the centre of Hythe and commissioned Purdie to prepare a much more modest design with a combined church and school (now the hall beneath the church). The new building was begun in April 1894 and opened in August of the same year.
The congregation at Hythe has never been wealthy and the building cost was not finally paid off until the 1920s. In 1939 a new main entrance to the church was built on the north side, replacing the original entrance which was by means of the spiral southwest stair. The sanctuary was reordered in 1980.
The church is a rather gaunt-looking building in a simplified Gothic style and comprises an aisleless nave and short sanctuary under a continuous pitched roof, with a south transept and a southeast sacristy. The church building is raised above a lower storey which originally contained the school but now contains the parish hall. At the southwest corner of the building is a semi-circular stair turret which was originally the main entrance to the church. A new main entrance has been formed on the north side, reached by a broad flight of steps next to a forebuilding which now contains a lift. The exterior is faced in red brick: the east, south and west walls are laid in stretcher bond, the north wall in Flemish bond. The roof is covered in Welsh slate. A fleche is set above the junction of nave and sanctuary. The gabled west wall has four simple lancets, the side walls single lancets and the east wall three lancets.
The church interior has plain plastered walls, mostly clear-glazed lancet windows in the side walls and a scissor-braced open timber roof. There is no structural division between nave and sanctuary, which is slightly narrower than the nave and raised by one step. At the west end of the nave is a timber organ gallery. The fittings are simple. The organ was purchased in 1900. The timber reredos is original but has been painted. Most of the other sanctuary fittings probably date from the 1980 reordering. The pews were acquired from another church in 1955.
Architect: A. E. Purdie
Original Date: 1894
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed