Wrotham Road, Meopham, Kent DA13
A large church of the 1960s, not of particular architectural or historical significance.
In the 1940s Mass was said for service personnel and local Catholics at the Officer Cadets Training Camp at Trottiscliffe. When this arrangement ceased at the end of the war, Fr John McNally, parish priest of Gravesend, set up a Mass centre at Meopham, to serve the expected housing development. From 1946 Mass was celebrated each Sunday at Graveney Lodge, the home of Mr and Mrs Bernard Bovington. When they moved away from the area, a Scout Hall on Johnson’s Recreation Ground was used.
In 1962 the current site was bought from the Strood & District Rural Council. Work on site started in May 1964 and was completed 14 months later. Bishop Cowderoy laid the foundation stone on 15 August 1964. He returned (as Archbishop) on 25 August 1965 to celebrate the first Mass. The architects were George Clay & Partners, of Gravesend; the builders were Messrs R. Corben & Son, of Maidstone. The cost of the building was £36,000, in addition to about £8,000 for the site and professional fees.
In 1986 Meopham became an independent parish, and a former police station was acquired for a new presbytery. On 6 May 1988 the church was dedicated and consecrated by Archbishop Bowen. In the last ten years or so, several small alterations have been made, including moving the tabernacle from the south side altar to the north chapel, laying carpet, and installing a timber reredos.
The church is facing west; however, this description will use th conventional liturgical orientation.
The church was built in 1964-5 by the architects George Clay & Partners. It is built using loadbearing brickwork with a facing of multi-coloured stock brick laid in stretcher bond. The window surrounds and copings are of artificial stone, with exposed aggregate panels under the lower nave and transept windows. The roof has steel joists and timber purlins, with a copper roof, now covered with decaying spray- on foam. All windows are tinted, to appear purple from the outside. (This kind of glass is no longer produced and some windows had to be replaced with clear glass.)
The plan is cruciform, of an aisleless nave with transepts. The sacristies are accommodated in low, flat-roofed rooms on either side of the east end, which are connected by a room behind the sanctuary. There is a porch at the west end, leading into the narthex, and a further porch at the north, leading into the chapel in the north transept.
The west front has a central window band framed by brick buttresses, and a large canopy on brick pillars. To the left of the doorway is the foundation stone. The other elevations are similarly treated, with vertical window bands alternating with brick wall with are slightly higher than the eaves, resulting in a castellated appearance.
The west narthex below a gallery has a repository at the south, and the gallery stairs and a storage cupboard to the north. The Stations of the Cross are carved in relief on irregularly-shaped timber panels. The north side of the nave has a built-in confessional, which occupies part of the north porch. The north transept has the Blessed Sacrament Chapel on the ground floor, which is divided from the nave by sliding partitions. The tabernacle stands on a stone altar, with a timber forward altar, a timber ambo and chair. There is a door to the sacristy. Above is another gallery. (The north chapel was originally a winter or ‘mother and baby’ chapel, then the Lady Chapel, and now the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.)
The sanctuary has a central full-height timber reredos (c.2005), flanked by hangings. The altar is of stone, with a timber ambo, chair, and font. A door to the south of the sanctuary leads to the sacristy. The south transept has a side altar with a statue of the Virgin and Child on stone altar identical to the altar in the north chapel, and a small modern organ.
Architect: George Clay & Partners
Original Date: 1964
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed