Mount Pleasant, Paddock Wood, Tonbridge, Kent TN12
A simple Modern church, its design slightly flawed by the claustrophobic effect the roof form gives to the interior. Not unappealing but equally not of any great architectural distinction.
Before World War II there was a Franciscan Mission for the hop-pickers in the Paddock Wood area. On 31 March 1949 the plot of land in Mount Pleasant was purchased. The first church (now the church hall) was opened in 1950 and was designed by Lawrence Tomei. In 1965 the Pembury and Paddock Wood Mission was established and a priest-in-charge appointed. Three years later a redundant mobile classroom was acquired from St Augustine’s School, Tunbridge Wells and this was used a church hall. At the same time a brick link building, with committee room, kitchen and toilets, was built to join the existing brick church to the mobile former classroom. In 1977 a house in nearby Alliance Way was purchased to serve as a presbytery and Pembury & Paddock Wood became a parish. In 1978 the presbytery at Pembury was sold and the parish priest moved into the presbytery at Paddock Wood, the parish becoming Paddock Wood and Pembury, the former now the dominant site. Some of the land at Mount Pleasant was sold and in 1980 work began on the construction of the new church dedicated to St Justus (the first Bishop of Rochester and fourth Archbishop of Canterbury), from designs by a former parishioner, architect Tom Houlihan of T. Houlihan & Associates, London SE20. The new church was dedicated on 31 March 1981.
The altar of the church faces north but for the purposes of this description all references to compass points will assume an eastward facing altar. The church comprises a nave (designed to seat 144 people), almost square in plan, with slightly curved north and south walls, a small projecting sanctuary, also with a curved wall, and generously sized narthex, repository, sacristy, boiler room and storage. It is placed alongside the old church and the annexe link was retained. The church is of contemporary design, faced in red brick, with vertical window slots dividing the north, south and east walls into three parts. The monopitch roofs sweep down from the east and rise to the west (allowing a horizontal clerestory band) forming an unequal butterfly arrangement, with flat roofs over the narthex etc. The main roofs are covered with concrete tiles. The sanctuary rises to the highest point, allowing another clerestory band, and has a central recessed vertical panel of brickwork in which is set a cross.
The interior is brick faced, with brick buttress piers flanking the windows and supporting exposed laminated timber beams. The sanctuary walls are plastered and painted and the ceiling is of softwood boarding with a natural stain finish. The butterfly roof form gives the interior a slightly claustrophobic feel. The furnishings are largely contemporary and not of special note.
Original Date: 1980
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed