Ashford Road, Tenterden, Kent TN30
A modest and inexpensive church by the well-known Catholic architect Wilfrid Mangan, substantially altered in the 1980s and undergoing major extension in 2011.
Between 1866 and 1877 Mass was celebrated at St Benedict’s Priory at Finchden Manor, Appledore Road and from the early twentieth century Ashford priests celebrated Mass at various locations in Tenterden. In June 1913 the Catholic Missionary Society arrived with a ‘motor-chapel’ for a week’s mission. Nothing came of this but in 1925 the diocese purchased the land on Ashford Road where the future St Andrew’s church would be built. From 1926 Tenterden was served by the Southwark travelling mission. In 1930 Bishop Amigo asked Mrs Gertrude Julia (Nina) Barclay, a widow, to move from London to Tenterden to further the Catholic mission there. She built an oratory, first at her home, 39 Ashford Road – where Mass was said monthly by priests from the African Mission Fathers from Ore Place, Hastings – and subsequently at Heronden Hall where she moved to in 1933, converting the drawing room and library into an oratory. In 1934 Fr Hopetoun Curie was appointed as the first resident priest, remaining at Tenterden until 1981. Funds were raised and Wilfrid Mangan was asked to design a permanent church. Work started on 18 June 1935 and St Andrew’s was opened on 30 November, the patronal feast day, in the same year. In 1955 Tenterden became a parish.
In 1986-7 the church was reordered and the porch built. The architect was Gerald Murphy. Soon afterwards the parish room was built together with a new presbytery. At the time of the visit contractors were on site for a major building project by The Hammerwood Practice of East Grinstead. This will provide a new larger hall and community centre with ancillary facilities and two new sacristies, the extension occupying the space between church and presbytery and adjoining the sanctuary. The rectangular side windows are arranged in groups of three, the middle one with its sill set lower down than the outer two lights.
The original church is a modest rectangular structure of nave and narrower sanctuary. It is built of brick under a plain tiled roof. The tall round-arched entrance is now within the 1980s porch or narthex which takes the form of an arcaded lean-to across the front of the church, the arches semi-circular. The roof continues to join with the parish hall which is built of the same brick and has a hipped roof. There are crosses on both gables; otherwise there is nothing to indicate that this is a church. The slightly narrower sanctuary has bands of high-level windows to the sides and a blind end wall.
The interior is open to the roof and has graceful Gothic arches formed by the boxing in of the structural trusses. The arch to the sanctuary appears more rounded as it is narrower. There is a gallery over the entrance which has a bowed front. The open-backed pews are probably of the time of the church. The sanctuary furnishings appear to date largely from the 1980s, although the stone font is probably 1930s. A statue of the Virgin and Child and the Stations of the Cross are of distinctive design, the latter showing the influence of Eric Gill. These probably date from the 1980s when Fr Hagreen was parish priest and may even have been designed by him. His father, Philip Hagreen (1890-1988), was a craftsmen and wood engraver who worked with Gill and spent most of his life at Ditchling.
Architect: Wilfrid C. Mangan
Original Date: 1935
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed