High Street, Cranbrook, Kent TN17
A typical 1950s small church of some architectural pretension, located in the Cranbrook Conservation Area.
A mission at Goudhurst, three to four miles from Cranbrook, was established in 1882. Between 1937 and 1943 the number of Catholics in the Goudhurst mission almost doubled, with the movement of people out of London and away from the coastal towns, more vulnerable to bombing. By 1958 it was decided to subdivide the parish. Before this, in 1935 Lady Millicent Moore provided a Catholic oratory at her house, ‘Little Shepherds’, in Cranbrook High Street, where Mass was said once a month. Lady Moore died in 1947 and subsequently Mrs Muriel Lewis who lived at ‘Brookesden’ had a retired priest, Fr Allan, living with her as a paying guest who started saying daily Mass there. Mrs Lewis gave land on the east side of ‘Brookesden’ for the building of a church and presbytery and Fr Allan, who died in 1953, left money towards the building costs. Plans for the church and presbytery were drawn up by F. G. Broadbent of Goodhart-Rendel, Broadbent & Curtis in 1957 and the church was opened on 28 November 1958, with the presbytery built not long afterwards. In 1958 Cranbrook became an independent parish.
The altar faces roughly southeast but for the purposes of this description all references to compass points will assume an eastward-facing altar.
The church is built of yellow brick, a simple rectangular structure with the eaves set low down and an immense pantiled roof with dormer windows to north and south. The original architect’s perspective showed glazing along the side but this was altered to the dormers in execution. The perspective also shows full-height side windows but these were altered in execution to more conventional small square windows. The west front was simplified too and has a pair of doors set within a moulded surround and a large crucifix above, carved by A. J. J. Ayres FRBS. This is smaller than that shown on the architect’s drawing and is set against the wall rather than standing forward. The main gable oversails to give some protection to the crucifix.
The interior is plain and open to the ridge. The walls and underside of the roof are plastered and painted, and the structural frame is exposed and painted in with the rest. There is a west gallery with porch, confessionals and bookstall below. Few of the internal furnishings and fittings survive. The pews were replaced with interlocking chairs in the 1990s.
Architect: Goodhart-Rendel, Broadbent & Curtis
Original Date: 1958
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed