St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham

Tuesday 10th May – 

St John’s Church on Railway Street Chatham, is a jewel in the crown of Chatham’s Architectural Heritage. It is certainly an important anchor site for us working on the Chatham Placemaking Project.

St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham 2015. Image: Christopher Tipping

St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham 2015. Image: Christopher Tipping

Maybe you don’t agree !

St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham 2015. Image: Christopher Tipping

St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham 2015. Image: Christopher Tipping

What about now…? No? 

St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham 2015. Image: Christopher Tipping

St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham 2015. Image: Christopher Tipping

A much better image in great light – showing off it’s tower and Italianate form. 

Built in 1820/21 by the Architect Sir Robert Smirkewho by the way also built the Facade and main block of the British Museum – the Grade II Listed Italianate Style Anglican Church is one of the few Waterloo Churches left intact.

The Church has been closed since the early 1990’s – but has in the interim been used for an arts installation – Chatham Vines  in 2006.

I only came to Chatham for the first time in 2015 to start work on the Chatham Placemaking Project – I loved the building from the start – with its robust symetric form and landmark tower. It is the anchor building along our route. However – those familiar with Chatham will know all too well the condition of the building today. It has been bypassed by most and is diminished by the constant flow of traffic and cut off from lower Railway Street and the town centre by the busy road. Stained glass windows are dark. The stone elevations are dirty. The paintwork on the doors is peeling. It is forlorn – but actually it has not been forgotten !

My images aren’t brilliant – but just take a look inside …

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Laura Knight of Francis Knight and I were accompanied by Project Manager Peter Welsh of the Diocese of Rochester. He had agreed to show us around & allowed us to take pictures whilst discussing the Chatham Placemaking Project and the importance of this building to our project. The building is still of importance to the Diocese too. ‘The strategic project at Chatham includes re-establishing a worshipping community for St John’s Church, bringing the building back into use (potentially with an interim solution) and establishing mission activities in the local community. The area around St John’s is one of the most deprived in the Diocese in terms of employment rates, income, education and quality of life’.

The interior is quite stunningly beautiful with interior furniture and finishes – albeit dirty and in need of repair & a little tlc – hardly touched since the day the doors were closed and locked. So much original detail and wonderful features remain, including bespoke benches and seating, lighting, plasterwork, ironwork and of course brilliantly coloured stained glass. Could you have guessed that from the outside?

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Stained Glass window above the alter. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Stained Glass window above the alter. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior - Ceiling detail of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior – Ceiling detail of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Ceiling rose detail. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Ceiling rose detail. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Detail of Benches - Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Detail of Benches – Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A view from the upper balcony. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A view from the upper balcony. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A view from the upper balcony. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A view from the upper balcony. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A view from the upper balcony. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A view from the upper balcony. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

The first public building in Chatham to be lit by electricity !

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A view of benches on the upper balcony. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A view of benches on the upper balcony. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A view from the upper balcony. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A view from the upper balcony. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A view from the upper balcony. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A view from the upper balcony. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A view from the upper balcony. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A view from the upper balcony. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Timber screen fretwork. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Timber screen fretwork. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A seat in the choir . Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. A seat in the choir . Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

The Old Contemptibles

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Wonderful delicate lighting. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Wonderful delicate lighting. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

'Water from the Sea of Galilee' - Interior of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

‘Water from the Sea of Galilee’ – Interior of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Exterior pathway of St John's Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

Exterior pathway of St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham. Image: Christopher Tipping by permission Diocese of Rochester.

 

 

 

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9 Responses to “St John’s Church, Railway Street, Chatham”

  1. Faith Cannon May 30, 2016 at 12:26 pm #

    Hi Christopher,

    I remember going to this church when I was really young with my family. I think I was christened here. My father helped to run the church lads brigade and my Nan was involved with the church. Thank you for putting up these images as I agree with you from the outside it looks uninviting. I had forgotten what it had looked like internally. It was also a great shame that it has closed as it could be a great venue for community events!

    • Christopher Tipping December 22, 2016 at 4:37 pm #

      Hi Faith – Firstly – I must apologise for not responding to your brilliant comment from May this year !!! – I havn’t posted on the Blog for so long – and obviously haven’t been checking for comments ! What interesting news ! – I absolutely love St John’s Church. You must know by now that the Diocese of Rochester is bringing the Church back into service and into use as a community venue. There has been a fair amount of this in the local press. I have been inside again recently and it is quite amazing. I know it is a long time since you made the comment – but do you have any further information on this? I would love to know more from people who were actually involved in the Church in some way.
      I will be more diligent in checking for comments in the future !
      Best Wishes & A Happy Christmas !
      Chris

  2. Anya farquharson May 30, 2016 at 3:48 pm #

    I was christened at this church x

    • Christopher Tipping December 22, 2016 at 4:35 pm #

      Anya – Hi ! – I must apologise for not responding to your comment from May this year !!! – I have posted on the Blog for so long – and obviously haven’t been checking comments ! What interesting news ! – I absolutely love St John’s Church. You must know by now that the Diocese of Rochester is bringing the Church back into service and to use as a community venue. There has been a fair amount of this in the local press. I have been inside again recently and it is quite amazing. I know it is a long time since you made the comment – but do you have any further information on this? I would love to know more from people who were actually involved in the Church in some way.
      I will be more diligent in checking for comments in the future !
      Best Wishes
      Chris

  3. robert jackson September 19, 2016 at 11:17 am #

    hi i have been looking at seeing if i can set up a trust to maintain the building and use the building for services again and for event would you know who the best person is to speak to about this kindest regards rob 07412358325

    • Christopher Tipping December 22, 2016 at 4:25 pm #

      Hi Robert – my apologies for not replying to your question – I have not had access to my blog for some time. As you may now be aware from the local press, the Church is being brought back into service and for the community, by the Diocese of Rochester.
      I will update the current situation via the Blog over Christmas hopefully. Really sorry to have not seen your comment at the time !
      Best Wishes

      Chris

  4. Terry December 28, 2016 at 8:02 am #

    Thanks for the pictures. Many times we have walked past the Church and wondered about it. Yesterday we looked a little closer and decided to try and find out more. Your photos make it all clearer.

    My Father served at HMS Pembroke as a lad and I wonder if the Navy used the Church. We were puzzled by the three doors on the station side, other than to file people into the outer rows of pews, I wonder if it was ever used to file army or navy units in?

    Thanks again – Terry

  5. Terry December 28, 2016 at 8:04 am #

    p.s. If it does re-open I and my wife would be pleased to go to a service or three.

  6. Mick Melia December 30, 2016 at 12:14 pm #

    Hi Christopher,
    I like your photos. I attended a Christmas carol service in St Johns church in the mid 70’s as part of the St Johns silver band. Initially run by a fine chap called Fred Stone, we operated out of the St Johns church hall, which was a fair walk at the lower end of Pagitt Street.
    Rgds
    Mick

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