ALL SAINTS CHURCH
Exactly when the first church was built in Snodland we cannot say. St. Augustine landed in Kent in 597 A.D. and the church at Rochester was built in 604. Before long it is likely that other churches sprang up in the valley near-by, perhaps including one at Snodland. Any such building would have been flimsy and just as likely as the rest of the village to have been razed to the ground more than once as early invaders sailed up the Medway. Surviving Anglo-Saxon churches show that the tradition of entering the building from the south side, as at All Saints, dates from before the Norman Conquest. Certainly there is documentary evidence of a church here by 1000 A.D.
When All Saints was first built in stone, the workmen had some useful materials close at hand from the abandoned Roman Villa a few yards to the north. Some Roman tiles and ‘tufa’ can still be seen in the older walls of the present building. We can suppose that around 1100 All Saints looked very like the other two early Norman churches of the parish, Paddlesworth and Dode, although with thatch on the roof rather than the present tiles. Perhaps it was the murder of Thomas a Becket at Canterbury which prompted the substantial enlarging of the church during the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries. However, this may have been part of the great flowering of church building then in progress throughout the country; parishioners were only too willing to bequeath money and materials to maintain and beautify their church for the good of their own souls.
It seems likely that the present nave occupies the space of the original church building. The central area of the west wall is perhaps the only part of that earliest stone building to survive, but maybe the chancel also dates from this time. Significantly these are the only parts of the walls which include the Roman material. Above the west window, itself dating from around 1300 or soon after, an earlier Norman-style arch can still be seen. Perhaps the chancel also had Norman windows once, but again these were replaced early on by ‘Decorated’ windows of c.1300. Two only survive – on the north side nearest the east end – and one can see where a third one has been bricked in to allow room for the much larger 14th century one to be inserted. Although the window pattern on the south side of the chancel is similar, these are nineteenth-century copies added in 1870.
Expert opinion gives the arcades and pillars of the nave as 14th century work, which suggests that the north and south aisles were added then. The walls of the nave would have been pierced and the arches formed once the aisles had been added alongside. Charles Winston noted that the north aisle ‘has windows of a rather later character than those in the south side’. Outside from the east and west we can see where the roof has been splayed wider to cover the aisles. The tower would have been added at about the same time. It incorporates a priest’s room on the first floor (the clergy were not allowed to marry before 1561) which served as the rectory. There is a fire-place and probably the ceiling was lower than it is today. The remains of a substantial lock on the door suggest that the room may have been used as the village lock-up from the seventeenth century onwards (once a rectory had been built). Two ancient benches, apparently made from another old door, once formed part of the furniture of the room, but are now used elsewhere in the church. The ancient church door has a ‘sanctuary knob’ – offering the church’s sanctuary to any miscreant who could seize it before capture; it was replaced in 1873 and now stands at the rear of the nave.
Some other features of the mediaeval church remain. In the chancel is a fine sedilia of the 13th century – a seat for the priests and deacons to use – and a piscina beside the altar, where the priest would wash his hands before handling the bread and wine for communion. There is another piscina beside the vestry door, showing that once there was also an altar here. The font base too is of great antiquity. Dividing the nave from the chancel and dominating the interior of the church was a Perpendicular rood screen, erected before the mid-15th century. This spanned the chancel arch and standing on it were, in the centre, a crucifix, with figures of St. Anne on the north side and St. John on the south. The marks where the screen was fixed are clearly visible on the side pillars. On the south wall is a small doorway which once had a staircase behind and which led up to the opening above and on to the rood screen. At the Reformation the screen was dismantled and part of it now fills the entrance to the church from the tower. Another victim of the Reformation was a remarkable etched drawing of the Crucifixion incised upon the central pillar of the south group. This was re-discovered under plaster during the major restorations of 1869-70 and was then (re)painted. The west porch is mentioned in Thomas Benet’s will of 1461, when he gave money ‘to ye makyng of ye same porch’. A carved head with the hand over the mouth, denoting ‘silence on entering church’, appears above the inner doorway.
In the sixteenth century it was decreed that a box should be kept in church in which the parishioners could place donations for the poor of the parish. Snodland’s old chest dates from this time. High boxed pews probably filled the church in later years – there were none in the mediaeval period – including a special one for the ‘squire’ of Holborough. He also had his own fireplace (part of which remains under the plaster beneath the ‘Dedrick’ window at the east end of the north aisle and which was revealed during repairs around 1990.) Another pew for the farmer of Paddlesworth was added to the chancel in 1712, by special permission of the rector.
The nineteenth century saw much restoration of the fabric, first by Henry Dampier Phelps, rector between 1804 and 1865, who moved and added windows, pulled down and re-built the east wall and spent in all some £1644. 5s. of his own money on the church. A singing gallery was added at the rear of the nave in 1824, and Phelps bought a barrel-organ to play the hymns. The most extensive maintenance occurred in 1869-70 under the direction of Rev. Carey, Phelps’s successor. The old pews were gradually replaced and new flooring and roofing was installed. It is said that the Baker family, who ran the ferry, paid for the extension of the vestry in 1905 as a kind of family memorial; certainly it contains memorial stones and tablets to them. Other major renovations took place at this time. As with all historic buildings. there is constant maintenance and refurbishment. But were Rev, Carey to see the building today, he would be gratified to see that his great labours of 1869-70 have stood the test of time and have helped preserve this marvellous building for those who have come after.
Brasses. 1441: John Brigge; 1486: John Perot; 1487: Edward and Margaret Bischoptre; c.1530: man and two ladies; 1541: William, Isabel and Joan Tylghman.
Memorials. Martha Manley, 1682: recent scholarly opinion is that this memorial came from the workshop of the famous London sculptor Grinling Gibbons and is probably the work of his partner Artus Quellin III; John Walwyn, 1713; Arthur Elton Bingley and Frederick Mildred Bingley, 1902; Thomas Fletcher Waghorn, 1850 and Harriet Waghorn, 1857; Samuel Lee, 1852: William Lee, 1881; Charles de Rocfort Wall, 1932; Frederick Rookhurst Roberts, 1959; War Memorial 1914-18.
Furnishings include brass lectern in memory of Ernest Dalby Finch-Smith, 1909; railings in memory of Harry and William Greenstreet, 1954.
Windows. Only fragments of the mediaeval windows survived the land mine which fell nearby in 1942. They have been re-instated in mosaic style (with other later fragments) in three windows. The former ‘Palmer’ window of 1407, but substantially altered in later times, is now in the west wall nearest the tower. Others include some windows given by Rev. Phelps (above the chancel arch and in the vestry); ‘An angel offering incense’ and ‘The Good Shepherd’, given by Mrs. Eustace Hook, 1870; a window of the ‘six acts of mercy’, in memory of Mrs. Ann Roberts, 1881; ‘Crucifixion and Resurrection’, in memory of Rev. Carey, 1885; figures of St. Peter and St. Paul (origin unknown; probably c.1900); The East window and another in the chancel showing ‘Emblems of the Saints’ (1953) by Hugh Easton; ‘The Annunciation’ (1957) and ‘Visitation of the Shepherds’ (1962) by Hugh Easton; window in memory of Willie Emerson Dedrick by Moira Forsyth, 1963.
Registers: from 1559 are kept among the parish records (ref. P342) at the Medway Archives and Study Centre, Strood. Burials in churchyard until 1896; thereafter (with a few exceptions) at Snodland cemetery.
CHRIST CHURCH, LOWER BIRLING
In his book on Snodland’s history (1928), Rev. Charles de Rocfort Wall tells us that ‘When houses began to be built on the Brook, Sunday School and occasional Services were held in an iron room in Oxford Street.’ During the day it was used as a private school and later by the Salvation Army. The land had been given for this purpose on 16 October 1873 by Rev. Canon Coulson (or Colson), M.A., of Guildford. (Canon Coulson came from Bramley, Yorkshire, and owned a great deal of land here. Bramley Road takes its name from this connection.) With the growth in population at Ham Hill and in Malling Road (both in Birling parish), it was decided to build a chapel of ease at St Catherine’s Bank. The £2000 needed to build the church was raised by voluntary subscriptions. ‘Operations were commenced on the 1st of March’ and the foundation stone was laid by Hon. Mrs. Ralph Nevill of Birling on 30 April 1892. Christ Church is in Early English style and was built by the firm of Robert Langridge of Ham Hill to a design by Percy Monckton M.R.I.B.A. Materials are Kentish rag stone, with Bath stone dressings. The original design included a bell-tower at a further cost of £600, but this was never built: some say because of fears that the ground would be too unstable to support it, although Woolmer in his Historical Jottings of the Parish of Snodland (1894) says ‘A suitable tower will probably be added to the building as soon as the necessary funds are procured.’
The church and churchyard was consecrated by the Bishop of Dover at a service on 10 October 1893. To begin with clergy were supplied by the mother church of Birling, principally Rev. A. Cochrane (to September 1902), J. R. Burton (1902-1904) and A. P. Ronald (1904-1908). The first Vestry Meeting took place on 24 April 1895. A year later more land was acquired as a site for a church room and this was opened in April 1897, the year of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, and naturally was called the ‘Victoria Room’. That same year the East Window was installed in the church: ‘To the Glory of God & in memory of the Rev. Jacob Marsham this window was erected by his niece Louisa [i.e. Mrs. Ralph] Nevill & other relations & friends, 1897’. Following a petition, the churchyard was enlarged and was consecrated by the Bishop of Dover on 6 November 1899. The earliest burials date from 1894.
On 8 November 1908, Rev, A. Pollok Williams, a Scotsman, was made assistant priest with particular responsibility for Christ Church. At the end of 1910 there were moves to surrender the Patronage of the living to the Church Pastoral Aid Society and on 23 January 1911 the King’s Order in Council forming Christ Church into a separate Chapelry and Parish was signed. The CPAS immediately offered the living to Rev. A. P. Williams. His Institution and Induction by the Bishop of Rochester took place on 12 May 1911.
At the first Vestry Meeting (7 February 1911) the Church Council was elected: Messrs Ashdown, Barnden, Butcher, Goringe, Hucks, Jefferys, Langridge, Mason, Sabine, Weire, Weaver and Champion. Mr. Brattle and Mr. Dabner were churchwardens. Miss Bishop was the organist and Mr. Dale the choirmaster. Later Mr. Gordon Russell became choirmaster for a time.
The church seems to have had a harmonium for the first few years, but a one manual organ by Forster and Andrews was installed in 1906. A gate and path were made from the Victoria Room to the Church. In 1915 additional seating for the choir was placed in the chancel as the gift of Mr. Walter Gates, churchwarden. A vicarage was sorely needed and the original plan was to site it behind the Victoria Room. There seem to have been difficulties in arranging this, however, and the present fine building was erected in 1916.
At the end of the First World War it was proposed to build a War Memorial and subscriptions were invited. Plans were made (a) for a cement moulded panel at the West end of the church, (b) for a pair of iron gates at the entrance and (c) for a Lych-gate. These schemes proved too ambitious, however, and the present brass on a marble surround was preferred. Those commemorated are Percy Abnett, Alfred Bailey, Harold Bounds, Arthur R. Burt, Albert Goble, Frederick Goble, Herbert Goodchild, Robert N.A. Langridge, Charles Maynard, Herbert Maynard, Percy Maytum, Herbert H. Roots, Percy J. Sweetser, Frank Terry, Frederick Wimsett.
In 1921 the Mothers Meeting presented a brass jug for the font and a brass altar book-rest is in memory of ‘Thomas Lingham, Sept 29th 1922’. At the beginning of 1925, following the resignation of Miss Bishop, Mr. C.F. Butcher became organist. He also took over the duties of choirmaster, a post which had been vacant for a couple of years. Steps were soon put in hand to repair and enlarge the organ. In 1927 a new heating system was installed at a cost of £96. Rev. A. P. Williams resigned on 6 October and moved to All Hallows, Hoo. On 26 October the Opening and Dedication of the reconstructed and enlarged organ took place with a service conducted by Rev. C. H. Daniel, Vicar of Birling. It included a recital by Percy Whitlock, then assistant organist at Rochester Cathedral, and an address by the archdeacon of Tonbridge. The work on the organ cost £260, which was raised by voluntary subscriptions. (Further improvements were made to the instrument in 1937). Rev. Harold James Howden, M.A. was Inducted on 27 November. He moved on after five years and the Rev, James Butler was Inducted in turn on 27 March 1933. Two memorials of different kinds commemorated church wardens: one is the stained glass window by William Aikman in memory of Harry and Sarah Ann Phyall, 1935; the other was a special service on 8 August 1937 to commemorate F. C. Butcher (also the church treasurer). The font cover is in memory of James Cramp, Christmas Day, 1935. (A ‘William Cramp’ was buried on 18 June 1934.)
Rev. Butler moved to Cobham and Rev. Charles Rascen Pridmore was Inducted on 25 February 1938. The service registers record a number of special services such as the Day of National Prayer in 1940 and a Thanksgiving for Victory in 1945. In spite of the war years, the Bishop of Rochester conducted a Confirmation Service in June 1943 and returned on 10 October that year for a Jubilee service celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the first service held in the church. Mr Cecil F. Butcher (son of F.C.) resigned as organist/choirmaster in 1948 and was replaced by Mrs Smith.
Throughout the church’s life special services have marked the deaths and accessions of the English monarchs. To commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the parishioners of Ham Hill presented an Alms dish and this was dedicated on 18 December 1955. Andrew Ashbee became organist and choirmaster in January 1957. Gas lighting was replaced by electric lighting in 1962. In 1968 it was decided to join the parishes of All Saints and Christ Church. Rev. Pridmore and his successors have since had the responsibility for both churches. Following Rev. Pridmore’s retirement, Rev. Paul Charles Delight was Inducted on 2 January 1975. War damage and the underfloor heating system had caused the chancel floor to be cracked and uneven for many years. In 1977 the whole of the chancel floor was removed and relaid, a major operation which cost £7000. Although it was sad to lose the Victorian tiles, the new floor (lacking fixed furniture) has proved to be an asset for presenting concerts, dance and dramatic presentations alongside traditional services.
Rev. Delight moved to the Channel Islands and Rev. James Edward Tipp was Inducted on 13 January 1982. In recent years parishioners have continued to play a major part in the upkeep and refurbishment of the church, church room and churchyard. A Garden of Remembrance was made in 1983. The whole church has been re-decorated and re-arranged. Beautiful red curtains now hang behind the altar; new books and kneelers have appeared; the font has been moved to the front of the nave; new lighting and heating has been installed; the bell has been cleaned; a book of remembrance (made by Valerie Hearn) is kept in a wooden display case (made by Owen Lambert). Another holds gifts from the church in Moyeuvre Grande, a twinning which has brought great joy to the christian communities of both towns. Most striking of all is the Parish Room at the rear of the church (constructed by Mr. Bertie Taylor).
A special centenary service was held on Sunday, 26 April 1992, led by several clergy who had been associated with the church; the congregation included a party from Snodland’s twin church at Moyeuvre Grande. The new digital organ was also dedicated and first heard at this service. Other associated events included a Flower Festival (18-20 April) and a concert.
Registers: from 1893 are held at the Medway Archives and Study Centre, Strood (ref. P29c). They cover that part of Snodland which was in Birling parish in 1892 (but which is now within Snodland civil parish, particularly Bramley Road, Malling Road (south of Rocfort Road), Birling Road and Ham Hill. Snodland Historical Society has published the first burial register (29 Nov 1894 to 6 Jan 1966) as No. 1 in its Registers Series. Burials in Christ Church churchyard from 29 November 1894.
THE NON-CONFORMIST CHURCHES
Among the archives of the United Church is a book headed Church Book of the Independents, Snodland, Kent, part-register and part memorandum-book, which opens with an account (apparently dating from 1836) of the beginnings of non-conformist worship in Snodland: The gospel was introduced into Snodland by agents of the Chatham Itinerant Society about the year 1822. At first worship was conducted in a cottage, and afterwards a chapel, capable of accommodating about 200 persons, was fitted up, chiefly at the expense of Mr William Joynson, who occupied the paper-mill. Mr. J. was not only the honoured instrument of providing a chapel without any charge for rent, but also of inducing many to attend. Twelve persons from this village were received into the church at Chatham, under the pastoral care of the Rev. J. Slatterie. About the year 1832 Mr Joynson removed to St Mary Cray, and the paper-mill was shut up: several of his workmen also, who had received the gospel, accompanied him. This occurrence proved a severe trial to the friends of the gospels, and caused its enemies to rejoice. At length, however, this dark cloud was removed by the arrival of Mr. John Clarke, a member of an Independent Church in Buckinghamshire, who, having enjoyed the paper-mill, became a resident in the village, and espoused with all his heart the infant cause. Mr C. (having enjoyed the benefits of a regular ministry) became anxious that efforts might be made, in order, if possible, to obtain a minister to reside among the people, who might visit the numerous villages in the vicinity. In furtherance of this object, application was made to a gentleman connected with the Home Missionary Society, who came over to confer with the people on the subject of obtaining and supporting a Missionary. A subscription was immediately entered into, and in November 1835, a Missionary was sent down from London. Those persons who had joined the church at Chatham, now became desirous of forming themselves into a separate church. Accordingly steps were taken to bring this about and on the 8th of March 1836, a church, comprising 12 members, was formed on the principal of Congregational or Independent Dissenters. The Revd. G. Evans, of Mile End, London, and the Rev. P. Thomson of Ebenezer Chapel, Chatham, together with the Missionary, assisted on this interesting occasion. ‘May the little one become a thousand, and the small one a strong nation’.
Later in the book is a list of members with the dates of their admission. The twelve who subscribed on 8 March 1836 were:
John Clarke; John Butler; Sarah Higgins; James Clarke; Elizabeth Butler; Elizabeth Dartnell; Thomas Kidwell; Richard Peters; Frances Hadlow; James Peters; William Bristello and Mary Norris
In fact there is evidence that these meetings had begun even before Joynson came to Snodland. The first of three surviving certificates ‘for a meeting house’ in Snodland is dated 16 April 1816. Given by Joseph Slatterie of Chatham, Dissenting Minister, it confirms that a ‘Dwelling house and Barn of Anthony Hunt of Snodland … is intended forthwith to be used as a place of Religious Worship by an Assembly or Congregation of Protestants’. Hunt was a tenant of William Gorham between 1815 and 1818 and may have lived in one of the two houses formerly on the present site of the New Jerusalem church. Slatterie was minister at the Ebenezer Chapel of Chatham and the early registers from that chapel (now at the Public Record Office) include eight baptisms of Snodland parishioners between 1817 and 1833, the first of which is for Edward, son of Anthony and Sarah Hunt. The others were for children of William Joynson, James Peters and John Butler (all listed above) and of William Fryer and George Harding, papermakers. It would appear that all these baptisms were held at Snodland. The second certificate, dated 7 June 1824, is for the house of Thomas Kidwell. The third, of 28 March 1828, states: ‘I, William Higgins of Chatham … Woollen Draper, do hereby certify that a certain Building … in Snodland … in the occupation of Wm. Joynson, Paper Manufacturer, is intended forthwith to be used as a Place of Religious Worship by an Assembly or Congregation of Protestants’. This building (Kidwell’s house) is clearly marked as the ‘Independent Chapel’ on the 1844 tithe commutation map, and was situated at ‘Snodland Wharf’. Kidwell was a paper-maker from Maidstone, who lived here until his death, aged 85, in August 1860. Although it had long ceased to be used as such, in the 1891 census it is still referred to as ‘The Old Chapel House’. There is a picture of it in use as the mill’s time office, but it must have been completely destroyed in the 1906 mill fire.
With continual comings and goings, particularly of the paper-makers, the congregation had grown little and numbered just seventeen when a new list was made on 9 November 1851. But there was a considerable increase in membership during ensuing years, no doubt encouraged by the building of a new Chapel on the Holborough Road (and today still within the complex of buildings at the Clock Tower). This was begun in the autumn of 1854 and consecrated on 6 April 1855, being Good Friday.
At length this building was sold to the Misses Hook to become the Infant department of the British Schools and the church book notes:
The Congregational Church hitherto meeting in Holborough Road has removed to the more commodious building erected in High Street Snodland and opened for public worship by a service conducted by the Revd. Chas. Spurgeon of Greenwich, November 28th 1888.
The cost of the New Church & Schools is £1521. 15s. 0d. of which sum £1050 was realized by the sale of premises in Holborough Road.
Here it still is, built by Joshua Wilford, but in 1976 the Congregational church and the Primitive Methodist church joined forces and the latter’s building in Malling Road was sold.
The foundation stone of the Primitive Methodist Chapel was laid in November 1877. According to Rev. Wall: In 1873 preaching was begun in Snodland by members from Maidstone. At first this work was done in the open air, but eventually Mr. James Rand, Brook Street, lent his house. … The appointment of the Rev. C. Harrison as Minister in 1886 [who had previously preached here] caused such a rapid growth in the membership that the present site was bought and the Church built at an inclusive cost of about £1000.
In 1899 a new School was erected at the back at a further cost of £500; the then Mayor of Maidstone, Alderman Vaughan, laying one of the memorial stones. The building has seating for about 225, and the School accommodates 125 children. Joshua Wilford of Snodland was the builder [of the school, or both parts?]. In 1976 the church was closed as noted above and has since been used as commercial premises.
A major renovation took place in the 1990s.
Registers: The following are known: (a) Baptisms from 1836 to 1868 are in ‘The Church Book of the Independents’ (and a few earlier ones are noted in the Bethel Chapel at Rochester and Ebenezer Chapel, Chatham). All these are published by Snodland Historical Society in its Registers Series, No. 2, together with Certificates of Baptisms at the Congregational Church, 11 Mar 1883 to 24 Jan 1907. (b) Marriages and Burials from 1921. No burial ground: burials before 1896 at All Saints churchyard; after 1896 in Snodland cemetery.
In 1894 Woolmer wrote that ‘The Baptist denomination which has now been in existence in the village for several years, have no building of their own; but through the liberality of Col. W. H. Roberts they are afforded the use of the Concert Room of the Institute, in which to hold their services.’ In 1898 an iron room with a porch was built in Church Fields. Between 1918 and 1931 Mr. Goldsmith travelled from Maidstone by train each Sunday to take the services. The building was acquired by the Lead Wool Company in 1939 and used as a works canteen before being demolished in 1982. The Baptists now hold their services at Halling. Registers: No information. No burial ground.
THE CHURCH OF THE NEW JERUSALEM
(This account is much indebted to the researches of Mr. Kenneth Funnell in his book Snodland Paper Mill.) During their time in Gloucestershire, the Hook family became acquainted with the Rev. T. Goyder, a retired minister of the New Church of Jerusalem, founded on the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772). Together they formed and built a chapel in the grounds of Samuel Hook’s house. When Mr. Goyder died in 1849, his place as Leader was taken by Charles Townsend Hook. Naturally C.T. Hook established a New Church Society in Snodland on taking up residence. The first meetings were held at the Brook Street house of Joseph Privett, a carpenter and himself from Gloucestershire; was there perhaps some former link between him, the Hooks, or the Society? After two years meetings were transferred to a room in ‘Veles’. In 1864 a purpose-built chapel measuring 28′ x 18′ and seating 70 people was added at the west end of the house, with a separate entrance direct from the High Street. It was dedicated in June of that year by the Rev. D.G. Goyder. The first minister was the Rev. Charles Gladwell, but after two and a half years he resigned and his place was taken by the Rev. Thomas Lewen Marsden, M.R.C.S., a Yorkshireman and a doctor.
On 11th November 1881 the memorial stone of the present church of St. John the Evangelist was laid by Miss Agnes Hook, deputising for her mother who was seriously ill and who died a few days later on 20th of the month. The ceremony was preceded by a service at ‘Veles’. The church was consecrated on 27th June 1882, followed by a banquet at ‘Veles’ and tea and an evening meeting at the Devonshire Rooms, all fully described in newspaper reports. Of the building the ‘Kent Messenger’ wrote:
The building … was erected by Mr. Bridge, Maidstone. … The style of the building is Gothic, with a slight admixture of the Lancet. The walls are of Kentish ragstone, with Bath stone dressings, chamfered angles, Bath stone plinth, weatherings, strings and copings. The tower is finished with battlemented coping; the octagon staircase leads to the ringers’ floor, thence to the battlements. The gables of the nave are finished with crosses. Most of the windows are filled with cathedral glass, diamond-leaded, with amber borders. The chancel window, which consists of painted glass, is very pretty, and on a tablet under it is the following inscription: – “Erected to the loving memory of father, mother, and brother, Henry Hook, died June 16th, 1866; Charles Townsend Hook, died February 11th 1877; Hannah Maria Hook, died Nov. 20th, 1881; by Edith, Maud and Agnes Hook, June 1882.” The roofs, which like the seats are open work, are of the best pitch pine, the principals being supported by carved brackets and hammerbeams on stone corbels. The plan of the church is cruciform, having nave, chancel, organ chamber and vestry. The floors of the aisles, nave, chancel and tower are all of handsome tessalated pavement. The building is heated by hot air on the Derby Foundry Company’s principle. The interior is lighted by means of a massive brass corona in the nave, the gift of the children of Snodland, and seven full-sized brass standards of seven lights each. The fittings of the church, including the reredos, pulpit, lectern, font, altar table, and reading desk are elegant, and substantial, and greatly enhance the appearance of the interior of the building. The cost of the church [about £5000] has been defrayed entirely by the late Mrs. Hook and the Misses Hook of Veles, conjointly with Colonel Holland, C.B., of Ivymeath, Snodland.
Registers: Held at the Swedenborg Headquarters in Bloomsbury, London. Snodland Historical Society has photocopies at Snodland Millennium Museum and has published them complete as No. 3 of its Registers Series. Baptisms 1913-1988; Marriages 1883-1987. No burial ground: burials before 1896 at All Saints churchyard (Hook family in Maidstone cemetery); after 19 March 1896 in Snodland cemetery.
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
There can be few instances of a cinema becoming a church, but at Snodland this is what happened. When the Wardona Cinema opened its doors on 21 March 1938, the ‘Grand Picture Palace’ in Holborough Road was redundant. The Roman Catholics, who had previously held occasional services at the Institute, were able to take over the building during the 1940s and convert it to a church.
Registers: no information. No burial ground; burials at Snodland cemetery.
THE SALVATION ARMY
At first the Salvation Army held their services in a private school in Oxford Street, but in 1928 they took charge of ‘Tudor House’ in Malling Road. Currently services are held at the Devonshire Rooms. In 1908 General Booth stopped at Snodland on his way to Chatham and a postcard shows him on the balcony which was formerly on the South side of the Bull, addressing the crowds below.
C. of E. MISSION CHURCH, HOLBOROUGH
The annual Church Paper for 1882 reports that ‘The temporary Mission Room, originally opened at this end of the parish through the liberality of Mrs. [Anne] Roberts, of Holborough Court, is used on Sundays for a Sunday School, morning and afternoon, for occasional Sunday Service in the afternoon, and on Friday evenings regularly. Major Roberts kindly still lends the room’ [Anne Roberts having died on 18 May 1881]. It also housed a weekly ‘Mothers’ Meeting on Monday afternoons. On 17 November 1882 a ‘New Mission Room’ was opened at Holborough and the ‘Old’ one, apparently a temporary building, was pulled down two days later. This iron building was given by Col. W.H.Roberts in memory of William Lee and was sited a few yards south of Island cottage.
Snodland Cemetery was opened in 1896 and the first burial took place on 19 March. Snodland Historical Society has published an alphabetical register of burials from 19 March 1896 to 17 April 1952 (comprising the first register) as No. 3 in its Registers Series.