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Christ Church, Ashford

Description: Christ Church

Grade: II
Date Listed: 4 June 1976
English Heritage Building ID: 179891

OS Grid Reference: TR0085541739
OS Grid Coordinates: 600855, 141739
Latitude/Longitude: 51.1397, 0.8699

Locality: Ashford
Local Authority: Ashford Borough Council
County: Kent
Country: England
Postcode: TN23 7XB

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Listing Text

(Southwest side)

1866-7, designed by Hubert Austin (1841-1915).

MATERIALS: Uncoursed Kentish ragstone with Bath stone dressings. Internal walls plastered and painted white.

PLAN: Aisled, clerestoried nave, chancel, south porch (which was intended to support a tower), north vestry/organ chamber. Slate roofs.

EXTERIOR: Built in a lancet and Geometrical style of the C13. The side windows are lancets, either paired on the lean-to aisles or single in the clerestory. The east and west window are Geometrical, the west window having four uncusped lights and the east three cusped ones. The projected south-west tower never having been built there is a small bell-turret near the west end. The most distinctive feature is the bold hipped roof on the vestry/organ chamber.

INTERIOR: The interior continues the C13-style architecture of the exterior. Five-bay arcades with round piers and double chamfered arches with a hood-moulding over. Chancel arch of similar type. Arch-braced nave roof with tie-beams and king-posts.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The fixtures are modest as a result of the limited funding and are of standard Victorian type, such as the square-ended seating in the nave and aisles.

HISTORY: Christ Church provided much-needed Anglican church accommodation in rapidly expanding Victorian Ashford. The population of the town tripled after the South-Eastern Railway sited its locomotive works here in 1845 and, although the medieval church was lengthened by a bay in 1860, more accommodation was thought necessary. The vicar of Ashford, the Rev J P Alcock, began fundraising in 1860, but it took until 1864 for matters to move sufficiently for a competition to be held. 48 entries were received and the winner was the young Hubert Austin, an assistant in the office of (later Sir) George Gilbert Scott, the most successful and prolific church architect of his day. Scott allowed Austin to accept the commission and it is thus his first work. In 1867 he went on to work with the Lancaster architect Edward Graham Paley (1823-95) whose partner he became in 1868. Austin was to become one of the greatest church architects of the later C19, recognised, for example, as having 'genius' by Nikolaus Pevsner.

Funding for Christ Church seems to have remained tight and building only took place in 1866-7. The funds were 'almost entirely provided by subscriptions from the shareholders of the South Eastern Railway Company' as it served mainly their workers. Hence Christ Church became known as 'the railwayman's church' (ref. newspaper cutting, 1917). All the seats were free. The cost was £4,219 and the site was given by G Jemmett, lord of the manor.

Builder, 22 (1864), 274.
Unprovenanced newspaper cutting among parish papers, dealing with the jubilee services in 1917.
Incorporated Church Building Society papers, Lambeth Palace Library, file 6268.
Kentish Express, 11 May 1867.
Pevsner, N, Buildings of England: South Lancashire (1966) 44.
Brandwood, G, K, 'Splendour in the North: the Churches of Paley & Austin', in Powerhouses of Provincial Architecture (London, Victorian Society, 2009).
Pevsner, N, Buildings of England: South Lancashire (1966) 44.

Christ Church, Ashford, is designated Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* It is an imposing building of in 'muscular' mid-Victorian Gothic which adds to the character of the area.
* It is the first church by Hubert Austin who was to go on to be one of the greatest late Victorian church-builders.
* It has not been altered in any significant way since it was built.

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.