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Church of St Paul, Margate

Description: Church of St Paul

Grade: II
Date Listed: 14 September 2010
English Heritage Building ID: 507457

OS Grid Reference: TR3620571015
OS Grid Coordinates: 636205, 171015
Latitude/Longitude: 51.3890, 1.3936

Location: Margate, Kent CT9 2QY CT9 2RD

Locality: Margate
Local Authority: Thanet District Council
County: Kent
Country: England
Postcode: CT9 2RD

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Listing Text

878/0/10083 NORTHDOWN ROAD
Vicarage and boundary walls

Church, vicarage and boundary wall, 1873-4 by RK Blessley of Eastbourne. Tower added before 1897 possibly by Robert Wheeler of Tunbridge Wells. Vestry added in 1939 (not of special interest).

MATERIALS: Randomly coursed Kentish ragstone with Bath stone dressings. Bangor slate roof.

PLAN: Six-bay nave, chancel, north and south aisles, south-west tower with main entrance. Later north-east vestry.

EXTERIOR: Early Decorated Gothic in style with aisled clerestoried nave with a lower chancel. The south aisle terminates at its west end in a tall, two-stage, crenellated tower with the main door in its south elevation. At their east ends each aisle terminates in a double gable. The eastern most gables adjoining the chancel contain the sacristy and vestry and have gabled porches in their east elevations; the gable on the north elevation has a flat-roofed vestry attached. Dating from the 1930s this is not of special interest. The four bays of the south aisle and five of the north (separated by buttresses) have double-lancet windows with hoodmoulds with the gabled elements having double lancets with plate tracery. The clerestory (of five bays to the south and six to the north) has low arched windows with hoodmoulds and a mixture of trefoil and quatrefoil tracery. The west window is a double lancet with Y-tracery and a wheel window whilst the east window has a four-light lancet window with geometric tracery. Tower with large arched windows with curvilinear tracery in each of the faces of the upper stage (three with inserted clock faces) a band of blind arcading separating the two stages and a small double-arched window in the west face of the base lighting the passage into the church. The arched main entrance sits under a gable-shaped moulding and has stone voussoirs and double mouldings supported on short engaged columns with round capitals.

INTERIOR: Plastered and whitewashed, with splayed window reveals. Nave arcade with wide pointed arches supported on round columns with moulded round capitals and plain round bases. North arcade of six bays with the south arcade having only five bays to incorporate the base of the tower which contains the entrance porch. Chancel arch with hoodmould, moulding and engaged colonettes with floral capital decoration. East and west window arches also with hoodmoulds and colonnettes. Stained timber trussed nave roof with alternating trusses having either a tie beam with collar, arched bracing and wall post or just a simple collar (these above the clerestory arches), all supported on plain corbels. Boarded ceiling over exposed rafters and purlins. Open-truss chancel roof. The chancel has a decorative tiled floor and there is further tiling in the nave and aisles in a lattice pattern.

FIXTURES AND FITTINGS: Original fittings of note include the Bath stone bowl-and-stem font situated at west end; round Bath stone pulpit with short red Mansfield stone columns and rail; reredos with carved stone altarpiece of the Last Supper beneath three ogee arches and triple gabled canopy. Two red Mansfield stone tablets on either side contain the Lord's Prayer and Decalogue in Gothic script, again set in ogee arches with marble colonettes and with angel figures above. Inside the entrance porch is a bronze World War I memorial plaque set in an elaborate wooden frame with a Gothic tracery hood containing carvings of the Royal Standard (1921), World War II plaque below, panelling (also carved with badges and coats of arms) and bench. There are organ cases filling the two arches in the chancel, one or possibly both, originally from other churches. All original pews have been removed and replaced with chairs.

STAINED GLASS: Unattributed stained glass windows date mostly from the 1880s, 1890s and 1920s dedicated by members of the congregation. The west window has a plaque recording its donation in 1885 by pupils from the fifteen schools attending the church. Charming memorial window in the south aisle dated 1927 to John William Dixon, Master Mariner, showing two sailing ships.

VICARAGE: Located to the west of the church, this is a large, two-storey-plus-attic building with basement, built of Kentish ragstone with Bath stone and red brick dressings and pitched slate roofs. Rectangular in plan with a full height projection to the south and large porch reached up a flight of steps to the east. Two-storey canted bay to the gable on the west elevation with fluted columns, single-storey (continuing to the basement) canted bay to the south gable and large single-storey square bay to the north. The elevations are enlivened by red brick string courses and window detailing. Fenestration mostly of square-headed sash windows on the upper storey and, on the lower, sashes set in double arched Gothic windows with red brick arches with stone key and blind plate tracery. The building has large brick chimneys; that between the south and west gables terminating in corbelling above the lower storey.

The interior converted to offices and original surviving features include: some fire surrounds with dog-tooth mouldings; a screen from the porch with etched glass; a patterned tile floor in the hall way; the stairs with splat balusters and ornamented tread ends, and several doors.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: Original low ragstone boundary wall with gable capped gate piers to the east of the church and to the vicarage. Section to the south of the church has been removed.

HISTORY: During the C19 Margate, one of the first English seaside resorts, flourished as a destination favoured by middle-class Londoners, particularly after the establishment of a regular steamer service from London in 1815 and to a lesser extent after the opening of Margate Sands railway station in 1846. Cliftonville developed from the 1860s to provide additional respectable accommodation starting with the Cliftonville Hotel and Ethelbert Crescent and expanding inland during the 1870s. Cliftonville also provided its own attractions such as the Clifton Baths dating from 1831. Therefore, by the 1870s a new church was felt to be necessary to serve the growing suburb. The memorial stone of St Paul's Church was laid on 16 September 1872 and it was dedicated on 13 November 1873 by the Archbishop of Canterbury. St Paul's was an offshoot of Holy Trinity Church, Trinity Square (demolished following bomb damage in World War II) and was built, with a capacity for 800 worshipers, on land on the north of what was then Alexandra Road provided by a Mr TD Reeve and a Mr J Andrews. The architect was RK Blessley of Eastbourne and it was built by Messrs Cooke and Green of London at a cost of £8,500 including boundary walls and vicarage. The tower was apparently built later, possibly at the same time as the west window which has a dedication plate with a date of 1885. An engraving dated 1874 shows the church with an identical tower so it was presumably completed to Blessley's original design although The Buildings of England: North East and East Kent volume refers to the church being completed by R(obert) Wheeler (of Tunbridge Wells). The tower was certainly built by 1897 when a church bell and clocks were provided by subscription. The tower was extensively repaired in 1971.

Robert Knott Blessley (1833-1923), a pupil of J Messenger, started his independent career with an office at 8 Furnival's Inn, London. By 1866 he had moved to Eastbourne and by 1878 he was in partnership there with H Spurrell (1847-1918). In Eastbourne he designed the Grand Hotel and at least two nonconformist chapels. In 1874-6 he designed St John, Polegate, East Sussex. He also worked in Hailsham and had an office in Lewes. His membership of the RIBA lapsed after 1876 and by 1901 he had retired to Brighton.

Brasier's Guide to Margate, Ramsgate etc, (1879)
Newman, J, Buildings of England - North East and East Kent (1983), 383
St Paul's Church, Cliftonville - Centenary Brochure 1873-1973, (1973) (accessed 13 April 2010)

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: St Paul's Church, vicarage and boundary walls are designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural quality: It is a largely unaltered, mid-Victorian Gothic Revival church built in a studied late C13 style with good quality materials and with a contemporary Gothic style vicarage;
* Interior fittings: most of the fittings of good quality and original to the C19 church. Of notable quality are the reredos and the 1920s war memorial and panelling in the porch;
* Historic: a prominent architectural landmark in this genteel Victorian suburb of Margate, amongst the country's earliest seaside resorts, built to provide the middle-class seaside visitors and residents with a respectable place to worship.

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.