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Parish Church of St Barnabas

A Grade II* Listed Building in Tunbridge Wells, Kent

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Latitude: 51.1385 / 51°8'18"N

Longitude: 0.2697 / 0°16'10"E

OS Eastings: 558878

OS Northings: 140146

OS Grid: TQ588401

Mapcode National: GBR MPS.H0X

Mapcode Global: VHHQD.MNF1

Entry Name: Parish Church of St Barnabas

Listing Date: 7 June 1974

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1338860

English Heritage Legacy ID: 168163

Location: Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN1

County: Kent

District: Tunbridge Wells

Town: Tunbridge Wells

Electoral Ward/Division: St James'

Built-Up Area: Royal Tunbridge Wells

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent

Church of England Parish: Tunbridge Wells St Barnabas

Church of England Diocese: Rochester

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Royal Tunbridge Wells

Listing Text

872/11/319 STANLEY ROAD
07-JUN-74 (North side)

1887-9 by J E K and J P Cutts.

MATERIALS: Red brick laid in English bond with stone dressings. Clay tile roofs.

PLAN: Five-bay nave, three-bay chancel, N and S aisles, S chapel, S porch, S vestries, N organ chamber, parish rooms etc attached to the N side.

EXTERIOR: A red brick church built on a grand scale in the Early English style. The ruling motifs are all taken from the C13, hence the three grouped lancets to each bay of the tall clerestory; smaller, lower lancets to the lean-to aisles; and the Geometrical-style windows in the E and W walls. The E window involves a pair of two-light windows, each with a sexfoil opening in the head. Above these is a large foiled mandorla. The W window has a 1-2-1 configuration, the central pair of lights having a foiled circle in the head, mirroring those at the E end. The S chapel is under its own gabled roof. At the SW corner is a large porch under a transverse gable. The junction between the nave and chancel is marked by the base of a former fleche (removed 1992). There is also a small turret rising on the S side at the nave-chancel junction: it has an openwork stone top and pyramidal cap. The vestry block, placed S of the chapel, lies under a flat roof.

INTERIOR: The generosity of scale found on the exterior is replicated internally and, as was often the case with churches at the end of the C19, greater embellishment is used internally than externally. Red brick and the judicious use of stone dressings is continued inside. The nave is long, wide and has arcades of five bays with octagonal piers, moulded capitals and bases: the arches carry multiple mouldings. Between the nave and chancel there is a very tall arch, nearly as wide as the nave. It has a moulded head and banding on the trefoiled responds. Architecturally the chancel is treated differently from the nave and greater enrichment is aimed at. Most obviously the plain lancets of the nave clerestory (but which have shafts between them) give way to large two-light windows with sexfoils in the heads (similar to the pairs of windows in the E wall): these have nook shafts. The arcades on either side have circular rather than octagonal piers and the capitals have foliage carving. On the N side the arcades are continued as a blind arch, with cusped Y-tracery, into the sanctuary, in the corners of which the walls are canted at 45 degrees and have a further blind traceried arch each. The main nave roof trusses have tie-beams and also arch braces forming scissors below a collar. In the chancel the roof trusses have arch braces to a collar and a longitudinal runner. The organ pipes are mounted at first floor levels under two arches on the N side of the chancel. The floors include red and black tiling in the alleys of the nave and aisles, patterned tiling in the choir and sanctuary and a wood-block floor to the S chapel. Beneath the E end is a vaulted mortuary chapel with a stone altar: the chapel has a single central column with a foliage capital.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: St Barnabas' church was from the outset used for Anglo-Catholic worship, a tradition which has been maintained since. Hence the building contains fittings of some elaboration and of successive dates. The iron rood screen is original to the 1880s church: it is of considerable refinement, designed by the Cutts brothers and made by Singer of Frome: the carved figures were executed by Harry Hems of Exeter. The pulpit is a very rich alabaster piece with open traceried sides, alabaster steps, and an alabaster and marble base. The font has a square, slightly tapering bowl of polished marble and stands on a sturdy base with a central drum and octagonal corner piers: it stands on a polished marble step. The baldacchino covering the font is the work of Milner and Craze and dates from 1952. Milner and Craze were also responsible for the high altar reredos made in 1947 and incorporating a crucified Christ carved in 1931 by Oscar Zwink. The high altar itself is to the designs of the Cutts brothers and has painted panels of angels adoring the Agnus Dei. The N (Lady) chapel was fitted out as a First World War memorial under G H Fellowes Prynne but was largely refitted in 1945 by Martin Travers whose reredos with figures of the Doctors of the Church and tester are now above the altar. Travers also designed the reredos in the S (St Stephen's) chapel. Around 1930 improvements were made under A J N Russell, including modifications to the choir stalls. His most remarkable achievement is the lectern of 1928 in brown and pink marble and in Art Deco style, consisting of rectangular panels and a very linear design. The E and W windows are filled with stained glass by Heaton, Butler and Bayne to designs by the Cutts brothers.

HISTORY: St Barnabas is exceptional among the churches of Tunbridge Wells for its Anglo-Catholic tradition which explains the origins of the building and its present day furnishings. It was one of many Anglo-Catholic missions to the poor in urban Victorian England. The area where the church was established was a poor one and in 1870 the Rev. Harry W Hitchcock, a wealthy young priest moved to the area with his wife. He offered to build a mission church at his own expense and to serve it on an unpaid basis. On the present site of St Barnabas, he acquired part of an old quarry which had become used as a municipal rubbish dump and built a small church dedicated to St Stephen. In due course Hitchcock had his licence revoked for his unrepentant ritual practices. The church, however, did continue. The parish of St Barnabas was established in 1881 and the church was twice extended before being taken down to make way for the present building. The social purpose of the St Barnabas project is clearly seen in the provision of a mortuary chapel in the new church intended to allow the laying out of the deceased poor in a suitably solemn and holy setting.

The foundation stone was laid on 11 May 1887 and the new church was consecrated in 1889. The cost was £15,000 but an ambitious projected SW steeple never got further off the ground than what is now the porch. The church is built on an ambitious scale and, typical of late Victorian churches where funds were relatively limited for the grand purpose intended, St Barnabas is built of red brick with relatively modest amounts of freestone. The building, however, is splendidly proportioned, and has an exceptionally fine, spacious interior. It has a particularly good collection of fixtures some of which date back to the building of the church while others show the continuing tradition of High Church embellishment extending into the post-war period.

John Edward Knight Cutts (1847-1938) was articled to the well-known and prolific church architect Ewan Christian from 1865 to 1870 after which he set up in independent practice. His younger brother, John Priston (1854-1935), was articled to him in 1877, and remained as an assistant and became a partner in about 1890. Cutts senior was diocesan surveyor for St Albans in 1881-7. The firm developed a busy church architecture practice in and around London and specialised in generously proportioned economical buildings, typically of red brick in the Early English style, to meet the great demand for new churches in the area at the end of the C19. St Barnabas is particularly fine example of their work, especially as many of their churches in London have been radically altered in recent decades.

Roger Homan, The Victorian Churches of Kent, 1984, p 96.

John Newman, The Buildings of England: West Kent and the Weald, 1969, p 555.
NADFAS Church Recorders, St Barnabas, Tunbridge Wells, 2 vols, 2001.
www. sbarnabas.com/tmp/chhost.html (Accessed: 9 May 2009)
www.sbarnabas.com/tmp/historyparish.html (Access: 9 May 2009)

The church of St Barnabas is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* It is an outstanding church of the late C19, built in red brick and on a grand scale in the Early English style.
* It has a particularly fine and spacious interior .
* It has an important collection of fittings which range in date from 1889 to the 1950s.
* The mortuary chapel is of exceptional interest and is an expression of the social mission undertaken from this Anglo-Catholic parish in the late C19

This List entry has been amended to add sources for War Memorials Online and the War Memorials Register. These sources were not used in the compilation of this List entry but are added here as a guide for further reading, 27 October 2017.

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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