Ch 4

CHAPTER FOUR

Religion – Sectarian and Practical Services

The village as stated above was divided into three church parishes: Ightham, Wrotham and after 1843 Platt. The part belonging to Ightham stopped at the junction of Rock Road and the A25 and included everything on the west side of Rock Road. The Black Horse Inn formed the boundary with Platt parish. All the rest of the village was in Wrotham parish. It was not until 1976 that Borough Green became a separate ecclesiastical parish.

In 1809 eleven Baptist believers in Borough Green decided to provide a chapel for their meetings. At the Bull Hotel on 27 July 1815 there was a sale of Waste Lands in the parish of Wrotham under the Enclosure Acts of the time. Later on 18 August 1816 Mr. Clapson purchased a plot of land from the sale for the sum of 22 10s by private contract for the Baptist interests. The Chapel was built in 1817, enlarged twice, a school room added in 1890, giving us the pleasant edifice that we see today. A benchmark indicates that it is 301 feet above sea-level.

Prior to the purchase of what is now known as St. Joseph’s Church the Roman Catholic congregation used to meet in private houses and, for a few years, in one of the old ATC huts in the Quarry. The Western Hall was bought at a public auction in 1957 and, despite repeated endeavours, the exterior does not do full justice to the establishment which it serves.

church 1911Church of the Good Shepherd 1911

The Church of the Good Shepherd

Prior to 1875 Church of England members walked either to Wrotham, Ightham, Platt or Plaxtol to worship. After the Church of England Infants School was built, now the Parish Hall, members used to meet in the schoolroom. By 1900 there were over two hundred houses in Borough Green. On Wednesday 18 June 1904 a well attended meeting chaired by the Reverend W.H.T. Ashton Gwatkin, Rector of Wrotham, was held in the Alexandra Hall, now Moye’s shoe shop in Western Road. The meeting unanimously decided to go ahead and build a Mission Church at a total cost of 1680 excluding chairs. Men, women and even children helped to clear the site and to dig the foundations. Emmiline St. Tour, Vicountess Torrington laid the foundation stone on 9 January 1906. The Church was consecrated on 5 July 1906 by the then Bishop of Rochester, Dr. Harmer. It was built by Messrs. Allcorn of Shipbourne. The first curate in charge was the Reverend A. H. Lilley who resided at Mount Pleasant, Sevenoaks Road. No doubt it was he who gave the house its name. The architects were Messrs. H. P. Monkton and Gillespie.

In the Church Magazine for April 1908 it was reported that there was still a debt of 480. By this time the Reverend A.P. Pascoe was curate at Borough Green and he was also editor of the Shoreham Rural Deanery Magazine. He moved on in 1914 and the reverend R. Coussmaker was appointed in January 1915.

The Rural Deanery magazine reports in 1913 that the pulpit had been fumed and stained to match the screen and reduced in size, giving it a correct proportion. Several windows were being altered to remove the stuffiness of the Church, hoping by this means to drive a current of pure air through the Church between the services. This should stop people fainting, apparently a frequent occurrence over the previous seven years. If inadequate, the report states that some larger method would be taken in hand!

The interior has seen many alterations of varying standards over the years. The recent additions, the annexe and the Remembrance Garden (1991), are surely among the most excellent. The lych gate sets the seal upon a fine job. One must not forget the improvement of fitting the splendid stained glass windows designed by Patrick Reyntiens on the East end! Thank you Reverend Tony Powell and the P.C.C.

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