John E. Vigars Kent Church Photographs
Image Source: Rob Baker
An unassuming church nestled among large Victorian-era houses, St. Saviour's was built in 1875 to serve the affluent Dry Hill Park area of north west Tonbridge. The architect was Ewan Christian who had previously designed two churches in the Tonbridge area: St. John the Baptist in neighbouring Hildenborough (1843-44) and St. Stephen's (1851-54) at the southern end of the town. In many ways St. Saviour's is typical of his later work. Built of red brick with a central spirelet, the interior consists of a nave and large and open apsed chancel with an aisle, vestry and miniature gabled transept to the north. Although St. Saviour's was intended for a sacramental tradition, Christian has added a number of evangelical texts running round the walls of both nave and chancel, as well as the wooden pulpit. Stencilled texts can also be seen at Upnor, a similarly designed red bricked church designed a couple of years later. John Deacon, a patron of the Tonbridge's main Parish Church of St. Peter & Paul, provided the land and the church was consecrated in July 1876, with seating capacity for 252 people. The total cost of the work was estimated at £3,000. The stained-glass windows in the chancel were all manufactured by the workshops of James Powell & Sons and installed in the early 20th century. The seven lancet windows at the apsidal east end depict scenes from the life of Jesus. The three central windows were installed in 1907 before being joined by the four outer windows the following year. The Ten Commandments are written on two brass plaques either side of the central lancet window. The two windows in the south wall of the chancel depict the Angel of Peace and Christ the Good Shepherd. These were added in 1921 and 1931 respectively. The Good Shepherd window is signed by Powell's trademark White Friar. In 1993 the first of two re-orderings took place when a kitchen and toilet were installed in the north west corner. A further re-ordering took place in 2010 when the nave benches were replaced and new flooring installed, including a platform floor in the chancel, which enables St. Saviour's to be used for classical music concerts and other community functions. This re-ordering came as a result of a legacy from parishioner Dorothy Stonely who had worshipped at the church all her life. During the renovations a First World War battlefield cross was discovered. Commemorating 2nd Lieutenant O.M. Gibson, who died of his wounds in 1916, his family may have regularly attended the church in the early 20th century. Otherwise very little is known about its history. Text by Rob Baker.
1851 Census Details
Seating Capacity: Not built
Morning Attendance: Not built
Afternoon Attendance: Not built
Evening Attendance: Not built
Original Build Date/Architect: Ewan Christian 1876
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