St. Bartholomew’s Church History

Picture of St. Bartholomew's church from the south side.


St Bartholomew’s Church, Herne Bay, an imposing edifice, stands at the junction of Dence Park and King Edward Avenue, and at the top of Mickleburgh Hill. A church has stood on this site since 1908, first a wooden building, then, in stages, the building you see today, completed and consecrated in 1932. St Bartholomew’s is a parish church, built to serve the Spiritual needs of the people of its parish, whose borders are Canterbury Road, Queen's Avenue, the railway bridge and the sea. Regular worship is offered here; baptisms, weddings and funerals are held throughout the year; and a full programme of Easter and Christmas services and events is mounted every year. In addition, the Church serves as a fine venue for concerts and dramatic presentations.

St Bartholomew’s is a living Church, whose members seek to hear and live out the Gospel, and to serve the Kingdom of God in this area. We welcome you to the Church in His name, and invite you to learn something of our history and architecture. We sincerely hope that you will visit us soon.

Picture of St. Bartholomew's west door.

St Bartholomew’s photographed from the West, the view from Dence Park


In 1905 the Reverend Giles Daubeney came to Herne Bay as Vicar of the ancient Parish Church of St Martin, Herne. At that time the parish of Herne extended from Herne itself down to the sea, and Giles Daubeney soon became concerned at the distance some of his parishioners were forced to travel (usually on foot) to attend St Martin’s. Daubeney was a formidable character, as may be seen in his ‘Reminiscences’ (also available in this Church); when he said he would do a thing he did it, and a year after his arrival he launched an appeal for funds to build a daughter church on this site, the land having been bought by St Martin’s. The Archbishop of Canterbury sent the first 20 for the appeal, and Daubeney wrote letters such as the one from which this extract is taken, requesting help from the well-to-do of the area:

“Dear Madam, Can you very kindly help me to provide a Church for my people who live on the East Cliff, Herne Bay and in the rapidly growing district of Beltinge? The need is most pressing as nearly 4,000 people are living about two miles from their Parish Church! We are raising 5,000 for a church holding 500 and I hope to build a portion at least next Spring...”

The well-to-do certainly helped, but Daubeney would later maintain that it was the shillings and pence of the ordinary folk that had really built the Church. He was, however, over optimistic in his estimate of both the ultimate cost of the church and the time scale needed to build it. In 1908 a wooden church costing 452 was erected on the site and consecrated by the Bishop of Dover, William Walsh, on August 8th. In fact the Bishop arrived just an hour after the West Window completed the building!

Picture of The wooden St Bartholomew's built in 1908

The wooden St Bartholomew’s built in 1908

By 1913 enough money had been raised to start work on the permanent building. It was designed by W D Caroe, then architect to Canterbury Cathedral. The foundation stone was laid on All Saints’ Day, November 1st, 1913, by Randall Davidson, Archbishop of Canterbury, using a silver trowel still in the possession of the Church, having been returned by his widow after his death. A congregation was well established in the wooden church, but any hopes that that building would soon be replaced by the brick one were dashed by the declaration of war in 1914. The porch, the memorial to Lilian Daubeney, the Vicar’s wife, was dedicated on December 15th, 1914, by the Bishop of Dover, and the building stopped there. It was not until 1922 that the Archdeacon of Maidstone came to dedicate the Memorial Chapel in memory of Henry Hogarth Bell and Giles Robert Daubeney, the Vicar’s step-son and son, who gave their lives in the War. Between 1922 and 1932 the wooden church was taken down in stages as the building of the brick church advanced, and the permanent church was finally consecrated by Cosmo Gordon Lang on Saturday July 30th, 1932. The Church was finished, but incomplete; it has been hoped that it would cost 5,000 and seat 500, in fact it cost 18,000 and can seat about 300.

Picture showing Archbishop 
	Davidson lays the foundation stone in front of the wooden church, All Saints Day, 
	November 1st, 1913..

Archbishop Davidson lays the foundation stone in front of the wooden church, All Saints Day, November 1st, 1913.

Picture showing an aerial 
	view showing most of the brick building completed and a small part of the wooden one 
	still remaining.

An aerial view showing most of the brick building completed and a small part of the wooden one still remaining.

(Note the old water tower opposite!)

St Bartholomew’s remained a daughter church to St Martin’s, Herne until 1936. In that year the documents confirming the separation of the Parish of St Bartholomew, Herne Bay from that of St Martin, Herne were signed by Edward VIII, during his brief reign. Fifty years later St Bartholomew’s became a joint benefice with the Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Reculver. The two churches share their clergy and co-operate in many ways, but they remain separate parishes and parish churches with their own Parochial Church Councils.

Giles Daubeney served as Vicar of Herne from 1905 to 1946. From 1919 he placed St Bartholomew’s in the care of a curate as priest-in-charge: Compton Bracebridge served in this capacity until 1922, followed by John Allen. John Allen became the first Vicar of St Bartholomew, Herne Bay in 1932, and served here until 1940. He was succeeded by John Caton Jones who died very suddenly and prematurely after celebrating his tenth year in the parish in 1950. Leslie Beddow was appointed Vicar in 1951 and served here until his retirement in 1970. Humphrey Stephens succeeded him and the new Vicarage was built in Dence Park during his incumbency. He retired in 1982 and at this point Stephan Welch, Vicar of Reculver, became also priest-in-charge and then Vicar of St Bartholomew, Herne Bay. He was succeeded by Roy Kilford in 1993 then by Michael Bowers in 1995 and Ronald Hawkes in 2003. The present Priest in Charge of the United Benefice is Sue Martin, appointed in 2014.


W D Caroe (1857-1938) was a leading ecclesiastical architect of his day. A recent publication surveying his work states:

“The revival of interest in architecture of the Edwardian period and of the 1920s and 1930s has provoked a re-evaluation of the work of those architects who, like Caroe, stood apart from the International Modern Movement of produce ‘traditional’ architecture. The Edwardians’ experiments with historical styles, their reverence for traditional crafts and delight in new materials and construction techniques has exercised great influence over many contemporary architects. Caroe emerges not only as an architect of striking originality and pioneer of building conservation, but also a distinguished designer of furniture, embroidery, metalwork and sculpture.”

The visitor must judge for him or herself. The Church was never as Caroe originally designed it; the tower was to have been taller, and a Lady Chapel planned for the South East was never built; bricked-up arches within show where it would have been. St Bartholomew’s is an imposing building, softened by attractive details and contrasting brickwork. It is lighter and airier within than might be imagined.

Entering the Church through the South Porch door the visitor is confronted by a strange wooden carving, this depicts St Bartholomew holding his own skin - legend has it that he was martyred by being flayed alive! To the right are the heavy, leather covered, studded doors with their round windows leading into the Church.

As the visitor passes through, he or she will see to their right the wooden framed chapel, known as the Memorial or All Souls’ Chapel which was designed by Caroe and erected by the family of Captain Henry Hogarth Bell (stepson of the Reverend Giles Daubeney) as a memorial to him and Lieutenant Giles Robert Daubeney, the Vicar’s own son, both killed in action in the Great War. The panelling of this chapel was placed in memory of Ralph Thomas Daubeney of the RAP Reserve, who died in South Africa in 1926. The names of all these were carved and painted in gold against the panelling, and the chapel contains family heraldry. It is used today as a place of prayer.

Picture showing St. Bartholomew's Memorial or All Souls Chapel.

The Memorial or All Souls Chapel.

The inscription reads:

North side

To the glory of God and in ever loving memory of two sons Henry Hogarth Bell Capt 4th Batt Northumberland Fusiliers killed in action at High Wood Sept 15 1916 and Giles Robert Daubeney Lieutenant 1st Batt Royal West Kent Regiment killed in action at St Julien April 23rd 1915. This chapel is dedicated by Giles & Katharine Daubeney

South side

This screen is erected in loving memory of Flying Officer Ralph Thomas Daubeney Royal Air Force Reserve who fought in the Great War as 2nd Lieutenant 1st Batt Royal West Kent Regiment and Royal Flying Corps. He died in South Africa Jan 15 1926 aged 28 years.

Moving on, the visitor sees to the left the Baptistry. The font of a church is traditionally placed just inside the door, because baptism is the sacrament of initiation into the Christian Church. Beside the font is the Easter or Paschal Candle, a new one is lit every Easter Eve as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Every baptised child or person is given their own small Easter Candle because in the first years of the Christian Church baptisms took place on Easter Eve - because we are baptised into the death and the risen life of Jesus. The font was designed for the Church and the stained glass windows above it, depicting the fish and dove symbols of the Christian faith, were designed by Paul Jefferies and placed in 1967, in memory of George Henry Whale, a server in the Church, by his widow.

Picture showing St. Bartholomew's Baptistry.

The Baptistry.

The two stained glass windows in the West Wall depict the four evangelists, and were given by Mr A H Cook in memory of his wife and in thanksgiving for his fifteen years as Churchwarden.

The tower of the Church contains one office bell and was dedicated in memory of Lilian Daubeney, the Vicar’s first wife. The nave is high and spacious, the contrast of cream walls and red brick and tile work promotes spaciousness and warmth. The steamed beech pews are lighter than the original chairs.

Picture showing St. Bartholomew's Nave.

The Nave.

The Chancel was the last portion of the Church to be completed. One step takes us to a marble floor, and we face an East Window given, again, by Mr Cook in memory of his wife in 1946. The theme of the window is the Te Deum, featuring Christ in Glory surrounded by Isaiah the prophet, St Bartholomew, St Alban (the first English martyr) and St Augustine of Canterbury. The Lamb and the sealed book of the Revelation of St John also appear. The window, like the East windows, was designed by J H Hogan. The Te Deum is particularly significant for St Bartholomew’s because the English version of it was first sung at St Martin’s, Herne. The Chancel contains several beautiful Christian symbols carved in relief: over the vestry door is the Chi-Rho symbol, the first three letters of Christ’s name in Greek forming an ancient Christian sign (XPI = CHRI). It is interesting to note how the tiles curve round to form the circle containing the symbol before moving on to continue the arch around the door. On the South side of the chancel are four symbols of the Evangelists: Matthew (Man), Mark (Lion), Luke (Ox) and John (Eagle). (The Eagle, of course, often forms the lectern in churches because John’s Gospel begins: In the beginning was the Word ....; we do not have such a lectern here).

Picture showing the Eagle, Symbol of St. John in St. Bartholomew's.

The Eagle, Symbol of St John.

The Chancel has a high altar with six fine brass candlesticks. For most services we now use a fine oak veneered free-standing altar in the lower part of the Chancel. Throughout the year the high altar’s frontal reflects the season: green for Pentecost, red for martyrs and Good Friday, purple for Advent and Lent, and white for Easter, Christmas and

special Holy Days.

The organ in the Chancel is a fine instrument, purchased in 1968 from Hollingbourne Church in Kent. It was in a poor state at that time and its fine condition now is due to the then organist Mr Graham Clifford, and his helpers, who restored it. Organ builders J W Walker, Norman and Beard, J C Bishop and H Willis were all involved in its early history.

It has more than thirty speaking stops spread over three manuals and pedals.

Picture showing the Chancel in St. Bartholomew's.

The Chancel.

Finally, the visitor arrives at the space that acts as a Lady Chapel, and which was once a Children’s Corner in the Church. On the altar stand a cross and candlesticks given in memory of twelve year old Christopher Chase, killed in October 1942 when an enemy aeroplane strafed the bus on which he was travelling from Canterbury. The Chapel contains two statues of the Madonna and Child, and is a regular meeting place for a prayer group. The beautiful nativity window in this Chapel was placed in memory of John Caton Jones, by his family. John Caton Jones served as Vicar from 1940 to 1950. To mark his tenth anniversary the parish gave him a new bicycle. He cycled home with it from Canterbury and, the following day, died of an unsuspected heart condition.

Church buildings are full of human history, and St Bartholomew’s is no exception; its structure and furnishings testify to human joy and sorrow, faith and vision, offered to the Glory of God. We trust that you will find a visit uplifting, and we ask that you offer a prayer for the people, the clergy, and the mission and ministry of this Church, and we ask His Blessing upon you, and all whom you love.

Picture showing the Lady Chapel in St. Bartholomew's.

The Lady Chapel.

Picture showing The Nativity Window in Memory of John Caton Jones in St. Bartholomew's.

The Nativity Window in Memory of John Caton Jones.


God our Father, we thank you for this House of Prayer, in which you bless your family on its pilgrimage. So quicken our consciences by your holiness, nourish our minds by your beauty, and open our hearts to your love that, in the surrender of our wills to you purpose, the world may be renewed in Christ Jesus our Lord. AMEN.

Original Text: Noelle Hall

Minor revisions: 2003; 2005; 2016;

Contact Us | Last Updated 29 January 2016 | 2006 United Benefice of St Mary the Virgin, Reculver & St Bartholomew, Herne Bay with Holy Cross Hoath.

United Benefice of St. Mary the Virgin, Reculver &

St. Bartholomew, Herne Bay with Holy Cross, Hoath


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