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St Saviourís

St. Saviour's Church in Dry Hill Park Road was built in 1875.  It was the result of a movement by a number of people in the town who wanted a service of a more ornate and Anglo-Catholic character than was being provided by the other existing churches in the town.  One of the reasons put forward to the Diocesan Bishop for erecting a new church was that the Parish Church could not accommodate the members of the large population of poor people in the area of Cage Green.  These people did not worship regularly because the Parish Church was overcrowded.

St. Saviour's Church exterior In 1875, the Ecclesiastical Commission notified the group of dissenters that, "any further accommodation which may be needed in the Parish would be more conveniently met by a Chapel of Ease to the Mother Church than by a separate Church and District."  The Church was consecrated on 15th July 1876 by the Archbishop.  The architect was Mr. E. Christian and the builders were Messrs. Punnett & Son of Tonbridge.

There were supposed to have been some ghostly sightings during the building work.  According to A. H. Neve in his book, Tonbridge of Yesterday, "During the erection of the Church a white-robed figure perambulated the site in the hours of darkness.  There were many explanations of its ghostly origins and of the warning it was meant to convey; but the view that it was a practical joke on the part of certain young 'catholics' may definitely be discarded."

The son of George Punnett, the church's builder, was the first to be baptised in the new church on 22nd July 1876.  Sadly his son, 2nd Lt. C. H. G. Punnett, was killed in action during the First World War on 26th November 1916.

By 1882, St. Saviour's needed a mission room and one was duly built to provide Sunday School accommodation at a cost of £600.  It was opened on Wednesday 2nd May 1883.  Within three years, however, the hall proved to be too small.  On the 11th January 1887, additional rooms were formally inaugurated.  The Mission Room was sold to the Red Cross in 1960.  A house was built in Shipbourne Road near The Pinnacles and was first occupied by a curate of St. Saviour's in 1936.  It continued to be used to accommodate curates, until two new houses were built in Salisbury Road.

In 1998, the assistant curate Rev. Rupert Foxwell left St. Saviour's and established a new church, Church on the Way, in Delarue Hall.  A number of the congregation also left to join this new church.  The leadership of St. Saviour's was then delegated by the Vicar of the Parish to two retired clergymen, the Venerable Eric McLellan and Rev Robert Taylor.  With a great deal of prayer from members of the congregation, the number of people attending services began to grow again steadily.  These two new leaders of the church were truly blessed by God and won the love and admiration of the church members.

One member of the congregation, Mr. Phil Broad, volunteered to take on the leadership of "Pathfinders", a group for 11-14 year olds.  After his first meeting with just two youngsters in April 1998, he promised that there would be twenty by July of that year.  That number was exceeded long before the promised date.  Since then, the Pathfinders groups from St. Saviour's, St. Philip's and St. Peter & St. Paul have amalgamated, meeting together in Tonbridge on Sunday mornings.  On Saturdays, they join with the Pathfinders groups from St. John's and Stocks Green churches at St. John's Church Hall, Hildenborough and many others who do not attend any church for club nights, games, outings, discos and other activities (below left).  The group now caters for around thirty young people each week and has weekends-away twice a year and organises games and various other activities on Saturday evenings.


Pathfinders group from St. Saviour's and other churches    Children's talk by Rev. George Rogers

A new minister at St. Saviour's, Rev. George Rogers from Canada, was appointed on 1st January, 1999.  Within a very short time, he was preaching to a packed church.  At the beginning of every service the children gather around him for their own talk (above right), before going off to their Sunday School lessons.  The children's talks are enjoyed by the adults as much as the children.

St. Saviour's Church celebrated its 125th anniversary on Sunday 15th July 2001 with a commemorative service and a flower festival.

Web For further information about this church, visit the website of Tonbridge Parish Church.

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