My spontaneous visit to Pembury

DSCF0354 smallDSCF0355 smallAfter Mass and lunch at Aylesford Priory, I had the spontaneous idea of making a detour of some twenty or thirty miles via Pembury and visiting St. Anselm’s Church and the new parish hall. Unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to announce my visit in advance and so I hoped that Father Ed Tomlinson or his wife or one of the priests might be around. As it turned out, the only person I met was Julie, the manager of the Montessori nursery meeting in the new hall.

DSCF0358 smallThe first impression of the two huts (one white and one in brick) is not immediately of a church, but the large crucifix left one in no doubt that this is a place of worship. I could only imagine the effect when the lych-gate is restored and erected at the entrance to the grounds. No doubt the community will want to make the church building more evidently church-like from the exterior – perhaps with a large white or silver cross on the wall and/or a small tower on the roof.

DSCF0359 smallInstead of entering the church from the gable end, which was perhaps a little more reminiscent of a church (see this older photo),

640px-St_Anselm's_RC_Church,_Pemburythe new doors are now in the side of the building and you come into the new narthex which opens onto the church to the left and the hall and amenities to the right. It was then that I heard Julie moving around in the hall, so I turned right.

DSCF0361 small - nursery manager JulieYou can perhaps imagine my surprise when I saw that the whole hall (which I had only seen empty or with one table and chairs on previous photos) was now full of nursery school equipment – and a very nice nursery it seemed to be.

DSCF0364 smallDSCF0366 smallI must admit that I had not realised just how much furniture and equipment the nursery requires, and when Julie told me that they needed one and a half hours to move all the equipment to one end of the hall if it is needed for Sunday School or any other parish events or for rental, I realised just how much work had been involved before when everything had taken place within the church building itself. In an optimal state of affairs a further hall would be necessary just to house the nursery more permanently.

Julie explained that she is not Catholic and that the nursery is multi-faith and run according to Montessori principles. The nursery school teachers all have college degrees with an additional two-year Montessori qualification – making them far better qualified than the students I have been teaching at vocational college in Germany in preparation for working as an educator in a Kindergarten.

Leaving the hall I then went into the church – it must really be wonderful that this can now be a house of prayer all week round – what might it look like with the pews that they have already obtained?

DSCF0368 smallDSCF0369 smallDSCF0372 smallI am so grateful to have actually experienced St. Anselm’s myself – the only pity is that no one from the Ordinariate was around and Julie did not know where the Tomlinsons live. Perhaps another time – when the church has been made even more splendid.

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One Response to My spontaneous visit to Pembury

  1. Antonia says:

    Dual-purpose buildings represent a certain kind of Anglican patrimony… Reminds me of my Anglican days when I was served in a parish whose church was a school classroom during the week. It took a couple of hours’ work by a dedicated team to turn it into a church every Friday evening, and of course daytime services during the week were impossible in term-time. A new, ‘real’ church has been built since my time.

    I wonder why Fr Ed needs a lych-gate… Maybe he gets a lot of funerals?

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