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SS Peter and Paul’s Church, Charlton

The earliest reference to a church at Charlton is in a fragment  of manuscript, dating from between 1147 and 1182, refering to  the dedication of a chapel to St Peter at Charlton. The nature  and history of this early building are unclear until 1827 when  the church was rebuilt as it was too small. The population of Charlton was rising rapidly in the early 19th  Century from 279 in 1801, rising to 600 in 1811 and 791 in  1821.  The church was enlarged by the novel expedient of  cutting it in half and building a new section through the middle.  How much of the building that was rebuilt in 1827 dated back to  the 12th century is not known. The population  of Charlton continued to grow from 2513 in  1841 to 7839 in 1891.  By the late 19th century even the  enlarged church was found to be too small for the growing  community of Charlton which by then was incorporated into  Dover. It was decided to build a new, much larger, church  slightly to the north of the old church on the site of the old  Charlton School and Master's House. The architect for the new church was James Brookes and his  design was published in the “The Builder” magazine in May  1891. This original design included a rather plain tower on the  St Alphege Road side of the building.  This was later replaced  with a design for a much more grandiose tower with a spire on  the churchyard side of the building. Neither tower was built  when it was found that the available funds were not sufficient.  It was intended that the the tower with a spire would be built  when funds allowed but it was never built. The new church was consecrated in 1893 and the old church  demolished in 1895. A stone in the churchyard marks the site of  the old high altar. The rubble from the old church was used  partly to construct the new boundary wall, and partly for the  footings of the large tower on the churchyard side. The church  is still without its tower but he square mound on which the  tower was to stand is still visible just outside the south porch. The church was damaged during the Second World War. On 15th September 1944 a 15 inch shell exploded after burrowing under  the foundations of the south west corner. The nave was severely damaged, the west wall was split and the blast lifted a pillar and its base moved one and a half inches, though the pillar itself  settled absolutely upright. This displacement is still visible  today. Two weeks later a second shell fell on the eastern wall of the churchyard blowing out the east windows and causing  further extensive structural damage. After the war extensive repairs were undertaken and the church  was re hallowed by the Archbishop of Canterbury in September  1952. 
Old Charlton Church c.1890.  The building behind the church to the left of the picture is the original Charlton Parochial School built in 1841. Old and New Charlton Churches c.1894. The design for the new church in 'The Builder', May 1891.  Cross sections and elevations showing the unbuilt tower as originally planned. The design for the new church in 'The Builder', May 1891.  An artists impression of the new church showing the unbuilt tower as originally planned. Back to Churches Index Charlton Church as it might have been. An artist's impression of what the second design for the grand tower might have looked like.