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St Philip’s

In Tonbridge, as in other towns, the post-war years saw large house-building programmes in order to accommodate the expanding population.  During the mid-1950s, the Vicar of the Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul and the Church Council saw the need for a place of worship in the Cage Green residential area of north Tonbridge.

The Council was offering an area of the Green for the building of a church to whichever denomination wished to claim it.  At this time, a private school in the south end of the town, which had taught 300 children over 86 years, was closing down.  In 1956, the Principal of the school offered the building, which was a wooden structure in St, Mary's Road, to the Parish Church of St. Peter and St. Paul as a gift, to be used as a church hall.  The gift was gratefully accepted by the church.  An offer to dismantle the hut on its site in St. Mary's Road and rebuild it on the new site at Cage Green was also accepted.

In the summer of 1956, a group of 25 enthusiastic students descended on the area to prepare the foundations.  The party was led by Wolf Müller, a young German curate from St. Peter and St. Paul.  The group was made up of representatives from fourteen countries, including Germany, Ethiopia, America, Greece (an orthodox Priest complete with black beard and head-dress), Great Britain, Holland, France, Switzerland, Finland, Italy, Portugal and Austria.

On Sunday 2nd September 1956, a service was held on the Green, where the hut was now almost finished.  A vast crowd led by the church choir processed through the town and, together with the international work party, joined in an open-air service of praise and thanksgiving.  On January 15th 1957, the church hall was dedicated by Bishop John Mann (an assistant bishop in the Diocese of Rochester).  Canon Russell B. White spoke of the Church Hall as being only temporary and hoped that at some time in the future a proper parish church would be erected on the site.

The temporary hall was used by the church for thirteen years, while the hoped-for new building remained a dream and a subject for prayer of its members.  Unfortunately there never seemed to be enough money available to build a permanent structure on the site.  However, on 17th February 1969, the Cage Green Church Hall Committee were told that the Diocese would be able to make money available for the building of a new church.  The building work began in July 1969, with the expectation that it would be ready by Easter of the following year.  On 21st September, there was a Family Service of Dedication to the building of the new Cage Green Church Hall in St. Peter and St. Paul's Church.  Finally, on Sunday 26th April 1970, the new building (below) was Dedicated in a service led by the Bishop of Rochester.

St. Philip's Church current building

Cage Green Sunday School, which had been formed on 14th September 1952 at the Scout Hut on Ridgeway, had attendances of more than 100 children.  On Sunday 30th May 1970, the Sunday School moved into the new church hall at Cage Green.  At last, it had a permanent home for the first time in eighteen years.

Cage Green Church, a member church of St. Peter and St. Paul, was later renamed St. Philip's.  However, this is not the end of the story for St. Philip's.  Plans are moving fast for a major rebuilding programme under the title of the 'Caleb Project', which will take the church into the 21st Century to meet the needs of the community in the Cage Green area.

UPDATED!  On 25 September 2004, St Philip's launched its One in a Million fund-raising appeal.  The church aims to raise the £1 million it needs for the Caleb Project by reaching one million people and asking them to give £1 each.

Web For further information about this church, visit the website of Tonbridge Parish Church.
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Web For further information about the Caleb Project, visit the One in a Million website.
We are not responsible for the content of external websites.

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