Church Interior

Birchington

The first public Mass in Birchington was celebrated at The Institute Hall (a public hall in The Square where Brills hardware shop now stands) by Father Erkenwald Egan OSB on the Feast of the Assumption, 15th August, 1908. Just weeks later the Monks of Ramsgate purchased some land next to the Old Malthouse in Minnis Road and adapted the old wagon shed building on the site to become a church. The first Mass was held there on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, 8th December, 1908. A presbytery was built in front of the church and in May 1909 Fr John Percival Augustine Golding-Bird OSB became the first resident priest-in-charge of the Mission Church of Our Lady and St Benedict. During the war years 1939-46 the church, together with St Peter's Westgate, ceased to function with Mass being said at Ss Austin and Gregory, Margate. Following the war years both churches reopened.

The mid-1950s saw the present parish church building take shape; the old church had become dilapidated and in 1954 the newly appoint priest, Fr Wilfred Emery OSB, was ordered by the Abbot of Ramsgate to "go and build a new church in Birchington". The first part of the new building was completed in 1957, a second phase of extending the nave and erecting a new porch and tower was begun and finally the church and its new altar were consecrated by Bishop Cyril Cowderoy on 14th July 1964. The present parish hall was built under Father Cyril Williams in 1974; the presbytery survived until 1986 when Father Denis Barry built a new presbytery to a much higher standard, detached from the church.  In 1996 the church's problematic flat roof was replaced by a tiled pitched roof. In the church, Canon Bill Clements added central heating and a new wooden floor and it was carpeted throughout; in 1996 the church's problematic flat roof was replaced by a tiled pitched roof. The last major construction was the re-ordering of the sanctuary in 2003: the high altar and temporary wooden altar were removed and a cubic altar made from stone quarried at Caen was installed. The same stone was used for the new ambo and plinth for the tabernacle. The tabernacle was dignified with a small alcove created by bringing the ritual-east panelling forward, making the consecration crosses invisible as they were left in situ. New lighting allows emphasis to be placed on the tabernacle or on the altar. The altar was consecrated by Archbishop Michael Bowen on 17th April 2003; the relics of Saints Urbicus and Florentinus were cemented in the altar, watched by a sanctuary full of priests and a church full of people.