Westgate church awarded £142,200 for conservation project

St Saviour's Church in Westgate

St Saviour’s Church in Westgate has been awarded £142,200 for its conservation project.

The grant is the second round from the Heritage Lottery and in addition to £21,500 awarded in May.

The conservation project, costing a total of £191,111, aims to save the  Victorian church and its stained glass windows. It is hoped the work will mean the continuation of a welcoming facility and hospitality for the many people who visit to discover the long heritage of the church and town by studying the educational displays and archive material.

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the conservation work includes repairs to the supporting stonework of the 12 high level windows, conserving the original Victorian glass and leadwork in the windows and installing wire guards. There will also be an overhaul of the rainwater goods system, upgrade to the church’s website, including a new virtual tour, and a new educational display depicting the heritage of the church will be produced.

Modern facilities for refreshments and hospitality for the community will be provided. Work will start at the end of July and will be finished by the middle of December.

Church spokesperson Brenda Carter said : “We are so grateful to the National Lottery players for their support of our project.  As a focal place for the use of the community of Westgate-on-Sea, it is up to us to ensure the building provides a centre for the next 100 years to continue the success started 134 years ago.”

Many different groups use the church for their activities, including St. Saviour’s C.E. Junior School, the Piggy Bank Nursery, St. Crispin’s Infant School, Westgate Art & Craft Group, the Friends of St. Saviour’s, bell ringers, other historical societies and the Friends of Kent Churches.

The church also provides a meeting place for The Westgate Heritage Centre, which has more than 200 members and is growing.  It was formed 14 years ago when the need for people to discover the heritage of Westgate-on-Sea became evident.

About St Saviour’s Church

The church was designed by Charles Nightingale Beazley who had also been appointed as the architect for the Westgate-on-Sea Estate in 1870. The first turf was cut on 23 July 1883 and the foundation stone visible under the East Window was laid by Sir Erasmus Wilson on 28 August 1883.

It is built in Gothic style with Kentish Ragstone blocks and door and window surrounds in Bath Stone. The pillars inside the Nave are also Bath Stone. The windows were originally made of muff glass (slightly tinted) which is still evident in the large west window and the upper (clerestory) windows. A full height decorative wood screen separated the nave from the chancel.

Building was completed within 12 months and was consecrated on 23 July 1884 by Archbishop Benson. The total cost was £6000, equivalent to approximately £300,000+ today.

At this time, Westgate-on-Sea was in the early stages of development and was seen as an exclusive retreat for wealthy patrons from London who were effectively building their holiday homes on the Estate. Many of the additions to the church are attributable to those early wealthy residents.

Material courtesy of Dr Dawn Crouch, Curator of The Westgate Heritage Centre

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