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Royal Dockyard Church

14 January 2019

The Royal Dockyard Church was a Church for Dockyard workers but is now home to a University Lecture theatre which keeps the iconography of its original purpose.

Built around 1808, the Church was used by Dockyard workers as well as Sailors and Marines that came to the port. Marines would march from the barracks along Dock Road, through the Main Gate all headed by a band. The Marines occupied one side of the galleries and the Sailors the other. Dockyard officers and families, with the workmen of the Dockyard and visitors filled the pews.

Being within the Dockyard itself, the Chaplain had to read the service before the launch or floating out of a new ship or vessel of the Royal Navy. But there were also many social activities that the Church provided. A Choir, youth fellowship, a ballet and drama group were among these. After 1937, at least 132 children were baptised and 7 marriages. Marriages could only take place if the Brides dad was in the Navy or Marines.

Nowadays, the Royal Dockyard Church is home to a state of the art 300 seated lecture theatre for the University of Kent, and the wider community. Disabled access was put in, and the interior was redecorated and painted with a lighting and sound system installed. Only small changes were made to the exterior so it remained as was.

Whilst the church isn’t open to the general public, there are a range of free talks throughout the year that are open to all. Our annual Christmas Carol Service also takes place in the Church, this year on 11 December 2019. For tickets to the Carol Concert please call 01634 823812.

Take a look at some photos below of the Church historically and now…

©Matt James Photography

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