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Twentieth Century


St Anselm's church, Spital St.
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Dartford's Catholic Mission which opened in 1866 quickly expanded its work in Dartford and the worshipping congregation grew. To meet the need for a larger church, St. Anselm's church (now demolished) was erected in Spital Street, Dartford. The opening of Dartford's new Catholic church took place on 9 December 1900. A local newspaper of the time reported that "The new Roman Catholic Church in Spital Street, Dartford, is one of the chief architectural features of the locality. It is the generous gift of E. J. Fooks Esq. of Chislehurst, whose father's house used to stand on the same site". The church was built in the plain Early English style. Church furnishings were provided by local benefactors. The front of the church was ornamented with part of the rood screen from St. George's Cathedral, Southwark, designed by Pugin.

St. Anselm's Church was staffed by three priests who were responsible for running a Catholic mission at Greenhithe, looking after the spiritual welfare of Catholic patients at the City Asylum, Stone, Darenth Asylum and Gore Farm Hospital, as well as attending St. Vincent's Industrial School and St. Ursula's Convent in Dartford.

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St Anselm's church, Dartford Rd.
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During the 1960s, there were complaints from the local Roman Catholic community that St. Anselm's church in Spital Street was too small. The parish of Dartford was home to over 5,000 Roman Catholics, yet the church in Spital Street could only accommodate a congregation of 200. People had to queue to attend mass on a Sunday morning. Plans to ease the problem by building a Roman Catholic church at Wilmington were rejected by Dartford Rural District Council. Dartford's parish priest wanted to erect a large modern church building on the Spital Street site but planning permission was rejected.

Attempts to build a new Catholic church in Dartford did not succeed until the 1970s. A site at the corner of West Hill Drive and Dartford Road provided sufficient space for a new church building with a seating capacity of 430. The new St. Anslem's church, designed by Dartford architect Ralph Lovegrove was officially opened by the archbishop of Southwark.

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During the 1970s the Catholic church authorities felt the need to split the parish of St. Anselm into two parts. St. Anselms would serve the western part of Dartford and a newly created church and parish of St. Vincent would serve the eastern half. It was decided to plant the new ultra-modern church building on the site formerly occupied by St. Vincent's School, Temple Hill. The church opened in the mid 1980s.



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