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Author Topic: West Hill Chapel, Dartford  (Read 3619 times)

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West Hill Chapel, Dartford
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2013, 22:58:49 »
The foundation stone was laid on 13th October 1877, and the chapel opened just under six months later, on 11th April 1878, superseding one previously accommodated in the main workhouse. The new chapel could accommodate 200 worshippers.

In 1913, the workhouse buildings became the King Edward Hospital and were administered by the Local Government Board. Then, in 1930 control of the hospital passed to the Ministry of Health and Kent County Hospital. Five years later, it became known as the County Hospital Dartford. Finally, in 1948, with the inception of the NHS, the hospital administration changed to the South East Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board and the name changed for the third-and-final time to West Hill Hospital.

The west wall of the chapel once housed two beautiful stained-glass windows designed and manufactured by the renowned Charles Eamer Kempe, which were donated by nearby Holy Trinity Church.

‘St Michael’ was destroyed in the early hours of 5th September 1940, when a high-explosive bomb fell on the adjacent hospital, destroying the A2 Marian ward, and killing 22 patients and two nurses, Sisters Beryl Ruth Sinclair and Mary Jane Moore. Another nurse, Sister Mary Violet Gantry, won the applause of many when she, dressed in only night clothes and wearing an overcoat, crawled among the wreckage to administer morphine to injured women. Twice she was lowered into the debris head first. The following day she refused to go to bed and worked her normal shift. Gantry later received a medal. In 1991, a refurbished ward at the since-closed Joyce Green Hospital was named in her honour.

‘St Gabriel’ was removed upon the closure of the chapel in 1998, and today resides two miles away in Darent Valley Hospital (which replaced many of the local hospitals), having been blessed by the Rt Revd Dr Brian Castle, Bishop of Tonbridge on 5th February 2010.

A friend, Deryk Jones, the steeplekeeper at Holy Trinity Church, recently told me the bell was removed in 1998 too. Though, I am unable to confirm this nor have any idea where it could be!

Several years ago, the chapel was gutted by a devastating fire, leaving the internal structure exposed to the elements. A condition of planning consent for Barratt Developments, the developer who bought the hospital site, was that the chapel should be returned to community use, a crèche, for instance. No group has come forward since, and the chapel is eventually destined to become two homes.


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