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The changing face of the Countess of Huntingdon Church in Canterbury

By Paul Crampton

Where thousands of people now enjoy a spot of shopping once stood a church.

Below is the symmetrical frontage of the Countess of Huntingdon Church – an offshoot of the Congregational Church – in Watling Street in 1910.

The view is dated 1910 at a time when the Rev Alex Snape was the minister.

The Watling Street church, in 1910 (5424476)
The Watling Street church, in 1910 (5424476)

Designed by W F Poulton and completed in 1853, the church stood on the north side of Watling Street, roughly where the entrance to the Whitefriars underground service area is today.

Sadly, it was gutted by incendiary bombs, during the infamous Baedeker Raid of June 1, 1942.

There must have been plans to repair the intact shell of the building, as it was not cleared away with most other blitz-damaged buildings, in the immediate aftermath of that main raid.

However, if any such plans did exist, they would have been forgotten after the daylight raid in October 1942, when the remains of the church were flattened by a high-explosive bomb.

Its modern replacement, in the mid 1990s (5424481)
Its modern replacement, in the mid 1990s (5424481)

In the late 1940s, a temporary pre-fabricated church was erected near the site.

This lasted for around six years before being replaced by a stylish brick-built church. This handsome building can be seen in the second photo, which was taken in the mid 1990s.

This new church was also destined to have a relatively short life, demolished at the end of the 1990s to make way for the latest version of the Whitefriars shopping scheme.

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