Published: 00:01, 28 May 2018
A “frustrated” town councillor says he is switching from Catholicism because he has nowhere to practise his faith.
Catholic church members have been “walking around lost” since St Martin of Tours in Lydd closed more than a year ago, according to Cllr Michael Walsh.
The 1930s gothic-style chapel on Lydd High Street has been locked up and on the market for £350,000 since then.
Cllr Walsh railed against owners Southwark Diocese, saying the move was down to “greed” and the Catholic Church is already “dripping with gold.”
Cllr Walsh said: “I have lost faith, I have started going to the Methodist Church. They’re great people, you know – so welcoming.
“So many of us just want the diocese to change its mind and not sell off the building but it won’t. It’s not right what they’re doing.
“The Church doesn’t need the money, I have visited the Sistine Chapel in Rome and wall to wall it is dripping with gold.”
The 77-year-old, who has practised Catholicism for most of his life, added: “There are elderly people now walking around Lydd lost because of this, and once it is sold they will be lost forever.”
The curious small building, built by Otto Marx from Folkestone, appeared on Stanley Hicks chartered surveyors’ website last July.
Advertised as a freehold purchase, a guide price for £350,000 has been asked for the land which has potential for development.
With 147 m sq of floor space, the church sits in a plot measuring almost half an acre and comes with rudimentary fittings.
Stanley Hicks’ website says: “There is currently no gas connection to the property and it is not connected to the public sewerage system.
“It is serviced by means of a septic tank. We however understand that mains water and sewerage services are available in the area.”
Given the applicant gains planning consent the church is suitable for homes, the advert continues.
Calls to bring the building back into religious use have previously gone unanswered.
Long-time parishioner Anne-Marie Meade, 58, from Lydd wrote a letter to Pope Francis last year addressed to the Vatican pleading for help.
She wrote how she was becoming increasingly poorly and struggled to make the 30-mile round journey to Hythe for service.
“It may be too late, I don’t know, but at least can we have Mass in Lydd for the sake of the immortal souls of our Catholic parishioners.
“I am disabled myself and 58 years young but I do not know how long I can still manage the 30-mile round trip to Hythe.
“I pray God will help me continue but my condition worsens every year.
“I crave your indulgence and help in this matter on behalf of all the parishioners of Lydd,” the letter said.
Her plea came as the former Catholic Church of St Augustine in Queen’s Road, Littlestone, also appeared on the market, for £350,000.
Still advertised on Stanley Hicks’ website the blurb says: ”The church building is late Victorian and consists of a hall and ancillary accommodation.
“The total site area is 0.375 acres and the building (floor space) is 197 m sq.
“Property is offered freehold with vacant possession and with the benefit of any rights and restrictions that may exist.”
We contacted Southwark Diocese for comment.
More by this authorSean Axtell