Heritage and Restoration

GREAT NEWS…Funding Update (September 2023)

It was announced on Tuesday 26th September 2023 that the St John’s Chatham building is to be included in the latest round of National Lottery Heritage Funding. We are delighted that the NLHF will be making a significant contribution towards our current capital project as well as providing funding for ongoing heritage engagement.

Since 1821 St John’s Chatham has been a place of worship and community and so has become intertwined with the wider story of Chatham and Medway. While over recent times some of our rich heritage has been obscured we look forward to discovering and sharing more of these inspiring stories with you. We trust that as people from all backgrounds and walks of life connect with our history there is something of hope, faith and love to not just be remembered from the past but to be carried forward into the future.

We are so grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund who along with the Future High Streets Fund (through Medway Council) and other generous funders are enabling our essential building works. We look forward to keeping you updated on the project over the coming weeks and months.

To read the statement from the Heritage Fund and to find out about other funded projects CLICK HERE.

In the meantime the worshipping and missional life of the St John’s Chatham community continues in our temporary home at Emmaus Christian Centre on Clover Street in Chatham. Please do get in touch if you’d like any more information.

The story so far

St John’s Chatham has stood on this site for 200 years. It is a Waterloo Church (sometimes also known as a Commissioners’ Church), built with money set aside by the government of 1818 in thanksgiving to God for victory at the Battle of Waterloo. The building was designed by architect Sir Robert Smirke (who also built the Facade and main block of the British Museum) and is a Grade II Listed Italianate Style building. The design brief at the time was to ‘seat as many people as possible at the least cost’, so at present there is still seating for 1,500 people, at an initial build cost of £37,000 (the equivalent of around £4 million today).

The building was first consecrated and opened in 1821 but unfortunately was closed back in 1997. With the support of many partner organisations and individuals we are delighted that in the Spring of 2021 the building has reopened and the community of St John’s Chatham is once again growing and serving those in our locality.

One of the major factors that allowed for the reopening of the building was the addition of a disabled access toilet and kitchenette. This work was completed in April 2021 and has made an immeasurable difference in the ability of St John’s Chatham to once again become a place of welcome, hospitality and community. This work was made possible by the generous grant funding from Marshalls Charity.

Having suffered a serious leak in the bad weather of 2020 (during lockdown), we are delighted that with the support of Historic England and funding from the government’s Cultural Recovery Fund  #HereForCulture we have been able to complete critical repairs to timbers and plaster work inside the church.

We are continuing to work hard to make best use of the beautiful space and are on a journey to fully restoring the building. St John’s Chatham is  committed to connecting with the local community and to seeing this building fulfil its purpose as a beacon of light, place of worship and centre of welcome for those in Chatham and further afield.