Heritage and Restoration

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.