The Ancient town of Bradstowe
Bradstowe (now Broadstairs) has been a fishing hamlet since ancient times. The Chapel in Albion St (bearing the date 1601), and facing the sea, is sadly no longer owned by the Parish. The original 'Chapel' is believed to date back to the 11th century and was a shrine dedicated to "Our Ladye of Bradstowe".
It was a place of pilgrimage as well as a focus of prayer for fishermen, who would dip their sails in honour of Our Lady as they sailed past. Ship's crews also held services there before sailing, including the crew of the "Great Harry", the most powerful ship built in Tudor times.
A site for what eventually became Holy Trinity Church was originally offered in the High Street, but was considered to be too small. Captain Good, owner of Fort House (named Bleak House in 1901) offered land to the north of his home. The original building was 55 feet in length, 45 feet in width, and with walls 35 feet high, and included galleries on all four sides. The architect David Barnes was restricted to the sum of £2,000. The building was intended for 616 people. Although it was well-built, the building was compared unfavourably with other churches built at the same time. The interior did not contain stained glass windows, statues, or an altar with candles. Instead, it had box pews, galleries on all four sides, and a tall, ‘three-decker’ pulpit. The bottom level was for the parish clerk, the next for the minister taking the service, and the top level (the most important) was for the sermon.
One of the first visitors to this church was Charles Dickens who offered a very unflattering description in his work, “Our English Watering Place”:
"We have a church, by the bye, of course – a hideous temple of flint, like a petrified haystack. Our chief clerical dignitary, who, to his honour, has done much for education... and has established excellent schools, is a sound, healthy gentleman, who has got into little local difficulties with the neighbouring farms, but has the pestilent trick of being right”
This clergyman was The Reverend John Hodgson, and the ‘difficulties’ with the neighbouring farms was caused by the horns of cattle which damaged the doors and walls of the church when they were driven to pasture through the narrow lane, now called Church Road, and onto the cliff top.
In 1862 a tower was designed by a local architect, Mr G. L. Taylor, who estimated it could be built at a cost of £250. In the end the completed tower cost £846. Some 50 years later every architect who examined it considered the tower unsafe. The clock was given by Thomas Crampton. During its life the tower was used as a seamark, and a warning lantern would be hoisted to assist coasting vessels. It was finally taken down in 1924. (See Picture of church above taken in 1915).
In 1866, with the arrival of The Reverend James Carr as Rector, Holy Trinity became increasingly High Church in both its worship and interior design. Candles, altars, vestments, regular services of Holy Communion, and a form and order of worship, were all introduced. The consecration of bread and wine in Holy Communion became the most important part of the service rather than the sermon.
The three stained glass windows on the east wall were presented by members of the Richardson family 1870-1872. The Richardson family lived in Wrotham House, which was built on the site of the present technical college.
The 19th century saw the catholic revival in the Church of England, led by the 'Oxford Movement' which led to the desire for a larger and more impressive church. This was finally acheived in 1925, when the church in its present form was re-dedicated by Archbishop Randall Davidson on Advent Sunday.
This re-ordering included the re-siting of the Rood Screen across the Chancel to form the present Lady Chapel in the south aisle. This chapel was last re-ordered in 1980, when a new statue of the Blessed Virgin (in this case "Our Ladye of Bradstowe")was commissioned. She stands in the niche on the East Wall.
In 2011 the Sanctuary Wall at the East End of the church was damp-proofed and re-decorated, and the stained glass windows removed, cleaned and restored. They were then re-installed by John Corey Glass of Deal.
In 2013 the boiler was replaced at a cost of £30,000.
In 2015 the whole church was completely re-wired and a new computer controlled lighting system was installed.
In February 2016 extensive work was carried out on the Lady Chapel, which included independent heating and full glazing with a decorated glass door. This now provides a fully-contained quiet space for worship, prayer and Sacramental Confession.