Friday, 9th March and Saturday, 10th March 2018

The Bridgewood Manor Hotel, Bridgewood Roundabout, Walderslade Woods, Chatham. Kent. ME5 9AX.

Theme: “…everything is interesting if you go into it deeply enough.” Richard Phillips Feynman

Our new President Roger Molyneux’s theme for his year may, at first sight, seem slightly puzzling, being a quote from Richard Phillips Feynman, a renowned physicist involved in the development of the atomic bomb. However, I think you will see from the conference programme that it is very apposite, for we shall look in detail at how a variety of churches, in and around Rochester and the Cathedral itself have been altered and changed to reflect the changing needs of their congregations and functions over many centuries.

Friday morning will begin with an Open Forum, with some news from the Church Buildings Council about QI reports and will conclude with a very challenging talk about disability by Rev’d Rachel Wilson, who is herself disabled. After lunch at the hotel we will visit the Cathedral to see the results of the recent refurbishment and conservation of the crypt. This is a great piece of work in itself. During our visit to the crypt we shall also look around the Bridge Works Exhibition and be able to view the Textus Roffensis, said to be the earliest written book of English Law, compiled between 1122 and 1124, which of course pre-dates Magna Carta. John Bailey the Rochester Cathedral Architect will take members on a guided tour of the Cathedral after our visit to the crypt and Roger Molyneux will guide us around the Church of St Nicholas to show us how the totally reversible Diocesan Offices were inserted into this medieval church. We shall conclude our visit to Rochester that day with Choral Evensong in the Cathedral, before returning to the Bridgewood Manor Hotel for our Formal Supper.

On Saturday we shall travel around the area, starting at the village church of St Peter and St Paul, in Upper Stoke on the Isle of Grain, to look at the repairs carried out to this medieval church, including a technical lecture on under-pinning. As a direct contrast in both time and location we will then go on to visit Holy Trinity Church in the post-war suburb of Twydall, in Gillingham. Here we will look at a 1960s church that at present cannot be used but which is to undergo a major enhancement project to bring it into greater worship and community use and allow the adjacent church hall to be demolished to make way for housing to pay for the project. We shall conclude our conference with a visit to inner city St John’s Church in Chatham. This is a late Georgian church, one of the so called “Waterloo Churches”, which is presently redundant, but is soon to be re-opened following a programme of refurbishment and renewal.

I think you will see that all in all this year’s Spring Conference, while majoring on design and conservation, will also include a number of technical lectures of interest and relevance to us all in our day to day work and I would commend them to you.

Getting to the Conference by Train

Please note that there are good train services from a number of London Stations to several stations in the Medway Towns area. However, the best station to come to and the closest to the hotel is Chatham Station, where we will also conclude our tour on the Saturday afternoon. I have set out details of how to get to the hotel from there in the papers enclosed with this mailing.

Travel to the Bridgewood Manor Hotel by Car

For those coming by car I have set out some directions in the enclosed papers. There is plenty of free car parking at the hotel, which is just off the M2. Please note that the way I have sent you to the hotel from the motorway is the easiest way, as other routes which may appear more direct, all come to grief as you approach the hotel, the entrance to which comes on you after only 60 yards from the last roundabout. If you miss the turning carry on down to the next roundabout and go back to the last roundabout and try again.

Early Bird Information for Thursday, 8th March 2018

For those coming early on Thursday, 8th March 2018 there are a number of venues to look at if you have time. Rochester Castle is worth a visit, as is the Royal Engineers Museum in Chatham. The Historic Royal Dockyard is an interesting place to look around, but you will need some time to see everything from ships and boats to the various buildings. There is even a rope making display during the day, but you will need to check the website for times. A day ticket for entry to the Dockyard was £24.00 per person at the time of writing. However, the Visitors’ Centre and Café, which does a good cup of tea and was recently nominated for the Stirling Prize short list is free to visit. A look around here will be a good introduction to the Conference theme of inserting and adapting new building uses into existing historic buildings. We also extend an invitation to early birders to join in the supper that evening.

Final Thoughts

Roger Molyneux and I look forward to welcoming you to Rochester for what we feel will be quite a challenging meeting, full of information for us as church architects. Please ensure that you take care in completing your booking form and where you are paying electronically you send the fee to the account shown for bookings with the payment reference as set out on the booking form, so we can track them easily, as we have had bookings sent to the subscriptions account recently, which then get lost! Please ensure that you book as early as possible, for although we have pre-booked what we hope are sufficient rooms in the hotel for our needs it is very difficult in a busy hotel to add extra rooms after our booking deadline expires. So please ensure that you make your booking by Wednesday, 7th February 2018.

Please also see the Preliminary Programme, Location Details & Booking Form for further details




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