Historic Restoration Works 2017-01-18T07:59:01+00:00

Historic Restoration Works

The Second World War

Folkestone was heavily bombed during the Second World War. Indeed, the Germans could fire shells across the Channel, more or less at will. The First Air Raid to strike Folkestone was on July 6th 1940 at 5.20 am which aimed to take out two gun batteries placed on the East Cliff to defend the harbour and Town.

On 27th March 1941 a number of Messerschmitt bombers attacked the harbour. One of the bombs landed in the road near to St Peter’s Church, fracturing the gas main. The resulting explosion caused heavy damage to the Church, which lost much of its roof and stained glass. The organ was also heavily damaged.

In all, it is estimated that over 500 bombs landed on Folkestone Harbour through the War and much of St. Peter’s Parish was badly damaged. Although the Town had been evacuated, Father Pickburn remained with his Church throughout the bombardments of the War but retired shortly afterward, in 1946. It fell to his successor, Father Bartlett to over see much of the repair work needed on the Church. With the completion of the new organ loft and Choir Gallery much of the essential work was completed by 1947 but it wasn’t until 1954 that the Parish Hall and St. Peter’s Men’s Club buildings were finally repaired and re-consecrated.

The 1996 Fire

The early hours of Sunday 28th July 1996 saw dramatic scenes on the East Cliff as the night sky turned red. St. Peter’s Church was on fire! It took nine hours for the fire brigade to control the flames by which time much of the Church had been heavily damaged. The Vicarage and the School were saved. The fire had been started in the Baptistry and much of the north and west end of the Church was burned. The Church roof was almost entirely destroyed along with the electric and heating systems. The historic organ was also severely affected. The overall cost of the restoration came to some £400,000 of which £100,000 was raised by the congregation.

The Church architects, John Glanfield and Partners of St. Albans, drew up imaginative plans for the restoration, including a new lighting and heating system, a new store room, re-modelling of the West end of the Nave, the provision of an open Chapel and renovation to the organ. Many dozens of workers and skilled tradesmen were engaged on the renovation work from April 1997 to June 1998. The Church was solemnly rededicated for use by the Bishop of Richborough on St. Peter’s Day, 29th June 1998.

Three young men, two of whom subsequently admitted to being devil-worshippers were arrested and charged with arson, with recklessness to endangering human life.

St Peter's 1996 fire