Stop 28: The Annunciation Church

Annunciation Church
The Church before the tower was completed
And after - dominating the street-scene

In the 1860s, as small houses were being built for workers in the village of Prickend, or West Chislehurst. Canon Francis Murray, Rector of Chislehurst, realised that the area was rapidly developing and needed its own church. The church of the Annunciation was funded by the people of Chislehurst (including from Canon Murray's share of his proceeds from publishing 'Hymns Ancient and Modern').

It was designed and built by James Brooks, consecrated in 1870 and became a parish church in 1871. Some benefactors had argued that a simple brick building would be sufficient but Francis Murray was part of the Anglo-catholic revival and his vision was for a lofty building with beautiful stained glass and wall paintings designed to uplift and inspire the worshipper.

The church is near unique for its remote Tower (which was designed by E.J.May and completed in 1930, in memory of Canon Murray), and its flying buttresses are rare for a small English church. The Tower was originally intended to be a spire, but lack of funds delayed the building, and the spire never materialised. The views from the top of the tower are impressive, though the series of stairs and ladders make the climb difficult for some.

The Manning and Anderdon Alms Houses, behind the church and overlooking the churchyard, were built in 1881, commissioned by Maria and Anne Anderdon, the sisters of Canon Murray's wife Frances. They accommodated 12 residents who had to be over 60, resident in Chislehurst for 12 years and communicants of the Church of England; relatively recently restored they serve the same purpose today.

The impressive Lych Gate was also designed by E.J.May and built in 1905. Look for the reference to Henry James (not the novelist) carved in the roof trusses.
Turn right out of the Lych Gate and turn right towards Red Hill.