Brethren Archive Exploring the history of some of those known as "Plymouth Brethren", and a few other things.

The Meeting Room, 41 York Road

Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent






Description:

The following historical info was written on a website http://www.yorkroadchristians.contactbox.co.uk/ which no longer exists but can be found on the Internet Archive .. I hope the writer of it will not mind me using it here!

One point that can be added is that W.M.S. took this room consequent on him and others withdrawing from the present meeting at T.W. as the meeting was going with F.E. Raven in the division in 1890.

 

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Early Days

The building at 41 York road was built sometime shortly after 1867. It is now a Grade II listed building.

The initial use of the premises has become somewhat unclear over the passage of time, although one thought is that it was once a billiard room connected with the property opposite. It is also understood to have been used as an artist's studio.

 

A Change of Emphasis

The building then came into use as a church around 1890, when it was purchased by William Masters Sibthorpe for the use of some Christians who had been meeting elsewhere in the town. William Sibthorpe was the proprietor of the then well-known Tunbridge Wells haberdashery store W M Sibthorpe & Sons. 

W M Sibthorpe’s son, W E Sibthorpe, arranged lunch-time Bible Studies for men in the period leading up to the Second World War.

During the war, an air-shelter was constructed in the basement for use by the congregation during air-raids. This air-shelter is still accessible (though not in use!) today.

There was an active Sunday School around this time (both at York Road and at the associated Grange Hall in Rusthall), which was later run by Douglas Hunniset, who was a draper from Southborough.

 

More Recent Developments

The building remained in the Sibthorpe family until 1976 when it was purchased by the newly formed York Road Christian Mission, a Charitable Trust created to maintain the building for the use of the congregation and for Sunday Schools. In the past five years, the roof has been extensively repaired and refitted and the exterior has been completely repainted. The interior, however, still requires much work to be done

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Comments:
Jonathan Smith said ...
Tom, I plead guilty of being the author and will send you a note of how to transfer me the significant amount due for royalties. ;-). Although I can't particularly remember how I came about the information I am sure most if not all will have come from Nick Fleet.
Rgds
Jonathan
Wednesday, Dec 31, 2014 : 15:49

Tom said ...
Thanks Jonathan! I confess I was actually aware you were the author, though I don't know if that makes me or less culpable for putting it up!
Monday, Jan 5, 2015 : 16:30

Ed Gilbert said ...
Im a researcher and writer of articles about the history of Tunbridge Wells and a member of the Tunbridge Wells Family History Society. I have been researching the site on which the York Christian Mission was built. It may interest you to know that on this site , dating back to the 18th century was a large lodging house facing London Road,which in the 19th century was called Blandford House. It was there before York Rd was built in 1852 and York Rd was constructed along the north property line of Blandford House. You can see the boundaries of the property and Blandford House on the 1867 OS map, but the York Mission building is not on this map and so was obviously built after 1867 at the rear of the Blandford House plot. In 1867 Blandord House was sold at public auction by estate agent James M. Richardson. By 1871 the lodging house formerly called Blandford House became known as Holmrook, a large semi detached building facing London Road with an address in 1871 as "#1 Holmrook and #2 Holmrook at 49 and 50 London Road. This is the same building that exists today with the address of 74 and 75 London Road and in the 20th century was converted initially into 4 flats. Although I am still researching this site it would appear that Blandford House was demolished sometime after 1867 and before 1871 to make way for the new building. The first indication of the existence of the York Christian Mission, with an address today of 41 York Road that I have found so far is its appearance on a map of 1881 but if maps between 1867 and 1881 can be found then a more precise date of its construction could be determined. On the 1881 map the mission building appears rectangular in shape which will be what is now the front portion of the "Greek" style building. Maps of 1891 up to 1983 show that the building had been extended to the rear property line but what was there in 1891 may not be what is there today. If you look at the building on site or in photos you will see a single sty addition to the rear of the original building or no architectural merit-cheaply built with a flat felt roof, and attached to the rear of it is a 20th century garage which received Planning Authority approval for its construction in 1975. It is also interesting to note that the York Christian Mission or any other building at 41 York Road does not appear in any census records (up to 1911) nor in any local directories. I can see no proof that this building was anything other than a Christian Mission and no proof that it existed before 1867 so it would be interesting to know where the reference to it once being a billiard room/art gallery came from. Also intrigueing is the statement that it "came into use as a church around 1890 when it was purchased by William Masters Sibthorpe. I would have to say that this building is far too ornate in style to have been anything other than a church type building and if Sibthorpe bought it circa 1890 -what was it before ? As I have said this building is shown on the 1881 map! A review of Planning Authority files from 1975 onwards offers no clues apart from one application that applied to the old extension to the rear (added sometime 20th century but many years before 1975) that referred to a refused application for some work on its roof. Further research with some supportable facts is whats needed to clarify the history of the York Christion Mission building. I will report what I find out but I would appreciate any other comments.
Monday, Mar 9, 2015 : 10:47

Tom said ...
Hi Edward, Thank-you for your very interesting comment and the research you have done on this. A friend of mine who attends the Mission Room would be glad to speak to you about this, so I will email you his details. Best, Tom
Thursday, Mar 12, 2015 : 09:40



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