Dockyard Church

Chatham’s Royal Dockyard Church has future secured by university partnership

The 200-year-old Dockyard Church has been transformed into a modern lecture theatre and performance space, which will ensure its future preservation

The Historic Dockyard Chatham has announced an exciting new chapter in the long life of Chatham’s Royal Dockyard Church will begin later this week when it opens as a new educational and creative facility for use by the University of Kent students, staff and the wider community. Originally designed by Naval Architect Edward Holl in 1808, the Scheduled Ancient Monument’s last service was in 1981.

The year-long project saw the space completely re-decorated and hand painted, sympathetic to the unique historic interior and externally, only minor modifications have been made, using carefully matched original and recently sourced materials, which maintain the visual impact of the structure on arrival.

The lighting, sound, projection and black out are all to the highest standards and disabled access has been enabled partly by carefully excavating the building’s vestry and under croft.

“This innovative and flexible use of The Royal Dockyard Church is a great example of how to create a sustainable future for important heritage assets without destroying their character or significance,” said Bill Ferris OBE, Chief Executive of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust. “The ability to provide an invaluable, 21st Century, 300 seater lecture theatre and maintain the essential character of the Church is a great achievement.”

Ferris said the project will ensure that the ongoing preservation of the Scheduled Ancient Monument; together with its former use will be able to continue for commemoration and celebration services as it always has.

As well as this the lecture theatre will provide an exciting new focal point for the university’s new wider use of The Historic Dockyard, which also includes its use of part of the Sail and Colour Loft as a new base for its Kent Business School. These new premises provide the university with inspirational teaching spaces, a quiet study area, student social spaces and academic office suites.

The University of Kent will officially open its new Royal Dockyard Church Lecture Theatre and Sail and Colour Loft facilities on Thursday 22 October.