The history of St Augustine's begins in 1838 when Jesuits first arrived to start a small mission. They built the first church, on the corner of Grosvenor Road and Hanover Road which could seat 250 people. The first diocesan priest at Tunbridge Wells was Father (later Canon) Joseph Searle.
The following description of the church comes from the 15th edition of Pelton's Guide to Tunbridge Wells (1896):
"The Roman Catholic Church, dedicated to St. Augustine, is a handsome stone fabric placed in the Grosvenor Road, at the corner of Hanover Road. On the 17th July, 1838, it was opened with a Pontifical Mass. Its cost was defrayed by subscription. A handsome campanile has been erected at the side of the building to accommodate a clock and bells, which sound at intervals the Westminster chimes. Sittings are provided for nearly 300 persons, the remainder of the church being at the disposal of the poor. Sunday services: morning, Mass, 8.30; High Mass, 11. Evening, Vespers and Benediction, 6.30. Week-day services: morning (daily), Mass, 8, during the summer months, and 8.30 during the winter months; Thursday afternoon, Benediction, 4.30. Stations of the Cross on Fridays during Lent at 4.30.
This church is open daily from 12 till 1 in winter and 4 till five in summer.
The Rev. Canon Searle is the priest, who lives in the presbytery adjoining the church."
The old church closed in 1967 having become very cramped for a congregation regularly numbering over 350 and suffering from damp. The site was sold to Tesco for redevelopment as a supermarket.
The new St Augustine's Church is situated in Crescent Road. This modern building, which opened in 1975, is by McGuire and Murray. It is on the site of an old Victorian villa. For a time the congregation met in an upper room over the new supermarket which was dubbed by some as St Tesco's.
St Augustine's has a comprehensive website, from where I obtained the historical information on this page. There is a parish history by Ted Marchant available from the parish office, details on the website.
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