The "Tin Tabernacle"

Rev. Vivian Symons became Cure of Biggin Hill in July 1951. At that time the only place of worship was a "Tin Tabernacle" - a corrugated iron building that was erected some 30 years earlier. This is what Vivian had to say about his first visit to Biggin Hill and the church:-

"From Bromley, I caught the motor coach. It climbed steadily until it was six hundred feet above sea-level, and eventually we passed the airfield. As we drove past the guardroom I was interested to see a fairly large building being constructed. It was in an unusually light-coloured brick and did not resemble a barrack block; surely it must be the new Memorial Chapel. We passed the end of the runway just jet aircraft were taking off. We ran beneath an avenue of trees and the coach stopped beside the "Black Horse". The conductor told me we were in Biggin Hill.

To my surprise the first person I asked for directions to reach the Church did not know where it was: the second said vaguely that the Vicarage was further down the road. As I walked through the village it somehow did not seem right; many of the houses and shops gave the appearance of being temporary ones and there were no public buildings of any kind. As I crossed the road I noticed a group of fir trees and beside them was a board with faded lettering - 'St. Mark's Church'. I could see the red corrugated iron between the tree trunks and guessed it was the "Tin Tabernacle".


The Old St. Marks - The Tin Tabernacle

Although I was there as the prospective priest to the little church I somehow felt I was intruding and that it was hiding its head in shame behind the trees. Approaching it I could not help noticing the peeling of the red paint from the ironwork and the decaying condition of the wood falling away from the little school-bell turret at the end. It was difficult to realise that this tiny, shabby building was a district church."

Wedding at St. Marks


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