The Golden Green Mission Hall in Tonbridge

When we think of prefabricated buildings (or “prefabs”) we usually associate them with the 1950s and the cheap housing units that were built after the Second World War.


However, over fifty years prior, the Victorians were building prefabs due to the advent of corrugated iron, which was patented in 1829. Another breakthrough in 1837 was galvanising the iron with zinc in order to help prevent rusting, and this ensured corrugated iron’s status as a valuable building material, with many manufacturers in cities across the country adding a range of prefabricated buildings to their catalogues. Many of the Victorians’ corrugated iron structures were churches, as they were cheaper for communities to buy, along with being quicker and easier to assemble rather than building a bricks-and-mortar structure. They were often intended as temporary structures, filling an immediate need until a more permanent offering could be built. They were known as “iron churches”, “iron chapels”, or “tin tabernacles” and they were so popular that the designer and artist William Morris wrote a pamphlet denouncing them as an eyesore and criticising their widespread use.


Morris would be delighted to know that not many of these Victorian prefabs survive in the modern day. However, one of the few that remains is the Golden Green Mission Hall in Hadlow in Tonbridge.


Tonbridge boasts not one but two surviving tin tabernacles, and while keen readers may remember a previous article about St Andrew’s, here we are featuring Tonbridge’s second iron gem: the Golden Green Mission Hall.


The Golden Green Mission Hall is a Grade II Listed Building. It was erected in the mid-1910s to serve the spiritual needs of the tiny hamlet of Golden Green in Tonbridge, and is still in service to this day. It forms part of the parish of St Mary’s, so is therefore part of the Deanery of Paddock Wood and the diocese of Rochester. The Mission Hall shares its congregation with that of St Mary’s, the Parish Church in Hadlow, with a Sunday service being held in the Golden Green Mission Hall once every month.


The Mission Hall is a striking structure, painted a dark bottle green. Inside it features warm wooden walls, large windows, and a raised platform at one end. As well as its use in parish worship services, it is also available to be hired out as a hall, and has a small lawn area that can be used for picnics. If you would like to find out more about using the Golden Green Mission Hall, you can contact the caretaker Nicky Whapshott by email at: [email protected] 


by Alice Smales

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