Tin Tabernacle

My family and I have just come back from 2 weeks camping in Brokerswood North Bradley and Pool Dorset. The idea was to spend a couple of nights at Brokerswood on our way to and from visiting  Dorset where i have family on my Fathers side, who i have not seen for many years. I think we arrived on the hottest day of the year and in the beating sun had to erect our tent and set up camp, no mean feat when you have to deal with children too! At the end of the single road (or so it seemed, the road was very narrow) was a crossroads and peaking from behind a wild hedge was the most wonderful Green Tin Church.  Of course i was desperate to photograph it as i felt it was so unique. This is Church of All Saints.

A green tin Church in the middle of no where, it has no gas, electricity or running water. The services are held by gas light and in the winter it is heated by portable gas heaters. So how did Brokerswood get its tin Church? It was given to the people of the area in 1905 and reassembled on land donated by Mr. Asher of Wimborne after having been replaced by a stone church in Southwick. The Church was restored in the 1990s and is still used today.

Churches, chapels and mission halls were built in the new industrial areas and isolated rural and coastal locations. Landowners or employers frequently donated plots of land and sometimes donated the cost of the building, although many were funded by public subscription. Early tin churches were easily built, but at an average cost of between £2 and £4 per sitting, were quite expensive. St Mark’s Church in Birkenhead was built in 1867 costing over £2,000 for 500 seats. By 1851 there were Tin Churches in countries as far away as Australia and Jamaica. However there were people who could not abide these places of worship and among them was  William Morris, founder of the Arts and Crafts movement, who wrote a pamphlet in 1890 decrying the corrugated iron buildings “that were spreading like a pestilence over the country”.

The Tin Church was, in those days, an innovative way to provide workers with a place of worship close to where they worked, it was easily fabricated, transported and erected. Relatively inexpensive compared to stone Churches many of these temporary buildings have survived and been given listed status, one of the biggest surviving  iron churches is the Bulgarian St Stephen Church in Istanbul, Turkey.