Tin tabernacles

13 October 2017

Bedmond Church

Bedmond Church

Your answers

Is St Mary’s, Newton-by-the-Sea, in Northumberland, the only corrugated-steel church with a stained-glass window in the UK? How many Anglican “tin tabernacles” of this kind survive?


There is at least one of these in regular use in Cornwall (maybe more), and another was taken down within living memory for road-widening. A coloured postcard (exterior and interior) of Cadgwick includes the following: “St Mary’s Church Cadgwith is over 100 years old. It was built by local people in the fishing cove to Baptise their babies, and to hold wedding ceremonies or mourned lost at sea. It has a font for the baptisms made from local serpentine stone, and memorial paintings to fishermen drowned at sea. Regular services are held monthly.”

The picture shows a bright blue church with the window and door frames picked out in white with white porch. There is a small garden outside. The interior has blue bench seats, white wooden walls, brown(?) carpet, altar with all accoutrements and two reading desks. Flowers suggest Easter.

Until shut — or used as hay barns during Communism — there were similar type RC “churches” in the Balkans.

In my maternal grandfather’s day, c.1912, tin tabernacles could be bought in flat packs of corrugated iron. During my childhood, we visited several, done up by local people. Grandfather retired early from the CMS in China, owing to ill health and terrorism. The family erected a tabernacle of this type in their orchard at Shurdington, near Cheltenham, for grandfather’s use. Mother and my aunt had to scrub the floor.

Cadgwith Church apparently attracts many visitors now. A local person sent me the postcard.

(Miss) Primrose Peacock



The Church of the Ascension, Bedmond, in the Parish of Abbots Langley, in the diocese of St Albans, is known locally as “The Tin Church”. The church was erected in 1880 at a cost of £80, dedicated on 9 May that year. It is a prefabricated building, produced to send to the colonies for “instant” churches. It has a stained-glass window with a representation of the Ascension of our Lord. The window was designed and executed by Mr Pilgrim Wetton of Crawley, Sussex late in 1953 at a cost of £100; dedicated in memory or Mr Frank Davis, 27 years warden of the church, early in 1954. Communion services are currently held twice a month in the church and for festivals; the bell, in the steeple, is tolled before services.


Incidentally, Bedmond is also the birthplace of the only English pope, Adrian IV, (1154-59) born Nicholas Breakspear, c.1100.

Pam Rastall (Church Administrator)

Abbots Langley


I am churchwarden for St Matthew’s, Pontypool, Torfaen, in south Wales. We have a stained-glass window; the church was built in 1895.

Mike Younger

Pontypool, Torfaen


One can be found still very much in use in Babingley, Norfolk: St Felix Chapel. It is constructed of corregated steel, complete with thatched roof. All the windows are fitted with stained glass. It is much used for worship by the British Orthodox Church.

W. H. Walker

Anmer, Norfolk

[According to Simon Knott, on the website The Norfolk Churches, this was a Church of England mission chapel, probably constructed by Boulton & Paul of Norwich, and was developed as the parish church from 1880 because the ancient parish church was a mile from the nearest road. Editor]


Your questions

I am on a church committee that regularly approves sums of money to be donated to charities. Other than making freedom-of-information requests to discover how charities use the money given (e.g. do they pay their top employees high salaries?), how do PCCs decide which charities to give to, and how much to give?

W. T.


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