St. Luke’s, Ramsgate
The church of St. Luke’s was opened in 1876, built to seat nearly 900 people. The population of the parish at the time was 1,900, but within twenty years this had doubled. A daughter church had been built at Northwood, a Mission Hall in Thornton Road, three schools erected, various clubs formed, and the parish given paved roads, street lamps and a variety of shops.
This was a harder time than today and the area was a poor neighbourhood. A third of St. Luke’s burials involved children under four years, just over half of these being less than a year old. One third of women’s deaths was a result of childbirth.
The church was very much at the centre of the community. The two grew together. There was little ‘welfare state’ save the workhouse so the church was still seen as a major charitable force. In 1905, the Rev. Hazledine said that his doorbell never stopped ringing from people in distress asking for money, shelter or food. The vicar added that in his experience most of the distressed could afford beer and he denied absolutely that the church existed to give material aid to those of ‘improvident habit’.
However, there was a Coal Club, Blanket Club, Shoe Club, Clothing Club and Penny Bank, all of which took weekly penny subscriptions, and paid out in kind at set seasons. The Rev. Hazledine also started a Slate Club, later the Benefit Club, for working men as a means of insuring themselves against a total lack of income when sick. The fact that forty men queued up to join on the first day shows the need felt for such a provision.
Sunday Schools were part of life for the average Edwardian child. In St. Luke’s 80% of day school children attended the parish Sunday School and special classes were laid on for the older teenagers.
Over two thirds of households purchased the Parish Magazine, it included local news and a national inset, ‘Home Words’. There were stories, pictures and a variety of articles from, ‘How to Prepare Dinner without a Maid’ to ‘Why I love the prayer book!’ It was a very evangelical publication and intensely royalist.
This is an extract from an article by Margaret Bolton in Kent Seen.
Read on: 6. The Early Twentieth Century, 1906-1926
14. Into the Twenty-First Century