The Churches

The Congregational Church

On the initiative of the Rev. Daniel Gunn of the Christchurch Congregational Church a prayer meeting was started at Pokesdown in 1820, held on a weekday evening. For several years the venue was the cottage of Mr. Burt, situated at the bottom of the hill, perhaps near Paisley Road. Later, the meetings moved to the cottage of Mr. John Troke, at the top of the hill, and a Sunday evening meeting was also conducted. There services were successful, and in time it was felt that a more permanent building should be provided. With the help of Mr. J. C. Olive, then the tenant of Stourfield House, and a deacon of the Church at Christchurch, together with Mr. Jacob Lane, who was the gardener at Stourfield, a mud and thatch chapel was built by the voluntary labour of the people who attended the meetings. This chapel was sited at one comer of the garden of Mr. Troke's house, which he gave for the purpose, and it was opened in 1835 by the Rev. Daniel Gunn.

For several years Mr. J. Abbott of Christchurch took charge, but on his resignation Mr. Elias Lane was asked by the mother church at Christchurch to succeed, and on 10 March 1850 Mr. Lane took up this duly, which he discharged over the next twenty years. The little chapel could accommodate about fifty people, and it became apparent that a larger building was necessary, and as has been outlined in a previous chapter a site was obtained in 1855 on the land purchased from Wadham Locke.

Various events were organised for the chapel building fund, as for example, a public tea meeting held in the Independent Schoolroom at Christchurch on 23 September 1856, attended by about three hundred and thirty people. At the meeting it was stated that the 'present dissenting place 91 worship at Pokesdown being too small and greatly dilapidated it was determined to erect a new one'.

The Trustees of the Chapel in 1856 were William Walden, Elias Lane. Henry Sharp, John Shirvell, Henry Jankins, Joseph Fletcher, James Kemp Welch, Nicholas Verge, William Hatchard, James Tarrant and James White.

The foundation stone of the 'New Independent Chapel at Pokesdown' was laid on Coronation anniversary 28 June 1857 by the Rev. J. Fletcher. Later, at 5.30 there was a tea in a marquee, following which there was a public meeting. In a notice announcing the day's proceedings it was 'Earnestly hoped that those who usually make a holiday of Coronation Day will avail themselves of the opportunity of spending a few hours at this delightfully situated village'.

On completion of the building it was announced that 'this unique and beautiful' little independent chapel, erected at Pokesdown, would be opened for Divine Worship at 11 a.m. on Thursday 22 April 1858, when the Rev. J. Tunmer of Lymington was to preach. The Chapel was designed by Mr. J. E. Holloway, and built by Peter Tuck of Bournemouth, costing about £700. A public meeting was held at Christchurch in the evening, at which many of the pastors from Congregational Churches in the vicinity took part. Refreshments were provided after the opening ceremony in the old chapel at a price of one shilling.

The Chapel was enlarged in 1869, and a schoolroom built at the rear; these alterations were carried out by William Hoare to plans prepared by Mr. Reynolds, at a cost of about £90. At the same time new fences were erected and the churchyard improved.

Mr. Lane resigned in 1870, and early in 1871 the Rev. Elijah Pickford commenced work as pastor, serving the church for more than twenty years, until 1893.

Mr. Pickford was born in Hyde, Cheshire, and was serving as minister at Little Lever, near Bolton, when he was advised by his doctor to seek residence in a milder climate. He was in his early forties when he came to Pokesdown, married to his wife Mary, and there were two sons, Benjamin and William. His health benefited from the move, and he was a very active worker in Pokesdown for twenty three years until his retirement in 1893. He died at the age of seventy five on 10th March 1902. The younger son, William, was a journalist and also a keen sportsman. His interest in football, both as player and subsequently in organisation, was such that in 1937 he was elected President of the Football Association. He was founding captain of the Bournemouth Swimming Club, and a member of the local Cycling Club. In his profession he became editor of the Bournemouth Guardian, a post which he held for many years.

On Sunday 9th September 1877 the Congregational Church was reopened after extensive alterations. The building had been closed for several months during which time the congregation met in the Cromwell Hall for services. The alterations comprised the addition of a commodious gallery at the west end of the church, a handsome pulpit and screen and the replacement of old benches with open pews. The work was executed by W. and H. Walden of Boscombe, and the entire cost was met by a member of the congregation. Further enlargement took place in 1895, when the building was widened and the front portico was filled in to form an extension. The architect for this work was Mr. Lawson and the builder Mr. Elcock. A stone laying ceremony was performed on 12th June 1895, and a special re-opening service held on 11th September.

St. James' Church

It was in about 1854 that steps were taken towards the establishment of an Anglican church for Pokesdown, with the support of Admiral Popham, Lord Malmesbury and Sir George Gervis, the last named of whom gave land at the top of Pokesdown Hill, adjoining the main road, for the church site, and a second piece of land nearby for a vicarage. The Rev. A. Morden Bennett, who had been placed in charge of St. Peter's Church in Bournemouth in 1845, strongly supported the foundation of churches in the outlying districts, and he undertook to raise funds for the church at Pokesdown. He engaged George Edmund Street to design the building.

Street was a talented architect, responsible for the design of many new churches and for the reconstruction of existing buildings; he was architect for several cathedrals including York Minster, and became Professor of Architecture to the Royal Academy. His best known secular building is the Law Courts in the Strand. A keen churchman. Street regarded the gothic style as the most satisfactory for a church.

The foundation stone of the church, which was to be dedicated to St. James the Greater, was laid by Lady Gervis on 9th March 1858. The completed church was opened and blessed on 23 December of that year by the Bishop of Salisbury, W. Kerr, deputising for the Bishop of Winchester who was unable to attend. After the ceremony the guests were entertained to lunch by Admiral Popham at Stourfield House.

A report on the opening in the local press said that the church was built of Purbeck stone and ferruginous sandstone from a quarry at Lytchett, with Purbeck and Bath stone dressings. It consisted of a nave, sanctuary with an unusual four sided apse, a south porch and a vestry. Considerable use was made of Purbeck marble for internal decoration, and the reredos was of marble. The builder was H. C, Tucker, of Christchurch, and the cost about £1,750. The original design had included a western tower with a broach spire, but these were never built. A local guide book referred to the church as "one of the most beautiful village churches in the county". The west window is dedicated to the Popham family.

A subscription fund was opened to raise £1,000 for the provision of a parsonage, so that there could be a resident clergyman. In March 1860 it was stated that £828 had been collected, and that a further effort was to be made to obtain the balance. When built, the parsonage was sited a little way from the church, near the present Lascelles Road.

A new north aisle was built to Street's plans in 1870 by J. Wheeler and F. Walden of Pokesdown at a cost of £400. This aisle is fifty five feet long by ten feet wide, with walls of Purbeck stone and Bath stone dressings. At the same time a new organ was installed, made by Bovington of London. A special opening ceremony was held on 15th December 1870 to mark the completion of these works.

Some years later the current Vicar moved to a house in Parkwood Road, which then became the Vicarage, and the original parsonage was sold, becoming part of the Iford Estate. When that Estate was sold up in 1898 the former parsonage was bought by Mr. Cooper Dean.

Pokesdown became a separate parish in 1859, the boundaries of which commencing at the coast ran up Sea Road and Ashley Road, and approximately along the northern border of what is now King's Park, down Littledown Lane to Sheepwash, and thence down the River Stour to the sea by way of Christchurch Harbour.

As the whole area developed the parish was divided; firstly in 1886 the parish of St. Katharine at Southbourne was formed.

On the nearby Shelley Estate a site had been reserved for a church in Florence Road: a temporary building dedicated to St. Andrew was opened on 19th December 1890 as a chapel of ease to St. James. This was able to accommodate about three hundred people.

Another iron building, a mission room, was opened in Stourfield Road in January 1891 at a cost of £170. This was for use for Sunday and some weekday services, and also for the various parish activities.

A temporary corrugated iron church of All Saints was built in Southbourne Road in about 1902, and the present handsome church in Castlemain Avenue was opened in 1913, and is now the centre of a separate parish. With the continuing expansion of the district St. Christopher's Church in Burleigh Road and St. Saviour's Church in Holdenhurst Avenue were opened during the 1930s.

The Wesley Church

A Wesley group was founded in Pokesdown in the early 1860s, and meetings were held in various cottages in Cromwell Road and in Darracott Road; later services were held in the home of Mr. C. Tanner. As the congregation grew, it was felt that a permanent chapel was required so as to develop the cause, and eventually a site was made available in Darracott road by Mr. Edward Crosby, of Boscombe. In August 1871 Mr. Crosby laid the foundation stone of the chapel at a ceremony conducted by the Rev. G. F. White and the Rev. G. C. Mayes. The completed building was opened on 24th April 1872, the service being followed by a public tea and a meeting. Designed in the Gothic style, the chapel was built by Mr. R. Galton of Bournemouth, and a contemporary report stated that by combining the substantial with the elegant the chapel was an ornament to the place. There was seating for about one hundred and twenty, and a commodious vestry adjoined; the cost of the whole was £315.

In time the congregation outgrew this chapel, and foreseeing this a new site was bought in Seabourne Road. Here the foundation stone was laid on 17 October 1906 of a new building, designed by Mr. W. T. Chinchen, of Crichel. It was built of red brick with Bath stone dressings, being able to icat two hundred and fifty people; Messrs. F. Mills and Sons of Pokesdown were the contractors. The church was opened on 6 April 1907 by Mrs. J. Parsons, Mayoress of Bournemouth. The former building in Darracott Road still exists, and is used as a place of worship. With the continuing expansion of both Pokesdown and Southbourne, the decision was made to provide another church to serve both communities, and for this purpose a site was obtained in Southbourne Road. On 20 January 1926 the present church was opened, at a cost of about £15,000. The previous building in Seabourne Road was converted to a public library.

Primitive Methodist Church

The Pokesdown Primitive Methodist Society was formed in 1890, and meetings were held in Cromwell Hall. In 1894 the Society decided to take steps to build their own church, and on 26 October a site was purchased in Hannington Road. Strenuous efforts having been made to raise funds, the following Trustees were appointed on 27th May 1897: Messrs. Coibin Hams, G. Blandford, J. Kelly, P. E. Hall, R. Legg, J. T.

Gurd, F. Lodge, A. Mayo, T. Young and J. Bessant. On 2nd July the tender of Mr. F. Eicock was accepted to the plans drawn by Corbin Harris. Several memorial stones were laid; the building was opened on 13th October 1897 by Miss Lassel of Winkton. The cost was about £800.

An extension of the premises, including the Sunday school rooms, was made in 1908, and further improvements carried out in 1926. The Hannington Road Society joined with St. George's in Boscombe in 1955, and the Hannington Road building was sold, to become a centre for classes and social work conducted by the Bournemouth Blind Aid Society.

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army began in Pokesdown in March 1885, when meetings were held by Mr. J. Roberts in his home in Norwood Place. These were so successful that within-a matter of weeks the meetings were transferred to temporary accommodation at the premises of Mr. Shepherd in Cromwell Road. This was available for a few months only, and before the end of the year the Army had to rely on cottage meetings once more. Fortunately on 13th December 1885 their own building was opened in Woodside Road by Mr. Harding, of Boscombe.

As the work of the Army developed, larger premises became necessary, and in November 1907 the memorial stone of a new building in Norwood Place was laid. The new hall, designed by Mr. 0. Archer and built by Mr. S. Taylor, was opened on 15th February 1908.

The Woodside Road hall continued in use for junior meetings, and was not finally vacated until the erection of a larger senior hall in Norwood Place, which was completed in 1920. This was used until 1967, when new buildings were erected to the designs of Mr. A. Vince, built by Mr. L. Denny of Winton. The opening ceremony took place on 6th July 1968.

Rosebery Park Baptist Church

The Rosebery Park Baptist Church was founded in November 1891 by twenty five people, meeting in a hired room in Stanley Road. Meetings were held regularly, and then fund raising to provide their own church was commenced. A site was obtained at the junction of Harcourt and Morley Roads at a cost of £90, and a loan was raised for the building. On 15th April 1892 building commenced, much of the work being carried out by voluntary labour, led by six bricklayers, with some of the specialised work being done by contractors.

The building work progressed rapidly, so that the church was opened on 23rd June 1892; about £165 was spent on building materials. A permanent pastor became available in October 1893, in the person of the Rev. Edward Lawrence. A much larger chapel was built in 1897, into which the original building was incorporated to form a Sunday school room. Some fifty years later the Baptists were able to buy excellent buildings in Christchurch Road, and the former church became a centre for the deaf.

Corpus Christi Church

Local Catholics attended the Church of the Sacred Heart on Richmond Hill; in 1884 Fr. Charles de Lapasture was appointed to look after the Catholics of Boscombe and Pokesdown, and from time to time services were held at the house of Mr. Burt in Shelley Road. The coming of I lie Religious of the Cross to Parkwood Road made the provision of a church a more viable possibility, and in the autumn of 1887 a temporary iron building was made available by the Bishop of the diocese. It was erected on one comer of the site of the convent, nearest to St. James' Square, and the Chapel of the Cross was opened on 1st January 1888, under the care of Fr. de Lapasture.

In the course of a few years the desirability of a larger and permanent building became obvious, and in 1895 a site was obtained. This was a house called Holywood, fronting on Christchurch Road, together with over two acres of land behind the house. Although the entry drive to the house was in Bournemouth, the house and the land behind it were in Pokesdown.

The foundation stone of the new church of Corpus Christi was laid on 22nd August 1895, and the completed building was opened on 8th September 1896. The architect was W. Lunn, of Great Malvem, and the design was in an early English style. The building was in red brick with Bath stone dressings. The temporary iron building was transferred to St. Joseph's Convalescent Home in Bournemouth, where it served as a chapel for many years.

A window in the Lady Chapel is in memory of Arthur Mayo VC, who won this award in India in 1857, at the age of 17. Arthur Mayo lived in Pokesdown with his daughter from 1900 to 1920, dying on his 80th birthday, May 1920. The church was considerably enlarged in 1932-33.