Church History

This ‘history’ has been extracted from the booklet published in November 1989 to mark the Centenary of St. Clement (1889-1989). The booklet contained the following foreword:

Dear Reader,

It is with some trepidation that we send out this booklet. We found very considerable difficulty in finding hard facts about the early life of our parish and its church. The earliest records are very scanty. If, therefore, what we have written does not accord with your memories, then we apologise and can only say that what we have written is based upon written evidence.

We have been greatly helped by a number of people in putting together this short account of the life of St. Clement’s and its people, too many to name. However, we can, perhaps, be forgiven for mentioning Miss Juliet Marlowe, who, during her time at the Poole Reference Library supplied us with a great deal of information about the earliest days of the parish. We are also indebted to Mrs. Heather Raggett, who spent a good deal of time browsing through old newspapers, and old copies of the church magazines of neighbouring parishes.

A church is more than buildings and property. It is the “congregation of faithful men and women”. Space has precluded us from mentioning more than a few of the many faithful and loyal members of St. Clement’s and St. Barnabas. However, as the Scriptures assure us, they are not forgotten, for their names are “written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

We offer you this booklet with a deep sense of thanksgiving to the Almighty God for His mercy and goodness to this parish and its people. Our prayer is that there will be a worshipping community here living lives honouring to Christ, until the day He comes again.

Yours sincerely,

M.G. Boulter, Vicar, and John Hudson & Philip Biles, Churchwardens



From Small Acorns

Later Developments

"Loud organs, His glory forth tell in deep tone"

"God's Acre"

The Work Grows

Vicars of St. Saviour's and St. Clement's

Church Wardens, 1904 - 1990

"Well done, good and faithful servant"

Extracts from the Vestry Minute Book

"As year succeeds year"

Augustus John

Those were the days!

A Parish at War

The Next Hundred Years?


From Small Acorns...

The first mention we can find of a place of worship in Newtown occurs in the 'Canford and Kinson Magazine' of August 1861. Canford and Kinson were at that time one parish. We quote "You heard in our last number that the new school and teacher's house at Constitution Hill was completed, opened as a school, and also used on every Sunday afternoon for Divine Worship, through the kind assistance of the Rev. Mr. Preston. We have good cause to thank God for having enable us to erect this building and to provide the means of religious instruction for that outlying district."

Services were then held in what was the Boys' School for eleven years. The next record we have is to be found in the Bournemouth Visitor's Directory of 20 July 1872. This refers to an iron building, known as St. Saviour's Church, and which stood on a site at the junction of what are now Grove and Cranbrook Roads. (This church had originally stood on a site at the foot of RichmSt Saviours Church at its original location in Bournemouthond Hill in Bournemouth, where it had been used by the congregation of what until recent years was St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Exeter Road.)St Saviours in Bournemouth photographed in 1865Bournemouth town centre

On Sunday, 11 March 1887 the iron church was badly damaged by a violent storm. The roof on the south side was torn off, and the tower containing the bell ended up in the road. For some time the congregation met for worship in the large room at the Coffee Tavern. The old building was repaired, and services resumed in it. A Committee was formed under the chairmanship of Lord Nelson to raise funds for a new church and to provide an endowment for a Vicar.

At this time the population of Newtown was said to be "about 1,800 people, all poor". Despite the efforts of the Committee, by April 1888 it had only raised £153 toward the building costs. £2,060 had been given to endow the living, largely through the generosity of a Miss Uppleby, who had given £2,000. At this point the Fund was wound up and the subscriptions returned.

The then Lord Wimborne stepped in with an offer to bear the cost of the project, amounting altogether to £3,000.

The Architects were Messrs. Romaine, Walker and Tanner of London, and the builder, a Mr. Abley of Salisbury. According to theApril 1890 Dorset County Chronicle, work began on 11 April 1889, and was completed in time for a service of consecration on the morning of Wednesday, 18 December 1889.photograph taken April 1890

The church, which was erected on a site given by Mr. William Pearce of Springfield House, Parkstone, consisted of a chancel, nave, south porch and vestry. The church was planned so that an aisle could be added to the church at a later date. The north wall of the nave is formed by an arcade of four pointed arches on octagonal columns, having what was intended to be a temporary brick faced wall immediately outside it.

 The Church was consecrated on Wednesday, 18 December 1889. According to the 'Parkstone Reminder', the Parish Magazine of St. Peter, Parkstone, "... the day was extremely stormy and wet, and the mud around the church was appalling." The service began at 11am and was conducted by the Bishop of Salisbury. "The Vicar of Kinson afterwards hospitably entertained the Bishop, clergy and choir at Newtown Church House.

St Clement's Church 11th April 1890

St Clement's Church 11th April 1890

The Church House referred to stood in Croft Road and was demolished in 1989 in order to make way for the new centre for the disabled.

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Later Developments

In 1889, the Church was left with a temporary north wall to the nave, and no proper vestries. The organ chamber was used as a vestry for the Churchwardens and the clergy. A ‘temporary’ lean-to structure of timber and asbestos sheeting was built against the north wall of the nave in the 1920’s for use as a choir vestry.

This remained in use as such until 1974 when a generous bequest by Mr. George Andrews made possible the construction of a balcony at the west end of the nave. This provided 40 seats, and allowed the area beneath it to be enclosed and used as a choir vestry. The old, lean-to structure became a vestry for the wardens and clergy. This structure was eventually demolished in 1987 with the building of the Centenary Extension.

Discussion for this project began in 1981 with the aim of completing the Church in time for the Centenary Celebrations. It consists of a two-storey addition on the north side of the nave. It provides an extra 50 seats on the ground floor, and new vestries for the choir, wardens and clergy on the first floor. In addition, toilet, catering and storage facilities were provided. The room under the balcony became a crèche. The costs of these works came to £137,000 and were met by a generous grant of £100,000 from the Talbot Village Trustees who also made available a five-year interest free loan for the balance. This was repaid by members of the congregation through the Weekly Offering Envelope Scheme.

In 1988 a generous gift from a member of the congregation has enabled the re-ordering of the chancel, and the replacement of the original pine furnishings. These had been adapted over the years to increase the seating capacity and were in poor condition. At the same time, a public address system, and an impedance loop for the hard of hearing was installed.

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“Loud organs, His glory forth tell in deep tone”

The organ in St. Clement’s was delivered to the Canford Magna Church in 1878. It was placed in St. Clement’s sometime in the 1930’s. When the organ was stripped for cleaning in 1978 the original delivery note from the builders, Bevington, was discovered fixed to the internal frame.

The organ was partially rebuilt by Brindley & Foster at the time of its installation in St. Clement’s. At that time the pedals were put onto a pneumatic system. It was rebuilt by E.C. Bishop & Son in 1939, and was the last organ that the two brothers, K.L. and H.W. Bishop worked on together before the latter was called up to serve in H.M. Forces. He was later to lose his life in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, following the fall of Singapore.

In 1945, the organ was damaged by water after a fire in the vestry, and was restored by K.L. Bishop, who carried out another major overhaul of the organ in 1978/79. At that time, an additional pipe, a 4 foot flute, was added to the swell. K.L. Bishop was assisted in this work by his son Mr. A.K. Bishop.

The cost of the work in 1978 was the very considerable sum at that time of £2,170 plus V.A.T. The Gift Day in 1978 was devoted to meeting this cost, members of the congregation being invited to buy £10 shares. A total of £1,800 was given on St. Clement’s Day, 1978.

The rear of the organ encroaches on the vestry and many couples who married between 1930 and the 1980’s must have as their abiding memory of their wedding, this organ, a thunderous noise immediately behind them as they signed the marriage registers.

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"God's Acre"

The Churchyard at St. Clement's was consecrated by the Bishop of Salisbury on 9 September 1896, some seven years after the consecration of the church itself.

The Minute Book of the Annual Vestry Meetings informs us that whilst the Service of Consecration was in progress, a workman named Longstreet was accidentally killed in the nearby gravel pit. He was buried in the newly consecrated burial ground on 12 September. Strangely enough, he was not the first to be buried in the churchyard. By permission of the Bishop, a Miss Herbert was buried a few days before the ground was consecrated.

Early records are restricted to a Register of Burials recording names, ages and date of burial. There is no record of location of individual graves before 1960. Such details were normally kept in the sexton's head. This sometimes led to difficulties with unmarked graves.

In 1971 a number of anonymous donations made possible the provision of a new entrance to the Churchyard, and a new notice board. In the same year, the Church Council agreed to establish an investment fund to provide future income for the maintenance of the burial ground as income from fees declined with the use of the last new grave space. Between 1971 and 1988 Mr Cyril Brooklyn acted as Secretary to the Friends of St. Clement's Churchyard, as the fund was named. By 1988 £3,379 had been invested with the Central Board of Finance of the Church of England, yielding an income of £295 that year.

During the period 1984 to 1988, the hedges and banks on the north and east side of the Churchyard have been replaced with walls, allowing a large amount of rubbish to be removed.

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The Work Grows

By the time of the appointment of the Rev. B. Stanley White in 1921, the population had grown from ‘about 1,800’ in 1889 to around 3,000. By the 1930’s, properties were being built at Alderney, and in 1934 a plot of land was purchased from the Wimborne Estate for £500 for the purpose of building a church and a vicarage.

After the Second World War, the population at Alderney expanded rapidly, and in the mid- 1950’s sufficient money was in hand to proceed. A Mr Sweatman of the Isle of Wight firm of Architects, Howard Lobb and Partners, was commissioned to design a dual purpose building for use as a hall during the week and a place of worship on Sundays. The contract was given to local builders R.M. and R. Stacey. The contract was signed on behalf of the Church Council by the Vicar, Curate (Rev. D. Hillman), the Churchwardens, Mr A. Rogers and Mr F. Coffin, and the PCC Secretary, Mr P. Wells. Costs rose and the work only proceeded with additional help from the Bishop of Salisbury’s Discretionary Fund which provided a grant of £500, and Salisbury Diocesan Board of Finance who provided an interest-free loan of £500.

The new church of St. Barnabas was dedicated by the Bishop of Salisbury on Thursday 20 February 1958 at 7.00 p.m.

The Order of Service for that occasion especially thanks the Rector and Church Council of St. James for the gift of the silver Communion Chalice and Paten from the Church of St. Paul’s, Poole, which had recently closed. The glass and silver cruet for the Communion Wine was presented by Rev. B. Stanley White under whose leadership the Hall/Church was planned and built.

Perhaps of even greater interest is that the wooden lectern in St. Barnabas was that originally used in the ‘iron church’ of St. Saviour. So St. Barnabas has a link with the very earliest days of the worshipping community of Newtown.

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Vicars of St. Saviour’s and St. Clement’s

Although the Church was consecrated in 1889, the district of Newtown did not become a separate parish until it was separated from the parish of St. Andrew, Kinson, by and Order in Council dated 2 February 1904.

There is no list of clergy who have served in the parish, and the records for the early years are not complete. The first clergymen were assistant curates of the parish of Kinson, and were appointed by the Vicar of Kinson to take charge at St. Saviour’s. They were:


Duration of Faithful Service

Rev. A.C. Dobie


Rev. Edwin Coombes

Around 1872

Rev. George Kent

1887 - Unknown

Rev. J.D. Dathan

Unknown - 1896

Rev. G.C.R. Read

1896 - 1915

At the creation of the new parish in 1904, the Rev. G.C.R. Read, M.A. was appointed the first Vicar. He was also, by special dispensation from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Vicar of St. John’s Heatherlands.

Since 1904, the list of Vicars reads:


Duration of Faithful Service

Rev. G.C.R. Read, M.A.

1904 - 1915

Rev. Francis W. Peverelle

1916 - 1920

Rev. B. Stanley White

1921 - 1956

Rev. Richard J. Mulrenan, F.C.A.

1957 - 1966

Rev. Michael G. Boulter, B.D.

1966 - 1997

Rev. Jonathan Foster

1997 - 2021

At the time of the creation of the new parish the population was estimated to be 1,772 people living in 346 houses, an average occupancy of 5.12 people per dwelling place. The 1981 census revealed a total of 3,974 houses and a population of 11,123, an average occupancy of 2.8 per dwelling.

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Churchwardens, 1904 – 1990 


Vicar’s Warden

People’s Warden

1904 – 1910

Mr. Howell

Mr. Chaffey

1911 – 1913

Mr. Hibbs

Mr. Chaffey


Mr. Head

Mr. Hibbs


Mrs. Hope-Smith

Mr. Neville

1916 – 1917

Mr. Jones

Mr. Neville


Mr. Sampson

Mr. Neville

1919 – 1920

Mr. Sampson

Mr. Dennett

1921 – 1922

Mr. Sampson

Mr. Stickland

1923 – 1930

Mr. Sampson

Mr. Rogers

1931 – 1932

Mr. Gould

Mr. Rogers

1933 – 1939

Mr. Coakes

Mr. Rogers

1940 – 1950

Mr. Vivian

Mr. Rogers

1951 – 1957

Mr. Coffin

Mr. Rogers

1958 – 1959

Mr. Brooklyn

Mr. Rogers

1960 – 1961

Mr. Brooklyn

Mr. Trim

1962 – 1963

Mr. Wells

Mr. Rogers


Mr. Wells

Mr. Brooklyn

1965 – 1973

Mr. Rogers

Mr. Hudson

1974 – 1979

Mr. Knight

Mr. Hudson

1980 – 1990

Mr. Biles

Mr. Hudson

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“Well done, good and faithful servant”

One of the features of the first 100 years of the life of St. Clement’s Church has been the long years of service given by clergy and laity alike.

The Rev’d Stanley White, for example, served for 35 years as Vicar of the Parish. The list of churchwardens reveals that there have been only twenty one in the whole period. Remember, there are two appointed for each year.

Outstanding among those who served was the late Arthur Rogers, of whom many of us retain fond memories of a fine Christian gentleman. He served for 50 years, from 1923 to 1973. Conventional wisdom today dictates that these offices within the Church should change hands every five years or so. Each year Arthur did offer to stand down, but it was a question of the best man for the job, and he was always asked to stay on.

The Sunday School has also been blessed with faithful teachers. Names like Mr. Collins, Nellie Read and Gladys Bendall spring to mind. Preeminent among them, however, is that of Florrie Saunders. From the age of five she was associated with the Sunday School, first as a pupil, then as a Teacher, and ultimately as Superintendent of the Primary division. In all she taught for 52 years, giving up only when forced by ill health to do so a year or two before her death at the age of 70 in 1982.

The present incumbent remembers being told of the way in which Mr. John Legge carried out his duties with diligence and faithfulness between the years of 1919 and 1941. A small oak table stands in the church as a memorial to his twenty two years of service.

The present Churchwarden, Mr. John Hudson, is in his twenty fifth year of service in this Centenary year.

A church is much more than a set of buildings. It is ‘a congregation of faithful men and women’ (The Thirty Nine Articles of Religion of the Church of England). It is, to use St. Paul’s phrase “...a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 3:21-2).

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Extracts from the Vestry Minute Book

Prior to the Parochial Church Council (Powers) Measure of 1921, the affairs of the parish churches of England were determined by the Incumbent and the two Churchwardens. These latter were elected annually at the Vestry Meeting. Minutes were kept of these Meetings. In this parish the record is not very full.

On February 10th, 1905, on a notion proposed by a Mr. Harvey and seconded by Mr. Tolson, the Vicar was asked to obtain a faculty to allow gas lighting to be installed in the Church.

At the Meeting in 1914, the Vicar was asked to obtain a faculty to enable new vestries to be constructed for the use of the choir. We think this is the only reference to vestries in the records and that therefore it must refer to the wood and asbestos structure that was replaced in 1987.

In 1922 a resolution was passed thanking Lady Wimborne for the provision of land to provide an extension to the churchyard.

In 1919 it was recorded that “Not a single parishioner or even a member of the congregation was present, nor indeed, even the Curate, the Rev. Mr. Hogton was present, so the Vestry was not held.” An intriguing minute that leaves one wondering why no one went, and, what the Vicar said to his curate! More normally, attendances of between 40 and 70 were recorded.

The Churchwardens were responsible for the fabric of the buildings, the preserving of good order during divine worship, and the proper use of parish finances. These duties they now share with the Parochial Church Council.

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“As year succeeds to year”


March 11th Iron Church of St. Saviour collapses.


December 18th St. Clement’s Church consecrated.


Annual Vestry meeting passes a resolution of thanks to Mr. Day, organist and choirmaster since 1884.


Faculty obtained for the erection of temporary vestries, finally dismantled in 1987.


Extension to the burial ground consecrated. The Rev. Stanley White is appointed Vicar.


The opening of a new Parish Hall in Grove Road at a cost of £2,500.


Rev. B.S. White retires and Rev. Richard Mulrenan succeeds him.


St. Barnabas Church, Alderney dedicated.


The wooden hut at St. Barnabas opened.


A Mission at St. Barnabas “the first evening was quite well attended but the rest were only average”.


Rev. Michael Bulman appointed assistant curate at St. Barnabas. The Parish quota of the Diocesan budget is £326.


The original timber porch at St. Clement’s is replaced by a Purbeck stone structure.


The Rev. Richard Mulrenan leaves to become Vicar of Braintree, the present incumbent is appointed.


The experimental Communion Service Series 2 is introduced.


A silver plated Cross and pair of candlesticks, together with a flower stand, are presented by parishioners in memory of the late Rev. Stanley White. A new lighting system is installed in St. Clement’s, a new frontal for the Communion Table is designed and donated by a member of the congregation.


A Band of volunteers re-decorate the Church. The Grove Road Hall is sold for re-development, and F. Rideout, Builders, are given a contract to build a new hall at a cost of £18,500.


October 11th, the new hall is opened by the Archdeacon of Dorset, the Ven. E. Seager.


A new Vicarage is purchased by the Church Commissioners for £10,000. The Fund known as ‘The Friends of St. Clement’s Churchyard’ is opened. A new main gate and entrance is donated.


A new organ, built by Millers of Norwich is provided at St. Barnabas at a cost of £900 plus V.A.T.  A new mobile bookstand in memory of Miss Richens and Miss Dyett is given to St. Clement’s. The mortgage of £1,500 on the St. Barnabas Parsonage is repaid.


A new balcony, with a choir vestry beneath it is built at St. Clement’s.


The congregation embroider 150 new hassocks.


A baptism roll and visiting system is instituted.


First discussions are held about completing St. Clemet’s Church in time for the Centenary, reviving a plan first conceived in 1969. Support for TEAR Fund (The Evangelical Alliance Relief Fund) begins. The new arrangement for services at St. Clement’s, 9.30 a.m. Holy Communion, 11 a.m. Family service, and 6.30 p.m. Evening Prayer begun experimentally in 1980 is confirmed.


The Mothers Union donate new chancel curtains, but reduced numbers at Evening Prayer lead to only one evening service being held each Sunday.


Repairs to the Spire cost £5,000 plus V.A.T. using chestnut shingles, a cheaper alternative to the original, but decayed, oak ones.


A new boundary wall is built on the north side of the burial ground; the church is rewired. The Talbot Trustees are approached for help with the Centenary Extension plan.


A donation of £100,000 and an interest-free loan over 5 years enables the Centenary extension to go ahead. The contract is awarded to R.E.V. Matthews.

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Augustus John

We suppose that the most famous resident the parish has known was the painter Augustus John. Born at Tenby in South Wales in 1878, he went to study at the Slade School of Art in London at the age of 16.

He was described as neat, timid, unremarkable; but impressed by his intense application to work.” In 1897 he received a severe blow to the head while diving off rocks: shortly after this his work was described as brilliant!

He married Ida Nettleship in 1901, and she bore him five sons before dying in 1907. He moved to Alderney Manor in 1909 with a lady companion Dorelia MacNeill, by whom he also had children. In Michael Holroyd’s biography of Augustus oh, Alderney Manor is described as “a strangely fortified bungalow larger than most houses, built by an eccentric Frenchman. Alderney Manor occupied 60 acres of Woodland near Ringwood Road and included a walled garden, cottage and stables” – all for the rent of £50 a year. The site is almost opposite to where Alderney Hospital is now situated.

It was while living at Alderney that he produced many of his finest works. The family lived a very Bohemian existence often mixing with the gypsies who inspired his famous painting “The Mumpers”. Other paintings produced at Alderney included “Lyric Fantasy”, “Washing Day” and numerous drawings and paintings of his many children.

The children attended Danecourt School in Parkstone which only had eleven pupils until the appearance of the Johns. At Alderney they were completely undisciplined, “...they would shin up trees in bare feet, run with a pack of red setters, plunge into the frog-laden pond, and, to the distress of the parson, dash naked about the place getting dry”.

The family left Alderney in March 1927 when the Manor was pulled down, and a new housing estate built, “...the consecrated ground, being occupied by Alderney Methodist Chapel.” We think this must be a reference to St. Barnabas since we do not think there has ever been an Alderney Methodist Chapel.

Augustus John moved to Fryern Court, Fordingbridge, where he died on 31st October 1961.

H. Raggett.

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Those were the days!

‘I grew up at St. Clement’s in the 1930’s. Among my childhood recollections is one of being presented with an Easter egg for being able to say the Apostles’ Creed one Easter Sunday morning.

Although the younger children were taught in mixed classes, the Senior Sunday School was rigorously segregated: the boys on the right as one entered the old Hall that used to stand in Grove Road, the girls on the left. The session began with a hymn and a prayer and very often the Vicar, the Rev. Stanley White, provided the accompaniment for the hymn, being an accomplished pianist. The teachers then assumed responsibility for their classes.

One of my teachers was Mr. Collins whose charity, gentleness, sincerity and simple explanations of difficult doctrines such as that of the Holy Trinity, I recall with gratitude. There was Mr. Gould who used to show us a small tin containing Babylonian coins and other souvenirs, which he had gathered during his service in Mesopotamia during World War I, to illustrate the truth that the wheels of God’s justice had ground down the grandeur of the Babylonian Empire into the sand.

Sunday School treats stood out as great events in the year. The Infants had theirs on the lawn behind the hall. There were races before the whole group marched into the hall led by some fortunate children who were given mouth organs by Mr. White, while the less fortunate carried flags. The Vicar usually led the way beating on a tea tray!

I recall my first Senior School outing. Royal Blue Coaches, magnificently new and shiny, were hired to take us to a field near Wimborne. At the field there were ice creams and lemonade, with races and a cricket match making up the entertainment.

In that period between the wars, there was Lads’ Guild held in the Hall on Tuesday evenings, with table tennis and other games.

John Williams

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A Parish at War

It is, perhaps, hard for those born in recent years to appreciate the impact of the two World Wars upon the generations that went through them. A quick glance at the War Memorials in the Church shows how great the impact upon the community the Great War of 1914-18 must have been. The two Tablets on the south wall of the nave contain 65 names. Two more names are found on a separate Tablet. Among the graves in the churchyard kept up by the War Graves Commission there are a further two names not on the War memorial Tablets. Even so, the 69 names recorded must represent something like 1 in 7 of all young men between 18 and 40 years of age, in a population said to be ‘under 3,000’ at the time of the Rev. B. S. White’s appointment. 

The lectern in St. Clement’s contains a by now illegible inscription. It originally read:

‘To the Glory of God. This Lectern was given by the
Parishioners and members of the congregation as
a Thankoffering for God’s gifts of Victory and Peace
after the Great War, 1914-18.

E.W. Peverill, Vicar

J.H. Sampson, E. Dennett, Churchwardens’

The War Memorial to the dead of the 2nd World War contains 48 names from a parish which must, by 1939 have had a far larger population than in 1914. Much of the property at Alderney, and most of the bungalows at Newtown were built between the wars.

What the Memorial for the Second World War does not reveal is how modern warfare is no longer a matter for professional soldiers. On the Tablet are the names of a father, Sidney Sherwood, and his three sons, Frederick, Alfred and Henry, who were all killed when a landmine dropped on their homes in Fancy Lane on 20.11.1940. This was the day when Alma Road School in Winton was destroyed, also by a landmine. A third mine fell on R.L. Stephenson Avenue in Westbourne.

That same night, several houses at the junction of Cynthia Road and Cranbrook Road were either destroyed or severely damaged. Among those ‘bombed out’ was our treasurer, Donald Loveless and his family. A Mrs Kitcatt, it is reported, lost her sight in the same raid.

In 1941, a member of St. Clement’s, living at Hamworthy, but who was baptised in St. Clement’s in 1896, Mrs. Woodford, lost her son Leslie. He was a Petty Officer on H.M.S. Neptune which was lost with all hands save one when it ran into a minefield off the coast of Tripoli on 19.12.1941. Her escort, the destroyer Khandahar was also lost. Some 1,380 men died. There must have been many more tragic stories involving parishioners.

In the Magazine for July 1941, Vicar White expressed sympathy to Mr. & Mrs. Eaton of Grove Road upon the loss of their son, 1st Class Stoker Raymond James Eaton of H.M.S. Hood. In his letter the Vicar reminded his readers of the evil of “...that mad Tyrant”, referring to Hitler, and calling on them to pray that we would overcome evil with good”, and that a better world would arise out of the conflict.

Other issues of the Magazine reveal that Vicar White wrote regularly to the servicemen from the parish.  The Magazine for August 1940 pays tribute to  a former choirboy Signalman William Arthur Pudney of Ringwood Road who had been mentioned in despatches for “courage, enterprise and devotion to duty” in action at Andalsnes in Norway. The Vicar congratulates him, and reveals in passing, that there was a ‘Services Roll’ at the Church and that these young men and women were prayed for regularly.

War was not the only bringer of tragedy. The October 1940 issue of the Magazine reveals that three young people died in road accidents in the previous month.  Mabel Harvey, aged 21, died after a cycle accident. Raymond Willey, aged 22 who had been a choir boy and was a server at Holy Communion died after a motorcycle accident; and John Perry, aged 14 years, died after a cycle accident on his way home from school. At the time, he was a choir boy and member of the bible class. What a sad month that must have been for family and friends, the Vicar and his congregation.

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The Church Choir

Pictured here are members of St Clement's Choir in 1964 after a performance of Stainer's Crucifixion.

St Clements Choir 1964


The Next Hundred Years?

It is hard enough to predict events even 10 years ahead let alone one hundred! Yet some things do seem fairly certain. It seems certain that parish churches will have to work even harder at reaching out to their parishioners with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in order to combat the increasing influence of the media, especially television. It seems certain that the Church of England, along with other main-stream Christian churches, will have fewer full-time ministers with which to do it. It is fairly certain that the number of full-time ministers in our Church will have decreased by 10% by the mid-1990’s. This is because the number of men coming forward for training does not match the number of men it is known will reach retirement age.

It is for these reasons that we are seeking to establish a network of ‘Church Contacts’ around the parish – members of the congregation who will accept a responsibility for a group of houses and families around them, and will pray for them regularly, visit and welcome new families, and be an ever-present contact and source of information between the Church and the parishioners.

Recently we read of a clergyman who, it is said, had “foot and mouth disease, he cannot preach and will not visit”. Perhaps such a cleric is of little loss, but few clergy are like that, and if the lay people of the church do not accept an ever increasing responsibility for fulfilling the command of Christ to “go and make disciples...” then there are only years of decline ahead of us as the number of clergy declines.

Already more visiting is being done by lay members in connection with baptisms and the bereaved. This is a trend which must grow. A Church that is not seen to care about its members, or the community in which it is set, will not find a ready welcome for its message. Lay people at present lead worship at an old people’s home. Here is an avenue for service which, along with more traditional work such as Sunday School teaching, is set to grow.

All this must be under-girded by church members whose personal faith and quality of life is seen to be increasingly Christ-like.; and whose lives are seen to match their profession.


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