St. James’ Church

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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.

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 23rd 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.

When St. James’ was first built, the parish boundary was quite extensive and at the time of the Great War the parish had the following definition:

“St. James’ Parish extends from Lloyds Bank, Boscombe (including all the East side of Sea Road to the Boscombe Pier) – bounded on the front by the Christchurch Road and at the back by the Sea Front, and thence Eastward to the road on the further side of the Gordon Hotel, Stourwood, and on the North side of Christchurch Road it extends along the East side of Ashley Road to the White House Estate, and thence Eastward to the Stour River at Iford.”

Some early images of St. James The Greater Church…

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An in-depth account of the history of St. James’ Church can be found in:

An Historical Guide: St. James the Greater, Pokesdown. Published Bridget Baldwin, 1993.

St. James’ Church Through WWI

At the onset of war, the vicar’s (Rev’d Reginald C. Hunt) note in the Parish magazine of September 1914 describes how the churches of the parish have never been so thronged with worshippers, weekdays and on Sundays. It was observed that “We cry unto God in our trouble and pray to be delivered from our distress, whereas in our days of peace and prosperity we too readily forget God.” However, the solemn and anxious time was recognised as a call to prayer and frequent weekday services with special intercessions were organized and well attended at St. James’, St. Andrew’s and All Saints’.

The Rev’d. A. P. Annand was appointed as Rev’d. Hunt’s successor in December 1914, who had been Vicar of St. Mary’s, Aston Brook (Birmingham) for eleven years, and was instituted into the Vicarage of St. James’ on March 11th 1915 by the Bishop of Southampton.

Band of Hope

The Band of Hope was a group of knitters who made socks and mittens to be despatched to the sailors and soldiers and, during the first winter of the war, it was reported that £1 6s had been expended upon wool which in addition to a parcel of wool from Mrs. Steel, had been knitted into mittens and socks by the Band of Hope children, instructed and supervised by Mrs. and Miss Raines.

The St. James’ Men’s Institute was created by the Rev’d. Hunt, and during the war Mr. Francis Alchin was the Honorary Secretary of the Joint Committee of the St. James’ Men’s Institute and Church of England’s Men’s Society. From the start of the war, the committee began to arrange entertainment and to collect gifts, such as magazines, papers, stationery, cigarettes. In addition, the committee regularly organised various events for the soldiers, including whist drives and weekly concerts.

On 24th April 1915, after a 5 months’ stay in Bournemouth, the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment gathered in the St. James’ Institute for a farewell concert organised by Miss Barnett. During the interval, Captain A.F.S. Caldwell (D Company, 8th Battalion L.N.L.) remarked that since their arrival in Bournemouth, they had been treated well. He had been amazed by the way everyone in Bournemouth, Southbourne and especially the men of the Institute, had treated his men and he would always look back with happy memories to the time they spent in the town.

The Rev’d. Annand, speaking on behalf of Miss Barnett, said that they had only been too delighted to entertain the men. It had given him great pleasure, as Vicar of the Parish, to say that the residents all round were very sorry that the Lancs. men were going from their midst. They had always enjoyed their company, and he would have been only too pleased to have had the North Lancs. lasses amongst them as well. He appreciated all the expressions of gratitude that had been voiced by the Captain and, at the same time, he wished to assure them that the North Lancs. Men would not be forgotten when they left Bournemouth. They had done what they had for the men to show their appreciation of the service they were about to render for England. In conclusion, the Vicar wished them God-speed.

Letter of thanks from the Chaplain of the Lancashires:

Dear Rev’d. Annand

I am writing on behalf of the officers, the non-commissioned officers and men of the troops who were quartered in your parish, to thank you and the Church people of the St. James’ Parish for all your kindness to us during our stay in your midst.

I should be very grateful if you could convey this expression of gratitude to your congregation and tell them how much we appreciated the magnificent way in which they came forward to entertain us.

It was with feelings of deep regret that we left all our kind friends at Pokesdown, and we shall never forget the warm welcome you all gave us.

With kindest regards and renewed thanks

Yours very sincerely

Mervyn S. Evers, C.F.

In Feb 1916, the St. James’ Parish Magazine published extracts of a letter to Miss Parnell, from Jos. Stringfellow (8th Battalion, L.N.L.) and well known to the frequenters of the St. James’ Institute.

“I received the parcel quite safely, and I thank you sincerely for the tobacco, which was very welcome indeed, despite the fact that we generally have some issued to us almost every week; it is not by any means so popular as the good old twist, which seems to provide a far more substantial smoke…

Many, I am sorry to say, whom you have often met at the Institute, and knew very well, have fallen, and lie beneath a foreign soil. I am not allowed to give names and numbers but, maybe, you have carefully followed the casualty list in the Daily Mail…

I did have a far different Christmas than last. Imagine, if you can, a big, dreary barn with straw on the floor and open walls for doors; then think of 80 or so men endeavouring to make merry with a mess-tin each of greasy stew and four ounces each of cold Christmas pudding to remind them of happier days spent under more favourable conditions.”

Private J. Stringfellow (23360) is recorded to have died on 18th May 1916 and is buried in Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension.

In November 1917, the St. James’ Institute was again commandeered by the military, however, there was a little disquiet amongst the members this time as they were not able to contribute to the moral and social welfare of the uniformed soldiers quartered in the district. All soldiers had previously been made honorary members, and were provided with concerts, games, reading room etc.

Reported in the June 1915 issue of the Parish magazine, was a newly introduced scheme to provide aid to the men of the county (Hampshire) Regiment who were prisoners of war in Germany. The system that was introduced involved sending weekly or fortnightly parcels to individual men at the different camps. If the parcels were under 11lbs, then they were to be sent c/o G.P.O. London, anything over 11lbs was to be sent c/o American Express Corporation, 6 Haymarket, S.W.. Labels were provided and parcels sent free of charge by rail.

It was suggested that, the men all like cigarettes, tobacco, bread, cake, tinned meat, golden syrup, cheese, butter, jam, sardines etc., books and amusements. They asked for quantity, rather than quality.

The parcels were to be securely packed in tin or cardboard boxes, or corrugated paper and strong brown paper, or canvas and labelled “Prisoners of War”. No writing was permitted inside the parcel, but postcards were to be written to let the men know what was being sent.

In July 1915, the Rev’d. R.N. Pyke wrote in the Parish magazine about some of the St. James’ boys and their willingness to serve their country.

“We are proud to announce that there has been an exceedingly good response to the call of ‘King and Country’ on the part of ‘boys’ connected with St. James’ – Some of those who might least have been expected to go, on account of their years, have been the most eager to volunteer. There are no less than four who have been choir boys within the last two years, now serving with the colours – all of them communicants. There are several others who are young ‘Church Workers’, including an altar server and two children’s service sidesmen. We are proud of these ‘boys’ and pray that God will look after them in body and in soul and bring them safe back again to their homes, and to the church they love, and which loves them. There is every evidence that they do not forget St. James’, either whilst they are away, or when they come home ‘on leave’.

Of course there are many older men connected with us, as with every church, making it possible for us to dwell in safety at the risk of sacrificing everything they have on earth. For them too, our praises and prayers ascend.”

Sandbags (Aug 1915)

St. James’ Egg Collection, for the sick and wounded soldiers in Boscombe Hospital.

In 1915, Mrs Chilton organised a team of volunteers from the people of St. James’, to perform a weekly collection of eggs, as aid for the sick and wounded soldiers being cared for in Boscombe Hospital. The scheme proved to be an early success from the outset and was much appreciated by the authorities. From July 21st to October 13th, eggs (and cash collected to purchase eggs) had resulted in the donation of 3,567 eggs to the hospital.

Period Recipients Number of Eggs
July 21st – October 13th 1915 Boscombe Hospital 3,567
October 20th – December 29th 1915 Boscombe Hospital

Stourwood Home

1,837

396

Jan 4th – June 21st 1916 Boscombe Hospital

Stourwood Home

4206

1212

Aug 8th – October 31st 1917 Boscombe Hospital

Stourwood Home

1778
November 8th – January 30th 1918 Boscombe Hospital

Stourwood Home

989
February 1918 – September 1918 Boscombe Hospital

Stourwood Home

2096

Scheme was restarted in Sept 1917, to the grateful thanks of both hospital Authorities and appreciated by the wounded who, in many cases, had to live entirely on such a diet.

Jan 1916

CEMS Branch Fund set up for a Hut of Rest. Each cost £300 and built by the Church Army, recognized officially by the War Office as representing the Church of England.

Sept 1916 – Rev. R.N. Pyke replaced, after 6 years’ service as a curate at St. James’, by Rev’d. Ernest B. Lock.

In December 1917, the St. James’ Church boiler needed to be replaced, and it was recognised that owing to a shortage of labour and difficulties of transport, it would take some time to replace. Six oil heating stoves provided a temporary solution, however, although the weather was comparatively mild, it would not be long before ‘the indulgence of the people would be claimed, and that assistance would be requested later for funds!

By April 1918, the new boiler had arrived, and fixed, thanks to the promptness of Messrs. Castle and was reported to be doing its duty very effectively. The Rev’d. Lock described that “It has been long delayed, but our Churchwardens are in no way responsible for that. The difficulties of railway transport have been very great, but have not been quite insuperable. The six oil stoves which acted as substitutes for so many weeks have proved themselves good friends, although at times they were apt to create a little trying atmosphere.

Our thanks are due to the Churchwardens for their repeated efforts to procure the boiler, and to Mr. Starks for his unremitting attention to the ‘substitutes’. It is good, too, to know that the boiler is paid for and starts upon its career unencumbered by any debt. The old boiler served us for nearly 20 years; Let us hope its successor will have an even longer life.”

Several Welcome Home social gatherings were given by the St. James’ Parish for the returning soldiers and sailors. One such event was held at the St. James’ Institute on the evening of 15th October 1919. There were present the Vicar and Mrs. Annand, the assistant clergy, Mr. F.H. Alchin (Hon. Sec.) and Mrs. Alchin and about 200 guests, including ladies and one baby. The entertainment comprised supper, whist drive and dancing, which continued until nearly midnight. Some delightful music was rendered by an orchestra under the conductorship of Mr. F. Croucher (organist at All Saints’).

During an interval the Vicar addressed a few words of hearty welcome to the men, at the same time thanking them for their gallant services in defence of King and Country. He also alluded to the recreation and social facilities afforded by the Institute, to which the committee would gladly welcome them as members. The whole of the arrangements were undertaken and most efficiently carried out by the members of the Institute Committee and their wives, to whom the unqualified success of the gathering was mainly due.

In December 1919, Rev’d. E.B. Lock was appointed to the vicarage of Faringdon, Berkshire, in the Diocese of Oxford, and left for the country on February 5th 1920. Rev’d Lock’s successor was Rev’d. Eric, with whom he had been at college with in 1904.

Rev’d. W.G. Ferris took over the charge of St. James on January 18th 1920, and had been over twelve years in holy orders and had experience both in parochial work and as an army chaplain. He would remain in post for nineteen months, retiring on the grounds of poor health.

The Parochial Church Council (PCC) was founded in March 1920, and in the Vicar’s letter from the Parish Magazine, Rev’d. A.P. Annand emphasized that it was not just administrative machinery, it had a spiritual matter at its heart, and so the task of creating and maintaining the PCC must be undertaken in faith and prayer. The object of the organization was to promote the spiritual efficiency of the Church, whether in the parish, in the diocese or in the nation. The PCC would be called upon to deal with the spiritual work of the parish, and the missionary and evangelistic work of the Church at home and abroad.

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