Saint Augustine's Church, Aldershot.
November 1st 1967
O Word of God above,
Who fills all in all,
Hallow this house with the sure love,
And bless our festival.
From the Parish Magazine. November. 1907.
In view of the passing to another use of the little iron Church, which has for twenty-seven years borne the name of St. Augustine's, a special interest attaches to the following account of its early days, kindly sent us by one who took a leading part in founding it:-
"On November 4th 1880, the little building was opened by the Rev. J.C. Edghill, afterwards Chaplain-General, almost free from debt. The fittings were nearly all gifts from townsfolk, and from the first we had not the least difficulty in obtaining workers. Not only did Dr. Edghill give his valuable assistance whenever he was able, but the curate-in-charge of Ash (the Rev. T. Slodden) celebrated Holy Communion for me once a month. I was in Deacon's orders at the time, and Mr. Hadow, the Vicar of Holy Trinity, came across occasionally and addressed the little congregation. Before the iron church was opened, services were carried on in the Board School, but these were hardly successful. But with the opening of the little church the work went steadily forward, the Sacraments were administered, and Sunday school, Choir, Bible Classes and Mothers' Union took regular shape; Confirmation Candidates met for instruction in the church, and the Communicants' Roll was steadily increased. Amongst the laity who came every week and gave much time and labour to the work of visitation, mothers meetings, etc., Mrs. Rouse and her two daughters were foremost; Miss Alden, Miss Bailey and Miss Greenwood were also my helpers in those days. That was the time of the Zulu War, and the distress in North Town amongst soldiers' families "not on the strength" was terrible. A soup kitchen was started by Mrs. Ingram, and special funds raised for meat, groceries, etc. I remember an alarming accident which took place soon after the Mission Church was opened. A gale of wind nearly unroofed the little building and but for the courage and promptitude of the late Mr. Ingram, the local grocer, not a sheet of iron would have remained in its place. He saved the situation with the aid of a ladder and a handful of nails. Sheets of corrugated iron were already flying into the• road. He stopped the further exodus by fastening down the .escaping sheets, and then going after the truants and restoring them to their places. Our greatest difficulty was to find a suitable heating apparatus. In the winter and early spring our heads were too warm and our feet in danger of freezing, for our only means of warming the place was by lighting the gas long before service time. But the-little flock was a most enthusiastic one, and we were all warm enough long before the service was over."
From the Parish Magazine. December, 1907.
The service at North Town on All Saints' Day marks the completion of the first stage of a great work. When the Church Extension Scheme was first inaugurated, it was decided that the erection of a permanent church of St. Augustine was, for several reasons, the first thing to be undertaken. The district was growing rapidly; a courageous beginning had already been made on the spot, and the little iron building which had done duty for over 20 years was inadequate to the last degree. The result of this decision was seen by all who attended the service on November 1st. It has given to North Town in less than two years a permanent church of dignified yet simple design, exactly adapted to its needs and capable of holding 300 people in its present form without a chancel. Those who were present at the opening service must indeed have felt that the Bishop of Winchester) was right in calling the occasion "a day of gladness and thanksgiving".
The week which preceded the opening was busily occupied, not only by the builders’ men in putting their finishing touches to the building, but also by a body of voluntary workers who were engaged, by the precarious light of lamps and candles, in transferring the fittings of the old church to the new. It had been decided that, in order to save all possible charges upon the fund, the interior fittings should be adapted until such time as they could be replaced by something more worthy of the building. The work of removing, fitting and re-fixing such things as choir desks, altar curtains, chairs, etc., was zealously under taken by members of St. Augustine’s congregation.
The service was timed to begin at 8 o'clock. Through the kindness of the builders and other local firms, the committee had been able to provide a large marquee opposite the west door of the church, as a robing room for the visiting clergy and combined choirs, so that all the available space inside the church could be used for accommodating the congregation. The approaches also, had been lighted with hurricane lamps, and where necessary, planks had been laid over the puddles. Before the procession was formed to proceed to the church, a brief ceremony took place in the marquee. On the arrival of the Bishop, accompanied by his chaplain carrying the crosier, the Vicar came forward to make his formal request for the dedication of the church. The Bishop having expressed his willingness to do so, the procession at once started, entering by the west door. It included - besides the Bishop of the Diocese, his Chaplain (the Rev. M.H. Fitzgerald) and the clergy and wardens of the parish - the Senior Chaplain to the Forcos, the Warden of the Soldiers' Institute, a former vicar of Aldershot (the Rev. R.J.S. Gill) a former curate-in-charge of St. Augustine's (the Rev. M.S. Parry) the clergy of Holy Trinity and the Vicar of St. Mark's, Farnborough, as well as three lay-readers holding the Bishop's licence in Aldershot.
The service began with Psalm cxxii "I was glad… " sung as the procession passed up the nave. When all were in their places, the Bishop, standing before the holy table, said the dedicatory prayers, asking God's blessing upon the various means of grace to be hereafter dispensed in the Church. Evening prayer was then proceeded with, the special lessons being read by the Rev. M.S. Parry and the Rev. R.J.S. Gill. The Canticles were sung to a special festal setting by Clarke Whitfield, by the combined choirs of the Parish Church and St. Augustine's. The service ended, during the singing of "The Church's One Foundation", the Bishop, accompanied by his Chaplain, the Vicar and the Churchwardens proceeded down the church to unveil the Memorial Stone which had been placed close to the south door. Underneath had been deposited a copy of the church extension pamphlet, with a written statement of the stone's own history, its intended use as a foundation stone laid by B.R.H. Princess Christian and its actual purpose as a record of the dedication. Then followed the sermon by the Bishop, which was based on Rev. xix.5. from the second lesson for the evening of All Saints' Day. The first note struck was that of thanksgiving for the successful accomplishment of a great work. The Bishop went on to allude to the history of church extension in Aldershot, our great needs and our special difficulties, pointing out how clear was the duty of the church to bring her message within the reach of the large population which the nation itself has gathered here. In alluding to the many disappointments and discouragements that had been met with, he spoke some strong words of encouragement and approval to those who had carried the scheme through so far by their patient work and self-denying gifts. The gifts which had gone to build up the church had combined in a very real way "the small and the great". The sermon concluded with a reference to the fitness of All Saints' Day to be the occasion of such a service and to the help to men's lives which the Church was meant to give. After the singing of the hymn "For all the Saints" (during which a collection was taken for the building fund, amounting to £2. 2. 6d.) the Bishop gave the blessing, and a very memorable service was brought to a fitting conclusion by the singing of the hymn "Now thank we all our God".
From the Parish Magazine. January. 1908.
The Editor desires to correct an error which unfortunately crept into the last issue. The collection at the Dedication Service at St. Augustine's Church amounted to £22. O. 6d. - not £2. 2. 6d. as was stated last month.
From the Parish Magazine. March, 1908.
On Monday, February 24th at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, St. Augustine's Church was consecrated by the Bishop of Winchester. The legal ceremony which was witnessed by the clergy, the Churchwardens representing the parish, and the senior sides man of St. Augustine's representing the congregation of that church, was exceedingly brief. After prayer, the Bishop directed the Registrar to read the Sentence or Deed of Consecration, which set forth that owing to growth of population the church had been built "to serve as a chapel-of-ease to the Parish Church of St. Michael, and was now to be consecrated in the name of St. Augustine's, Aldershot". The Sentence was then signed by the Bishop, who formally directed that it should be preserved among the muniments of the Diocese. That formality duly performed, the little service concluded with the Bishop's Blessing.
NOTES AND REMEMBRANCES FROM SOME WHO HAVE MINISTERED AND WORSHIPPED HERE.
FROM THE REVEREND CANON J. W. PARTRIDGE. Oakhurst, Grayshott. (Priest-in-charge 1920-26)
Your Vicar has kindly given me the opportunity of sharing with you in the Diamond Jubilee of your Church. I am grateful to him for so doing because St. Augustine's is especially dear to me. It was in Holly Road that my wife and I made our first home together. Here too our first-born son was given to us. The Church was then about twelve years old and in it I was privileged to worship with you for seven years. Much has happened since then. I was particularly glad to know that the Daughter Church of S. Michael's, as it was then, has grown up and become a separate parish with all the privileges and responsibilities attached to it. The completion of the building of the Church was a very worthy undertaking. It shows the love and affection that you all have for it. So I rejoice with you in your Festival and I pray that with God's Blessing you may go from strength to strength in the• years that lie ahead.
With all good wishes,
FROM MR. WALTER GILMOURE. 57, Southbourne Grove, Bournemouth
Reverend E.G.S. Wickham. I joined the boys' choir when the Reverend J.W. Partridge was Priest-in¬-charge, and Frank Varney was organist and I recollect the choir going to Wyke Church to sing at his wedding. The biggest impact on me personally was made with the coming of the Reverend A. Hamilton Douglas. His Tractarian teaching opened up new visions and inspiration in Sacramental worship, and to teach us he had some of the best preachers of the day. A look through the Parish Register with its long list of• signatures will testify to that. Fr. Harold Ellis, C.R., who took the Mission; Fr. Paul Bull, C.R., Bro. Douglas of the Franciscans; Fr. Andrew, S.J.E. (poet and author); Fr. Nottage who took a teaching convention, and so many more, not forgetting the Vicar, Canon H. Le Fleming who supported Fr. Douglas through all. And look at the list of servers - a good crowd. They are now scattered over the country but many would agree that the experiences of those days has helped in the ups and downs of life since. Fr. Roger Francis carried on the work, including the war years and he put S.A.C.C.A. on a firm footing.
Becoming a separate parish under Fr. Long, and the completion of the church later on (I missed this) must of course be high-lights in North Town history.
But through all the years there has been that faithful band of the laity who have worked so hard and whose loyalty and service have been second to none. We have yet to produce our first priest from the parish and then our joy will be full.
So, Happy Birthday. God bless you. The best is yet to come.
* * * * * *
Editor's Note: The first priest from the parish is indeed doing well in his training and we look forward to David Bazen's ordination in a year or two.
* * * * * *
FROM THE REVEREND ROGER FRANCIS Areley King’s Rectory, Stourport-on-Severn Worcs. (Priest-in-Charge 1937-47)
My first visit to Aldershot in November 1937 was accompanied by heavy rain as Fr. Rowsell and I walked to St. Augustine's from St. Michael's Vicarage. As soon as I saw the Church, I knew that this was where I hoped I should be allowed to minister, and so it was to be for the next ten very happy years.
In those days there were no buildings to the east of North Lane, except the old streets in North Town, and one could walk across the fields of Herretts Farm to the bottom of Roberts Road; there were many other open spaces now built upon. Rogers, Pools and Ricketts were well established and Don Pearce was quite a power in North Town.
Fr. Douglas had left behind a devoted band of worshippers and servers, some of whom I can count as personal friends to this day - Alec Hoare and Joe Smith, to mention no others.
When the war came, our hall was the only one in town not requisitioned by the military, thanks to the intervention of Mr. George Talbot, the brother of Miss Talbot who was at H.Q. So we became the social centre for troops and for over five years we ran three dances a week, the one on Wednesdays being our own special responsibility with volunteers to work the radiogram and staff the canteen - sixpence entrance and over 200 soldiers every week without fail. Looking back I wonder how we survived and did not have any serious trouble at all. We made many friends amongst the troops. Perhaps we were a little alarmed by the first Canadian contingent; we were certainly charmed by a small group of Poles with their delightfully old¬ fashioned manners.
The life of the Church continued as usual, as we were able to blackout the windows with screens. One way and another as men were called-up they were replaced by younger ones and the Women's Fellowship and Mothers' Union etc., continued to flourish. When the Scout Troop was revived in 1942 I remember we went to camp at Mr. Tice's Farm at Badshot Lea on the day of the Dieppe Raid. On another occasion we had a visit from Mr. Martin Browne and a company of actors to present T.S. Elliot's "Thomas a Becket". As the chorus of women were repeating their lines about "doom and destruction", German bombers were passing overhead on their way to Coventry.
Now I have started on this article I find it difficult to finish as so many memories, happy and otherwise, come back to me. I shall never forget my time at the "Saints" and the many kindnesses which my mother and I received and the good friends we made. May God bless you all and may the "Saints" long continue to flourish and prosper as a strong outpost of God's Church.
FROM THE REVEREND RICHARD L. COMPTON , Vicar of Nocton with Dunston, Lincoln. (Priest-in-charge 1947-50)
My period of ministry at St. Augustine's was a short one, I moved there from a well-to-do parish at Weybridge where one had only to ask and the wish was granted. Whereas I hardly moved into 161, Holly Road before I was told that the church expenditure was far ahead of income, and “What was I going to do about it?" As a first step, I sat in the church porch throughout a chilly November day to receive the gifts of the faithful, which amounted to about £30, enough to plug the leak for a while, but not for long. I was soon to learn that the boilers which had been purchased second-hand had expired completely and it now being winter, I became the target for complaints about a cold church and a cold hall. I can't remember how the money was raised to put that trouble right, but eventually we enjoyed warmth in both buildings.
Associations and Organisations which used the hall regularly, several of which expected a building fully lighted and heated, with the use of the canteen, for two or three hours, for rents of 1/- to 5/- a night. My suggestions that payments be upgraded wore not appreciated! Though my time at St. Augustine's was short, we did manage to get going one or two hopeful efforts. One evening each month, about 12-18 folk would gather in church for intercessions for the work of the Church overseas, and then a speaker from one of the Missionary Societies, or someone with overseas experience, would give us a talk.
Money was never mentioned, but I noticed that during one year the giving for overseas work went up from £9 to £38, not very much, but at least we quadrupled the amount. A branch of the C. of E. Men’s Society was formed, which not only had some useful discussions of interest to churchmen, but combined to, deal with wooden furniture in the church then under attack from some destructive termite, and also to trim the hedge and tidy up the church grounds. I was sorry to learn that the branch came to an end not long after my departure.
Frequently when I went to open the church in the mornings, I came across evidence of nocturnal visitors in the shape of empty beer bottles, fag ends, greasy paper which had once contained fish and chips. So, I had erected a sliding gate (similar to the type used in lifts) and wonder if it is still there. About the same time, we had an iron gate; with brick posts, put in opposite the church porch.
Owing to distance, I have only been able to make three visits since my departure, but always I have discovered old friends and received a wonderful welcome. Also I have happy memories of some Augustinians whoso earthly pilgrimage is over, among them - Mr. Varney, for many years a Lay Reader. Mr. Hensman, deprived of so much companionship by his deafness but always so regular in performing his duties as Churchwarden. Mr. Malone, always present at the Sung Eucharist. Mrs. Southon who came in to give us a warm welcome whilst our furniture was still being moved in, and Alan Mapp with his interest in youth work. Each did much for the church they loved. May their souls rest in peace.
A 60th Anniversary is a great occasion and I would like to add my congratulations and best wishes for the future to the congregation in North Town, Aldershot.
FROM THE REVEREND G. ROBERT WELLS. The Rectory, Mawgan, Nr. Helston. Cornwall. (Priest-in-Charge 1950-53)
No spectacular advance, or even incident, comes to mind as I look back on the three years when I was privileged to serve St. Augustine's as Priest-¬in-Charge. Rather it was a time of expectancy, of building further upon foundations already laid in hope of achieving parochial status.
So long as the part of the Church then built was more than enough to accommodate normal congregations, we did not regard the completion of the Church as a priority claim. . So we got on with more mundane things, like increasing the endowment and enlarging the parsonage house, whilst the Town Council was busily making provision for the increase in population of the area by erecting many blocks of flats.
There was a strong social life, and one remembers especially the Old Time dances. Then, as always, St. Augustine's Hall was in constant use and I think we learnt to realise that its door was not in fact in opposition to the Church door although opposite in position, but that people should make use of both in sustaining a vital parochial life.
One remembers the mission to Aldershot and the Church Army team who came to us, and of course many, many faithful worshippers and workers. Mr. Varney so many years a Diocesan Lay Reader, was, in his old age, still serving faithfully and preaching occasionally. During my time, three Churchwardens served, Mr. Morley, Mr. Long and Mr. Coles; Mr. Blackman was Treasurer and Mrs. Christie Secretary throughout; Mr. Knight and the Misses Chrissel were Sunday School Superintendents; and so one could go on recalling friends far too many to mention by name.
In personal affairs St. Augustine's was my first sale charge, and so it was a time of valuable experience for me – I trust at not too great a cost to other people Stephen, our son, had the distinction of being the first child to be born in St. Augustine's House (as the present Vicarage was then called).
New life, consolidation, expectancy - that was St. Augustine’s a decade and a half ago. Much has happened since that time, some of it the fulfilment of our hopes. Now may St. Augustine's go on from strength to strength!
FROM MRS. S.L. HOPPER. 111. Holly Rand. Aldershot. Treasurer of P.C.C.
My earliest recollections of St. Augustine's? A bit hazy I'm afraid. The first thing I remember as a very young child is going to Sunday School, which was hold in Denmark Street, and on the way, jumping over the chain link fence in front of the old tin church which was situated opposite the entrance to Canning Road. A friend and I used to attend Evensong and I can still remember how new everything looked and so severe. The Reverend H.T.C. Swingler, the first Priest-in-Charge taking the service and Mr. Varney reading the lessons and the choir boys looking so angelic in their celluloid Eton collars and bow ties. I wonder if any of them are still around. We were very scared of Mr. Stewart - the first caretaker. The highlight of our year was a Wednesday afternoon in July when we assembled outside the Church and marched up Holly Road behind a gorgeous red banner, with "St. Augustine's, North Town" done in gold. We met the other churches at the top of Church Hill and all formed up to make our way to Simond's Meadow (where St. Michael's School now stands) for our Sunday School treat. When I brought my son to church to be christened 47 years ago, by the Reverend Adam Kerr - then Priest-in-Charge - I little thought that I would eventually settle in this parish and be here to celebrate its 60th birthday. St. Augustine's holds many memories for me, some sad, some happy. For these and all the many blessings I have received there, I thank God from the bottom of my heart.
FROM THE REVEREND E. WYNN-JONES Rector of Redenhall, Harleston, Norfolk. (Priest-in-Charge 1953 – 56)
It is a privilege to have this opportunity of sending warmest birthday greetings to St. Augustine's and all its people, and to recall my own days there. Looking back, the abiding impression is one of liveliness and activity - something always seemed to be afoot, either in church or in the hall. Lots and lots of young people, and all those others who were not quite so young in years but very young in heart.
St. Augustine's, in my time, was preparing itself for full parochial status (which it achieved not long afterwards) and had built up a community with great pride in, and love for, its church, expressed both in its worship and social life. Perhaps on occasion, we were apt to crowd into the hall more freely than we crowded into church, but there always remains the picture of the number of young people at the 10.15 Mass - often dressed and equipped to go on afterwards to other activities, but they had their priorities right. I thought then and I still think now, that our services were inspiring and beautiful to the eye and to the spirit. Who could forget those Holy Week devotions, with the Maundy Thursday Eucharist that attracted a full choir and nearly a hundred people at seven o'clock in the morning, followed by the day and night vigil before the glowing altar until Good Friday, with some worshippers in prayer during every moment of those long hours. Much water has passed under the bridge in the meantime, and of course it was not all sunshine - it never can be - but the greyer days pass into forgetfulness and the brighter ones remain in the memory. St. Augustine's, I am sure, has gone from strength to strength since then, and from my present church, which celebrated its 700th birthday three years ago, I send every good wish. I have no doubt at all that at your celebrations it will be a very lively and youthful sexagenarian which wil1 blow out the candles on the birthday cake with plenty of breath to spare!
FROM THE REVEREND GARTH LONG. Hawley Vicarage, Blackwater, Camberley. (Priest-in-Charge 1956-58, First Vicar. 1958-60)
You are •now looking forward to the 60th Anniversary of St. Augustine's and it is only natural that I should be thinking of your 50th Anniversary when I was serving you.
I well remember the Parish Meeting on the 8th January 1957 when the seventy people present decided that it was time to make an effort to complete the Church building, and the launching of the appeal at Evensong on the 24th February 1957 in the presence of the Mayor, Mayoress and other dignitaries. So SACCA was born and is, I believe, still continuing. But how beautiful the Church is now that she is complete! I share your joy.
Then there was my Induction in 1958 as your first Vicar. Do you recall the visit then of Bishop Ivor? How he encouraged us at the beginning of a new chapter!
Fetes and efforts - one outstanding one organised by the "Friends" on Northfields playground when 2000 - 3000 people attended and the profit was £130.
Finally amongst my many memories the 50 years' celebration at Evensong on All Saints 1957 in the presence of Priests who had served you in former years, and the marvellous supper afterwards which 200 people enjoyed.
So many recollections - so little space to detail events and personalities but everyone remembered.
May God bless you in the joy you' are experiencing now.
From the “ALDERSHOT NEWS", July 10th. 1964. £6 .000 DREAM COMES TRUE
After years of fund raising, a dream came true for parishioners of St. Augustine's Church, Aldershot last week, when a £6,000 extension to the church was dedicated by Bishop B.N. Dale, Assistant Bishop of Guildford.
A large congregation attended the special service during which Bishop B.M. Dale dedicated the new sanctuary, vestry, sacristy and window. The stained ¬glass window was given by a parishioner in memory of her husband, Mr. Henry Broadhurst.
The Rev. Roger Francis, former priest-in-charge and the Rev. Garth Long, first vicar of the parish, joined the present vicar, the Rev. A.R.T. Rose for the dedication service. The Rev. T. Dart, Vicar of Aldershot, was also present.
St. Augustine's Church was full again on Sunday for a thanksgiving service attended by the Mayor, Alderman T. Wickenden, members of the Borough Council, and representatives of other denominations. The service took the same form as the dedication, and the Vicar preached on the guidance of the Holy Spirit and its application in the new window.
The service was sung by the Rev. Robin Taylor, curate of St. Michael's Parish Church, and lessons were read by the Mayor, and the Rev. Robert Pearson, a retired Methodist minister, from Ash Vale. The choir was specially augmented by girls from Aldershot County High School, and other music was provided by Guildford Silver Band. There was an anthem sung by Mr. David Bonner, with Mr. Bob Nicholson providing trumpet accompaniment.