A brief history of

St. Paul's Parish Church in Westham (Weymouth)

A Century and a Half of worshipping God and serving the community

1880

The first Chapel

The growing population of Westham needs a place of worship and a school

In 1852 the land to the north of the Backwater, or Radipole Lake as it more commonly known now, was still just farmland and laid within the parish of Wyke Regis. However, by 1880 the population had grown to the extent that Westham became a proper suburb of Weymouth, and the Reverend Pigou, Rector of Wyke Regis, instigated the opening of a school and chapel of ease on the south side of Abbotsbury Road. The Chapel, dedicated to All Saints, seated 200.

Within ten years however, it was obvious that in this rapidly growing suburb the Chapel would soon become inadequate. Indeed, while the population of Westham in 1892 was about 1,500, in 1911 it was 3,954 (in comparison, Holy Trinity had 6,686 residents; St. John’s 4,751; and St. Mary’s Melcombe Regis 6,387).

1892

Father Sydney Lambert

All starts with the compassion and vision of a charismatic priest

The Reverend Sydney Lambert who was curate in charge of the Chapel together with several parishioners held a meeting on April 21st 1892 at Weymouth Guildhall, chaired by the Bishop of Salisbury, to propose the building of a new church for Westham. A site had already been chosen on the opposite side of the road from the existing Chapel and school, and this was secured for the princely sum of £60, and later purchased for £655 (approx. £72,570.00 today).

Father Lambert seems to have been an energetic and charismatic man who inspired others by his enthusiasm and it was due in no small part to him that the new church was built. In 1893, a limited competition was held for architects to send their designs for the church and after careful examination, that of George Fellowes Prynne was selected in favour of two other schemes. Tenders were invited for the construction of the building. Money was raised by public subscription.

1894

Works begin

The growing population of Westham needs a place of worship and a school

By 1894 enough funds had been raised to allow construction to begin, with Mr. W. H. Gooding of Exeter hired as the builder. The foundation stone was laid by the Countess of Hoyos on 9th May 1894. The ceremony was attended by the Bishop of Salisbury, the Weymouth Mayor and Corporation, members of the local clergy and the public. In a cavity hollowed out of the foundation stone is a bottle containing a piece of parchment on which is written the dedication, which concludes with the words: “Here let true faith and fear of God and brotherly love, ever flourish and abound”.

As work progressed, problems emerged with the contractor when it was realised the church could not be completed by the time specified and contracted for. Work was temporarily halted but recommenced when Prynne took over the project himself. As further funds were required before the entire church could be built, the initial agreement was for enough of the building to be built to provide accommodation for 400 persons.

1896

Dedication of the first building

Though not yet completed, the church opens its doors to the public

The contracted work was completed in 1896 and the new church building, dedicated to St. Paul Apostle, was dedicated by the Bishop of Salisbury, the Right Rev. John Wordsworth, on 25th January 1896. It included two bays of the nave, north aisle, south transept, chancel, vestries and organ chamber, along with the permanent foundation of the whole church. A third bay of the nave, at the west end, was also erected as a temporary section. At the time, £5,600 had been spent on the church and land, £1,850 of which had still to be raised. In the following years, the committee continued to raise funds and the debt was reduced to £600 by 1900.

1900

St. Paul’s becomes a Parish

Further funds have been raised, St. Paul's is consecrated and becomes a Parish in 1902

In May 1900, a meeting was held at the Royal Hotel in Weymouth to discuss the proposed consecration of the church and the formation of a separate parish from Wyke Regis. The Bishop of Salisbury offered to consecrate the church on 18th October 1900 if the debt was reduced to £300 by the beginning of that month and if the architect of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners certified St Paul’s was structurally sufficient as a parish church. £450 was successfully raised and the Bishop of Salisbury consecrated the church on St. Luke’s day, 18th October 1900.

Two years later, in 1902 Westham became its own parish, with St Paul’s as the parish church. A side chapel was added to the church in 1903 and all permanent work completed in 1913 with the Baptistery. The baptismal font, the oldest element of the building, is from the 19th century, and it was brought to St. Paul’s in 1932 from its original place, Christ Church, West Fordington (Dorset) when the latter was demolished.

1922

Extension and Embellishment

In the period between 1922-1950 the original building is extended and embellished

Later additions are the High Altar and gradine (1922), the reredos with mosaics (1922) and the War Memorial (1926). The church has been a Grade II listed building since 1974, with the World War I memorial outside also designated Grade II in 2016.

Stained glass windows - Percy Bacon Bross did seven of the eight Lady Chapel windows, a chancel south window (high up), a north aisle window and lastly the large west window, all between 1908-21. A. O. Hemming & Co. made the missing Lady Chapel window (St. Margaret of Antioch), the windows in the Baptistry and another in the north aisle, in 1936-38. Finally three south aisles windows are by S. Walker of G. Maile & Son, 1948-50.

1955

Vicarages

It takes some time to find the right place for the Vicarage

The Incumbents of the church resided in a house next to the church to the west, in what is now known as the Westwey Hotel at 62 Abbotsbury Road. The desired plot for a vicarage on the eastern side of the church was not readily available, it being occupied by a market garden and a greenhouse, with a small wooden bungalow belonging to James Stagg, one of the first residents of Westham. Persuading the tenant to leave and the interruption of the Second World War meant that the vicarage was not built until 1955.

Vicars

List of the Incumbents of the Parish of St. Paul in Westham (Weymouth)

1902-1906       Fr. Sydney Lambert

1906-1939       Fr. John Martyn Fisher

1939-1957       Fr. Frederic John Colyer

1957-1966       Fr. Henry Maude

1966-1970       Fr. Vernon Thomas

1970-1995       Fr. David John Green

1995-2002       Fr. David Lashbrooke

2003-2019       Fr. Richard Harper

2019-present   Fr. Gregory A. Lipovsky

St Paul's

St Paul’s is a lively, forward-looking Anglican church in the Catholic tradition. We are affiliated to the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda and our PCC has passed the resolution seeking episcopal oversight from the Bishop of Ebbsfleet.

We are part of the diocese of Salisbury and the Deanery of Weymouth and Portland. We maintain very close links with our Voluntary Aided School, Beechcroft St. Paul’s. 

Get in touch

58 Abbotsbury Road

Weymouth

DT4 0BJ

01305 771217

stpweymouth@gmail.com

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