Having established its responsibilities in Hoole and Newton by opening the National School cum Mission Hall in 1855, Christchurch turned its attention to the building of a church and in 1864 launched a subscription list.
The land on which it was to be built was donated by Martha Hamilton who also gave £500. It can be identified on Hoole’s Tithe Map as Plot 27, fields in Golden Grove (the story that a tributary of Flookersbrook rose there seems unfounded because on later Ordnance Survey maps the stream is shown as coming from the direction of Newton Hollows). Another donation came from William Titherington, the Chairman of the Local Board in the form of the stone necessary for the building, transported to the site. An account of the laying of the foundation stone in May 1866 gives details of the church; 600 seats of which 200 were to be free; the estimated cost, then £3,600 of which £2,500 had been raised; and a list of the items placed under the stone.
The shortfall of £1,100 meant that the building work was stopped during 1867; luckily two large donations were secured with the proviso that the church would be opened by Christmas. The report of the opening service on Christmas Eve tells us that: the architect was Mr. Daukes of Whitehall Place, London; a revised estimate was £4,600 with a spire, £3,500 without; the builder was Hughes of Aldford whose contract was £3,235 without a spire, but with a tower on which the spire could be built; the building could also allow for an extension on the south side. A spire was included thanks to Martha Hamilton who also financed the bells, ropes and chiming mechanism.
It was another four years before the church was consecrated although services were held. This delay was reported as the subject of much regret but by law the church needed an endowment before it could be consecrated, and this was not possible until “a gentleman in the neighbourhood” came forward. The final cost of the building was £8,462, the bells costing an extra £320.
Responsibility for the Church of England’s work lay with the Rev. R.D. Thomas, minister of Christchurch and he played a leading part in the development of educational and social facilities in the area. The minister appointed to All Saints, first as curate and then as vicar was the Rev. Frederick Anderson who held the post for 49 years. Arrangements had to be made for the administration of the church, how it would fit into a newly built and developing locality, dealing with the needs of its residents and their pastoral care, promoting religious belief and becoming an established and trusted part of the community. Would it be a high church with emphasis on ritual or low church with a simple and protestant emphasis? What services would be held and when; what about Sunday schools and choirs; how would it deal with the initiatives coming from the established church; how would it be involved with developing organisations like the Church Missionary Society and the British and Foreign Bible Society?
Rev. Anderson didn’t work alone, he relied on members of his congregation, more probably the great and good in it, to help with the administration and organisation of all that needed to be done. A Vestry Committee was appointed, and the first church wardens were Joseph Bridgman, Secretary of the new Local Board who lived at The Oaklands, and Charles Ewing, an Architect who lived at Golden Grove now known as the Dene Hotel. Later wardens included Charles Brown, William Comber and Arthur Dickson.
One of the issues that was dealt with was a proposal in 1877 to seat the voluntary choir in the chancel instead of the area under the reading desk. There were 600 seats of which two thirds had to be paid for and even the money raised from that was not enough to properly endow the church. Having a family pew in the local church was a great status symbol. An advertisement for the sale of Hoole Hall in 1850 refers specifically to the inclusion in the sale of not only the family pew at Plemstall Church, but also a pew for servants.
Arthur Potts, the owner of Hoole Hall in 1877 refused to move from the chancel at All Saints and the following extracts are taken from the reported discussion:
|Charles Brown||"Why should Mr. Potts dictate to the whole congregation – a person who never sets foot in the church? Mrs Hamilton would prefer to see the whole church free (of pew fees) and the chancel used by the choir."|
|Vicar||"Mr. Potts has been a great friend of the church."|
|Mr. Ewing||"If you had a good choir, I am sure it would keep the congregation together and increase it. Why do so many people from this district go to the Cathedral? Cpt. Smith (Chief Constable of Cheshire who lived at Hoole Lodge) and his family are willing to move."|
|Charles Brown||"A remark has been made directed at me personally that I sit in the free seats. I sit there on principle. I pay far more than anyone in the church for I keep an exact account of what I give."|
Seating arrangements were dictated by the need for pew fees and in the end common sense prevailed. The choir moved into the chancel.
In 1891, another issue concerned the choir as to whether it should wear surplices. A simple question generated a lot of heated debate, including a letter from the Rev. R.D. Thomas.
“I should on no account consent to such a proposal. I do not attach any importance to the surplice in the abstract. White or black it is of no consequence but I object to it as one of the steps on the ritualistic ladder, most mischievous as being so apparently innocent. Whatever people say it is a departure from the simplicity of spiritual worship and practically as step ‘Romewards’ as is being shown in many instances”
In spite of objections like this it was agreed that the choir should wear surplices.
Because of the increasing population the National School in Peploe Street needed extending or replacing. A proposal in 1889 to build in the church grounds was objected to by James Mowle who lived at The Cedars next door. The school was eventually built behind the Bromfield Arms and became known as All Saints School.
Contrary to the church’s official guidebook, there were not two vicarages. The Cedars built next door at 91 Hoole Road was the home of James Mowle and was a private residence. Rev. Anderson lived at 5 Egerton Terrace until the vicarage was built in 1885 in Vicarage Road.
A major issue for the Rev. Anderson was how to deal with the excessive drinking of alcohol and what he and others saw as an over provision of public houses. Before the church was built there were 3 public houses in Faulkner Street plus The Beehive and The Ermine on Hoole Road. He established the Church of England Temperance Society and the report of its meeting in April 1877 shows that he suggested that the proposed Drury House Inn in Peploe Street should be a ‘cocoa house’. Many of the organisations which the church would set up had temperance backgrounds e.g. the Band of Hope and the Boys’ Brigade.
Throughout his Ministry, Rev. Anderson’s major concern was that the Westminster Schools were not Church of England. A full account of the history of this dispute appears in Hoole Education. After 40 years of wrangling, he must have been very satisfied and relieved that before he retired the schools were handed over to All Saints Church.
On a lighter note….
All the above sounds very sombre and serious but there were annual church outings to exotic places such as Gresford, Rossett, Colwyn Bay and Neston. There were tea parties, supper parties, sing songs and fund-raising events. The choir had a cricket team and hand bell ringers entertained at many a social gathering.
The 20th Century
In 1907 Rev. Frederick Anderson retired. During the following 55 years only 5 appointments were made to the incumbency.
An early photograph of the church shows that there was no clock. This was installed in 1904 in memory of Charles Brown
Other illustrations show that the interior of the church before it was extended on the south side and the addition of the vestry in 1912. The pulpit was originally placed in the south east corner.
On 13th November 1916, the Rev. Robert Cecil Morrison B.A., curate of All Saints Parish was killed in action during the First World War. A stained-glass window was installed in the north wall in his memory. A full account of this appears in Wartime Hoole.
The ash War Memorial and the treble (tolling bell) were not installed until 1925. Similarly, a full account of this appears in Wartime Hoole.
In 1923 electric lighting was installed replacing the old gas lamps, and in 1933 the south west porch and door into the church were added.
In 1960 the church hall was built and activities which had been held at the Mission Room in Westminster Road for 100 years were able to be held next to the church.
2021 is the 150th anniversary of the consecration of All Saints Church and it is hoped that more of its history will be researched and celebrated. The Society would be glad to see any memorabilia, records or photographs.