The Parish Church of St Peter is at the
north-east corner of St Peter's Road and Hinton Road. Until the early
nineteenth century the area where Bournemouth now stands was just heathland
on which cattle grazed. In 1810 a man named Tregonwell visited the beach
with his wife. She loved the area and persuaded him to build a house there.
He purchased 8.5 acres and built a house with cottages for his butler and
gardener, the first inhabitants of Bournemouth.
In 1837 the beginnings of modern Bournemouth began to
be built up as a purpose-built seaside resort, and between 1853-1879
the present church of St Peter was built at the heart of the thriving town.
The main architect was George Edmund Street. Mary Shelley, the writer and
novelist, is buried here, as is the heart of her husband, Percy Bysshe
Shelley, which was brought back from Italy. The town's Unitarian Church
also meets here.
Punshon Memorial Methodist Church sits on the
northern side of Exeter Road, opposite the Bournemouth International Centre
(BiC). The church was built in 1958 and named after a nineteenth century
Wesleyan preacher. In 2008 the building was acquired by a leading hotelier
after years of negotiation. The building was still standing in 2009,
but was expected to be demolished. The attached Church House was
likely to be retained for its architectural features.
St Andrew's Presbyterian Church stands between
Exeter Road and Terrace Road at the junction between the two. The
Presbyterians split from the Congregationalists and the church at the top
of Richmond Hill shortly after it opened in 1856. In 1857 they built their
own church of St Andrew, the Scotch Church, close to Southbourne
Terrace, but this was demolished in 1886 to make way for business
premises. Fortunately, a new site had already been secured.
The present Grade II listed church was built in
1887. The Presbyterians and Congregationalists re-united nationally
in 1972 and the church was no longer required, although it may have
continued in use until about 1997 when it finally closed. Richmond
Hill United Reformed Church (see below) adopted its name around that
time. For some years the church served as the Landmarc Theatre. By 2010,
it had changed hands again and was now host to the trendy 'V Club'.
St Stephen's Church is at the north-west corner
of St Stephen's Way and St Stephen's Road. Public subscription provided
the funds for the church, as a memorial to Alexander Morden Bennett, first
vicar of St Peter's who died in 1880. On 11 October 1881, the foundation
stone was laid and dedicated by Bishop Harold Browne of Winchester. The
church was completed in 1898, after being built in stages, and it replaced
a mission church which stood a little to the south.
By 1880 the great 'Oxford Movement', which brought fresh
life and vigour to the Church of England, had spread throughout the country.
St Peter's Church was one of those in which the services were adapted to the
new order of things. When its first vicar died it was feared that the church
was reverting to the old state of things. So St Stephen's was built to carry
on the Catholic tradition. To this day the tower still lacks the spire
which was intended for it.
Richmond Hill St Andrew's United Reformed Church is
on the north-east corner of Bourne Avenue and Braidley Road. The first church
on the site was opened in 1856, founded jointly by Congregationalists and
Presbyterians. Soon after, the latter founded St Andrew's Church (see above)
at the foot of Richmond Hill. The Congregationalists soon found their
building too small, and replaced it in 1891 by the largest place of
worship in Bournemouth. The Presbyterians rejoined in 1972.