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Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of Dorset

by Peter Kessler, 30 May 2010

Poole Part 1: Churches of Poole

St James, Parish Church of Poole

St James, Parish Church of Poole, lies between Church Street and West Street at the south-western end of the town centre. The original Norman church was built in 1142, but amazingly little detail is available to describe it. The present church was a complete rebuild of the old church which took place between 1819-1821, creating a Georgian-style building. Thanks to its associations with the harbour, St James is also known as 'the fisherman's church'.

St James, Parish Church of Poole

Along with many relics from the Norman church, the building also contains highly unusual wooden pillars like the masts of the sailing ships that formerly docked at the nearby harbour. These pillars were transported from Newfoundland, with which Poole has centuries of close association. A local story has it that during the reign of Edward VI, the duke of Somerset ordered eight bells to be sold in aid of Poole's fortification, but the bells were lost during passage to Holland.

Church of Scientology Mission of Bournemouth

The Church of Scientology Mission of Bournemouth (High Street Poole) appears as little more than the doorway shown here, between the public house and Latimer House at 44-46 High Street. The 'churches' of this controversial cult are open every day of the week, not only on Sundays, and members come and go at different times during the week, apparently participating in religious services or community activities. The church uses the first floor of the building.

Skinner Street United Reformed Church

Skinner Street United Reformed Church is a Grade II listed chapel on the northern side of Skinner Street, at the junction with Lagland Street. It was built about 1777 and a vestry was added in 1814 when the interior was refitted. Further interior alterations took place in 1880 and 1886. According to the Paranormal Database, box pews and brass lamps can sometimes be seen within the church, even though they were removed in the nineteenth century.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army citadel in Poole is on the northern side of New Orchard, with Hill Street on its eastern side. The building is comparatively recent, probably dating to the 1970s or 1980s. Whether it replaced an older building is not known. The Poole Citadel received some publicity in February 2009 when Young Salvationist, sixteen year-oldBethany Greenwood was recognised in Poole's 'Young Star' scheme, to be commended for her work among the homeless.

Poole Baptist Church

Poole Baptist Church is crammed into the north end of Hill Street, with Dear Hay Lane behind it. It is almost invisible from the nearby High Street. It is a Grade II listed building which was put up about 1815, replacing a previous chapel of 1735, which is marked by a plaque. It was altered about 1879. Construction was in brick with terracotta dressings and a slate roof, while the building is rectangular in shape. The original three-door entrance was replaced, maybe in 1879.

Poole Christian Fellowship

Poole Christian Fellowship is on Lagland Street, on the north-east corner with North Street. The Fellowship began in 1989 with a small meeting in a private house. The first public meetings took place in 1990 in Garland Road, before switching to Hamworthy Middle School in the mid-1990s. In early 1996 they were contacted by the leadership of Poole Evangelical Church, a Brethren Assembly that had occupied Lagland Street for over a century, and the two bodies merged.

Poole Methodist Church

Poole Methodist Church sits at the very top of the High Street, where it meets North Street. A chapel was erected on the site in 1793, but the present building was constructed in 1878, leaving the old chapel at its rear to serve as a hall. The buildings became badly deteriorated, and the church closed for worship in summer 2009 after a large section of plaster fell from a high wall. Radical changes were proposed to convert it into a lively centre for the whole community.

All photos on this page kindly contributed by M Kessler.

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