Richmond Hill St. Andrews Church
A welcome at the heart of Bournemouth
|"I am the light of the world" in St Andrew's Chapel is a beautiful copy of Holmon Hunt's original work|
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“When I needed care and support, the church was there, I did not have to ask.”
“I feel I have most benefited from the love and understanding shown to me by everyone I’ve talked to. I enjoy the feeling of fellowship on the social occasions that are lovely opportunities for people to come together in a friendly, family atmosphere.”
Bournemouth was a fairly new and growing town in the mid 19th century. The first church on this site was founded jointly by Congregationalists and Presbyterians in 1856. There were just 24 members.
Soon after, the Presbyterians decided to build their own place of worship at the foot of Richmond Hill, known as the “Scotch” Church.
In time the first Richmond Hill church building was too small and it was replaced in 1891 by the present church. This cost £14,000 including the furnishings. John Donkin, a noted local architect designed the new church in the “Late Gothic” with a capacity for 1200 people. By the turn of the 20th century there were a further 800 new members.
The imposing exterior is matched by a grand and spacious interior. Stone arcades with naturalistically carved capitals support an immense wooden vaulted roof. The Minister at that time, Revd Ossian Davies, donated the magnificent pulpit.
At the back of the Nave is a fine eight-light window filled with superb stained glass by Clayton & Bell in 1920 as a memorial to those who died in the First World War. There are two themes; Sir Galahad and the Quest for the Holy Grail, and scenes from John Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress.’ Coats of arms and regimental badges are also depicted.
The magnificent South Window at the back of the
To mark the conclusion of reconstruction after war damage at the north end of the buildings, a Children’s Church "Little Church" was added in 1954. Now re-named St.Andrew’s Chapel, this too contains some glorious stained glass, including a fine copy of Holman Hunt’s “The Light of the World.” The spacious Church Lounge also dates from this time.
Our church building is unusual for a Nonconformist 'chapel' because it is so beautiful. Beauty can help us worship God - our ancestors were suspicious we might worship the holiness of beauty and not the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
The church quickly became one of the most famous Congregational Churches in England, not least because of some nationally and internationally renowned ministers. J D Jones was Minister for nearly 40 years and an Honourary Secretary of the Congregational Union. His successors Dr John Short and Dr Trevor Davies were each in turn, like JD, Chairmen of the Congregational Union.
In 1972 the church became part of the United Reformed Church, a union of Congregationalists and Presbyterians and later Churches of Christ congregations. It encouraged local unity by its membership and leadership of the Town Centre Covenant Partnership with Sacred Heart Roman Catholic, St Stephen's and St Peter's Church of England, Punshon Memorial Methodist Church, and a sister United Reformed Congregation at East Cliff near the railway station.
In January 2005 Richmond Hill church united with the recently closed St Andrew's Church (formerly a Presbyterian church) across the square, to form Richmond Hill St Andrew's United Reformed Church on the Richmond Hill site.
John Walker, an official Bournemouth Guide and local historian has provided details of a guided walk which takes just under two hours (at easy pace) around the town centre. Full details can be found on the web site:
The guide includes all faiths and its aim is to cover the history of the development and building of all the town centre places of worship and any historical links between them. Details of notable events and famous people who have worshipped at the various locations will be included.