|The year 1951 marked the Centenary
of the Parish, for it was in 1851 that Freemantle was
separated for ecclesiastical purposes from the Civil
of Millbrook. At that time, Freemantle Estate was held by
the Rt. Hon. General Sir George Hewitt, K.C.B., who
resided at the Hall which stood somewhere near the site
of the present Mansion Road. The population consisted
the residents at Freemantle Hall, the Lodges and a few
scattered houses on the edge of the Park.
(Photo kindly donated by Paul Young, UK)
According to E. A. Mitchell's 'Occasional Notes,'
Freemantle Hall was not
remarkable for its design, but its surrounding lawns with
their clumps of beech,
elm. oak and maple provided a beautiful setting. It seems
that Foundry Lane and Waterhouse Lane were then in
existence and led across Millbrook Common, the former
from Shirley to the site of a foundry at Millbrook which
had been moved to Northam, and the latter to an old
We are indebted to Miss E. M. Sandell for information
about Freemantle Hall as far back as the middle of the
eighteenth century. In 1753 the poet William
Cowper was staying there with his cousin Lady Hesketh. He
was greatly attracted by the neighbourhood and described
the prospect as the most beautiful view he had ever seen,
and declared that *his spirit became joyful and light in
a moment.' Skelton's Guide of 1790 tells us that the
estate had been recently purchased by John Jarrett, Esq.,
and another guide of 1809 alludes to the residence of Mr.
Jarrett and the famous room of the hall which was
'beautifully wainscoted with sumptuous Italian Marble.'
A relation of the last occupant of Freemantle Hall was Lt.-Col.
William Hewitt. who died on October 26th, 1891, at the
age of 96. and was the last surviving British officer of
the Battle of Waterloo. He had lived for many years at 17.
East Park Terrace. His body was buried near the Hill Lane
Gate of Southampton Cemetery.
In 1852 the estate was bought by Mr. Sampson Payne, who
pulled down the mansion, built several good roads across
the park and resold the portions.
Houses now began to spring up. and soon it was felt that
some provision should
be made for the spiritual needs of the new inhabitants.
The first move was made
by Miss Charlotte Hewitt. sister of the late owner of the
estate, who lived at EImfield. Millbrook Road. She
approached Archdeacon Wigram, who recommended the
erection of a temporary church and the appointment of a
In May. 1855. the Archdeacon gave a letter of
introduction to Miss Hewitt
to the Rev. Abraham Sedgwick. As a result of this
interview. Miss Hewitt issued
an appeal for funds to purchase the laundry room ofthe.old
Hall and a piece of
ground adjoining it and to turn the building into a
temporary church. This appeal
was for £400. and was dated August 10th. 1855.
On September 13th. 1855, the Bishop of Winchester
summoned the Rev. A. Sedgwick to Farnham Castle and
appointed him to the spiritual charge of the
new Ecclesiastical District of Freemantle. On November 2nd
Mr. Sedgwick came into residence. The population of the
district was then about 1,200; the Building Fund amounted
to £410. The laundry room. an upper room over the
bailiff's house, was fitted up and licensed as a
temporary place of worship. The first service was held
there on the afternoon of Sunday, February 3rd. 1856. On
March 23rd one of the rooms of the bailiff's house was
opened for Sunday School. On the same day Sunday Morning
Service was commenced and the Holy Communion was celebrated, apparently for the first time. There were 15
On September 21st, 1856. the last service took place in
the laundry upper
room. and a week later services were commenced in the
west end of the laundry
buildings, a part formerly used as the washhouse and
Further building operations were carried on, but
difficulties now began to
multiply. We are told that on November 9th, the bailiff's
house and laundry room were 'gutted' when they were about
to be converted into a girls' school. On December 31st
the builders failed and the creditors seized all movable
materials, including Mr. Sedgwick's bell. But the
schoolroom was at last completed and used for worship. On August 5th, 1857, a
service was held in Millbrook Church to commemorate the
completion of the work, and the Bishop of Winchester was
the preacher, and on August 17th the day schools for boys
and girls were opened, with Mr. T. Winter as the first
headmaster. Thus began that long association of church
and school which has meant so much to the Parish
throughout the years. It is not possible for us in this
brief history to record in detail the progress of
Freemantle School. The first headmaster had a reputation
for 'tyrannical government,' but was soon succeeded by Mr.
and Mrs. Newton and the school began to thrive. When Mr.
and Mrs. Simpson succeeded in 1870. there was already a
need for extra accommodation, and two years later the
Infants department was built. The new Girls' School was
added in 1885.
The most important building in the Parish is. of course,
its spiritual centre, the Parish Church. The site for the
Church was purchased soon after the opening of the
school, and the foundation stone was laid by Archdeacon
Jacob on July 25th, 1861. The money was being raised by
public subscription, but the response had not been very
encouraging, and it was decided that the walls could only
be built to a height of five feel. Subsequently funds
were raised, but rather slowly, and owing to various
unexpected difficulties the work took rather a long time
(for those days). The Church was dedicated as Christ
Church, and consecrated by Bishop Sumner on July 27th.
1865. It is interesting to note that the total cost of
the building, which did not include the tower and spire,
did not exceed £7.000. The interior was constructed with
white bricks of the district with archings and mouldings
in red; the exterior was of Portland stone with Bath
The tower and spire were added in 1875. A printed letter
dated January 30th,
1874, appeals for £1,000 to carry out this work. It is
quite certain that a building
of comparable size could not be built for less than £100.000
conditionsassuming that building licences could be
On April 19th, 1866, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners
established the new parish by declaring Christ Church to
be a Rectory. Two years later the 'London
Ghetto' announced that the Church had been endowed with
£1.278 15s. 6d..invested in 3 per cent. Redeemed Bank Annuities, for the
augmentation of the
Living. Mr. Sedgwick now gave his attention to the
problem of building a rectory.
In 1869 the Bishop of Winchester gave £500 towards the
purchase of a site. and
Mr. Sampson Payne added £100. Seven hundred and sixty
pounds of stock of
the Endowment was then sold to provide a house, and the
present rectory was
built. This was Mr. Sedgwick's last great achievement. for
he was succeeded as
Rector in 1871 by the Rev. J. D'Arcy Preston.
The population of the Parish continued to grow steadily.
From a total of
1.200 in 1855 it rose to 5,000 in 1867. 7,000 in 1891.
and about 12,000 in 1900.
But the Church was alive to its responsibilities* Concern
was felt about the
expanding northern end of the Parish and eventually the
building of a Mission
Church was planned. St. Monica's Mission Church was
dedicated by the Bishop
of Guildford on September 24th, 1891. The chancel
consisted of a movable shed
which had originally formed part of Freemantle School. A
brick nave had been
added to this with a partition so that it could be used
for social purposes. This
nave was later enlarged, bringing it to its present
dimensions, and the new
portion was dedicated by the Bishop of Southampton on
March 26th, 1901. The Rev. j. D'Arcy Preston retired in
1892, having not only built the Mission Church but also
having added the tower and spire to the Parish Church and
having extended the School.
We may mention here a notable parishioner of Freemantle
who achieved international reputation. Canon S. R. Driver
(1846-1914), late Regius Professor
of Hebrew at Oxford, was the son of Mr. Rolles Driver, a
prominent citizen of
Southampton who was Mayor in 1883. Mr. Driver lived at
one time at a house
called 'Barnfield' in Millbrook Road. Canon Driver was
one of the most brilliant
Old Testament scholars of his time.
The Rev. T. W. Fair became Rector in 1892. The parish
magazine was now
started, and from its early copies we get an idea of
vigorous life. A Communicants' Guild for Women is
mentioned, a Guild of St. Andrew for men, temperance
societies nourish, and in May, 1898. a branch of the
Mothers' Union was begun. In 1897. new choir stalls were
dedicated in the Parish Church as a Diamond Jubilee
Memorial; at the same lime other work was done. including
the retiling of the chancel and sanctuary, and the
provision of new altar rails. Some of these improvements
were a memorial to Mr. Robert Ingram, Church warden for twenty years, who died that year. He had given several
gifts to the church, including the original choir stalls
and altar rails and the present West Window.
Mr. Fair was succeeded in 1902 by the Rev. F. G. G.
Jellicoe, brother of Admiral Jellicoe, who remained
Rector until 1915. During his time the chancel screen was
given by Mr. George Worth, the font cover by the Rev. A.
L. Lewington, and a new lectern and Bible were provided
in memory of Mr. T. (?. Lowman, Rector's Warden for many
years. The first World War took a heavy toll of the
Parish; the names of the men who gave their lives may be
seen on the memorial on the north-west wall of the church.
Mr. Jellicoe's early years were marked by the increasing
need for money for the schools, a matter which became
critical in the time of his successor, the Rev. C.
Collis, who was Rector from 1915 to 1929. Mr. Collis
fought continuously to save the schools. He was obliged
to launch one appeal after another for almost the whole
of his time. In 1926 the Parish Hall was acquired, and in
September of that year Archdeacon Daldy unveiled six oil
paintings which had been painted and given by Mr. W.
Gange. In 1928 an organ was bought for the Mission Church
and a bell was given by the Missions to Seamen. In the
same year electric light was installed in the Parish
The Rev. G. Uppington was Rector from 1929-1935. when he
by the Rev. F. G. Reeves. In 1931 the organ was taken
down and rebuilt. In 1937 the church was considerably
beautified by the new altar, reredos and panelling given
by Miss Worth, together with the Lady Chapel altar in
memory of Edward and Mary Jane Robinson, reredos and
sanctuary in memory of Mr. H. F. Bath and several others.
In the following year the baptistery was renovated and the
west door screen and lobby were completed. The present
lectern Bible was dedicated in memory of Mr. A. J. H.
Marshall, formerly headmaster of the school. Also the
choir vestry screen was extended, and floodlighting was
provided for the chancel and hanging lights over the
pulpit and lectern by Mr. James Russell, the Verger. Many
parishioners will remember Mr. Russell's long service and
profound knowledge of ecclesiastical matters.
During the second World War. the parish suffered severely
from enemy bombing, and the church activities were
greatly disorganised, but services were maintained
without a break. By the mercy of God the Parish Church
and Mission Church escaped destruction, though several
windows were broken and minor damage was caused to (he
Parish Church. The Mission Church was taken over by the
Dockland Settlement, who had been bombed out of their
original headquarters. Mr. Reeves became Vicar of
Bursledon in 1944 and was followed by the Rev. W. A. H.
Barnes, who was in charge until 1951, when the Rev. E.
Dowse succeeded him.
The Rev. Raymond C. Spittle succeeded Mr. Dowse. A
feature of his years has been the renewal of contacts
with past ministries. He was able to bring back Rev. G.
Uppington, Rev. Hedley Shearing the beloved Curate of Rev.
W. H. Barnes* time. and Rev. Edgar Dowse, all to take
part in special services. Each of these visits high-lighted
the continuity of the life of the Church; how its
tradition and spirit have lived through the years and all
changes of personnel.
The process of beautifying the house of God has gone on.
In 1956 the Misses
E. and W. Thorne gave new floodlights for the Sanctuary
in memory of their
Mother, and in 1963 Altar lighting in memory of their
Father. Mr. A. Thome lived to over 90 and had been a
pillar of worship and activity here for most of his life.
In 1961 the Mothers' Union gave a Sanctuary Vase in
memory of Mrs. Bath. who in her day had done yeoman work
for the Mothers* Union. In 1962 Mr. E. Quick gave a rich
banner for the Sunday School in memory of his Wife. In
1964 Mrs. E. Rossgavea new set of Choir Psalters in
memory of her husband Edwin Ross. a great maker of music
for the glory of God. In that same year Mrs. Gough gave a
Sounding Board for the Pulpit in memory of her husband Mr.
B. Gough a parishioner and neighbour for over 50 of our
So lives the Church, and that brings the outline of the
story of the devotion and concern of the members up to
the present. Outward conditions have changed.
Here is a quotation from the Magazine in Rev. T. W.
Fair's time. 1900.
'For the last six weeks our Soup Kitchen has been in full
swing, and three limes a week 50 gallons of good soup
have been distributed each day. With so much sickness
prevailing this Winter, and with coals at almost
prohibitory prices for poor people, the soup has been
more than usually appreciated, and the demand for it is
likely to be kept up for some lime to come.'
The Centenary Year is in more prosperous times, hut the
need for the Gospel of the Grace of God is no less, and
Christ Church Freemantle remains to proclaim and teach it.
Christ Church, Freemantle is a Victorian
church which was consecrated in 1865. It was designed by William White
who was also responsible for St Michael and All Angels Church in
The dedication date in 1865 was an important
day - and one which we remember and celebrate each year - but it is
just one of a number of milestones in Christ Church's history. The
church is one of the oldest buildings in the parish of Freemantle,
mainly because it came into being in response to Freemantle being
created. Until the 1850s the area was part of a large privately owned
estate. When the estate was sold and broken up a large number of
houses were built and the population grew.
Miss Charlotte Hewitt, sister of the previous owner of the land, was
responsible for starting off the appeal for money to establish a place
of worship in the area and the first services were held in a temporary
building in 1856.
We have reason to be proud of our Victorian forebears - when looking
at the needs of the new population they decided to put the need for a
school to be built ahead of the need for a new church building. So,
with little money, they set about the building of the new school,
which still exists today, and used the building on Sundays for their
worship. Only with that task completed did they turn their attention
to the new church which was to be four years in the building. The
delay was caused by continually running out of money but their goal
was finally reached although the church looked different, both inside
and out, to the building we see today. The main difference was that
the tower and spire could not be afforded and were deferred until
Christ Church has grown and changed along with the parish of
Freemantle. At one time the church was said to have had the atmosphere
of a cathedral close but Waterloo and Paynes Roads have gradually
encroached leaving the church exposed and visible to all passers-by
It is not just the church building which has changed, rectors, curates
and churchwardens have come and gone, new rectories have been built
and old rectories pulled down but the life and worship continues.