Church history

The formation of Bitterne Park Congregational Church - that is the fellowship as distinct from the building- took place on 15th October 1902. However the discussions to provide Church buildings took place on 14th July 1897. This was in response to the offer of a site in the developing suburb of Bitterne Park by the Congregationalist Sir James Lemon.

 

After James Lemon donated the current site in Cobden Avenue, Above Bar Congregational Church formed a Building Committee. A corrugated iron building was soon erected at a cost of £350 and the first service was conducted on Sunday 1st January 1899 by the Rev Arthur Popham. In the afternoon the Sunday School was opened under the superintendence of Mr Chafen The celebrations continued on the following Wednesday when a Devotional Service was conducted in the afternoon followed by a Public Tea.

 

In 1902 the fellowship was officially formed as Bitterne Park Congregational Church and the first minister, Rev T C Evans, appointed. Soon the congregation became rather crowded in the original iron building, which could seat 200 - uncomfortably.
 

Southampton Corporation turned down an application to enlarge the existing building and so, on the last day of 1902 a new Building Committee was formed to provide a permanent church building. Fundraising followed including a United Bazaar with stalls from other churches which was held in the Watts Hall at Above Bar Church. This raised £163 towards the total building costs, including lighting, heating and furnishings of £3,176. The church was designed in the Free Perpendicular style by the architect J H Blizzard and the foundation stone laid on 8th November 1905 by James Lemon.


On the 27th June 1906 a Mrs P M Randall unlocked the door and declared the Church open for Public Worship in the presence of a large gathering.


In 1933 the church organ was purchased from a private house in Nottingham and installed with the addition of a new stop and electric blower.


The original schoolroom at the rear was damaged by bombing in 1941, and in 1954 the foundation stone of the new hall and schoolroom was laid, and the buildings opened the following year. These were later refurbished and linked to the main church building.