John Keble 150: Today in 1866 at Bournemouth

Today, Easter Tuesday 29 March 2016, is the 150th anniversary of John Keble’s death.

As this year, Easter was early in 1866 and Keble’s death came on Maundy Thursday.

John Keble, the hymnwriter and author of The Christian Year who initiated the Church of England’s catholic revival, came to Bournemouth on 11 October 1865 after retiring as vicar of Hursley in Hampshire.

Bournemouth was the choice because his wife Charlotte was unwell. At first they were in “an inconvenient lodging” but at the end of the month they found Brookside in Exeter Lane. It was the last house before the sea and is now part of The Hermitage Hotel opposite the pier.

By January he was happy to write “we do not at all repent of having come here”. He walked daily through the pleasure gardens, crossing the River Bourne, to attend the Eucharist at St Peter’s where he had once preached and knew the vicar Morden Bennett.

He also worshipped at St Swithun’s Church.

During this last six months of his life he corresponded with such leading Oxford Movement figures as William Gladstone, Blessed John Henry Newman and Dr Edmund Pusey. He was also involved in preparations for the publication of his Oxford lectures.

Keble’s sister-in-law Bessie stayed to help nurse his wife.

Keble died at Brookside early on Maundy Thursday 29 March. His wife died in May. The following year he was depicted in a stained glass window in St Peter’s south transept which since 1906 has been known as the Keble Chapel.

St Stephen’s Church, built in 1880, was placed under the patronage of his memorial Keble College, Oxford which was founded just five years after his death.

John Keble appears in the Anglican calendar on 14 July which is the anniversary of his 1833 Oxford sermon considered as the beginning of the Oxford Movement and the renewal of Anglicanism.

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