Churchill Gardens report

Bournemouth Council has published a very good report on the history and architecture of Churchill Gardens in Boscombe.

Churchill Gardens: Conservation Area Appraisal sets out how to restore the square’s heritage features.

It should be added that the now public garden in the middle was, certainly in the 1950s and 1960s at least, fenced off as the playing field for Gorse Cliff School in Boscombe Spa Road. The boys walked in twos six afternoons a week to the playing field.

Two photographs in the report show 3 Borthwick Road, on the south side, was the childhood home of Rosamond Essex who became the first, and so far only, female editor of The Church Times.

She lived in the house during the First World War when her brother was killed. Their father was chaplain to the Sisters of Bethany orphanage next to St Clement’s Church.

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Bournemouth tram disaster

“Britain’s worst tram accident since 11 were killed in Dover in 1917,” said the Evening Standard this week in reporting the Croydon tram disaster.

At Croydon seven people have died which is the same number of fatalities resulting from the 1908 Bournemouth tram crash.

This also happened in slight darkness, although in 1908 it was at the end of the day, and was the consequence of a tram travelling from The Triangle failing to negotiate the bend in Avenue Road. It crashed down into the Upper Gardens behind Glen Fern. In addition to the deaths there were 26 people treated for injuries.

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Paul Nash exhibition

A review of Tate Britain’s Paul Nash anniversary exhibition can be found on the Bournemouth Coast Path site.

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The George at Christchurch reopens

It is good to hear that Ye Olde George Inn at Christchurch has reopened.

The pub is part of the history of Bournemouth as well as Christchurch.

Here in 1802 ‘waste grounds’ were put up for auction by the Enclosure Commissioners.

Common land was divided into parcels, or ‘allotments’. The sale determined ownership boundaries for the Meyrick and Malmesbury estates on heathland which was to become Bournemouth.

William Driver from London bought a strip along the north side of the River Bourne from The Square to the old county boundary at today’s County Gates in Westbourne.

The inn has been closed for six months.

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St Peter’s Hall to go

The Bournemouth Civic Society has criticised the decision to demolish St Peter’s Hall.

The building, in Hinton Road opposite St Peter’s Church, is now due to be replaced by student accommodation and a cafe.

Civic Society chairman Ken Mantock says: “We are very disappointed, this is clearly a very historic and interesting building.”

He feels that the building could have been converted.

The hall, designed by local architects HE Hawker who were also responsible for Westbourne Arcade, was built in 1908.

Three years later Beatrice Webb spoke in the hall at a meeting sponsored the Poole & Bournemouth branch of the National Committee for the Prevention of Destitution.

Mrs Webb was promoting her Poor Law Commission minority report which called for preventative measures and a basic wage. This was the seed which later in the century became the now widely accepted welfare state.

The best seats in the hall that September night cost half a crown but gallery seats were free.

The campaign had the support of poets Rupert Brooke and James Elroy Flecker who both had local connections.

The hall had for many years a branch of SPCK bookshop in the basement with a shop window and door in the lane at the side. The adjacent small hall was the meeting place for many organisations including the Bournemouth Model Parliament.

The front of St Peter’s Hall, which has been covered over for  along time, is very attractive. A solution would have been to retain the front and so preserve the Hinton Road streetscape seen from St Peter’s churchyard which is popular with visitors.

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Sir Percy Florence Shelley pub to close

JD Wetherspoon has announced that it is to close its Sir Percy Florence Shelley pub in Boscombe.

The pub, with its interesting pictures on the walls, has been an important local recognition of poet Shelley’s son who lived in Boscombe and played an important role in the community.

Also on the list of 45 pubs being closed is Worthing’s Sir Timothy Shelley which is named after Sir Percy’s grandfather.

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The Durrells

The Durrell family as depicted on ITV

The Durrell family as depicted on ITV

The Durrells which began on ITV last Sunday night appeared to give a glimpse of Bournemouth in the 1930s.

The family was in the town when they decided to move to Greece but sadly ITV shot the Bournemouth scenes in Croydon rather than St Albans Avenue in Charminster. That is where the family lived and where they returned to occupy two houses.

The school scene was also filmed in Croydon, at the Royal Russell School. Gerald attended Wychwood School (now Wychwood Drive housing) next to Meyrick Park for two terms.

Lawrence, the struggling would-be writer, had already made friends with Alan G Thomas before the family left the town. Alan Thomas worked at the Horace G Commin bookshop in Old Christchurch Road but soon he was to become its owner. This was fortunate for Thomas played a crucial role in preserving Lawrence’s work and papers which are now in Southern Illinois Unversity’s Morris Library.

Will the series end with the family’s dramatic post war exploits in Bournemouth involving lost animals and a sinking boat in Poole Harbour?

Watch the first instalment here.

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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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Cardinal Merry del Val

Today, Friday 26 February, is the anniversary of the death in 1930 of Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val y de Zulueta.

His Eminence was baptised in old St. James’s Spanish Place in 1865 and made his first communion at The Sacred Heart in Bournemouth in 1872.

The family lived in Bournemouth’s Meyrick Road from 1971 to 1875. The hexagonal post box on the corner of Grove Road survives from those days.

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John Walker RIP

Bournemouth historian John Walker has died suddenly.

The Bournemouth Daily Echo has an obituary and I have added a tribute.

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