Dorset OPC


Dorset OPC

St Peter's Church, Bournemouth
© Kim Parker 2010

Bournemouth blessed with seven miles of sandy beaches, a mild climate and an abundance of pines, is Dorset’s largest settlement. Situated in the eastern corner of the county, 105 miles (169km) southwest of London, it adjoins Poole in the West and Christchurch to the East, forming a conurbation with both of roughly 400,000 souls in 2001, over 40% of whom lived in Bournemouth. According to a 2007 survey, residents of Bournemouth were the happiest people in the whole of the United Kingdom. The name Bournemouth literally means ‘at the mouth of the Bourne Stream’ and started to appear on maps in the 16th century, although at that time it was nothing but heathland – mostly common land - in the Parish of Holdenhurst. Then in 1810, while holidaying at nearby Mudeford to overcome the recent death of son Grosvenor, Lewis & Henrietta Tregonwell of Cranborne and Winterborne Anderson visited the area. Perhaps Tregonwell was showing his wife his old stomping ground when as Captain of the Dorset Rangers he patrolled the clifftops and chines on the look out for smugglers and invading French. Henrietta fell in love with the place, so Lewis decided to buy land here to build her a summer house and that was the beginning of modern Bournemouth.

After the enclosure of the common land in 1802, the principal landowner was George Tapps. Together, Tapps and Tregonwell set about developing a seaside resort at Bournemouth along the lines of those springing up elsewhere on the south coast. They built villas for holiday letting and planted hundreds of pine trees to provide a sheltered walk to the beach, later known as the Invalid’s Walk. Bournemouth soon gained a reputation as a spa and developed rapidly. George Tapps-Gervis, son of George Tapps, built the landmark Royal Bath Hotel in 1838. It is to the Durrant family of Branksome Estate that we owe the beautiful pleasure gardens, which stretch through the town from the seafront to Coy Pond near the source of Bourne Stream over a mile away. George Durrant owned the fields adjoining Bourne Stream and agreed to sell them to the town at a discount if gardens would be laid out within a strict timeframe, which the Durrant family then maintained at their personal cost.

Bournemouth was almost a victim of its own success, with infrastructure lagging far behind growth in the population. By the ‘Bournemouth Improvement Act 1856’, Parliament constituted commissioners to discharge the duties of a local government authority. The railway came to Bournemouth in 1870 and further growth resulted. In 1890 Queen Victoria granted Bournemouth a royal charter of incorporation and in 1900 it achieved county borough status. By the early 20th century Bournemouth had swallowed up the settlements of Bear Cross, Boscombe, Kinson, Moordown, Pokesdown, Southbourne, Springbourne, Westbourne and Winton, and in the 1920s it would further eat into neighbouring parishes as the suburbs in Ensbury Park, Talbot Woods and Richmond Park were established. French style Mont Dore Hotel, built in 1885, became the Town Hall in 1921, the same year the distinctive War Memorial was built in the pleasure gardens. Traditionally part of the County of Southampton (later Hampshire), Bournemouth was transferred to Dorset in 1974 as a result of the ‘Local Government Act 1972’ and lost many of its powers to the Dorset County Council. These were however largely restored when Bournemouth was made a unitary authority in 1997, although for ceremonial purposes it remains part of the county of Dorset.

The Parish of Bournemouth St Peter's was created in 1845 from Christchurch and Holdenhurst, with Reverend Morden Bennett, the first rector, presiding over the building of an impressive mother church with a truly gorgeous interior to match the beauty of the town. St Peters had three new parishes carved out of it in very quick succession, namely Holy Trinity in 1867, St Michael in 1874 and St Stephen in 1882. Further parishes were also carved out of Christchurch and Holdenhurst: St James Pokesdown in 1859, St Clement's in 1871, St John the Baptist Moordown in 1874 and St Catherine's Southbourne in 1885. Bournemouth’s parishes continued to sub-divide: St John the Evangelist from St Clements and St Paul from St Michael, both in 1890, and St Augustin from St Stephen in 1900. Meanwhile, chapels of ease and district churches were being built, such as St Ambrose Westbourne for St Peter's, St Alban's for St Augustin and St Luke for St John the Baptist Moordown 1. In addition, Non-conformism was strong in Bournemouth with Baptist, Congretational, Methodist, Presbyterian and Unitarian Chapels, as well as a Roman Catholic Oratory and several catholic churches and a Meeting House for the Society of Friends. Late 20th century additions to the religious landscape would include the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, a number of synagogues and two mosques, although by then some of the earlier churches would have been demolished or converted for other purposes, including one as a nightclub.

Bournemouth Town Hall
(formerly the Mont Dore Hotel)
© Kim Parker 2010

The post of Online Parish Clerk (OPC) for Bournemouth is Doug Phillips
Clicking on the link above should generate a correctly addressed mail to Doug
Transcriptions below are courtesy of Doug unless otherwise indicated

Census 1911 Census Bournemouth West District 1, District 2, District 3
Parish Registers St Clement Baptisms 1871-1880
St Clement Marriages 1872-1888
St Clement Marriages 1889-1895
St Clement Marriages 1896-1899
St Clement Burials 1871-1945
Boscombe St John Baptisms 1891-1900
Pokesdown St John Baptisms 1915 [Jan Hibberd]
St Stephen Marriages 1902-1930 (External Site)
St Peter Burials 1846-1969 [Michael Steed]
Trade & Postal Directories  
Other Records Clergy of St Peter & St Swithun [Kim Parker]
Monumental Inscriptions St Johns, Moordown, Graveyard Index Project [External]
St Peter Roll of Honour [External]
St Stephen Roll of Honour [External]
St Swithins Roll of Honour [External]
St Clements Roll of Honour [External]
Pokesdown Roll of Honour [External]
HMS Phoebe Roll of Honour [External]

Records held at the Dorset History Centre
For details of other Parish records held please refer to the DHC Site
Registers (St Peter)
Christenings 1846-1875. Marriages 1845-1875.
Registration District
(for the purpose of civil registration births, marriages, deaths & civil partnerships)
1894-1 Jul 1925: Christchurch (Hampshire)
1 Jul 1925-1 Oct 1932: Bournemouth and Christchurch (Hampshire)
1 Oct 1932-1 Apr 1974: Bournemouth (Hampshire)
1 Apr 1974: Bournemouth (Dorset)


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