Dorset OPC


including the parishes of St James & St Paul

Dorset OPC

St James, Poole (Courtesy Michael Day, Dorset Churches)

Poole is a large coastal town and seaport, 20 miles east of Dorchester, and Bournemouth adjoins Poole to the east. The Borough of Poole was made a unitary authority in 1997, gaining administrative independence from Dorset County Council. The town had a population of 138,288 according to the 2001 census making it the second largest settlement in Dorset.

Poole developed as a port as Wareham declined due to silting in the river. As ships became larger and with the development of the wool trade, Poole's deep-water harbour became more suitable. Thus from the 13th century Poole became a port and fishing town. In 1406 Poole was raided by the French in retaliation for the exploits of the local privateer or pirate, (depending on your nationality), Henry Page. Despite this set back, by 1433 Poole had exceeded Weymouth in size to become the largest port in Dorset.

Poole's importance declined with the wool trade, but was saved by the Newfoundland trade. This was a three-cornered route whereby ships went out to Newfoundland loaded with salt and provisions, brought salt fish back to the Mediterranean countries and finally came home with wine, olive oil and dried fruits. From the beginning of the 17th century Poole was one of the main ports of this trade but the trade declined in the early 19th century. The port was once again saved from decline when from the 1890s the growth of Bournemouth as a resort stimulated coastal trade at Poole with the import of building materials and so on for the new town.

St. James' Church (above) is a simplified Gothic Revival style parsih church in the Old Town which was totally rebuilt in 1820. The previous church on the site was first mentioned in documents from 1142 and had been extensively rebuilt in the 16th century. Although the reasons for rebuilding the church have been lost in the mists of time it may well have been connected with the discovery of open coffins beneath the church floor which gave rise to some very unpleasant smells.

Rebuilt during the later years of the Newfoundland trade its supporting pillars are unusually made from wood. These pine pillars are said to have been felled in Newfoundland for the masts of ships and were originally covered with plaster and painted to resemble stone. The church contains the mahogany and gilt reredos of 1736 which came from the earlier church.

Poole High Street, Looking North

In the early 1800s there was considerable public concern at the lack of church accommodation in Poole. By the 1830s handbills were circulating in the town calling for the erection of a church of ease to reduce congestion at St James. The population of the town at the time was approcahing 10,000 yet St James could accommodate a mere 1800. St. Paul's Church (left) was built on the west side of High Street opposite Globe Lane.

In 1880 the Chancel and north-west end of the nave was rebuilt in Gothic style. The Amity Lodge of Freemasons sponsored the building and Mr. Montague Guest, brother of Lord Wimborne, who was then worshipful Master, and his mother, Lady Charlotte Shreiber, laid commemorative tablets in the foundations.

In 1960 it was decided that St. Paul's was no longer required and it was demolished in 1963 and its site sold for the erection of shops. 25,000 of the sale went to refurbish St James and the window on the south side of St. James showing the Crucifixtion came from the east window of St. Paul's.

The new OPC for Poole is Jillian Lea

Please include the words "OPC Poole" in the subject line of your messages
Click on Jillian's name above to generate a correctly addressed mail

Census 1841 Census (8 Districts & Borough Gaol)) St James District 1, District 2, District 4 [Alison Emery]
1841 Census of Poole Union Workhouse
[Rosemary Valentine]
1841 Census for Poole - Longfleet [Rosemary Valentine]
Parish Registers St James
Baptisms 1653-1684, 1685-1721, 1722-1740 [Jillian Lea]
Baptisms (contd) 1872-1880 [Frances Cortis]
Marriages 1653-1684, 1685-1721, 1722-1740 [Jillian Lea]
Burials 1653-1684, 1685-1721, 1722-1740, 1740-1765 [Jillian Lea]
Burials (contd) 1872-1880 [Frances Cortis]
St Pauls
Baptisms1872 - 1880 [Frances Cortis]
Burials 1872-1880 [Frances Cortis]
Poole Burial Ground
Burials 1872-1875 & 1876-1880 [Frances Cortis]
Postal Directories Kelly's Directory 1889 - Part 1, Part 2 [Ron Adams]
Photographs Photographs and old postcard views of Poole
Church Records Remains from burials in the old Unitarian Church in Poole (including Hill Street) were relocated in 1970 and a report lodged at the Public Records Office. Whilst the vast majority were unidentifiable a few inscriptions were found and are detailed here [Mike Russell]
Hill Street Unitarian Church Monumental Inscriptions index

Skinner Street Congregational Church Burials 1802-1837 [External site]
Poole Methodist Chapel Baptisms 1809-1820 [Kim Parker]
Poole Methodist Circuit Baptisms 1819-1837 [Kim Parker]
Other Records Fishermen, Mariners & Seamen of Poole [Jillian Lea & Thomas Cole]
, 1501-1600, 1601-1700, 1701-1800
Bastardy Bond - Jenny Christophers [Mike Russell]
Wills of Poole Residents
Links Poole High Street Project - Very informative, expanding site with details and photographs of Poole High Street
Maps The 1891 Ordnance Survey maps of the parish can be seen at the old-maps site, just enter 'Poole' under place search.

Parish Records held at the Dorset History Centre, Dorchester
Poole St. James'
Poole St. Paul's


Baptisms Marriages Burials Banns
1550-1975 1538/9-1994 1538-1931 1754-1997
1833-1956 1862-1956 1861-1912 1949-1956
See also Branksome, Broadstone, Canford Magna, Canford Cliffs, Hamworthy, Heatherlands, Kinson, Lilliput, Longfleet, Oakdale and Parkstone


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