The History of St. James
It was in about 1854 that steps were taken towards the establishment of an Anglican church for Pokesdown, with the support of Admiral Popham, Lord Malmesbury and Sir George Gervis, the last named of whom gave land at the top of Pokesdown Hill, adjoining the main road, for the church site, and a second piece of land nearby for a vicarage.
The Rev. A. Morden Bennett, who had been placed in charge of St. Peter's Church in Bournemouth in 1845, strongly supported the foundation of churches in the outlying districts, and he undertook to raise funds for the church at Pokesdown. He engaged George Edmund Street to design the building.
The foundation stone of the church, which was to be dedicated to St. James The Greater, was laid by Lady Gervis on 9th March 1858. The completed church was opened and blessed on 23rd December of that year by the Bishop of Salisbury, W. Kerr, deputising for the Bishop of Winchester who was unable to attend. After the ceremony the guests were entertained to lunch by Admiral Popham at Stourfield House.
When St. James' was first built, the parish boundary was quite extensive and at the time of the Great War the parish had the following definition:
"St. James’ Parish extends from Lloyds Bank, Boscombe (including all the East side of Sea Road to the Boscombe Pier) – bounded on the front by the Christchurch Road and at the back by the Sea Front, and thence Eastward to the road on the further side of the Gordon Hotel, Stourwood, and on the North side of Christchurch Road it extends along the East side of Ashley Road to the White House Estate, and thence Eastward to the Stour River at Iford."
An in-depth account of the history of St. James' Church has been produced by a member of our congregation, Bridget Baldwin.
An Historical Guide: St. James the Greater, Pokesdown.
Published Bridget Baldwin, 1993.