Situated in St Monica Road, St Mary’s was built in 1866-67 by the Winchester architect John Colson. The foundation stone was laid on 21 July 1865 and the church was consecrated on 1 November 1866, the fourth Colson-designed church in Hampshire to be consecrated that year. It was a by-product of the rapid development of Sholing following the opening of Netley Hospital. It appears to have been a straightforward work. Described by contemporaries as a simple structure, the church was in the Early English style. The only unusual features are a single extremely large transept to the north and a quirky bell turret, in the manner of George Edmund Street, at the south-west corner.

It accommodated about 400 people; two-thirds of the seats were free. A local builder - William Williams of Inkerman Road, Bitterne - was employed for the building work. The whole was completed for a little over £2,000. The church opened not only free from debt but with a balance in the hands of the trustees. The land (just over 2 acres) was given by Thomas Chamberlayne of Weston Grove House in Woolston, and the largest subscriber to the building was John Hopton Forbes.

The first incumbent, the Reverend Francis Davidson, transferred from the Church of Holy Saviour, Bitterne, where he had been assistant curate. His son, born in Sholing in 1875, was the Reverend Harold Francis Davidson, later to find infamy as the rector of Stiffkey. The church is Grade II listed.

St Mary's Church, Sholing

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St Mary’s Church, Sholing Photograph, c.2005.

Further reading:

The Hill by the Shore. (HS/j)
Buildings of England: Hampshire and the I.O.W., by Nikolaus Pevsner and David Lloyd, p593. (H/i)
St Mary’s Church, Sholing, by B. Varilone. (HS/j)


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