St Paul's, on the east side of London Road, was the first modern church in Southampton to be built outside the town walls. It was originally a proprietory chapel to All Saints Church, built to serve the rapidly growing population on the northern approaches to the town. A public subscription was set up in February 1826 to finance the chapel and building tenders were advertised on 17 January 1827. The contract was awarded to Messrs Roe and Sons of 182 High Street. The architectural designs were by Thomas Benham, who had recently moved to Southampton from Poole and was heavily engaged in architectural work for several important clients in the neighbourhood. The chapel, in Perpendicular Gothic, was a simple parallelogram, consisting of a single chancel, and built of brick covered with stucco. Philip Brannon (The picture of Southampton, [1849], p 44) thought it "meagre in design". The commanding feature was its front, dominated by two polygon shaped turrets, 80 feet high, surmounted with spires. A correspondent to Wheeler's Hampshire and West of England Magazine, February 1828 (p 71) thought that, "from its half warlike, half religious appearance, it will be a monument of the growing corruption of architectural taste".

The chapel was well attended, with one of the most genteel and socially respectable congregations of any church in the town. The Reverend William Bettridge was the chapel's first minister, appointed perpetual curate in 1828. His background was far from conventional: lieutenant in the 81st Foot (1815-16), town major of Brussels (1815), a student at Jena (1818-22) and a soldier in the Neapolitan army (1822). He was admitted a sizar at St John's College in June 1824 and ordained a deacon at York the following month. In 1834 Bettridge went to Canada.

St Paul's became an ecclesiastical parish on 3 February 1863. The church was destroyed in the Blitz of 1940 (image 3).

1. St Paul's Church, London Road

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Engraving published by Charles Smith Rayner, c.1841

2. St Paul's Church, London Road

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Postcard from c.1920

3. St Paul's Church, London Road

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The ruined church photographed in 1941.

Further reading:
History of Southampton, by Rev. J. S. Davies, p401-403. (HS/h)
Picture of Southampton (1849), by Philip Brannon, p26, 43-44 (HS/h)
Southampton Reflections, by Jim Barnes, p18. (HS/h)


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