St John at Purewell
Last updated Wednesday, 20 March, 2019
11.30 am Holy Communion (4th Sunday of the month and Christmas Day and Easter Sunday)
3.30 pm Evensong (2nd Sunday of the month)
The foundation stone of the little mission church at Purewell Cross bears the inscription: 'To the Glory of God and in remembrance of her brothers - erected by Mary Long 1880'.
Four years earlier two messuages or tenements, workshops, fuelhouse and outhouses had been destroyed by fire and on September 23rd 1880, Miss Mary Long, a local benefactress, purchased the site for £200. When the building was completed with eight stained-glass windows, seating, reading desk and harmonium, the overall cost had risen by a further £800.
When the mission 'room' was opened by the Lord Bishop of Winchester on February 5th 1881 he told the congregation that he "knew that Purewell was a long way from the Parish Church and,if they could not walk the mile, they could walk a few yards to a place of worship, and they may think it a blessing".
The first service of Holy Communion, using the newly installed altar was celebrated by the Vicar of Christchurch Canon W H Gay MA on March 6th 1928. For 1932 the total running expenses of the mission chapel were approximately £22 and the congregation was 55 to 60. Seventy years later, congregations, which seldom reach double figures, have to find well in excess of £3000 p.a.
In 1958 the gas lighting was replaced by electric lamps but we retained two fittings and they were in use until April 2011. In 1978 the American Mason and Hanley harmonium was replaced with an electronic instrument.
Today, thanks to the full support of the Vicar the Reverend Canon Charles Stewart, Holy Communion is celebrated at 8.00am on the second Sunday of each month and on Major Festivals. The Clergy or Parochial Readers conduct 3.30pm Evensong every Sunday.
Outreach and informal ‘Drop In’ Tea and Coffee Mornings are held every Wednesday and Book/Bric-a-Brac Sales on Saturday from 9 am to 12 noon (weather permitting). Visitors to St John's are always given a warm welcome and although the interior was completely refurbished in 2010, the little Mission Church retains its former significance and charm.