The building of the church and church life, 1888-1940

By Ollie Taylor

The site

Photo:The site of the church indicated by the red area on this map (click to enlarge the image)

The site of the church indicated by the red area on this map (click to enlarge the image)

Gloucestershire Archives

The land on which The Church of the Good Shepherd was built was donated on 1 November 1888 by Mrs Maria Evans, the daughter of Isaac Slater who had married Reverend Edward Evans, the first vicar of All Saints.  The land was valued at £150 (approximately £8,983 in today’s money).

On 8 December 1888, the architect, Mr Waller, wrote to Reverend Foster to say that the site was “very eligible” for the purpose, occupying “a very prominent position at the junction of the two streets” (Sidney Street and Derby Road).  He went on to say that the “ground is well drained and lighted” (important given its position next to the River Twyver) and that his designs took account of Reverend Foster’s “special wish with regard to economy of construction”. 

The cost of the building would be not less than £1,200 (approximately £71,868 in today’s money).  Quotes were given by many local builders including Gurney Brothers of Widden Street, and Dolman and Ponting of Ryecroft Street.  Money was raised for the building from subscriptions, donations, and offertories from the Parish of All Saints and appeals were also made to those living outside the parish.

The building

Photo:Sketches from "Building News" 1882 (click to enlarge)

Sketches from "Building News" 1882 (click to enlarge)

Gloucestershire Archives

The Basilica plan adopted by the architects Waller and Sons seems to have been based on The Church of the Shepherd on Handen Road in Lee, Kent.  Drawings of this building appeared in The Building News magazine on 17 March 1882.

Photo:An example of the number of trees in the churchyard in the early twentieth century (click to enlarge)

An example of the number of trees in the churchyard in the early twentieth century (click to enlarge)

Gloucestershire Archives

Around 1925, Rev. Herbert Foster wrote his memories of the building of the church in a pamphlet looking back on the first 50 years of the All Saints’ Parish.  He remembered that the mound in the churchyard was formed from the excavations for the foundation of the church and was left as a possible rostrum for outdoor meetings or services (one such service was held on the lawn on 4 August 1901).  A poplar tree was planted as a substitute for a spire to the church. 

The Foundation Stone was laid by Mrs Evans on 13 June 1892, using the same trowel and mallet lent by Reverend William Hedley when the Foundation Stone of All Saints was laid on 21 May 1874.

Bishop Ellicot dedicated the Church to the Good Shepherd on 13 December 1892.  In his sermon he referred to another Church of the Good Shepherd at Bel Alp, Switzerland at which the Good Shepherd is portrayed holding an Alpenstock and wearing snow shoes.

The clergy and congregation

Photo:The choir and churchwardens, 1925 (click to enlarge)

The choir and churchwardens, 1925 (click to enlarge)

Gloucestershire Archives

The Church of the Good Shepherd quickly became the centre of much spiritual life and activity in the parish.  The church made many collections for foreign missions, raising £1 and 6 pence in one collection for the “Indian Famine Fund” in February 1897 (the equivalent of £60 today).

Photo:The plans to extend the church's vestries, 1934 (click to enlarge)

The plans to extend the church's vestries, 1934 (click to enlarge)

Gloucestershire Archives

The Reverends Foster and Macklin were the church’s preachers in these early years (Reverend Foster and Reverend Evans can be seen pictured in the photographs below).

A later photo of the Churchwardens, Organist and Choir from 1925 can also be seen (pictured right).  Notice how the grounds of the church were still then covered with grass, a reminder of the site’s origins in the meadows of the Lower Barton House Estate.

In 1934, the Reverend Janvrin of All Saints’ Vicarage, commissioned the erection of new vestries at a cost £225 (approximately £8,320 today) (pictured right).  There were also plans for an allotment in June 1940, which would have helped provide food for the parish when it was rationed throughout the Second World War.

If you would like to see any of the documents pictured then please visit Gloucestershire Archives

Photo:Some of the church's clergy in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (click to enlarge)

Some of the church's clergy in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (click to enlarge)

Gloucestershire Archives

This page was added by Ollie Taylor on 19/04/2012.