all saints' church, basingstoke


1939-1945: World War 2

Th outbreak of war in September 1939 led to changes in the pattern of services at All Saints’ due primarily to blackout regulations, necessitating changes of times. Regarding these imposed changes by an outside force, the Parish Vicar wrote “It must have been in such conditions that in the ancient heroic days of the Church similar services would be held in the catacombs.”. In an understatement of the national emergency the following was written in the December 1939 Parish Magazine: “The impossibility of holding the usual Christmas Midnight Mass will be a disappointment to many, but this is due to obvious causes over which we have no control.”

By January 1940 the organ’s first general overhaul and cleaning had become necessary. This was undertaken by Walker’s, the organ’s builders. The organ was out of action for most of January and the opportunity was taken to modernize the Swell to Great Couple action and to re-voice three stops the Great Cremona, the Swell Cornopean and the twelfth. The total cost was £155-10-0 (£155-50). Most of the proceeds of the previous year’s garden party totalling £105 were given by the PCC to All Saints’ for this purpose. In addition, St Michael’s made a loan of £50 from their fabric fund. It was hoped that well-wishers would readily make contributions to repay this loan.

It was reported in August 1940 that approval had been given “…that all the windows in our churches which in the event of possible breakage might cause damage to those who are in church should be protected on the inside with mesh wire”.  During that same month, the Parish Church (St Michael’s) was damaged when bombs fell nearby and the building was put out of action. For security reasons no direct reference was made to this, but the Vicar wrote circumspectly as follows in the September Parish magazine:

   “To possess a church which combines architectural beauty with the atmosphere of worship as All Saints does, is a real blessing to us all in these days and with the additional Sunday Services which for various good reasons have recently been added to the ordinary list, the benefits rendered to the parish by All Saints’ will be widely appreciated.”

St Michael’s bomb damage 

   Advice was also given on action to be taken should the air raid warning sound during a service.

“Should an air raid warning take place in the course of a church service, the procedure will be as follows. There will be a short break in the service. Those living within 3 or 4 minutes walk will have the opportunity of returning home. The rest should stay in church; those in the centre moving quietly into chairs at the side.”

   Temporary repairs had been made to St. Michael’s by November 1940 and the church was once again open for worship.

At the end of 1941, a book, “The High Church Tradition”, written by Rev. G W O Addleshaw (Priest-in-charge of All Saints’ 1936-1939) was published, drawing in part from the style of worship he had introduced at All Saints’. The Bishop of Winchester wrote that it was “…the most important book that has been produced on the Anglican Liturgy for many years. … It should find a place in every clerical library, and should be studied carefully by all who are concerned with the worship of our church.”

With the war entering its end stages in November 1944, the blackout regulations were relaxed. Two members of the congregation despite the church’s clear windows successfully “dimmed out” the church so that Evensong could be held at 6:30pm.

Despite the restrictions of the war years, the community at All Saints’ continued to grow and flourish maintaining both worship and social life as evidenced by reports in the Parish Magazine of the time.