all saints' church, basingstoke
A PermaNent Church

To Build A Permanent Church

In 1914, to address the rapidly growing town, the parish passed a resolution to appeal for funds both for a permanent building for All Saints' and for a temporary church for the western district of Basingstoke. Whether this appeal would have been successful in time of war and after the heavy demands made on the generosity of parishioners over the previous few years is not known; no sooner was the resolution made public than an offer of £5,000 was made to pay for the building of a permanent church for All Saints'.

The Rev. Alexander Titley Hall, a retired clergyman from Lincolnshire and now settled in Basingstoke, made this “munificent” offer. He lived in a large house just off Cliddesden Road. The cost of the church eventually rose to £18,000 and this was met entirely by the Rev. Titley Hall. The architect chosen to design the new building was Temple Moore who was well known for the many fine churches he designed in the early part of the 20th century especially the Chapel of Pusey House, Oxford.

Rev .Alexander Titley Hall (1851-1929) 

An example of Temple Moore’s early designs for All Saints’ 

Despite the 1914 war, work began almost immediately. In April 1915 the “Iron Church” was moved across the site to make room for the new building. (The original temporary church still stands in 2023 and is All Saints’ Church Hall.) Great blocks of Chilmark stone from the Wiltshire quarry that had also provided stone for Salisbury Cathedral, were hauled up from Basingstoke Station’s Goods Yard to the Southern Road site where they were hewn into shape by the stonemasons. Due to recruitment for the war effort, stonemasons were difficult to find. Rev. H W Boustead (who succeeded Rev. Cooper Smith as Parish Vicar in 1905) wrote “A splendid set of elderly stonemasons and labourers, all over sixty plodded on at this work but far too old to be of use in any warlike occupation.” A group of boys too, used to come along after school to help with wheeling barrows, shifting stones, and generally making themselves useful around the building site.

The Foundation Stone laid in 1915

The Foundation Stone of the new church was laid on 15th July 1915 by the Bishop of Winchester. The Mayor of Basingstoke was present together with a number of clergy. The hymns sung: “Through the Night of Doubt and Sorrow”, and “O Lord of Hosts” reflected the gloom and uncertainty of the times, but the bells of St Michael’s rang out across the town to celebrate the founding of the new church.

By June 1916 the priest-in-charge (Rev. J F Fuller) could say: “The New Church has taken definite shape. The wonderful gift to the Parish is beginning to show more and more of its magnificence”. He appealed for gifts to the church - lecterns, four sets of vestments for the four seasons (£10 each for the material), two copes and 300 chairs at four shillings and sixpence each (about 22p!) were a few of the items needed. Members of the congregation who were named Mary clubbed together to buy some of the fittings for the Lady Chapel. In January 1917 the bells (donated by Lt-Col John May) were blessed and raised to the tower (see  for details of the bell tower and its history.) By May the indefatigable Vicar had hunted down an organ though “the difficulty in getting an organ in wartime is great.” The church was now nearing completion - the Rood Beam and Choir Stall were in place, the East Window was being fitted and the organ gallery had been erected. Appeals for the Church Fitting Fund continued.

The church was dedicated on Thursday, 27th September 1917 by the Right Reverend Edward Talbot, Lord Bishop of Winchester. The church was packed to capacity with many people standing. The following morning the Bishop celebrated the first Eucharist (at 6:30am !) in the new church when there were 153 communicants. Due to lack of time and legal delays the legal formality of consecrating the church was not carried out until 8th November 1917. The officiant on that occasion was the Bishop of Guildford.  

A copy if the Order of Service for the 25th September 1916 Consecration Service can be viewed here

Go to this page to read a transcript from the Church Times of the 1917 dedication service