For several years now the Church Archive Group has been sorting through boxes and cupboards of old documents and photographs relating to the history of Avenue St Andrews Church, trying to put them in some semblance of order. We are now at the stage of trying to make this wealth of historical material available to anyone with an interest in them. Posts of documents already digitized from our Church archives can be found here.
Please check back if you are interested as we hope to keep adding material as time goes on.
A brief history of the formation of Avenue St Andrew’s URC
(More details can be found by clicking on the links of the individual Churches on the left)
Christians who did not agree with all that the Church of England stood for were ejected from All Saints Church in Southampton in 1662, as part of the national Great Ejectment. In 1688 there was a protestant King on the throne, so, after the Glorious Revolution in that year, they worshipped freely outside the Southampton town walls, in Above Bar, and called themselves Above Bar Chapel, and later Above Bar Congregational Church. They were the first nonconformist church in Southampton and one of the oldest in the country. In 1690 they built their own church, and enlarged it in 1727 and 1802. In 1820 they built another church further back from the road, and enlarged it in 1841. In 1889 they rebuilt the frontage and increased the seating capacity. In 1940 the church was destroyed by enemy bombing.
In 1844 some worshippers from Above Bar Church broke away from the church, because they felt the minister was too moderate and apolitical. They worshipped in temporary buildings, until they bought the old infirmary buildings in St Mary’s Street, and called themselves the Albion Chapel. In 1848 the infirmary buildings were replaced by a larger building designed for worship. In 1935 Albion Chapel closed as fewer of its members lived in the area, and its members joined other churches in the town. Many came to Avenue church
Presbyterians first met for worship in Southampton in the Baptist chapel in Portland Street. From 1849-1853 they met in the Victoria Rooms, but then in 1853 they moved into their own purpose built church in Brunswick Place, and became St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church of England.
Northam Chapel, or Northam Congregational Church was built in 1863 in Belvedere Terrace. It was destroyed by enemy action in 1940. The congregation then met in the boys’ school, and later joined up with the Above Bar Congregation meeting at first in the Friends Meeting House. In 1942 St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church invited the congregations of Northam, and Above Bar to join with them at St Andrew’s, but as separate congregations. All three Congregations became St Andrew’s United Presbyterian Congregational Church in 1948
Avenue Congregational Church was founded in 1892 by the wealthier members of Albion Church who had moved to the growing suburbs of the town, and found it a long walk to Albion Church on Sundays. They first met in a portable tin church on the site of the present church hall while the new church was being built. The present church was built in 1898.
Kingsfield Congregational Church was also an offshoot of Albion church, meeting in 1853 in the Victoria Rooms, and then in 1861 to its own church in West Marlands. This church no longer exists.
St Andrew’s United Church and Avenue Congregational Churches both became United Reformed Churches in 1972 and the two congregations united in the Avenue building as Avenue St Andrew’s URC in 1986. In 2006 this church became part of the South West Hants group of churches.