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Town Centre Churches

Origins

St Stephens Exterior

St Stephens Exterior

The church was built by public subscription as a memorial to Alexander Morden Bennett, first vicar of St.Peter’s who died in 1880. On October 11th, 1881, the foundation stone was laid and dedicated by Bishop Harold Browne of Winchester. This date is still observed as the Dedication Festival of the Church.

It is to be remembered that by 1880 the great “Oxford Movement,” which brought fresh life and vigour to the Church of England had spread throughout the country. St. Peter’s Church was one of those in which the services were adapted to the new order of things. When its first vicar died it was feared that the Church was reverting to the old state of things. So St.Stephen’s was built to carry on the Catholic tradition. Before the church was built there was a mission church to the south of the present church on some high ground part of which has been removed to make way for Braidley Road.

The church was not built all at once. A beginning was made with the nave and aisles, which were consecrated in 1885, June 10th. The Chancel and Lady Chapel were begun in 1896, the foundation stone being laid by Sir George Meyrick on June 10th, and finished in 1898, when it was dedicated by Bishop Sumner, Archdeacon of Winchester.

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