History of Millbrook Parish

photoThe Manor of Millbrook dates back to Saxon times, described in charters dated 956 and 1045 as extending from Redbridge, up to Aldermoor, Shirley Warren, Lordswood, then down Hill Lane to the fishing village of Hill. The Domesday Book, compiled for Norman King William I in 1086, refers to Melebroc as being ‘held’ by the Bishop of Winchester. It covered 600 acres. In fact the land belonged to St Swithun’s Abbey – the Benedictine establishment which administered the Cathedral. After the reformation the land eventually passed into the hands of the Mill family.

Millbrook and the Church

photoThe Saxons of Wessex arrived after the collapse of the Roman Empire. St Birinus began the first mission, from Italy, in 635AD. He founded Winchester Cathedral (Minster) in 648 and a monastery in 670. This monastery was located somewhere in the Redbridge area. Nothing more is known about this, although another was established by around 700 in Nursling.

A small church existed in Shirley by the time of the Norman conquest, but this had ceased to exist by the 16th Century, and its precise location is unknown.

St Nicholas Church

This ancient church, established by the late 13th century, has disappeared completely. Its site is beneath the westbound carriageway of the A33 Millbrook Road, just before the junction with Regents Park Road. Built only a quarter of a mile from the river Test estuary, it suffered from damp and flooding, standing just above sea level.

An Act of Parliament was passed in 1797 to enable its demolition, but for reasons unknown this was not done and repair work continued. The nave was demolished and rebuilt in 1828, but the damp problem was not resolved.

In 1865 the new Rector, Revd A C Blunt, decided that a new church should be built on another site. He was met with stiff opposition, and the parish was bitterly divided on the issue. Lady Barker-Mill (Lady of the Manor) offered a new site and Bishop Wilberforce mediated, eventually approving the new church.

Part of the deal was that services continued in St Nicholas, but it had to close in 1889 due to the damp. However it was again repaired and reopened in 1911. The damp problem was worse, and the last service was held on 27 December 1920. A week later the east wall collapsed – disaster had narrowly been avoided.

The forlorn remains of the building were only demolished after World War II, and even the cemetery has since been built over.

Holy Trinity Church

As stated, land for a new church was offered in 1871. A design by architect Henry Woodyer, in simple Early English gothic style, was approved, and the foundation stone laid on 14 November 1872 by Mrs Vaudrey, heiress to the Barker-Mill estate. The church was consecrated on 26 May 1874. The tower and spire were added in 1881-2.

The general appearance of the church has changed little over the years. Many furnishings have been donated by churchwardens and parishioners, particularly the McCarraher family. The jewel inside Holy Trinity is the chapel of SS Michael and George in the south aisle, opened in 1920 as a memorial to the men of the parish who were killed in the 1914-18 war. The exquisite altarpiece may be the handiwork of Sir Ninian Comper.

There are also memorials to parishioners lost in the Titanic disaster, all of whom lie buried in Newfoundland.

St Clement’s Church

It was felt that the Church should have a more central presence within the parish, so in 1924 a large house in Regents Park Road was purchased and converted to church use.. A rectory was built in the grounds. It was planned to replace this house with a new church, but World War II put paid to that. Nevertheless a parish hall was built and dedicated as St Clement’s Church, on 9 October 1953. The old house was demolished, but the new church never materialised.

In 2001 St Clement’s was closed and the entire site was redeveloped as flats.

The writer is indebted to Rosaleen Wilkinson, author of “Millbrook – the hidden past”, for use of this excellent book; also to Nelly and Jim Hann former churchwardens, for information, advice and access to old pictures.

New parishes created out of Millbrook Parish
1836 St James Shirley
1866 Christ Church Freemantle
1892 St Mark Archers Road (part)
1932 St Peter Maybush and All Saints Redbridge
1951 St Jude Shirley Warren
Rectors of Millbrook
-1349John de Hegham
1349-1352John de Somborne
1352Robert de Mitford
1361Nicholas de Wynford
1361 - ??John Peuseys
  
1874-89Alexander Colvin Blunt
1889-1907Studholme Wilson
1907-22George Goodacre Elton
1922-41James Lionel Beaumont-James
1941-46Robert Lionel Seale
1946-66Ralph Westgate Stephenson
1966-73Leslie Richard John Moon
1973-80Glyn Clee Rose
1980-2000Rex Noel Humphrey Holyhead
2001 to dateWilliam Francis Perry SSC