At the beginning of the 20th Century there was a flurry of Christian Activity in Beech. The Wesleyan Methodists built a chapel and The Anglican Order of St Paul established an Abbey having moved from Wales.
The Abbey, whilst Church of England was not focused on the local community of Beech. It was concerned with its own prayer life, its overseas work and a social ministry to “men of the road” and “distressed seamen”.In 1902 with the growth of Christianity it was thought that Beech might be able to support a mission church and so Commander Anstis gave a plot of land for church use opposite his house on Wellhouse Road. The Mission was built in the wooden style of many of the “settlement” cottages and clad with painted corrugated iron, a design essentially the same to-day. The bell, which was cast in 1871, came from one of Commander Anstis’ early ships – the Tagus.
The rising number of worshippers meant the building had to be extended by a third in 1904. It was then that the deeds of the land and building were formallypassed to the Winchester Diocese. Then in 1904 the Bishop of Winchester licenced the building for the celebration of Holy Communion, Baptisms and Funerals. In 1926 the official name changed from “Beech Mission” to “St Peter’s Beech”, however, it took until 1974 before the church became licenced for weddings.
Photos: Peter Dilloway