The History Of Saint Paul`s The Hackett.

Reproduced with Acknowledgement to: Saint Mary The Virgin - Parish Church of Thornbury.

                                                                  Saint Paul`s Church - The Hackett.

Written by: Mrs. Ann Keates.

In the 18 hundreds the people living in the area of the Hackett held services in the Schoolroom at Buckover. However, there were so may people that it was deciced to build a church to accommodate them. The orginal Hackett Church was built in the grounds of `Hackett House`, and you can still see the old yew trees opposite the stile just to  the south of the present building. This church was opened on 18th April,1884 and was dedicated, on a Friday afternoon, by Archdeacon of Gloucester.

Sir Stafford and Lady Rachel Howard paid for the building, which was erected by a firm of contractors from London. The furnishing of the interior was carried out by Mr John Thurston of Thornbury, and was mainly of pitch pine.


On November.24th 1903, a Committee was formed and a discussion took plce, where it was decided to replace the old church with a better building, and a fund was set up using the 3 remaining after paying the church expenses. The Committee met again on 4th December,1903 and decided to look at the possibility of building a Mission Room of local stone, to seat more than 200 people. A sum of 350 was decided upon and a local man was asked to draw up a sketch plan. This plan must have changed slightly as the present church only holds just over 100.

When the Committee met on January 8th 1904, the decision was taken that the building should be of  stone, and the estimated cost had risen to around 550 (excluding the cost of the internal fittings). By their meeting on November 22nd 1904, the Committee had over 400 given or promised for the new Mission Church, and on 17th February,1905, they decided to purchase some land at the corner of Hackett Lane and Clay Lane (where the present church stands).

The Foundation Stone was laid on Easter Monday 1905, and the builder Mr. W. W. Pitcher of Thornbury, set about building the new stone church ready for the Dedication Service on 29th September,1905. The builders were true to their word and the Bishop of Gloucester dedicated the new Church to Saint Paul on the appointed day.

The buttresses were a later addition as when the roof was put on the church, the walls began to lean outwards and the need for buttresses was realised.

The old iron church was brought by the the Methodists, and re-erected in Thornbury High Street behind the Methodist Church and used as a church hall and schoolroom.

In 1910 money was raised and the porch of Saint Paul`s was built, and in 1912 the congregation began to raise funds for the refurnishing of the church.

After the war the congregations were small, several of the local "boys" having lost their lives in the war (you can see the Roll of Honour on the wall in the church). However, the visit of Wilfred, Bishop of Gloucester on the occasions of the Church Jubilee celebrations gave the local people great encouragement and before long it was decided to hold a service at 9.45 a.m each Sunday, in place of Evensong Service held previously.

Nowadays the service is held at 9.30 a.m each Sunday and is attended by people from all over Thornbury, who appreciate the friendly atmosphere of  this small church.

Albert James Woodward, "Woodie" rana very successful Sunday School at Saint Paul`s for many years prior to his death in the early 1970`s and had a very special interest in the work of the Leprosy Mission, having supported a young boy whose parents both had this dreadful disease. To this day, and in his memory, Saint Paul`s Sunday School still supports The Leprosy Mission. The Sunday School which had run in the church, after the 9.30 a.m serice for many years, flourished as Thornbury grew and in the late 1970`s and early 80`s had about 40 children regularly attending. Unfortunately as a result of falling numbers, in July 1989, this long standing Sunday School finally closed. However, at Pentecost 1990, the church welcomed the children back, this time into a portacabin alongside the church, so that the Sunday School could take place at the same time as the church service.

This was so successful that about 3 years later the decision was taken to extend the church and to build a room with a kitchen and toilet, not only to house the Sunday School, but also to serve as a meeting room.

Planning permission and architects advise was sought and an appeal was launched to raise the 50,000 needed for the building. After much consultation the local council granted planning permission for the present extension. On Saint Paul`s Day in January 1994, the Vicar - The Revd Michael Vooght conducted a special service to mark the occasion. Afterwards Mrs Nancy Niblett cut the first turf for the new extension. Mrs Niblett was baptished in Saint Paul`s, has lived in Thornbury all her life and is a long-standing member of the congregation. The extension was completed and dedicated by the Rt. Revd Jeremy Walsh, Bishop of Tewkesbury, at a special service on Saturday 8th October,1994.

Since then the extension has been used for the Sunday School, House Groups, Baptism and Marriage Preparation and numerous other group meetings.




The Foundation Stone at the east end of the Church has a cross and the date 1905 carved on it. Opposite this this stone and the clergy vestry door, are two holly bushes, planted there some years ago by Mr Don Reeves, so that the church could always have holly for decoration at Christmas time. Unfortunately the smaller of the two bushes suffered when it had to be dug up to make way for the builders machinery when the extension was built, but, against all odds, it is now beginning to thrive again. The rowan tree nearby was given by the Diocese, and a flowering hawthorn was planted in memory of Sandra Edwards.

The tiny "bell tower2 houses just one bell which is rung from a rope in the clergy vestry, and is rung every Sunday to call the people to the service.

Just around the corner from the vestry door is the old water butt, which, until the new kitchen was built, was the only source of water for the church.

The Porch, which was added later, has just one small window and two notice boards. Above the porch can be seen the chimney which was the outlet for one small stove housed just inside the door on the right, the sole heating for the church in the past. The church is now heated cosily by overhead electric heaters.

The churchyard is laid to grass which has been kept tidy by some faithful members of the congregation over the years. In the spring daffodils, primroses and other wild flowers grace the banks and hedges.

As part of the centenary celebrations in 2005 hard standing for cars was installed on the grass verge adjacent to the church.



At the west end of the church there are two wrought iron brackets which would probably have held lights of some kind. The door to the new extension, opposite the main door, was cut through the wall with the loss of one or two pew spaces.

The red carpet, which runs the length of the aisle, was given by Mr Charlie Davies, a regular member of the worshipping congregation until he died at the age of 101 in 1980.

On the walls hang the Bishops mandate to be a Local Ministry Parish, a picture and history of Saint Paul`s painted by Kevin King, produced especially for the centenary and a photograph of friends from Bufumbo, a village in Uganda with which the parish has a link cemented by several visits from parishioners. The Roll of Honour is also on the wall.

The crucifix behind the pulpit is comparatively new. The current candlesticks on the altar were a gift from Pippa Hawkins, daughter of the late Lesley Hawkins.

The open space in front of the altar rail used to house the choir stalls, and in the days when Mrs Kathleen Creed was organist in the church, there was a small choir. These choir stalls have been removed and can now be found amongst the rest of the pews. The organ is only about 8 years old, it replaced a much simpler version.

The clergy vestry is tiny. The partition behind the organ, between the  main church and the vestry is, in a large door. It is questionable for what use this was envisaged.

The carved piece of wood lying on the "seat" on the left hand side of the altar, although it does not say so, is probably concerned with the  stained glass windows, given by William and Mary Jenkins, in memory of several family members.

As a result of attempted and successful break-ins, the church is unfortunately kept locked most of the time.

The large Cross hanging above the altar was designed by Revd Cyril Vittel (one time curate in the parish) and given in memory of Mr "Woodie" Woodward, Leader of the Sunday School.

The flower pedestal on the right of the altar was given to the church in memory of Mrs Fill, who used to arrange the church flowers and was the first wife of Mr John Fill, Saint Paul`s organist for many years.

The history of the old chair near the altar rail is, at the moment a mystery, although it is known to have come from another church in the area.

Revd A. E. and Mrs King gave the newer chair, Mr King had been very involved with the church here in Thornbury and finally was ordained on  June 29th 1959, and was curate in the parish until he left to become vicar of Stone. The chair was carved by Mr Pitcher of Olveston, brother of the Mr W. W. Pitcher, who built the church.

The Font, which is now in this part of the church, was originally at the back, just inside the main door. When it was moved more seats were put into that area, but the post and red cord, which marked the baptism area, can still be seen. The jug, which is used to pour water into the font at baptisms, was given in memory of Mrs Stella Dennis, who used to attend Saint Paul`s regularly. Both the font and jug are inscribed with the words "Suffer the little children to come to me".

The most recent addition to the furnishings is the bookcase which houses all the hymn books at the church and which was made by Mr Alan Mullinex during his time as one of the Church Wardens of the Parish.



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