Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: February 12, 2016.
Webpage updated: February 15, 2016

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The Anglican Church of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle is situated in Outland Road, Milehouse, Plymouth.

In 1880 a collection was started towards providing a mission church for the Higher Stoke area of Devonport and in the November of that year a contract was apparently signed for the erection of an "Iron Chapel".   It was anticipated that the cost would be 196 and by January 1881, 110 had been promised.

It is not known why the contract was changed but in the event it was a stone chapel that was opened on September 29th 1881 on a site next to the Stoke Damerel Board School in what became Church Street.  It was a small mission chapel seating less than one hundred and it was served by the clergy from the Parish Church.  There were services on Sundays at 6.30pm and on Thursdays at 7.30pm.  An additional service at 11am started shortly afterwards.  A Sunday School was provided and an evening school for boys was started.

By 1884 it had become known as Saint Bartholomew's Mission Chapel although it appears never to have been dedicated as such.  It became known as a Church in 1902.

The Church used an old American organ but in 1911 it was replaced by a new one at a cost of 75.

But there was a growing problem, quite literally.  Devonport was growing and the church needed to keep up with it.  New houses were being erected at Milehouse by 1911 and the Swilly Council Estate was expanding in the 1920s.  It was quite a long walk from these new areas to St Bartholomew's let alone to the Parish Church of Stoke Damerel.  So, when the Council's Education Committee wanted the site of the Mission Church in order to extend the playground of the adjoining school, it was decided to move the Church nearer to the new population.  A site in Browning Road at Milehouse was given by the Lord Saint Levan for the purpose.

This new building was made of timber and sat around 250 worshippers.  Of the cost of 1,250 the Council contributed 950 for the site of the old premises.  The Church was dedicated on October 29th 1925 by the Bishop of Plymouth, the Right Reverend J H B Masterman, who was also Rector of Stoke Damerel.  Services started on November 1st 1925, All Saints' Day.

A Sunday School was started in the chapel at Milehouse Cemetery, although conditions there must have been poor as heating and lighting was not installed until 1928.  It was also used as the meeting place of the 10th Devonport Boy Scouts Troop, which was formed that year.

The church hall, also a wooden hut like the main building, was opened on November 15th 1926.

With the population of the new outer reaches of the parish continuing to increase and the use of the churches nearer to Stoke Damerel decreasing, it became evident that a more permanent building was preferable as Saint Bartholomew's was likely to become a parish in its own right before long.  A new site was found, at the corner of Saint Levan Road and Wolseley Road, where King's Garage was later built, and Lord Saint Levan once again donated it to the Church.  Fund raising went ahead with gusto and by 1938 the prospects were looking good.  But then came war.

During the air raids of 1941 Saint Bartholomew's was badly damaged and services had to be moved to Saint Mary's Crypt in Collingwood Road at Stoke.  This was an even longer walk from Swilly.

But even in the midst of the hostilities there was renewed hope for the future and the congregation felt that the site at Saint Levan Road was going to be too small for their future needs.  One of the buildings that had been destroyed during the Blitz, Outlands House at Milehouse, provided them with a new, much larger, site and they bought it from the Saint Aubyn Estates in 1944.

In the meantime, the War ceased and life started to get back to normal again.  The wooden church was repaired and re-opened for services in 1951.  Work continued on designing the new church, for which the architect was Mr A C Luxton, and the contractors, Messrs Gilbert and Coles, soon had it up and fitted out.

On June 29th 1958 the choir and congregation processed from the old building in Browning Road to the new site at Outlands, where the oldest member of the congregation, Mrs Margaret Kilvert, turned the first sod. 

The foundation stone was laid in pouring rain on the afternoon of Sunday November 9th by Lord Saint Levan and blessed by the Bishop of Plymouth, the Right Reverend Norman H Clarke.  The Rector of the parent Church of Stoke Damerel, the Reverend J Adams, remarked how the building work had progressed quite well and the concrete floor and the iron girders were in place.  The priest-in-charge of St Bartholomew's was the Reverend M Ingram.   Music for the ceremony was provided by the Royal Marines Band of the Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth, under the direction of Lieutenant R G Long.   He was represented by Commodore T L Eddison, while the Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Alderman G J Wingett, and the Admiral Superintendent of Devonport Dockyard, Vice-Admiral L A B Peile, with their wives, were also present.

On November 28th 1959 the Bishop of Exeter consecrated the new Saint Bartholomew's Church.  The building cost approximately 37,500.  Fortunately most of the cost, some 22,000, came from War Damage Compensation for churches damaged in Devonport and no longer needed.  An organ rescued from Saint Mary's Church at Devonport was installed in the new building and was brought into use in 1960.

The final development was announced on March 26th 1965 -- Saint Bartholomew's had finally been made a Parish Church.  The first Vicar, the Reverend J R Herklots, was inducted on June 23rd of that year.