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

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The Anglican Church of Saint Aubyn is situated in Chapel Street, Devonport.  Unusually, the Church still exists although it now houses the Devonport Branch Library and a cafe.

The Church was erected in 1771 as a proprietary chapel under the authority of a private Act of Parliament obtained in 1769.  The building cost 7,000, which was raised by public subscription.

The ecclesiastical parish was formed on December 5th 1882 out of Stoke Damerel.  This was achieved by the incumbent, the Reverend Pitt-Johnson, who was credited with building the Church Sunday School, getting the district chapelry its own parish, arranging an endowment to support it, and planning a vicarage to go with it.   

The Church is a rectangular stone building in the Classic style.  It consists of nave, aisles and a portico over which rises a lofty octagonal spire containing one bell, at the base of which is a clock. 

On the afternoon of Wednesday December 17th 1884 the Reverend W Saint Aubyn, rector of Stoke Damerel, laid the memorial stone of a new chancel which was to be added to the east end of Saint Aubyn's Church.  In order for it to be built the permission had to be sought from the War Department for it to protrude in to the grounds of the adjoining Raglan Barracks.  It was also necessary to demolish the existing east-end wall of the Church and rebuild it 22 feet eastwards. 

The new chancel was consecrated by the Bishop of Exeter, Doctor Bickersteth, on the morning of Tuesday June 30th 1885.  It was designed by Mr J Piers Saint Aubyn(although it would seem that Mr H Luff, the Manor architect, did the actual paperwork) and built by Mr Westaway of George Street, Plymouth.  Mr May of Waterloo Street, Stoke, executed the decorative work.  The chancel was 30 feet in length by 27 feet in width and cost 800.

As a result of that addition, the north gallery was removed to make room for the organ, which had formerly stood in the west gallery.  The organ was repaired and renovated by Messrs Hele and Company and was placed just outside the chancel.  New choir stalls for eighteen boys and fourteen men were also provided.  At the time of these alterations the vicar was the Reverend Pitt-Johnson, the curate was the Reverend J H Morton and the Churchwardens were Messrs Oliver and Lamb.

The Church apparently had a Doric portico and was enclosed by railings but these were evidently removed at some time, probably during road widening or reconstruction.  Also, the top part of the spire was removed after being weakened during the Blitz of April 1941, after which it was closed to the public.

It was restored and reopened by 1952, when services for Saint Paul's and Saint Stephen's were also held there.  The spire had become dangerous so it was removed in 1963 and the stones put into storage within the Church.  They were brought out again in 2000 when a grant from English Heritage enabled the spire to be restored as a part of a greater refurbishment scheme.  This was done under the supervision of Messrs Gilmore Hankey Kirke.

The Anglican Church of Saint Aubyn was closed in 2009 due to a declining congregation and was redeveloped as the new Devonport Branch Library combined with a cafe on the ground floor and a chapel on the first floor.  It re-opened in March 2011 and was re-dedicated on March 1st 2014, Saint Aubyn's Day.