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St Agnes Church which once sat in Portswood Road, by William Burns

This is another fascinating, in-depth historical account by William Burns of Southampton Sotonians and Friends, about St Agnes Church which once sat in Portswood Road.
St Agnes Church – Portswood Road, and its first Vicar
The “Sanctuary” in Portswood Road
Once again in my neck of the woods I find another topic that little has been written about, the little mission church called St Agnes that once sat in Portswood Road had gone even before I was born, and so I thought a little research was in order.
St Agnes is often said by others who have written a few lines before me, to have been on the corner of Sirdar Road and Portswood Road this however is incorrect as the old corrugated iron built mission church that was built in 1905 for the growing population of Hampton Park was actually a little further north in Portswood Road and almost opposite the Brook Inn public house. The church had been built on the site previously occupied by nurseries which had been erected on the land of Page’s Farm.
Image one is a early colorized photograph of St Agnes on Portswood Road, I’ve overlaid the church on a modern view although the orientation is a little out it shows the location. Image two also a colorized photograph shows the interior of St Agnes, the text around the arch is from Exodus 25:8 and reads: “let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them”
The confusion as to the exact location of this little church that once rang its bell in Portswood Road may come from the directories as the later built St Agnes Hall which was also built of corrugated iron lay just inside Sirdar Road.
Image 3 is of St Agnes Hall, as can be seen its build is similar to that of the Church, this photograph was captured by the professional photographer William Mortis Philips who had business premises in our prestigious Oxford Street (number 60) until the 1890’s after which William continued to work as jobbing photographer from his home address of number 2 Mayfield Road which was not far from St Agnes Hall and the Church. We note from William’s photograph the land is sloping to the right, as all the land here did before the building of the railways and houses as it all slopped down to the River Itchen. The iron railing seen in Williams image surrounded the land of the St Agnes Hall in Sirdar Road and along Portswood Road past St Agnes Church.
The Rev James Kyrke Watkins was the man that looked after St Agnes Church in Portswood Road.
54 year old Rev James Kyrke Watkins is seen in 1911 living with his 29 year old wife Maud Sarah Watkins at number 6 Gascoyne Terrace which also lay a little further north in Portwood Road this house was used as their parsonage (Gascoyne Terrace remains today), presumably the church paid for the house and their live in house keeper the widow Emma Nye.
James Kyrke Watins the son of a Bolton Solicitor was born in 1857 at Bolton le Moors in the Historic county of Lancashire.
Although rather ill for much of his life James was a active member of the church. From 1879 to 1886 he was the master of the fifth form at Winchester and New College, whilst at the school James was ordained.
James served as the vicar of Little Lever in Bolton in 1893 and continued to serve the church there until 1902, after a short spell serving in Godalming, Surrey where he married Maud Sarah (nee Steman) in 1909 (the daughter of a wine merchant), James was appointed in 1910 to our new church of St Agnes in Portswood Road.
Sadly James health which was worsening found the pioneering work of St Agnes a step too far, and so in 1914 the Bishop transferred James to the rectory of our established ‘All Saints Church’ in the High Street, even working at All Saints Church was effecting James as his health worsened. The Bishop earnestly requested that James should stay on at All Saints Church, which he did throughout World War 1, the clergy during these times of the continued loss of Southampton souls during the great war would have been a strain on the fittest of our clergy let alone James who battled on with a bad heart doing his duty despite his failing health.
The Bishop would find a successor for James in 1921 which allowed James to retire to a little house in Rose Road (number 10 just off Lodge Road).
James however was not one to sit on his laurels whilst there was still Gods work to be done, James continued with his diocesan and social work, amongst his voluntary work he was acting-Rural Dean, Chapter Clerk and Treasurer of the Southampton refuge.
James wife Maud became a JP but Maud’s work was interrupted on occasion because of James ill health, angina and James failing heart had been giving him chest pains for many a year.
His work done the Rev James Kyrke Watkins, first vicar of St Agnes church died on the 6th of September 1926.
James funeral was officiated by the Bishop of Southampton and the Archdeacon of Portsmouth, many of the clergy and family friends attended James funeral, James was described as genial of nature and one of widespread activities which made him well-known and very popular.
As for the old corrugated iron church of St Agnes it had become completely redundant when the purpose built church of St Albans was built in Burgess Road in 1933, the exact date of the demolition of St Agnes is unclear but it had been demolished after WW2 as it is still seen on the maps of 1948.
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Image 4. Flying the flag, another old colourised photo of St Agnes Church in Portswood Road, the houses seen running behind are in Broadlands Road.