Society & First Church
Hampton Hill Spiritualist Church was first established in October 1919 as the Hampton Hill Spiritualist Society. The Society was located at No. 3 High Street in Hampton Hill. A number of propaganda meetings were organised in October 1919 to promote the Society. However, these were attended by City Missionaries intent on disrupting the meetings and the medium was unable to work at one of the early meetings owing to the disruption caused by the opposition! After such a controversial start, we are pleased to report that things are much better now.
The first church was constructed to the rear of No. 3 High Street (now No. 7 High Street). We understand it began as a rather primitive tin hut although a brick building was subsequently built. The former church building is shown below and has been used as an engineering workshop for the last 40 years. The church remained at this location for approximately 9 years, between about 1920 to 1929.
One of the earliest references we have to the first church is in the book "Fifty Years a Medium" by the famous medium Estelle Roberts. Estelle was one of the finest mediums of the past 100 years and we are very privileged to have been the first Spiritualist church ever attended by Estelle. She attended the church in about 1921 and it was the messages delivered at Hampton Hill which acted as a catalyst for her lifetime of work for spirit. Estelle went on to become one of the finest mediums of her day and perhaps of all time. The excerpt from the book where she discusses her visit to Hampton Hill church is included below:
“…my next door neighbour, a Mrs Slade, invited me to accompany her to a Spiritualist meeting which she was going to attend. I agreed and we went to the little Spiritualist church at Hampton Hill. This church, I recall, was constructed entirely of tin. We attended three times.
Each meeting was addressed by a different medium and each medium, it seemed to me, was focusing her entire attention exclusively on me. I began to think it was all part of a conspiracy to convert me to Spiritualism. At the third meeting, the psychic demonstrator was Mrs Elizabeth Cannock, whom I later came to know as a very good medium, highly respected for her gifts and her integrity. She singled me out at once saying in unequivocal terms: ‘You are a medium and have much work to do. Chosen by the spirit world, you must not ignore the call. Please come see me after the meeting.”
Second Church - Windmill Road Church
By 1929, the church moved to new premises at No 12 Windmill Road fondly remembered by many as the Old Church. The church remained in this building for over 70 years until 2000.
This building was originally built in 1838 as a congregational chapel known as the Mill Road Chapel (Mill Road was later renamed Windmill Road). It remained in use as a congregational chapel until 1870, when the congregationalists moved to new premises on the High Street (now the United Reformed Church). A photo showing the chapel in its prime is shown below.
After 1870, the building which it had a wide variety of uses including a church Sunday School, a Methodist Hall and many years as a glove factory.
Hampton Hill Spiritualist Church was affiliated to the Spiritualists National Union (SNU) in December 1929. The Windmill Road church was formally registered as a spiritualist church in May 1937, although the application states that it had been used as spiritualist church for some years prior to this. The church building and land were purchased by the church in March 1957 and put into trust with the SNU.
In 1995, the antique shop next to the church (called Junk and Disorderly) was demolished. This highlighted a number of structural issues with the church caused by the age of the building. Following a structural survey, the church was closed for several months pending further investigation. Thankfully the church was able to re-open in January 1996 although the building was in a poor state of repair and needed significant work to address the structural problems and also replace its asbestos roof. Some photographs of the Old Church from the late 1990s are shown below.
A local property developer offered a land swap deal to develop the church plot as residential properties and construct a new church at the rear. After looking into the significant costs to repair the existing church building, it was agreed to go ahead with the proposed land swap in 1999.
Third Church - The New Church
Following approval of the land swap deal at the end of 1999, construction began on the new church in April 2000. A couple of photos of the construction are shown below.
The building was completed at the end of July 2000 and held its first service in August 2000. The old church remained in use until the new church was completed.
The last service in the old church was attended by 70 people who all carried a candle over to the new church for an opening ceremony. The old church was then demolished for the residential properties.
The new church cost around £25,000 to build under the land swap agreement which was very good value. Repairing the old church or rebuilding a new church on the old plot would have cost at least twice this amount.
The church was officially opened in a Dedication Service by the SNU President Duncan Gascoyne on 1st October 2000. Photos of the dedication service are shown below.
In 2015, we had a new patio and drainage installed in the rear garden. In July 2019, we had a beautiful new kitchen installed in time for our Centenary Celebrations. We now have one of the nicest kitchens of any Spiritualist church.
The church celebrated its centenary in October 2019 with a number of special services and events. I am sure you will all agree that the current building is a wonderful home from which Hampton Hill Spiritualist Church can go from strength to strength for the next 100 years.
We are proud to have had some wonderful dedicated presidents serve our church. The list of past presidents at Hampton Hill is as follows:
1931 - 1964 Mrs Lottie Hart
1964 - 1985 Mrs Alice Kearns
1985 - 1987 Mrs Ivy Davis
1987 - 1988 Mrs Alice Kearns
1988 - 1990 Mrs Mary Blake
1990 - 1991 Caretaker Commitee (Chairman: Wilfred Watts)
1991 - 1992 Michael Miles
1992 - 1994 Wally Leach
1994 - 1997 Tony McGair
1997 - 1998 John Lawrence
1998 - 2018 Sheila Smoothy
2018 - 2019 Ann Norris
2020 - Sheila Smoothy
Special mention should be given to past presidents Lottie Hart, Alice Kearns and Sheila Smoothy who served as President for 33, 23 and 21 years respectively. Quite an amazing achievement from three very committed ladies who are all true Spiritualists.
A plaque was put up in the church for Alice Kearns for 50 years of loyal service and a photograph showing Alice Kearns and the plaque is shown below. The photograph was taken in 1985 when Alice was President at 87 years young!
Well Known Mediums
Hampton Hill is lucky to have been served by some excellent well-known mediums over the years as follows (listed in alphabetical order):