St. Paul's Church
DescriptionSt Paul’s Church was built in 1864 due to the rapid growth of Wokingham after the railway came. It was funded by John Walter III of Bear Wood, who owned the Times Newspaper and donated two acres of land to accommodate the Church and Churchyard. John Walter III laid the foundation stone of St. Paul's on 2nd September 1862. The Church was designed by Henry Woodyer and the builders were Messrs. Wheeler and sons of Reading. The sculpture and carvings were executed by Mr. Nichols of Lambeth. Bishop Samuel Wiberforce, Bishop of Oxford consecrated the new church, designed to accommodate between 500 and 600 people on 23rd July 1864.
The original building had poor acoustics so modifications were made. The 50 foot high nave roof was lowered to 41.5 feet and in June 1873 the south aisle, complete with a side entrance was opened. The present vestry was completed on the Christmas Eve of 1892.
The Church is part of Sonning Deanery, in the Archdeaconry of Berkshire within the Diocese of Oxford.
The elegant 170 foot spire is a local landmark, and the Church it is richly decorated with stained glass windows that depict the life and work of St Paul. There is a fine 1900 Henry Jones organ and a peal of eight bells.
A fire destroyed the bell tower after a lightning strike at 5:30 pm on 28th January 2004. The timber smoldered unnoticed before exploding into flames just before midnight. All the bells were destroyed and had to be re-cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. The bells were returned to St. Paul's on 28th November 2005.
The associated photograph was taken about 1900.
Within St Paul's is a large alabaster tablet positioned near the font of the Church which lists 62 men from the Parish who died during World War I. Among them, nine pairs of brothers are commemorated, as well as three sons from the Potter family.
The Memorial was unveiled on Sunday the 22nd of January 1922 by Lt. Col. Villiers of the Royal Horse Guards. Mrs. Potter laid a laurel beneath the tablet. Another wreath was placed by Miss Finer in memory of "Six lads of my Bible Class" and Mrs. Stokes placed a sheaf of lilies in memory of her son.
The memorial and associated banners can be viewed daily 9am - 5pm.
SourceWokingham A Pictorial History by J. and R. Lea.
“St. Paul's Church,” Wokingham's Virtual Museum, accessed September 23, 2020, https://www.wokingham-tc.gov.uk/museum/document/WTH0486.