The New Church of England Parishes
The Parish of Torwood-
St Marks and St Matthias Churches
In May 1855 an Act of Parliament was passed allowing for two new churches to be built. In January 1856 Rev J. R. Hogg was appointed to take charge of this new district, which finally came into being in 1861 by an Order in Council. In 1856 a room in a house on Lincombe Road, belonging to Mr Peek, was licensed until the church of St Marks could be erected. The foundation stone of St Marks was laid on 25 April 1856 and building progressed well until December 13th when the newly built tower collapsed. It was said at the time that the work was rushed to try to complete before the wet weather set in. The tower was never rebuilt. The builders were the Harvey family of Torquay. The church opened in October 1857. Schools were opened in 1871 , and by 1905 catered for approx 175 children.
The church was declared redundant and sold off in the 1979 and is now used as a theatre by one of the local amateur groups- the exterior is unchanged and is now known as the Little Theatre.
The second of the two churches approved in 1855 was St Matthias, further up the Babbacombe Road in an area commonly called Wellswood. This was designated as a chapel of ease to St Marks. A design by Salvin was used and the foundation stone was laid on 13th April 1857. This church was also built by the Harvey family. Just behind the church a school house was erected, although there was doubt at the time whether it was needed, within two years it had 80 pupils. The Church and the school are still very much in use . In fact the school is being extended in 2004.
In 1880 St Matthias became an independent church and a parish called Ilsham was created. The church was enlarged in 1865 and again in 1885, the north porch was added in 1894.
A church hall was created at Lisburne Square in 1968 in a vacant shop premises, but in October 1984 building commenced on a Church Centre on land directly behind the church and it opened in 1986. The old hall in Lisburne Square was then sold off. The church centre was enlarged in 1992.
Following the closure of St Marks Church and Holy Trinity, St Matthias’ became the parish church of a greatly enlarged parish of St Matthias, St Mark & Holy Trinity all served by the rector of St Matthias
St Matthias Church today
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