The New Church of England Parishes

Church of St Mary Magdalene- Parish Church of Upton

& St James Church Upton

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Intended, when first proposed, to replace the ancient parish church of St Saviours at Tormoham  an appeal was started in 1843 to raise the money needed, but circumstances were such that Upton was to become  the first new parish to be created from the old Tormoham Parish. Upton St Mary Magdalene was constituted a district church in June 1848 and the building was designed by Anthony Salvin, and built by Jacob Harvey and his sons, the church was consecrated on 12th April 1849. The Tower & Spire was commenced in June 1853 and completed in September 1854 and dedicated to the memory of The Duke of Wellington. There was a burial ground surrounding the church, with the first internment on 11 February 1850. This led to much dissatisfaction in the town as it abutted a public road, this together with the poor state of the St Saviours burial grounds led to the founding of the Torquay Extra Mural Cemetery Co. at Hele.

A school was built next door to the church in 1871 and could accommodate 230 children, upon the closure of the school in 1938, the building was sold to the local authority, eventually it was demolished down to the ground floor and the walls of the basement were then reused and the local magistrates courts were built . The monies raised were earmarked for a new church hall but due to a legal wrangle the money had to hand over to the education authority

This is the church just behind the Town Hall, and is surrounded by other buildings and large trees it is therefore virtually impossible to get a good photo. However I have now acquired a very early (pre 1891) printed stereoview, taken from the side of the church which faces the back of the Town Hall

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This church contains memorials to Rev William Scoresby, who was an eminent Arctic Explorer and scientific philosopher. He was a curate of the church and lived in Torquay for many years He is buried in the churchyard.

There is also a memorial to Henry Forbes Julian, son in law of Wm. Pengelly, who was one of the victims of the Titanic disaster.

In 1879 a Mission was started at Prospect Place, Parkfield Road. In 1887 a Mission Cottage was rented in Lymington Road (see picture below) near the marble works.

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Known originally as 19, Vale Cottages, and now 227 Lymington Road. It became a Free Church Mission house at some time after the parish left it in favour of its own new building- St James's Mission House. 227 Lymington Road was in use a a mission chapel for many years and only recently has it been converted back into a house


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In March 1891 the foundation stone of a Mission House was laid at Upton, on land donated by Wm Lavers who had moved to Upton Leigh in 1863, he also donated £520 of the £800 needed to build it. The Mission House opened seven months later. Wm Lavers, by his will, also left an annuity of £150 pa for St James' provided it became a separate parish within three years of the death of his sister- she lived until 1908.

Wm Lavers also gave the site for a larger, permanent, parish church  on land adjoining the Mission House .

 The Mission house became a small church and was dedicated to St James   and it became a separate parish in 1910.  This small church was not considered suitable or large enough to be a parish church, plans were in hand to build a new one but in 1947, due to the changing economic situation after WW2  these plans were shelved and so this area once again became part of the parish of Upton, St Mary Magdalene 

St James Church was sold off in November 1965 and for a time was used as a Youth Club. Still standing and now used as part of St James Church of England Primary School. In 1897 a Junior Church School was built just up the road from St James' Church, and unusually for this time it was built of red brick. When it opened it was reported to be the newest, well designed, well arranged, well ventilated, well lighted and well equipped. It could accommodate 311 children. The school is still a very thriving establishment.

When St James ceased to be a parish the money which had been raised towards the cost of the new parish church was handed over and used to build a new church hall within the grounds of St Mary Magdalene church and this opened in 1956.

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