What is now Hampton Hill was formerly within an
area known locally as The Common and later as New Hampton, as part
of the parish of St Mary's, Hampton. For more than two hundred years
local Hampton government had consisted of Vestry (the church committee),
Churchwardens and Poor Law Guardians, supervised by the local Justice
In 1863 an Order in Council set up St James’s Chapelry and
its new parish, officially designated as Hampton Hill, although
not called so until about twenty years later. The vicar of this
parish was, and still is, appointed by the vicar of the mother parish
of St Mary’s, Hampton.
Thus a Vestry separate from that of Hampton was established and
this dealt with many affairs, both secular and spiritual, of the
new parish. However, Hampton Hill was never an independent civil
parish, but was always included with Hampton which came under the
supervision of the Kingston Rural Sanitary Authority.
It was an Act passed in 1858 that was the real initiator of Local
Government Boards. In 1891 Hampton Hill, joining with Hampton, voluntarily
adopted a Local Government Board, the first elected body in the
area, and separated themselves from Kingston Rural Sanitary Authority
so that they could have their own more direct control over sanitation
and allied matters. The board was largely made up of the same voluntary
Vestry members and churchwardens as had already been in office,
but now with the backing of an electorate.
Through the National Act of 1894 the local Board became established
as an Urban District Council in 1895 which was a change in name
only. The Urban District Council controlled Hampton and Hampton
Hill until they were compulsorily incorporated with Twickenham in
1937, becoming part of Twickenham Borough Council. Twickenham became
part of the Greater London Borough of Richmond in 1965.
Thus the early history of both St James's Church and its community,
the village of Hampton Hill, are inextricably linked. The first
vicar, Revd Fitz Wygram, saw his rôle as improving both the
spiritual and social conditions of the new parish, and this included
developing a wide range of organisations to benefit the community.
Some of these were explicitly religious, some were secular in their
activities and others bridged the gap between them. However, all
were based on his sense of Christian responsibility towards fellow
human beings at a time and in a place where there were no other
authorities able to take on the task. In this work he was helped
by his leading laymen. "They looked
after peoples' human rights and dignities, keeping them safe from
injustice and encouraging healthy use of leisure."
The quality of the property in the neighbourhood
during this period was apparently very poor. The area was described
by the Revd J Burrows, Vicar of St Mary’s, Hampton, at the
ordination of the parish’s first incumbent, as “a
wilderness with a number of habitations of the most wretched kind,
inhabited by a still more wretched class of people”.
Revd Fitz Wygram and his wife dedicated their lives and a good deal
of their money to improving the unpleasant living conditions and
poor prospects of the parishioners. In the words of Henry Ripley:
“The many squalid, unhealthy
and overcrowded cabins were acquired and pulled down; streets lined
with comfortable cheaply-rented cottages or commodious villas sprang
up in all directions, and nearly every institution or movement necessary
to the well-being of a community was inaugurated and carried out
to a successful issue, without any regard to the expense entailed”.
One of the first attempts to improve things for the villagers was
to consider the costly business of lighting and so in 1866 a public
meeting was held in New Hampton to decide whether some at least
of the streets should be lit with gas. There were objections to
this and in the end no general street lighting was established until
1891 when the first contract was placed with the Gas Company on
January 17th to install lamps at a cost of seventy shillings a lamp,
the Company to clean and repair the lamps when necessary.
Early on in his incumbency, Revd Fitz Wygram
discovered that only thirteen children out of a population of 1,100
went to any sort of school. Having a keen interest in education,
he made a grant of land in Mill Lane to the vicar and church-wardens
“on trust for the education
of children and adults, or children only, of labourers, manufacturing
and other poorer classes, and for no other purpose”.
For a detailed account of the historical background to St James's
Church Schools, read the page St James's Church
schools through the years. St James's continues to be keen on
its connection with the local schools with the clergy going in to
talk to the children and also encouraging the schools to visit the
church. Read the article Children
Visit St James's.
The Hampton Hill Day Nursery was established
in 1885 in the High Street to take in the infants of poor women
who had to go out to work. The April 1885 magazine reported: “These
little babies often wither and fade from neglect, or the seeds of
ill health and suffering are sown, which mar the comfort and happiness
of life. It is hoped that with care and good nursing, in a warm
and comfortable room, many, who otherwise would be neglected, may
grow up into strong and healthy children.” Read the
article Hampton Hill Day
Nursery. However, the nursery was closed in 1892 due to “lack
of support it received from the parents”.
The Parish Lending Library was run by St
James’s with Mrs FitzWygram as the “Lady
Superintendent”. It was housed
firstly in the Fitz Wygram Club and then in a small hall
in Eastbank Road, presumably the Eastbank Mission Room. The subscription
for working people was 1d. per month and other subscribers paid
at least 2s 6d. a year.
Miss Barnard had charge of the library in the 1890s. The March 1899
magazine reported: “The Parochial Lending Library does
not seem to be so well known or used as it deserves to be. It contains
a very large number of excellent books, and its home is at the Eastbank
Mission Room. It is mainly for grown up people, but there are some
books suitable for children as well.”
The August 1886 magazine reported: “A
portion of the Hampton Glebe, our ‘Common, as we call it has
been set apart by the Vicar of Hampton for allotments. We are very
glad to see the allotment system extending itself around us. By
this means the difficulties which working men now meet with, owing
to the scarcity of work, can best be met, and to some extent be
As there still was no National Health
Service at this time, St James’s decided to celebrate Her
Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee by the providing the parish with
a nurse, a “Victoria Diamond”
nurse. A committee was set up in April 1887, funds poured
in, and the first nurse was appointed in September. Her
services were much in demand as there were many outbreaks of measles
and influenza during these years. In February 1892, the Parish Magazine
reported: “It has been a sad
and troublous time these last six weeks. Never during its existence
as a parish has our death rate been so high. The number of entries
in our Burial Register is quite double the number recorded for any
similar period before. The influenza which has attacked us again,
has assumed almost the proportion and severity of a pestilence.
So many have been laid low, and so fatal in many cases has it proved.
There is scarcely a house which isn't mourning the loss of a relation
or a friend. And just when our own home troubles seemed at their
worst, there has fallen a blow upon the whole of England, we might
almost say, upon the world at large. This terrible disease has spared
neither poor or rich, high or low, and amongst its victims is the
young Prince Albert Victor, who, had he lived, would one day have
been our king…….” Over twenty years later
the magazine of 1909 reported that the nurse had made 3,086 visits
in that year and that her services were still being paid for by
public subscription. Read the articles The
Nurse's Fund and The
Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
In 1887 the Vestry moved a resolution “that
the slowness and infrequency of the trains are extremely detrimental
to the Parish, by keeping many houses empty, whereby the rates of
the remainder are increased and all local institutions crippled”.
The magazine reported that the trains were the popular means of
transport for Sunday School, Choir and other outings. In 1901 an
outing of two hundred and fifty-four people caught the train to
Crystal Palace and in 1907 two hundred and fifty-two people went
on a parish outing to Portsmouth, starting from Fulwell at 6.30
a.m. and returning at 7.45 p.m. The adult fare was four shillings
with children travelling half-price.
The Hampton Hill Fire Brigade
was formed in 1888. A considerable number of the members of
the Hampton Fire Brigade expressed their willingness to help forward
the movement and co-operate as far as possible. “We
heartily commend our new brigade to the support of the inhabitants
of Hampton Hill.”
For a long time it had been thought that more provision should be
made for the needs of the parish of Hampton Hill out of the continually
increasing funds of the Vicarage of Hampton. Hampton Hill contained
nearly half the population of the old parish but had only received
twelve acres of glebe towards its endowment. On the 2nd of August
1889 a dead of transfer was completed, by which about eighteen acres
of glebe land adjoining the Vicarage grounds and Churchyard were annexed
to the living of Hampton Hill. It was thought that in time this land
might be required for building purposes, and its value largely increased.
The magazine of October 1889 reported: “By
this means an endowment would be secured to the living, and it would
no longer be dependent upon the somewhat objectionable method of raising
funds by pew-rents.” Read the article Transfer
In June of 1890 a public meeting was convened by the vicar “in
pursuance of a requisition by thirty-six tradesmen that the name Hampton
Hill should be the accepted name for our village”. The
Revd H Bligh, in the chair, reminded those present that when their
village was just a small hamlet it had been called 'The Common' and
a Post Office had been established. That hamlet increased and the
name New Hampton attached itself to the then rapidly growing village.
Twenty-six years before a parish giving its name as Hampton Hill had
been formed by an Order in Council but this official name had not
been generally adopted. The meeting agreed to petition the Post Office
to change the name to Hampton Hill. In mid July the Post Master General
replied “to the memorial from nine
tenths of the householders of Hampton Hill” and sanctioned
the official change of designation. Read the articles Where
Do We Live?, Our Name
and The Name Hampton Hill.
A Local Board for Hampton and Hampton Hill was formed in 1890 and
the village entered a new phase of parochial life taking on “its
arduous responsibilities”. The drainage of the two parishes
alone gave work and anxiety for a long time. This was in addition
to the ordinary work of maintaining the roads and footpaths, lighting
and sanitary inspection, which in a district which was fast developing
from a rural village into a suburban town was no light task. The Board
was elected from a long list of candidates who voluntarily offered
their services for the public good and heavy demands were made in
the form of rates.
The unusual severity of the weather in the winter of 1890-1891 threw
many out of work and caused much hardship among the working classes.
So a soup kitchen was opened "with
a view to mitigating as much as possible the suffering which prevails".
When War was declared in August, 1914, it was decided that, until
the war ended, the church bell would ring at noon every day to remind
everyone to pray for “the King
and all those in authority, our sailors, soldiers, the suffering,
the anxious and the sorrowful”. All military cases of
relief were dealt with in connection with the Soldiers' and Sailors'
Families' Association, and the Local Aid Fund was used to assist those
who were suffering indirectly through the war. For the first time
in the history of the village, in October, 1915, the villagers were
threatened in their own homes by attack from the air. There were many
not prepared for such an attack, as we read that “during
the Zeppelin raid it was surprising to see how very well illuminated
were several of the houses in this vicinity”. In 1916,
local residents opened a canteen at the FitzWygram Coffee Tavern for
the benefit of wounded Canadian soldiers from the hospital which had
been set up in Upper Lodge, Bushy Park.
The floodlit spire in 1945
In response to many requests
Mr. Coad-Pryor preached sermons dealing with different aspects of
the war and made daily intercessions for those fighting or being trained.
A Roll of Honour was included in the magazine and fund-raising events
were held to raise funds for sending comforts to the local soldiers
at the front. Thanksgiving and Memorial Services were held in church
after the war. In May, 1945, at the cessation of hostilities in Europe,
the church bells rang out at last. They had been silent so long, their
chimes being reserved as an invasion warning. Never before had there
been such displays of flags and bunting and there was music and singing
in the streets and parties in the open air. The schools were given
holidays and later on the spire of St James’s was floodlit to
mark the occasion.
In 1935 there were special services of thanksgiving for King George
V’s Silver Jubilee. There was also a procession, the
“best ever seen in Hampton”, a special dinner for
the elderly and the celebrations for the children were “real
fine”. The death of King George V in 1936.
Model of the church
There was much controversy
when Revd Harvey decided to sell a large part of the vicarage grounds
bordering St James’s Road for building. This move on his part
gave rise to much bitterness in the vicinity and several old-established
families "left the church".
In 1939 the residents of the large houses opposite were so disgusted
by the invasion of their privacy that many of them, gathered up their
goods and chattels, held last regretful tennis parties and moved away
in search of "fresh fields and pastures
During the Second World War the church was used as a rest centre after
air raids. In 1940 an RAF plane, returning from a raid over Germany,
crashed onto Lady Stanton’s home at 63 Park Road after the crew
had bailed out when their plane had become uncontrollable due to icing.
“The house was soon completely
gutted and sparks and flaming debris showered the roofs of nearby
houses. The Revd F P P Harvey was on firewatch duty that night and
he paraded St James’s Road, sheltering under a large umbrella,
keeping an eye on the roofs in case the fire spread. It was anxious
work since the ammunition from the Wellington’s guns kept exploding
in the heat and it was thought at first that enemy planes were machine-gunning
the fire.” It was so near St James’s Church but
only knocked off the cross at the top of one of the tower pinnacles
by the tip of its wing which has since been replaced. Some time during
the war the wooden replica of the church, displayed in the baptistry,
was built by a civil defence workermade EE Bryant.
Exactly one hundred years after St James’s was dedicated on
December 11th, 1863, a large congregation gathered together for a
service of thanksgiving for a century of worship and prayer. During
the centenary year there were many services, including a confirmation,
and numerous entertainments including local history exhibitions with
slides, a centenary party and finally a special evening service on
Friday, December 11, 1964 to bring the centenary year to a close.
The Bishop of Kensington was preacher and he dedicated a new altar
table. See the Anniversary Leaflet.
'The Birth and Growth of Hampton Hill'
The immediate vicinity of
the church was protected from undesirable development. In the face
of much opposition and due to Revd. Brunt’s convictions and
perseverance, Larkfield Lodge on St James’s Road was demolished
in 1964 and it was proposed, with the consent of the planning authorities,
to erect a three-storied block of nine flats. This became the subject
of a Land Tribunal enquiry. The Birth and Growth of Hampton Hill recorded:
"On Tuesday, July 28th, 1964, the
Revd R H Brunt, acting on behalf of St James’s Church, and the
St James’s Residents’ Association formed for the purpose,
opposed an application for the release or modification of the 1874
covenant which applied to the land under question. As a result of
their action the application by the developers was refused. In the
opinion of the tribunal the covenant was not deemed to be obsolete
as claimed by the purchasers of the land, and the amenities of the
church were thus protected, as had been the intention of the far-seeing
Revd F J Fitz Wygram when drawing up the agreement so many years ago."
The book, 'The Birth and Growth
of Hampton Hill', was published by St James’s Parochial Church
Council in 1965 and was deemed a great success by all who read it.
It includes chapters on the history of St James’s Church and
its personalities as well as on different aspects of life in the village.
Read the article Our
Book is Launched.
Waste Paper Collection
Long before the borough council
began recycling, in 1974, there was a parish doorstep collection of
waste paper. A team from church scoured the area once a month on a
Friday night and piled the paper and magazines outside Wayside in
St James’s Road where it was collected. From 1974 to 1982, £4,000
was raised for local charities and 163 tonnes of newsprint and 52
tonnes of magazines were recycled.
The church Social Committee was co-organiser, along with the Hampton
Hill Association, of the Jubilee Celebrations in 1977. During this
celebratory period, St James's put on special services, a concert
and actually won first prize for the best dressed float.
During the 1980s the PCC decided it would be best to bring all the
activities of the church under one roof. After looking at the alternatives
it was eventually decided to sell the existing church hall in School
Road and Wayside in St James's Road in order to enable a new church
hall to be built next to the church. In 1992 the hall was sold to
the Hampton & Hampton Hill Voluntary Care Group to become their
new centre, the Greenwood Centre. Since its opening, the new church
hall has provided a venue for many community activities including
a nursery school and a variety of classes and workshops such as yoga,
dance, drama and photography. It has also been used for a wide variety
of children’s parties, dinner parties and family celebrations
of baptisms, anniversaries, birthdays and weddings. Not least the
hall became used as a Polling Station for local and general elections.
Read the page The History of St James's Church
In 2000 the bishop sent a double decker bus around all the church
schools, to help children find the answer to '2000 years since what?'
Some of the congregation were on the bus and visited the schools in
the area. Read the article The
Bishop's Bus. St James's was represented
at Hampton and Hampton Hill Carnival for the first time in 2010 with
an 'Adopt-a Teddy' stall. Lots of soft toys were kindly donated for
prizes and a profit was made for church funds.
Read the additional articles:
I keep Bees? (1885 April)
Trading (1886 February)
Schools (1888 January)
Bee Show (1888 July)
Kitchen (1891 January)
Present Gloom (1892 February)
Party (1973 January)
Theatre Club (2000 September)
Open Day (2002 June)
Celebrates its History in a Book (2008 Dec/2009 Jan)
Hill Christmas Parade (2013 February)
doors for 40 years (2013 August/September)
One charity that really does begin at home (2013 August/September)
above information covers the period from when any records could be
found until November 2016. This was when Revd Derek Winterburn became
St James's tenth vicar and from this time onwards any new information
can be found on the main site's page Mission
through the years: Our church in the community.