|St James's vicars through the years | Revd Fitzroy John Fitz Wygram | Revd Henry Bligh | Revd Charles Robert Job | Revd Richard Coad-Pryor | Revd Frederick Pearce Pope Harvey | Revd Rupert Hoyle Brunt | Revd John Nicholas Chubb | Revd Brian Leathard | Revd Peter Vannozzi|
Revd Fitz Wygram was born in 1827, the fifth son of Sir Robert Fitzwygram (1773 - 1843) who owned estates at Leigh Park, near Havant. He was brought up in a caring, generous and responsible family and he himself became a wealthy man with considerable private means. Following his education at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, he was ordained and began his clerical life at Sittingbourne, in Kent. Read more about Revd Fitz Wygram.
After moving to Hampton Hill Revd Fitz Wygram fell in love with and married a local girl, Alice. Alice was daughter of Lady Ward, who lived in the Grace and Favour Apartments at Hampton Court Palace, and Henry Ward RCMG, Governor of Madras at the time of his death. She came to Hampton Hill when she was twenty two and her husband thirty four. She moved into Larkfield Lodge across the road from the vicarage after her husband’s death and proceeded to make it another centre of church life, in addition to the vicarage. She lived thirty one years as a widow, much loved for her kindness and generosity. She died in 1912. Read more about Mrs Fitz Wygram.
He became a local benefactor and worked relentlessly
on social reform, particularly trying to end the drunkenness which
was a major national problem at the time. He did this by buying up
slums in his parish, demolishing them and replacing them with new
cottages with rents that working people could afford. He was a keen
sportsman, encouraging his parishioners to start a football club and
to play cricket in the St James’s Cricket Club of which he was
At the beginning of the 1880s Revd Fitz Wygram started a Working Men’s Social Club and Coffee House, the village’s first community centre, with the parish library being housed in its club room. There the men could play chess, draughts and dominoes, read the daily papers and buy reasonably priced refreshments. It was described by Ripley as “a commodious block of buildings” which was “replete with every feature essential to the edification and amusement of the working man, and is an institution of which any village might be proud”. The Surrey Comet stated that it was established mainly “to encourage habits of temperance and to counteract the evils of strong drink".
Revd Fitz Wygram founded or encouraged many other community ventures in order to improve the lot of his parishioners. He was a keen sportsman, encouraging his parishioners to start a football club and to play cricket in the St James’s Cricket Club of which he was president. In fact, his enthusiasm for the game and his “modern” ideas were such that he encouraged his parishioners to play on Sundays provided that they attended at least one church service. These advanced ideas did not, however, prevent his appointment, even in Victorian times, as Rural Dean.
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”. The boys’ school was where the Greenwood Centre stands today. The girls’ and infants’ building is still standing in School Road, and is today a warehouse.
The original church building was remodelled,
with large contributions from his own pocket. These developments started
in 1873 with a northern aisle, together with an outer porch at the
west entrance. A new vestry and organ chamber were added to the church
in 1874 and the chancel was enlarged in 1876. The organ, originally
built by Bishop for St Peter’s, Eaton Square, in the 1830s,
was bought for £150 by the vicar. The late east window was removed
to the west end of the church and a new beautifully stained glass
window took its place. The south porch and south aisle were completed
The Parish Church of St James, Hampton Hill, TW12 1DQ
Main site: stjames-hamptonhill.org.uk