History of Swinton Hall

Origins

The origins of the Assembly at Warsash go back to the late 19th Century, certainly earlier than 1869 when Miss Caroline Swinton who had a keen interest in education built a house at Warsash Corner with school rooms at ground level and rooms above where she lived. Scholars were required to pay twopence a week towards the cost of their education and this continued until the advent of free education when the school was closed. Miss Swinton was also a devoted Christian and a committed adherent to the principles of New Testament teaching and made available the school premises for the establishment of an Christian assembly under the auspices of those known as Brethren.

We have a number of unique historic photographs some of which have been kindly supplied by the late Mr Basil Donnaghy, who had a keen interest in the history of the assembly and show Miss Swinton, who died on 18th June 1903, and other members of the Warsash Assembly in the early years of the last century.

These are absolutely priceless pictures and show how strong the commitment to the principles of gathering according to teaching of the New Testament Church was in the locality, not only at the beginning of the 20th Century, but going back to the 19th Century.

The house in which Miss Swinton lived until her death was known as Binfield on the site now occupied by The Ferryman (formerly The Great Harry) public house. One wonders what would have been the reaction of the formidable Miss Swinton!

The present hall

The decision was made prior to the redevelopment of the present building, that we should retain as much of the original building as possible. Originally named Swinton Hall, in honour no doubt of Miss Swinton, was established in 1908, and the opening service of thanksgiving took place on 12th February of that year. For many years the ground on which the hall stands was a large strawberry field in keeping with the tradition of Warsash which was renowned for strawberries and lobster. The name Swinton Hall still appears in the original stone-work above what was the original entrance.

Old Documents 1907 to 1988: A number of old documents have come into our possession covering the period 1907 to 1988. These cover matters relating to the mortgage in relation to the hall and repayments, as well as some personal acknowledgements. There is also correspondence in relation to the Western Counties Trust and discussions that took place at Echoes of Service with Mr Vine, presumably W E Vine the author of Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.

World War 2

Along with other parts of the South Coast of England, the Warsash village and district became a restricted access area during World War II, especially with the preparations for D-Day. Only those who lived in the village were able to attend the services in the Gospel Hall. The services were maintained throughout the war, albeit with depleted numbers, and those who could not attend met with the believers at the Gospel Hall in Swanwick.

Then and now

In the intervening years many children and young people have passed through the Gospel Hall Sunday School and Bible Classes learning only the scriptures, and especially of the great work of Christ on the Cross. Many will remember the summer camps when girls and boys spent a week of outdoor activities and bible teaching in various locations in the south.

The Gospel Hall is a bit of a Warsash landmark, but things never stay the same and we have recently completed the refurbishment of the hall (2015) to make it more suitable for the 21st Century. Photographs of the progress and completion of the project are to be found by clicking here.

Of this we are sure, that while all around us may change and generations come and go, yet God is faithful and the Lord Jesus “the same yesterday, and to day and forever” (Hebrews 13.8)