History

T
he foundation stone for St Stephen’s Church was laid on Tuesday 4th November 1873 by Charles John Ellicott, Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol.
[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]…the new church was being built “to meet the growing wants of the wide and populous district of Tivoli…”[/pullquote]

The Cheltenham Examiner of 8th November said that the new church was being built “to meet the growing wants of the wide and populous district of Tivoli, the movement we believe having been taken up by the zealous clergy and leading members of the congregation of Christ Church”.

The site of the proposed church, once part of the manor of Cheltenham, had been sold to the building committee for £300 in June 1873. The committee, consisting of the Revd Joseph Fenn, Lt-Gen. John McCausland, the Revd Robert Cooke, Stewart Crawford Esq., John Middleton (architect) and George Parsonage (builder), agreed that within six months they would start building a church “of similar description as and not inferior to Saint Marks in Cheltenham”. The chancel was completed at a cost of over £1,100 and, on 30th October 1874, the first service was held.

High AltarFor the next nine years, St Stephen’s served as a chapel-of-ease for Christ Church. The intention was to complete the Church should the chapel’s accommodation prove inadequate, and it was soon clear that a larger building was needed. The work was paid for largely by subscriptions raised at regular intervals by the congragation of Christ Church, who agreed to defer any works on their own church until St Stephen’s was complete. The building of the organ chamber and vestry in 1876 and finally the nave and aisles together with the installation of heating, lighting, chairs, chancel carvings, the reredos and communion table, were completed, and the church was consecrated on 20th December 1883 by Bishop Ellicott.

J Eadie Reid Altar Panel

Lady Chapel Altar Panel c 1920 by J Eadie Reid, Art Teacher at Cheltenham Ladies College

The right of patronage had been vested in the Bishop on 13th December 1883, and on 17th January 1884 a ‘particular district’ was assigned to the church. This term, meaning to all intents and purposes a ‘parish’, was used in cases like St Stephen’s where the church was built and endowed by public subscription.

St Stephen’s was the last of the five Cheltenham churches to be designed by John Middleton, and the Cheltenham Examiner said of it: “The style of architecture adopted is Early English, of somewhat late period, and is the only example of that style in Cheltenham”.

Permanent link to this article: http://saintstephenscheltenham.org.uk/history/