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St. Stephen’s Bournemouth

Designed by architect John Loughborough Pearson the church was built in stages between 1881 and 1898, as a memorial to Alexander Morden Bennett, first vicar of St Peter’s Church, Bournemouth. A spire was never added to the tower.

Legend has it that Pearson’s aim when he designed St. Stephen’s church was to create a building “which brought people to their knees.” With the great artistry and painstaking attention to detail that went into St. Stephen’s construction, people believe Pearson was able to achieve just that.

I loved that the ambulatory behind the high altar. The High Altar has a well carved front, with the Adoration of the Magi in its central panel, and on either side symbols of the Evangelists, St.Peter and St.Stephen, St. Augustine and St.Ambrose.

Towering above the altar is the Triptych or Reredos, designed by Nathaniel Hitch, which represents in the centre Jesus crucified, with the  Virgin Mary and St.John standing on either side. On the left of this we see Elijah and his raven; On the right the Prophet Isaiah. On the left wing of the triptych are St.Stephen and Moses; on the right St.John the Baptist and David. Above are the figures of four bishops, St.Ambrose, St.Augustine, St.Clement and St.Swithun, each of whom has, or at some time had a church dedicated to his honour in the town.

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