Longfleet was originally part of the parish of Canford Magna and did not have a church of its own. Permission was given in the early 1800’s by the Bishop of Bristol to conduct services in the ground floor of two disused cottages and this became an unofficial church.
Origins of Longfleet Parish
On 18th April 1946 a separate parish of St George’s Oakdale was formed out of the original Longfleet Parish, then in January 1982 the Sterte area was transferred to the parish of St James’ Poole.
Building the Church
In the Dorset County Chronicle for November 1827 a notice appeared speaking of plans to build a church, but nothing seems to have happened for about 3 years until April 1830, when a meeting was held in the George Inn at which Mr Ponsonby M.P. stated that £1600 was promised and that he would himself provide the site.
The foundation stone was laid by his son & daughter on 13th September 1830. The architect was Mr Edward Blore of London and the approximate cost was £3000 for the original brick building, seating 629 people.
St Mary’s Longfleet church was consecrated by the Bishop of Bristol on Wednesday 25th September 1833.
There were many changes to the layout and decoration of the original building over
the next 80 years. In 1884, north and south porches were added at the west end and the tower was built with a steeple of 108 feet in height and a clock costing £100 added in 1893 as a memorial to the Rev J L Williams, vicar of the parish for 23 years.
Major work began in 1914 when the original brick nave was demolished and the present stone building joined up the chancel, tower and porches. While work was going on services were held in the Church Room and school and on 9th June 1915 the church was re-opened with its new look. The total cost of the work was £5593, with electric light being installed at a cost of £36.12s.9d!
The old wooden pews were removed in 1998, making the church brighter and more adaptable, with new sound, projection and lighting systems installed in the early 21st century.
In 1909 a Church Hall was erected in Kingston Road at a cost of £650. This was then extended in 1968, re-opening on 27th July 1973 as The Fellowship Centre.
The Centre remained in use until 2013 when it was extensively refurbished and re-opened in its current form in September 2014.