History

St John the Baptist Church is not an ancient church, as Shiphay was originally part of the parish of St Marychurch. However, in the mid-1890s the squire of Shiphay, William Henry Kitson, decided that educational facilities in Shiphay needed to be improved. He decided to provide a chapel/school, which would serve the village children during the week and be used as a chapel on Sundays.

He appointed architects, the building was swiftly built and opened in August 1896, thus saving parishioners from the walk to and from St Marychurch. The services were conducted by ministers coming from the mother church by pony and trap. The use of the chapel as a school ended in 1924. Until 1928 the building was owned by the Kitson family when they gave it to St Marychurch.

The chapel continued in use until after WW2 when new housing estates were built in Shiphay. The consequent increase in population caused people to think that Shiphay could become an independent parish. The congregation must have presented a good case, for independence was granted. It was necessary to close the church for a period, during which major extensions were added. The updated building was dedicated in 1956.

The works included lengthening the building at the west end, constructing a new side entrance, with toilet and Warden's Vestry (now the ladies' toilet), bell tower, choir vestry (now the upper room), the south aisle and the Lady Chapel (now usually called the north aisle) and main entrance. Interestingly the west wall is the west wall of the original chapel, having been carefully demolished and rebuilt in its new location. The lovely stained glass of St John is, of course, modern.

If you would like more information the Reference Library in Lymington Road has a copy of "Shiphay Collaton, its church, its times, its people".