It was formerly part of the ancient parish of Boldre. Early documents reveal that "the inhabitants of the district are resident at a considerable distance from the Parish Church of Boldre, and are therefore put to considerable inconvenience in the solemnisation of marriages" and, presumably in the matter of church attendance in general. The newly established Parish provided a focus for ministry within the Village, the population of which at that time was not very different from the present - since the Vicar was paid £100 on a scale covering parishes with populations between five hundred and thousand.
The Church was built at the astonishing cost of £990:12:10d. The moving spirit behind the fund raising for the original building was the Rev Wm Jones, who was evidently a man of forthright disposition, since he managed at a very early stage "to quarrel with the architect, so that the Treasurer, Edward Hicks, was left with a great deal of trouble and no small degree of anxiety as to how it was to be paid for". However, paid for it was, and the building was competed and dedicated on the 5th December 1839.
An early Victorian red brick structure of no great architectural distinction, it nevertheless derives a considerable external attraction from the charm of its setting, and a distinctive internal character both from its intimacy and from the gallery which dominates its west end.
By 1890, the Church building was considered inadequate, and a scheme for improvement and enlargement was undertaken. The consultant was scathing in his judgement of the building. "The architectural character, arrangements and fittings are ugly, and quite unfit for public worship. The first impression is that pulling down and rebuilding is the only way of dealing with such a structure. However, it is unlikely that such a suggestion would be entertained. It is possible that, by degrees, the present structure may be improved". An ambitious scheme was formulated to add a chancel and north aisle at a cost of £1,229, but the parish was not able to rise to this challenge, and the final outcome was a modified scheme to add a chancel at a cost of £387:18:4d. This was competed in October 1891. Some ten years later, the Chancel was dignified by the installation of a stained glass window depicting the crucifixion and St. John with the Blessed Virgin Mary, This window survived until 1944.
In May 1941, a bomb caused severe damage to the Church. Thirteen windows were blown out, but the stained glass window was surprisingly unharmed. For several years the congregation suffered acute discomfort, and it was not until 1944 that plans were made to replace the windows. The plain lancet windows were to be replaced by lancet windows with diamond panes, at a cost of £85 for 13 windows! However, this plan was pre-empted. On the night of 11th May, a flying bomb fell within 200 yards of the Church. The stained glass window was destroyed, and extensive damage was caused to the structure. The stone cross on the Chancel fell to the ground undamaged, and the Belfry was damaged. For a period of twenty weeks while the Church was being made habitable again, services were held in the Village Hall. It was not until 1948 that the repairs were finally competed with the installation of a new stained glass window, depicting the Risen Christ, flanked by St. Paul and St. Timothy.
For more than seventy years the Parish pursued a vision of a hall attached to the Church. For much of this time the Village Hall, situated on the Forest at some distance from the Church, served the needs of the Church as well as the Village. Being vested in the Vicar and Churchwardens, it was not surprisingly known as the Parish Hall. But the original vision was never lost, and in 1985 it came to fruition through an act of faith on the part of the PCC, together with much dedicated effort in money raising and the offering of individual talents. The Church Room now serves not only the Parish, but the Combined Benefice of which it is a part.
The original Churchyard was twice enlarged before it was finally closed as a burial ground in 1985. During the 1914-18 War, a number of RFC personnel from the Aerodrome on Beaulieu Heath were interred in the Churchyard, and these war graves still evoke interest and enquiries to this day. The stone War Memorial in the Churchyard was the gift of the Rev PB (Tubby) Clayton of Toc H fame, whose family were resident in the Village. In 1973, in anticipation of the closure of the Churchyard, a Garden of Remembrance was constructed to the east of the Church, largely by voluntary effort.
A list of vicars of the Parish, and a list of gifts and memorials may be found at the rear of the Church. Since 1984, the Parish of St. Paul has been part of the Combined Benefice of Beaulieu, East Boldre and Exbury, with a Vicar resident at Beaulieu Rectory.
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