Service marks 250th anniversary of Haslar church

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A SPECIAL thanksgiving service marked 250 years of St Luke’s Church in the grounds of Royal Hospital Haslar.

The church was opened in 1762 but the exact date has since been lost.

Eric Birbeck MVO, chair of the Haslar Heritage Group, recently found a letter from 1761 directing that the church should be built, along with a clock in the attic of the church with the date 1762 inscribed upon it.

He said: ‘There’s always been a mystery about St Luke’s and the question if there’s always been a church or chapel there.

‘The church arose after concerns that services were carried out in the dining room.’

And the date of the service, Sunday, October 21 was a worthy date, falling close to St Luke’s day and coinciding with Trafalgar Day, as well as falling into the Church of England’s dedication festival period.

Mr Birbeck gave a short history of the church after hymns and prayers.

The day also saw the dedication of the standard of the Royal Naval Medical Branch ratings and Sick Berth Staff Association, which will be installed inside the church.

The service was well attended, with a 50-strong choir from Fareham and ex-members of staff in attendance.

It was made all the more important with the presence of special guests, Vice Admiral Phillip Raffaelli, the Ministry of Defence Surgeon General Surgeon and Surgeon Commodore Andrew Hughes, the Director of the Royal Navy Medical Service.

The Deputy Mayor and Mayoress of Gosport, Councillor John and Mrs Christine Beavis also attended.

The Rev Phil Hiscock, who officiated at the service, said: ‘It’s good to mark an anniversary such as that as there’s been worship there over so many years.

‘It’s good at this point of time to recognise the past and look to the future.

‘We don’t know the exact date of the opening of the building but this was the most obvious time to celebrate.’

Mr Hiscock hopes that the church will play a central role at Haslar in the future.

‘We actually really celebrated that the church has stayed within the area and hope that the area will be preserved and enhanced,’ he said.