The story of the parish of Falmouth begins nearly three hundred years ago with Sir Peter Killigrew of Arwenacke Manor House, who in 1663 gave land for a church, parsonage and church yard and with the help of funds provided by King Charles II, the Duke of York and “diverse honourable and worthy persons “built the church of King Charles the Martyr. He further, and with great difficulty and at considerable cost to himself, obtained in 1664 an Act of Parliament by which the parish of Falmouth was separated from that of Budock. Thus it came about that on August 2nd, 1665, the church was consecrated by Seth Ward, Bishop of Exeter. and dedicated to the memory of Charles the First, King and Martyr.
Falmouth at this time contained, in addition to the Manor House of Arwenacke, only a couple of hundred houses. and the church must have been amply large for its congregations; but the town was growing rapidly and in 1876 a Mission Church, known as All Saints, was established in Lower Killigrew Street
In 1877, although it was claimed that the Church of King Charles the Martyr could hold nineteen hundred people, it was clearly not large enough for the needs of the town, and at the Easter Vestry the suggestion was made that a fund should be opened for the building of a new church. However, it was ten years before the foundation stone of that church, the present All Saints, was laid.
In June, 1886, Lord Kimberley gave land for the new church and in 1887 the building committee appointed Mr. J. D. Sedding as architect and commissioned him to build in Early English style a church which should seat between seven hundred and eight hundred people, at a cost of not more than £5,000.
Work on the site was quickly begun and on November 1st. 1887, all was ready for the laying of the foundation stone on the following day by the Prince of Wales.
Great preparations had been made. A marquee large enough to hold some hundreds of people had been erected on the ground and decorations were hung out in the town-but, on the day and night before, a gale raged with such fury that the marquee was blown down and badly torn, its supporting poles were snapped off close to the ground, and the town's decorations were sorely battered. On the day itself, Wednesday, November 2nd, the weather had improved though it was showery and windy. Hurriedly a smaller tent was put up, so that the Prince and a few of those taking part in the ceremony could be under cover. Fortunately there was a fine interval for the actual laying of the foundation stone.
The united choirs of the Parish Church and All Saints ‘Mission gathered at the old Grammar School at the corner of Trelawney Road and from there marched in procession to the site, played on their way by the drum and fife band of H.M.S. Ganges.
The stone was “well and truly laid “by the Prince. The service was conducted by the Bishop, and at one point opportunity was given for offerings of money to be made and numbers of purses were laid on the stone. On the North side of the church its inscription can be seen:
The original intention that the Bishop of Truro should consecrate the church on All Saint’s Day 1889, could not be carried out, as the building was not finished in time and, when it was ready, the Bishop was ill. His place was taken on April 17th 1890 by the Bishop of Barbados, the Right reverend Herbert Bree, who was staying in Cornwall at the time.
The following description of the church is quoted from the article on the History of All Saints Church written by Mrs. F.B. Rogers in the July edition of the Parish Magazine for 1921.
“Mr J.D.Sedding was chosen as architect, with Messrs. J and G. Kelway as builders, and Mr W.H.Dunstan as clerk of the works……
The work on the whole was well done, with the exception of the outside of the roof, the wooden portion of which inside is as good as the slating outside is bad-a constant source of trouble and expense ever since. The church “itself was well built.
The materials of which the church is built are of interest, chiefly Plymouth limestone, which is very beautiful, with a dressing of Doulting stone, while Hopton wood stone is used for the base of the Devonshire marble font, and to a large extent in the chancel, combined with Pennant stone. Its length is 120 feet, its width 50 feet, height 60 feet to the ridge of the nave, while the aisles are 35 feet high to the wall plate. The width of the nave is 30 feet, and of each aisle 10 feet; the roof of the nave is barrel shaped as in so many of the old Cornish churches, though without any of their ornamentation. These proportions give it great dignity, and it lends itself well to processions, and to congregational singing. It is described as ` an honest attempt to meet the requirements of a modern English church, in which the congregation shall be able to see and hear the service from all parts of the building, while the design should be characteristic of medieval work', and is in a kind of free 13th century style of architecture . . . .
“The total cost of the building, apart from its fittings, appears to have been close on £6,100, the whole of which was not defrayed before the end of 1897. “
In December, 1923, the Bishop of Truro, Dr. Frere, appointed a commission to consider the question of the division of the parish of Falmouth into two.
At the annual meeting of the Parochial Church Council of King Charles the Martyr held on January 22nd, 1924, a resolution was passed by 19 votes to 5 to the effect that “the Parochial Church Council considers that the time has now come for the parish to be divided “.
The Commission appointed by the Bishop heard evidence in private from the churchwardens of the parish and from members of the Parochial Church Council, and in public at a meeting held in Falmouth Council Chamber. They reported to the Bishop their considered opinion that the division of the parish of Falmouth was desirable. The Bishop himself was in favour of the division. As the parish of Falmouth had itself been created by Act of Parliament in 1664 a fresh Act was necessary if it were to be divided. An Order in Council was obtained and the division of the parishes effected.
London Gazette, 29th July, 1924:
At the Court at Buckingham Palace, the 25th day of July, 1924.
Present, The King's Most Excellent Majesty in Council.
“We, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for England, in pursuance of the Act of the 6th and 7th years of Her late Majesty Queen Victoria, Chapter 37, and of the Act of the 19th and 20th rears of Her said late Majesty, Chapter 104, have prepared, and now humbly lay before your Majesty in Council, the following Scheme for constituting a separate District or New Parish for spiritual purposes to be taken partly out of the Parish of Falmouth and partly out of the Parish of Budock, both in the County of Cornwall and in the Diocese of Truro: . . . . . . . .
“And whereas there is within the limits of the said proposed separate District or New Parish a consecrated Church in use for the purposes of Divine Worship and such Church is named `the church of All Saints, Falmouth ': . . . . . . .
“Now, therefore, with the consent of the said Walter, Bishop of Truro . . . . , we, the said Ecclesiastical Commissioners, humbly recommend and propose that all those portions of the said Parish of Falmouth and of the said Parish of Budock which are described in the Schedule hereunder written, . . . . shall, upon and from the day of the date of the publication in the London Gazette of any Order of Your Majesty in Council ratifying this Scheme as aforesaid become and be constituted a separate District or New Parish for spiritual purposes and that the same shall be named `The New Parish of All Saints, Falmouth'.
“And we further recommend and propose that the said Church of All Saints, Falmouth, shall as from the day last mentioned be and for that purpose we hereby specify the same Church as the Parish Church of the said New Parish of All Saints, Falmouth. . . . “Now, therefore, His Majesty, by and with the advice of His said Council, . . . . is pleased hereby to direct that this Order be forthwith registered by the Registrar of the said Diocese of Truro."
The Vicar Designate, the Rev. Clifford W. G. Wood, M.A. (Oxon), was already on the staff of the church of King Charles the Martyr and he acted from 1st August until 12th September as Priest-in-charge of All Saints.
The Bishop came to All Saints on Sunday, August 10th, and bade the new parish go forth with his blessing, pointing out that it had now received its freedom and that freedom, if rightly used, was a tremendous blessing, but that carelessly used it might end in appalling disaster.
So the new parish set forth on its way, the faithful being asked by their Vicar to add to their private devotions for the next few weeks the collect for Whit Sunday with special intention for God's blessing on all that was undertaken in His Name.
On September 12th the Rev. C. W. G. Wood was instituted in the private chapel at Lis Escop by the Bishop of Truro as the first Vicar of All Saints, Falmouth.