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Page 1 – The History of Rosebery Park Baptist Church and Pokesdown: the Mid to Late Victorian Era, setting the scene…

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In 1867, the entry in a Christchurch Directory describes Pokesdown as “an increasing and thriving village” whilst “Boscombe is a hamlet near Pokesdown which is daily increasing.”1 William Pickford moved to Pokesdown, aged ten, in 1871, as the son of the new Minister at the Congregational Church. Sixty four years later, The ‘Bournemouth Times and Directory’ reported on his childhood memories:

“Mr Pickford recalled the old house and Pokesdown life as he once knew it. The parsonage, of course, had no gas light and the water was drawn from a well near where the present school house stands. Those in Pokesdown knew little of Bournemouth.

Pokesdown Hill. Date unknown. Source Pokesdown Community Forum.

The postal address of the village was ‘Pokesdown, Ringwood’ and later, ‘Pokesdown, Christchurch.’ They did not go into Bournemouth to shop, but got their clothes in Christchurch and boots from a cobbler in Holdenhurst. It took half-an-hour to walk through the country lane to Lansdowne, perhaps picking blackberries on the way. Lansdowne was merely a crescent of shops. Bournemouth Pier was reached by an excursion through the pine clad slopes of the cliffs, while as for Boscombe, it did not exist.”2

Stevens, Walter W.; The ‘Ragged Cat’ Inn; Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum;

The 1871 census gives the population of Pokesdown as 511 people,3 and Boscombe, 282, made up of 212 people in 19 houses in the Boscombe Estate, and a further 70 people in 9 houses at Boscombe Spa.4 By 1901 the figures are, Pokesdown: 4,930;5 Boscombe: 9,648!6

As the writer of local Bournemouth history, J.A. Young, explains: “Much of the open land at Pokesdown [and Boscombe7] was developed through a number of building estates, owned either by Land Societies or by individuals and companies. These estates were usually marked out in building plots, and to a considerable extent influenced the manner in which the district was laid out.”

In 1857 what could “perhaps be regarded as the first of such estates” was built on twenty seven acres to the east of Seabourne Road.9 In Boscombe, to start with, in 1865-67, housing suited to the needs of artisans and other work people were established on the north side, whilst on the south side a select type of resort was planned, Boscombe Spa.10

Information from J.A. Young’s ‘Pokesdown Past 1750 to 1900’ and ‘Boscombe The Victorian Heritage’. On Old Ordnance Survey Map Godfrey Edition ‘Boscombe & Pokesdown 1923’.11
Click on image for high resolution version.

The names of the Pokesdown estates are shown in the red boxes, including The Rosebery Park Estate, and the names of the Boscombe estates are in the blue boxes, showing the building of houses in the area between 1857 and 1894. “By the 19th century the term ‘park’, once referring to an enclosed tract of land reserved for hunting animals by the nobility, was frequently misused to glorify unremarkable pieces of land being sold as building estates.”12

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The History of Rosebery Park Baptist Church and Pokesdown, Page 1. Author: Michelle Fogg. Date: May 2022. Url:

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Rosebery Park Baptist Church, 812-814 Christchurch Road, between Boscombe and Pokesdown, Bournemouth, BH7 6DF