The "goode" men longed for in the old petition have never ceased to come to Jesus Chapel, from the time of the Rev Saunders to the present day, and they have served the church and its people faithfully and well. It has not been easy. Jesus Chapel and its parishioners have had varying fortunes in the present century, like so many others. The war memorial in the church reminds us of the many families who lost their loved ones in the 1914 -1918 war, and many of the older folk still remember the years of depression and unemployment that followed that war, and the great dole queues that used to form in Woolston.
The coming of new industries, especially the aircraft industry brought new jobs and renewed hope to the area. Then the 1939 - 1945 war brought widespread destruction to the parish, and wiped out Itchen Ferry almost entirely. There was an exodus of many people to less vulnerable places Some returned after the war, but others did not, and have been replaced by new families moving into the area. Jesus Chapel came through the war almost unscathed. The people at the A R P post on the Green had kept a watchful eye on it, and fire watchers, led by the curate, spent many a weary night in and around the church in an effort to keep it safe. When land mines fell in the vicinity they destroyed all the stained glass windows except one, the East Window, depicting the birth, the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
Since the war the parish has undergone many changes. Most of the available land has been built upon, and blocks of flats have replaced many of the houses destroyed during the war. The Floating Bridge has gone, replaced by the Itchen Bridge, the coming of which has changed the appearance of Woolston considerably. Its approaches swept away Pear Tree Vicarage and also the Parish Hall. The parish now has a fine replacement hall close to the church, which is very convenient, and a new, smaller vicarage in Pear Tree Avenue.
Despite the number of purpose built flats and residential homes for the elderly in the neighbourhood, statistically Pear Tree Parish is a "young" area, so of necessity, much thought and attention has to given to the religious education, leisure activities and welfare of the young people who will be the church of the future, and to the problems of the young unemployed and the homeless. The traditional welfare work of the church is continued by the Women's Fellowship, the Mother's Union, the Luncheon Club, the Young Wives, the Sunday School, the Mission and Stewardship Group and the leaders of Rainbows, Brownies and Guides. Lay pastors and others assist the Vicar with his pastoral work by visiting elderly, sick or bereaved people in the parish, and the families of the newly baptised, and newly married.
The church is well and faithfully served by its Vicar, Lay Reader, organist, choir, servers, church wardens, sidesmen and the PCC. Many members of the congregation provide valuable back-up services of all kinds - distributing the Parish Magazine, cleaning the church, polishing the brass, arranging the flowers, and so on.
The Family Service has become a regular and popular feature in the pattern of worship in Jesus Chapel, and the whole congregation is able to join in and welcome the newly baptised babies and their parents and relations. Another regular occurrence is for members of the congregation to meet together in the Parish Hall for coffee and a chat after morning service. The Hall, now so near to the church is a great asset. It is pleasing in appearance, well maintained and well run by its management committee, and is the focal point of most of the activities of the parish.
Jesus Chapel was built to fill a need in the lives of the people of the neighbourhood. They maintained it lovingly and it has stood on the Green, serene and beautiful, in good times and bad, for more than three and a half centuries. Long may it survive. Living as we do in today's troubled world, our need for this little church and all that it stands for is as great today as ever before.
D E CORPS (January 1985)
My thanks go to the late Miss Doris Corps who put in such an effort to draw together this history - Well done Miss Corps!