For this church:
The church of St Augustine in Newark was originally built in 1886 as a mission room in the larger parish of St Mary Magdalene. It was built from brick and could seat 120 persons at its opening. The architect was George Sheppard of Newark and the builder was F. W. Crossland, also of Newark.
Sustained economic growth had resulted in a population increase from 11,500 in 1861 to over 14,000 in 1881. New housing was built to accommodate these developments, especially in the eastern part of the town along Barnby Gate, London Road and the streets in between. The area of Newtown was built at the eastern end of Barnby Gate to provide around 80 new houses.
St Augustine’s was established to serve the needs of these new communities.
The corner stone of the church was laid on 16 March 1886 by W. N. Nicholson. Inside the stone was placed a bottle containing a parchment with the following inscription:
The consecration ceremony was performed four months later on 22 July. A special thanksgiving service was held and a celebratory tea for over 400 people laid on at the Town Hall.
In September 1886 it was decided to name the Mission Room after St Augustine and it quickly established regular morning and evening services throughout the week.
By 1912, some enlargements had been made and the church could accommodate 200 sittings. In this year, there were 327 children on the roll for the Sunday School.
A new reredos of dark wood was dedicated in April 1915.
In 1929 the Arts and Crafts Society of Nottingham gifted a new white altar frontal.
The choir of St Augustine’s was remembered favourably as a source of local pride. William Becher Tidd Pratt acted as choirmaster from 1906 to 1956. The choir were sometimes known as the ‘Tidd Pratts’ Angels’. Entrance was strictly on merit and Pratt conducted auditions amongst the boys at local schools.
Plans to close the church were first put forward in 1993 in response to dwindling attendance numbers. The church closed in 1998 and was converted into housing.
Miss Gwen White, Sunday school teacher and churchwarden from 1976-1985, recalled that the church ‘has meant everything to me and my family throughout our lives’.
Another longstanding member, Miss Rhona Parsons, aged 85 in 1998, told the Newark Advertiser that she had started at the Sunday school when she was 5 years old: ‘St Augustine’s became my whole life… I have loved St Augustine’s and am very sad to see it close’.