The History of Weston-Super-Mare Spiritualist Church by Lilian Bees

The Committee have requested that I give the origin of the First National Spiritualist Church,  Weston -Super- Mare, as the founder was my mother Agnes Rose Tovell.

The journey began when my Mother together with her friend Ada Hoskins went to a "Spooks" meeting in Bristol.

At this stage I must point out that I was not yet born, and have gathered information from hearsay. Apparently they were very impressed and continued going until they developed Mediumship.

In 1920 my mother married and went to live in Jarrow, but carried on going to meetings in South Shields.

My first memory of seeing my Mother on "stage" talking to people was when I was 4 or 5. The propaganda meeting was held at The Kingsley Hall, Old Market Street in Bristol.

We moved to Weston-super-Mare shortly after, and she opened a Church in Wadham Street, and I remember seeing my Mother accompanied by a Cleric Dr. Lamont, enter the Large Hall, he raised his right hand and said "If this be not of God, it will fail" and so the Church was dedicated in 1929.

After a couple of years the building was demolished and the Church was relocated to a large Hall which is now where the Sovereign Centre is today.

In 1938 the Spiritualist National Union approached my Mother with a view to her taking over a Church in West Street that was closing and she agreed. It was a large building and is now an Emporium. To give an idea of attendance and its success, during World War 2 on the National Day of Prayer, there were not enough seats and people were standing in the aisles.

But early 1945 the Baptists Union bought the property and the Church had to find another building. My mother was most upset.

For a couple of months, meetings were held in our front room. Someone told her of a garage in Stafford Road that had been an ambulance garage.I was aghast when I saw it; it was quite a sight with bare walls, a small frosted window, no electricity supply and the only water supply was an outside tap.

All the members pitched in, walls whitewashed, carpets laid, chairs installed. My father built the platform that is still there today and the first service took place the first Sunday of December 1945.

Over the years so many improvements have been made, the lovely big window and the small window, the skylight, panelled door, the gates. During my sisters Presidency the house next door was purchased with contributions from members and interest free loans and the top flat was sold. They made the committee room by knocking the wall down, the kitchen installed, lighting system altered and many more-too numerous to mention. But it could only have been done with the love and support of so many throughout the years.

In 1983 I found that I had been put forward to become a Minister of the Church. After I had met all the requirements for office set by the Spiritualist National Union, I was ordained by Gordon Higginson on 29th March.

In 2002 the Blue Cross Spiritualist Church amalgamated with us as their building was in need of repair and was going to be sold and it has been a happy union and still is today.

When my Mother died on 22nd June 1955 she had seen the lovely windows and the vast improvements mostly donated in gratitude of her mediumship.

My Mother wanted the Church placed in the hands of the Spiritualist National Union and it was.

The many Presidents have all played their part in making the Church as it is:-

Elsie Blanchard - Mary Pope - Zena Graeme Wilson - Julia Upton, my Mothers sister - Betty Summers - Earnest H Miller - Marian Olive Miller, my mothers eldest daughter - Myself, Lilian Bees - Amanda Cooke - Myself again - Maureen Plumb, and Patricia Bendall, the President Incumbent, have all helped to make the Church, as I'm sure mother would have wished, what it is today.

And the words spoken by Dr Lamont at the dedication, all that time ago, proves beyond doubt that the power of Spirit is there, in all its serene majesty, a haven for all. 

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