The Parish of Saint Peter and Saint Paul Fareham, Hampshire
The parish is at the foot of the Meon Valley at the West end of the South Downs and it is within easy reach of the New Forest and the Coast and between the cities of Portsmouth and Southampton.
Fareham was a small market town, which has grown rapidly over the last forty years or so. The church is in the centre of the Borough, which has a population of some 110,600. Adjacent to the church are the Borough Council Offices, Library, Health Centre and multi purpose Ferneham Hall for live entertainment.
The estimated population of the parish as shown in the provisional 2011 census results is 14,200. It covers an irregularly shaped area of about eight square miles from the borders of Portchester in the east, to the River Meon in the west. It includes a large part of the town centre and to the north, part farmland. It includes the villages of Wallington, Funtley and Knowle.
The unemployment levels are relatively low, excepting the present economic circumstances. There are a number of Service personnel who work in the area, though many Service establishments have closed in recent years. People commute daily to Portsmouth, Southampton, Winchester, Chichester and London. Several small light industrial estates are within the parish boundaries.
In the parish are three state schools, two primary and one secondary comprehensive (11 - 16) and one co-educational school (3 - 16).
Fareham Borough Council's Core Strategy includes an objective for the period 2016 - 2026 to deliver a new sustainable settlement, to be named "Welborne", to the north of Fareham adjacent to the Knowle Village development. This would be within the parish and the plans are to create 6,500 - 7,500 new homes, up to 90,750 sq metres of employment floor space, a new district centre and other supporting retail and community provision.
There are seven residential care homes in the parish.
St Peter & St Paul is now one of three Anglican parishes in the town, and is the original parish church of Fareham. Tradition has it that it was founded by St Birinus and his monks, who reputedly landed at Portchester and converted this part of England to Christianity, going up the Meon Valley and converting the pagan Meonwara! Christians have worshipped in this church for over one thousand years. The original chancel now forms the beautiful Lady Chapel. It was here that the Great Seal of England was exchanged in 1346 at the command of King Edward III before his expedition left for France and the Battle of Crecy.
The most recent change was in the early 1970s when the church was reordered to meet modern liturgical trends. The churchyard is closed for burials and is maintained by Fareham Borough Council.
The Church of St Francis Funtley, a small Victorian Mission Church, has had an addition built to provide a new vestry, kitchenette and toilet.
The congregation is committed to caring for each other. We try to be a community where people can feel welcomed and supported within the church family.
Special occasions during the year are marked with various activities. A number of fund raising events are held each year including a two-day Christmas Fair.
Other Church Activities
There is a small branch of the Mothers Union in the parish.
The church possesses the only peal of bells in the town and these are rung on Sunday mornings. There is also a team of handbell ringers.
The Singing Group meets each Friday evening from 7pm - 8pm to prepare for Sundays.