Ventnor Spiritualist Church

The History of Ventnor Spiritualist Church

 

Spiritualism is believed to have begun in Ventnor as early as 1903 but the first properly recorded date of meetings held in a house in Upper Ventnor was 1921. Mr. Ernest Oaten who at that time was the editor of 'Two Worlds' dedicated the present church on November 30th 1938. The Dedication read: 'To the Glory and Worship of God; to the Service of Humanity; to the Dissemination of Truth; the Healing of the Sick; the Comfort of the Bereaved; the Spiritual Illumination of Darkened Souls and the Investigation of Spiritual Laws. Ernest Oaten was a prominent Spiritualist in the battle for the legal recognition of Spiritualism.

The Church had many problems during the war. One was a persistent rumour that the Spiritualist Church knew when and where bombs would drop, Mr. Jermy had to involve the police to quell the trouble caused. As Spiritualism was not yet legally recognised the church had to take particular care with the Mediums and Speakers they booked if they were not to fall foul of the Police and Home Office. (The Helen Duncan case followed later). In 1943 Mr. Jermy tells the committee that if Speakers write to the Police Superintendent at Newport permits will be granted to come to the Island as they were employed by the church. In 1945 they joined the efforts of the 'Freedom Committee' to get the Witchcraft Act repealed. They also suffered damage to the building from a bomb which destroyed part of Ventnor church, (now the car park, it was never re-built).

Mr. Jermy was President for many years, he was also the father of the late Mrs. Heather Hatton who grew up in Ventnor. Heather and Eric Hatton grew to prominence in Spiritualism but always retained affection for Ventnor Church. Minister Eric Hatton is a Life President of Stourbridge Church, West Midlands and of the Spiritualist National Union, which he has recently stood down from.

Mr. Jermy was an inspiring President, in 1946 at the AGM he says: 'Ventnor was the birthplace of Spiritualism on the Isle of Wight with this church being the oldest but it was still fully alive and the most go ahead of all the island churches, one that was awake to the needs of the moment. To minister to these needs they were determined to maintain a high standard of platform efficiency, and would invite many of the most prominent speakers of the day to serve the church.' This they did, with an astonishing array of famous names invited to Ventnor. Helen Duncan, Helen Hughes, Nan McKenzie, Harry Edwards, Harold Sharpe, Hannen Swaffer, Ernest Oaten, Bertha Harris, Russell Harwood and William Olsen to mention but a few.

 After many ups and downs over the years Ventnor Church is still inspired by its founding President's words. In the  intervening years other Mediums have visited Ventnor, keeping up the tradition of presenting the best platform workers possible. Strong ties have been forged with sister churches at Cowes and Ryde and it is hoped that by working together Spiritualism will continue to enjoy a high profile on the island.

Having recently celebrated 70 years of Spiritualism in Ventnor the present Committee and President keep in mind the words of the church's dedication, this is the reason that the church is there, long may it continue.