Winton Forum


The church that went world-wide

One hundred years ago Winton saw the foundation of a small church that was to change the lives of millions of people around the world.

The Apostolic Faith Church's Emmanuel Mission Hall in Muscliffe Road was Britain's first purpose-built Pentecostal Church and its branches and offshoots were to spread across the globe.

The building still stands more or less as it was built in 1908.

It was established by a man called William Oliver Hutchinson who fervently believed in a fundamental form of Christianity involving prophesy, the healing power of "laying on of hands" and the gift of "speaking in tongues".

Before becoming a pastor, Hutchinson was an army sergeant who had fought and been wounded in the Boer War. Back in civilian life he had subsequently become the Bournemouth inspector for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

Divine guidance

Hutchinson had apparently being praying for somewhere to hold religious meetings when he felt himself surrounded by angels and led to a piece of waste land. With only nine pence in his pocket he took out a 99 year lease on the plot set back from Muscliffe Road near to its junction with what is now Castle Road

Without him noticing, the owner wrote a clause into the lease giving him the right to buy after eight years. Gifts of money started to come Hutchinson's way and with the help of a sympathetic bank manger the construction of the Emmanuel Mission Hall began.

A memorial stone in the entrance bears the inscription "To the Glory of God 1908" and the building was duly registered as a place of worship.

As the Pentecostalist form of Christianity grew in popularity, Hutchinson played host to growing numbers of pastors who in some cases would establish their own versions of the church.

Place of Pilgrimage

The Emmanuel Mission Hall rapidly made Winton a place of pilgrimage for many thousands of people.

In the 1920's, in particular, droves of people walked or cycled from other parts of England to be blessed or to be healed.

For many years the church contained racks of old crutches and walking sticks - abandoned there by their owners after being healed by Hutchinson who himself died in 1928.

The tiny church in Muscliffe Road does not have wooden pews. It is fitted out with cinema seats, believed to have come from the old Ritz in Wimborne Road.

Next to the main building is the Hutchinson Memorial Hall - a former wartime Nissan hut that has recently been restored to modern standards and is available to hire.

A small white building stands next to the church.

It used to be Hutchinson's office and bookshop and, incidentally, was the first design job completed by the architect responsible for the Palace Court Hotel in Westover Road.

From Winton to the World

Referred to by its members as "The Root Church", the building in Muscliffe Road is the headquarters for branches of the Apostolic Faith Church around the world.

More than ninety years ago Hutchinson started a regular publication called "Showers of Blessing".

It is still published weekly from Muscliffe Road and sent to destinations including Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, South Africa, Canada and New Zealand.

These days, however, it goes by email.