Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: February 27, 2021
Webpage updated: February 27, 2021




This The Garrison Church of Saint Alban the Martyr was part of Crownhill or Plumer Barracks, at Crownhill, on the road from Plymouth to Tavistock.

The south face of the Garrison Church of St Alban, Crownhill, Plymouth


It is thought that the Church was built in 1896 as a school for the children of the military personnel during the week and for religious services on Sundays.  The Church had no dedication at that time and was generally known about the village as Saint Michael's.

Although it was built for the garrison, the inhabitants of what was at that time called Knackersnowle were invited by the chaplain to use join in as there was no regular priest at the chapel-of-ease of Holy Trinity and the parish churches of Saint Budeaux and Saint Edward were some distance away.

During the week a partition was drawn across the building to separate the school-room from the Church, which was why there were two doors on the south side of the building to give separate access.  At one point in the Great War it was even used as a synagogue by a Jewish battalion.  There were also two vestries because the Church was used on Sundays by both the Church of England and the Roman Catholics.  In later years the choir-boys used the southern vestry and the priest in charge the northern one.

The font was an ancient one that had been found lying around somewhere in Saint Budeaux parish.  It was cleaned up and placed on a solid granite pedestal and placed by the Royal Engineers in the school section of the building.   It was duly dedicated to the Glory of God at a special parade service on Sunday July 21st 1901.

In 1926 a new school building was erected and the old building officially became the Garrison Church.  At a special service of hallowing the Chaplain-General, the Reverend A C Jarvis, dedicated the Church to Saint Alban, the first English martyr.  The altar, the oak reredos and two stained-glass windows presented by the 2nd Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment and the 1st Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment were dedicated in the autumn of 1928.

A baptistery screen was later added, the floor of the sanctuary and chancel were paved with marble and finally, in March 1938, a one-manual organ was installed to take the place of the harmonium.

Just before the outbreak of the Second World War the minister was the Reverend G E McNeill.  During the War there was no permanent appointment and the Church was served from the Garrison Church of Saint Katherine the Virgin upon-the Hoe, which is within the Royal Citadel.  Non-military personnel were banned, of course, and the Church was handed over to the United States' Army.

Following the closure of Chapel of the Holy Trinity in 1951, when the congregation moved to Saint Christopher's Church, the military authorities invited the people of Crownhill to use the Garrison Church once more for their services until such time as a permanent church could be constructed at Crownhill.  As a result, the furnishings from the temporary Saint Christopher's Church were placed in Saint Alban's and the two congregations amalgamated.

The last service held in the Garrison Church was in September 1971, after which the organ was removed and placed in the Whitleigh Methodist Chapel.