The Encyclopaedia of Plymouth History
Emmanuel Church is situated on the eastern side of Tavistock Road, Mannamead, Plymouth.
The "Tything of Compton Gifford" was an old civil parish which came within the ecclesiastical parish of Charles, Plymouth. This was of little importance when there were few residents living in the area but by 1831 the population of Compton was 291 and there were at least three important properties there: "Priory", the home of Captain J Gordon Bremer, Royal Navy; "-?-", the thatched residence of Mr John Foulston, architect; and "Compton Knoll", built by Mr Bulcock. They all had to attend Charles Church. 
It was Captain Bremer who started the move for a church of its own by donating a site for a small chapel and £200 towards the cost of building it. Known as the Chapel of Compton Gifford it was first licensed on January 23rd 1836 and was served by the Reverend G Hall-Parlby as curate-in-charge. Once the Chapel was in use, Captain Bremer then gave a piece of land to the rear of the Chapel for a schoolroom. Mrs Hare was the first school mistress and there were fewer than 20 children. 
By the time the Reverend Hall-Parlby handed the Chapel over to the Reverend M Davie in 1855 the railway was passing close to the village and the land on either side of it was being developed for housing, although Mutley Plain was still just a roadway with a hedge. The congregation soon outgrew the Chapel and in 1858 it had to be extended to seat 200 worshippers. Within a decade the area from Thorn Park to Hartley Reservoir had been built on as had some of the land nearer Mutley Plain. So in December 1866 the Reverend Henry Addington Greaves, the vicar of Charles, called a meeting in the Compton School to discuss plans for the erection of a separate church for the district. 
These plans were almost thwarted when the Ecclesiastical Commissioners refused to accept the title of the land upon which the Chapel already existed but two other landowners, Mrs Betsy and Miss Elizabeth Ann Revel, gave them a new site at Mannamead. £565 was promised at the meeting and the architect, Mr William Henry Reid FRIBA, offered his services for free. Although there was a problem over the terms of the conveyance, this problem was resolved in mid 1868 and a contract worth £2,003 10s was awarded in April 1869. 
Using stone excavated from the foundations of the new Plymouth Guildhall, the Reverend Greaves laid the foundation stone on Thursday June 17th 1869. At the ceremony the Reverend gentleman announced that it was to be known as "Emmanuel" instead of taking a saint's name. This was because on his death bed the Reverend Revel, son of Mrs Betsy Revel, had wished that something could be done for the Church and as a result they had donated the land. As the Reverend Revel had attended Emmanuel Collage at Cambridge, that was the name chosen for the dedication. The day was a sunny one and after the initial service at Compton Chapel the congregation processed to the site of the new church for the laying of the stone. Children from Charles National Infants' School and the Household of Faith sang hymns specially arranged for the occasion. 
However, just as everything seems to be going well another problem emerged. It was found that Mrs and Miss Revel had not included in their donation the land between the site of the Church and the main road. This they let to Mr Thomas Marshall, the contractor for the erection of the Church, who immediately set about erecting three villas right in front of it much to the annoyance of the congregation. Luckily Mr Bewes and Mr Luscombe succeeded in purchasing the piece of land, reimbursed Mr Marshall, removed the building works and conveyed the land to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. 
Emmanuel Church was consecrated by Bishop Temple on Monday September 19th 1870. 
The Reverend G H Fletcher, previously the curate-in-charge, was appointed the first Vicar. The patron of the living, the Reverend H A Greaves, of Charles Church, assigned £50 per year out of the tithes of the parish as an endowment for the new incumbent. [3a]
At that time the Church comprised a high, clerestoried nave, with lean-to aisles; north and south transepts at the west end, which served as porches; and an extension of the nave westwards in the manner of a chancel. It was planned to complete it by extending the Church eastwards by the erection of transepts and chancel and installing a central tower with spire. The current extreme length was 78 feet and the width was 50 feet 6 inches. The nave was 65 feet high and the spire was to be 160 feet tall. [3a]
Designed in the late Decorated Gothic style by Mr Reid and constructed in limestone by Mr Thomas Marshall, of Plymouth, the nave was separated from the aisles by Bath stone arcades of three bays. Bath stone was also used for the exterior dressings and the font, which was supported by one granite pillar and four of polished marble. Polished pitch pine was used for the seating. The Architectural Pottery Works at Poole, Dorset, supplied the red and black floor tiles and the gas standards were installed by Messrs Hart, Peard & Son. [3a]
The ecclesiastical parish was formed out of the Parish of Charles on December 22nd 1871. 
An Organ was installed in 1876, when the organist of Saint Andrew's Church, Mr Graham Clark, gave a recital. 
In 1880 a portion of the Parish of Saint Andrew's to the east of Mutley Plain was added to the parish  and a contract was let for for the completion of the nave and building the transepts, chancel and vestry .
The eastern extensions comprising the north and south transepts, chancel, organ chamber and vestry, were designed by Messrs Hine and Odgers, of Plymouth. It was opened for worship by the Bishop of Exeter on Monday July 18th 1881, during the incumbency of the Reverend George B Berry. This extension meant that the chancel, with the vestry on the side side and the organ chamber on the south side, was 33 feet in length and 23 feet in width. The outer walls were of wrought limestone with dressings of Portland, Doulting and Bath stone. The stone carvings above the choir were by Mr Harry Hems, of Exeter, and his staff. 
As the Church was designed in the cruciform fashion, it was planned to have a central tower but by the time of the extension that idea had been abandoned. Instead it was raised at the south-western corner. A Mr T C Rogers designed the tower, the memorial stone of which was laid by the Mayor of Plymouth, Mr W Law, on Wednesday July 17th 1895. The architect was Mr Bone and the contractor was Mr Jonathan Marshall. [There is a discrepancy here, of course: perhaps Mr Rogers made the general design and Mr Bone actually drew up the plans.] A sealed bottle was placed in a cavity within the stone which contained, in addition to copies of the western Morning News, a parchment document bearing the signatures of the vicar, the Reverend George B Berry BA; the curates, the Reverends N N Lewarne MA and J H Haywood; the churchwardens, Mr W M F Hugo and Mr Thomas Harris; the treasurer, Admiral Sir George Watson KCB; the secretary, Mr E Tidboald; along with Captain Henry Rogers RN; Mr Edward Dingle; Mr P K Truscott; Mr A W Alabaster; Captain B Matheson; Captain J R Quinn; Mr T Roberts; Mr F H Goulding; Mr Samuel Hockridge; Mr C H Andrew; and Mr W H Probert. 
The Tower was meant to support a spire but the money, and, it would seem, the will, ran out. The Tower itself was to cost £3,500 but only half of that had been raised. The proposed spire was to cost a further £1,600 but only £210 had been promised. 
The east window was donated by the Pearn family as a memorial to their mother. It was designed and made by the eminent artist Mr Morris. The window in the west end is dedicated to the men of the parish who fell in the Great War. There is a chapel, dedicated in 1919, to the memory of Captain Henry Harris Jago, DSO, MC, and Second Lieutenant Edward Arthur Jago, killed in France in 1916 and 1918 respectively. There are other windows to the memory of the Hicks, Jackson, Rendle and Jenkins families. A brass lectern was manufactured by Messrs Cox and Company and donated by a Mr Dickerson. The carvings of angels on the stall ends at the chancel entrance were the work of Mr S Trevenen, of Plymouth. The cornice of oak trees and acorns was carved by Mr Moutrie, of Tavistock. All the gas standards were supplied by Messrs Hart, Son, and Peard, of Wych Street. 
Linking the old and new parts of Emmanuel Church 'was attended with considerable difficulties and some danger' but this was satisfactorily accomplished by the contractor, Mr Blowey, and his workmen. Messrs Hele and Company re-erected the organ in the new organ chamber. 
Emmanuel has a peel of eight bells in the tower, all cast in 1904 by Messrs John Warner & Sons . The tenor bell, weighing 21 cwt 2 qrs 12 lbs, was re-hung in 1929 by Messrs John Taylor & Company of Loughborough, who did the same with the remaining seven bells in 1939 . Mr Norrington, of Abbotsfield, Compton, made a substantial donation towards the cost of the bells .
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