The first eye-witness recording of an Anglican service in the Estoril area was in the spring of 1908, at the Hotel d’Italie in Monte Estoril. Among a group of English visitors staying at the hotel was a Church of England minister, who offered to hold a Sunday service for visitors. Exactly how many were in the congregation is not known but they consisted of British visitors from three local hotels.Winter was a popular time to visit Estoril and visitors came by steamship. It is thought that the Churchwardens of St George’s were instrumental in appointing a Chaplain, who would travel from England to stay during the winter at the Hotel d’Italie, where he held services.At some time in the late 1920´s the decision was made to transfer services from the Hotel d’Italie to the rebuilt and enlarged Hotel Paris in Estoril (now called the Estoril Sana). After this change in arrangements, Sr Vergani, the owner, no doubt influenced by the Anglican presence in his hotel, decided to build a little chapel next to the hotel. It was never consecrated and only used during the winter months.
The first St Paul’s Church
During the early 1930´s there was some talk of enlarging the hotel chapel but this idea was shelved after it became evident that the owner of the Hotel Paris wanted to use the ground to construct an annexe. More discussions followed and finally, in 1936, a new building had been built on land behind the Hotel Paris sold by Sr Vergani at a very reasonable price to compensate for the loss of the little chapel. While building work went on, services were held in a basement room of the Hotel Paris.The newly consecrated mission church was called St Paul’s Church and it stood where the present church is now – although it is not the same building. From a reading of the accounts of the time, it is obvious that the construction of the mission church was by no means a routine undertaking. Funds were limited and difficult to attract, there were disagreements and bad feeling. Even when the congregation had overcome these obstacles, the subsequent period 1936 to 1954 was a difficult one, particularly with the Second World War, which meant fewer visitors and near insolvency for the church. There was a succession of Chaplains and visiting clergy who continued to hold services. At one point the church was kept open by a Lay Reader.From 1954 to 1960, there was more regularity of worship and the congregation joyfully celebrated the Silver Jubilee of St Paul’s church, Estoril on February 10, 1960. Just over two years earlier, on January 29, 1958, the Rev John Humphreys had been licensed as Chaplain. A new chapter in the story of St Paul’s was about to begin.
The second St Paul’s Church
On Whitsunday 1967, the last service in the mission church was held. The following week it was deconsecrated and demolished. In his book “Except”*, John Humphreys does not go into details as to why the decision was taken to build a replacement and he only makes a couple of references to financing the project. He is also reticent about describing the frustrations and setbacks he and his team suffered in order to get the new St Paul’s finished. John was certainly the driving force but all those who were involved and helped with the project, are to be applauded. During the building of the new St Paul’s, services continued to be held in a hastily refurbished basement of the Hotel Paris. Meanwhile, the new church was designed by a young Portuguese architect, Gil Graça, who qualified at the Lisbon College of Fine Arts (Escola Superior de Belas Artes). The building was entrusted to the firm René Touzet and Co. and was completed by Christmas 1968. It was consecrated as the new St Paul’s on January 25, 1969 by the Right Reverend Stanley Eley.The next two decades were a period of relative stability when John Humphreys and his wife Janet, whom he married in 1960, "built up a responsive and reliable congregation from among the many cosmopolitan residents of Estoril, people of different cultures, customs and persuasions who were glad to become part of a joyful, worshipping and socially active Anglican community" (from the back cover of Except* by John Humphreys).
The information for this section has been taken from:History of the Anglican Church on the Costa do Sol, Portugal, written and compiled by Marguerite Bucknall, a co-founder of St Julian’s School, and Dorothy du Boulay, sacristan at St Paul’s from 1963-80 and one-time teacher at St Julian’s, for the Silver Jubilee of St Paul’s Church, Estoril, Portugal, 1935-1960. Except* by John Humphreys published by the friends of St Paul's 1986.