Oasis in 1984
The Oasis Story
The Oasis Christian Centre is the retail outlet of the interdenominational Oasis Christian Trust; Registered Charity No. 1171906.
Oasis in 1984
Early in 1984 a Christian couple in Romsey felt it would be right to set up a shop as a resource centre for Christian products and also to sell products from developing countries. Two other families joined them and between them they raised the money to buy the freehold of 25 Church Street, an old, rather uninspiring, dimly lit, property in the heart of Romsey, with deeds going back to 1642.
The building was in a bad state of repair and much work was necessary before it could open for business. By the end of September 1984 sufficient progress had been made in the shop so that the doors could be opened to the public.
It may seem strange for a bookshop to sell Scout and Guide uniforms, but this came about because the previous owner of the shop was a Men’s Outfitter who sold the uniforms and we were asked by all concerned to continue.
When the trust was registered in 1986, the vision of the founders was incorporated in the Trust Deed. In legal prose it reads:
Acting as a focal point for Christians, for encouragement and the building up of God’s people in the Christian faith in Romsey and worldwide.
Promoting assisting supporting Christian outreach work and charitable organisations for the promotion of Christian missionary evangelistic and relief works.
After a number of years, the initial loans, that were used to set up the shop were repaid and since then, in keeping with the objectives of the Trust, surplus funds are donated to missionary and relief causes.
The shop is staffed by a qualified manager, who is responsible to the Trustees for the running of the shop, together with volunteers from many churches. Over the years the performance of the team has been recognised by merit awards, both by the local Chamber of Commerce and nationally by the Christian Booksellers Association and the Booksellers Association.
History of 25 Church Street
25 Church Street is an old building; we even have copies of the deeds dating back as far as 1642.
The current Tudor building was erected circa 1601 as a merchant dwelling in the corner of King John’s House plot. The building has a timber frame of oak, with the space between the beams filled with wattle and daub. The first floor overhung the ground floor by about 3 feet. This was because the property tax on the house was determined by the area of the ‘footprint’ of the ground floor.
The inside walls of the front part of the Oasis shop are the original 1601 structure. The wall timbers are still visible and in one area the daub has been removed so that the wattle lattice can be seen.
The front of the shop has been moved forward to be in line with the first floor, so the special timbers that were created from the root structure of the oak trees and were needed to support the overhanging floor can also be seen in the front corner of the shop. The original ceiling timbers that support the first floor are also visible. Only two of these had to be replaced when the shop was taken over in 1984.
The blue plaque on the front of the building tells us that the owner in 1666 was John Cox who at the time was Mayor of Romsey.
Eventually, when Church Street was ‘developed’, the detached house that was number 25 was not demolished but received an outer cladding of bricks to join it to the rest of the shops in the street.
Somehow in this process it became 3 feet wider. At about the same time a two story brick extension was built behind the original structure. Also at some stage a rudimentary two story barn, the same width as the shop, was built at the bottom of the ‘garden’.
In the 1908 picture of Church Street, number 25 is said to be a bookseller and stationer in a terrace of small shops.
However they are doing a good job of advertising their magazines and newspapers. By 1984 the situation had changed; numbers 23 to 15 had been demolished and replaced in the 1960’s by the Post Office and the shops on the other side of number 25 had been demolished and the area was being used as a car park.
Forward to 1990 and the car park was replaced by a row of shops. Later the barn was rebuilt and became a respectable stock room with an office above and was joined to the back of the shop in 1999.
Number 25 has seen vast changes over the years and in 2022, being in the historic conservation area, the building became a grade II listed building.