SAINT BARTHOLOMEW'S CHURCH

The earliest historical records for Haslemere Church start around 1180 A.D., during the reign of Henry II. The original building was known as Piperham Chapel named after the family Piperham, who owned the land and lived nearby. The Chapel was dependent on Chiddingfold Church. Today, on the same land, stands Pepperham House. Prior to this there is mention of "The Hall of Piperham" thus establishing the passage of time to the present day. The references to the Chapel during the next three centuries are sparse. We do, however know, through the records of Pope Nicholas, that in 1219 an inventory took place and that, Chiddingfold with a chapel,held a yearly value of £20 per annum.

During the year of 1363, we learn that the Rector of Chiddingfold requested permission from their Bishop of Winchester to consecrate land around the Chapel of Haslemere for the burial of the dead. This appears to have been granted, so making the arrangements for funerals considerably easier, as up until this time, all bodies were taken to Chiddingfold for burial. It is thought that this request may have been made partly as a result of The Black Death which must surely have affected Haslemere.

Furthermore, we learn from the records that a John Gace left legacies for repairs to the building and for the construction of a new Chancel. John Gace was a member of one of the more affluent families in the community. He left the sum of six shillings and eight pence for the new Chancel and for a tower called a "Stepull" for the bells, a word now recognised as "Steeple". We also know that a great amount of building work took place at this time, and that the resultant Church was dedicated to the apostle Bartholomew to whom dedications were quite common during the fifteenth century. Bartholomew is identified in the Gospel to St.John as being called Nathaniel. He is said to have preached during the first century A.D., throughout Asia Minor, N.W.India and greater Armenia and to have been flayed alive. His alleged relics are enshrined on the island in the Tiber called after him, Isola di san Bartolomeo. He is depicted as an elderly man holding a flaying knife and a human skin.

After an inventory of property taken in 1555, in the course of which was discovered that of two chalices belonging to the church, one had been stolen from the priest's house and the other, with the consent of the of the parish, had been sold to cover the cost of a new church roof using Horsham Stone. As the local population grew, the necessity for a larger church became evident and a North Aisle was added in 1640. This increase in population was largely attributable to the great number of Ironworks that were being established in the neighbourhood. Interestingly at this time a petition was presented asking for the separation of Haslemere from Chiddingfold. The fact that this took 200 years to achieve is indicative of people's reluctance for change that is still prevalent in England today.

The appearance of the church, as related in "The Gentlemen" magazine of 1802, was in keeping with the time of Henry VIII, and that the arches built from oak were very large, but in 1816 it was enlarged yet again. Between the years 1828-1858 the East window of the chancel was lengthened and the ceiling raised. The year 1837 saw the heavy oak pillars dividing the nave from the North Aisle, replaced by fluted iron pillars. The three-tiered pulpit was replaced and a second gallery was built at the West end of the North Aisle. Here a band of local musicians led the church music to the accompaniment of a clarinet and a bass viol, until 1839 a grinding organ with a number of hymn tunes was installed, at a cost of 25 guineas, but it ceased to be used in 1842. Also here, it is still possible to see the siting of a doorway which led from the gallery to the tower. The further addition of the South Aisle came in 1888.

For thirty three years, the Font was a hollowed, large octagonal stone block which was replaced in 1870 by the present marble and granite one. Originally there existed the principle of allotted seats in Church and the pews were rented by members of the congregation which helped toward their up-keep. It would seem that this gradually faded until after 1870, when on the rebuilding of the church, it was re-introduced. However, at the Annual General Meeting of the Parish in 1917, both allocation of seats and the rental of pews were abolished.

Separation from Chiddingfold and the manifestation of Haslemere as a Parish in its own right finally came about in 1868, so ending the dependent daughter relationship that had been evident for the last seven hundred years. The Revd. Sanders Etheridge was appointed Rector to the new ecclesiastical Parish. For the last twenty years of his life, he lived in the house on the High Street, which now incorporates the oldest part of The Haslemere Educational Museum. He is said to have been a good leader with progressive ideas. He may well have read a diocesan report of 1864 which stated, "Haslemere Church needs rebuilding;it is a disgrace to the Parish." The last Rector of Chiddingfold-cum-Haslemere was the Revd. James Legrew Hesse, who was instituted to the living in 1838.

Within two years of his elevation to Rector, the Revd. Etheridge had organised the rebuilding of the Church, which began on July 25 1870 and reached completion on July 28 1871. With this rebuilding came the creation of a new Chancel, the lengthening at each end of the North Aisle and the removal of the Vestry to the Nave. The size and the proportion of the Church remains essentially as before, but only The Tower remains from the ancient Church, although it is still possible to see some of the early stones in the lower part of the North outside wall.

The Stained Glass Windows.

Both the West Windows of the Tower and The North Aisle are specimens of old painted glass. The West Window of the Tower, which possibly dates back to the late 1300's, contains two panels of Flemish 17th century glass, representing two scenes at the end of a hall with pillars and a yellow and black chequered pavement. The first panel depicts Adam and Eve being tempted by the serpent, which is seen winding round the tree in the centre. In the foreground there are pictures of birds and animals, including one of a cat. The second panel shows Noah's Ark, with animals of all kinds approaching and entering. The sky is full of birds; there are three people in the foreground and a small house can be seen on the left and the divine name in gold on the clouds on the right. The framework is represented in pigment and yellow stain with the scenes in enamel paint. "The beauty of the 'Fall' and 'Ark' is almost lost by the overpowering hot colour of the perspective rooms."

The West Window of the North Aisle contains six rectangular panels, probably dating from the 17th century, which are set in plain glass.

They are,in descending order from the left (south) light:

1. Saint Matthew in blue,with an open book in his hand.
2. & 3. The Nativity,showing the Blessed Virgin Mary in brown, the Holy Child wrapped in a blue robe and Saint Joseph on the left;fowls and a basket of eggs are in the foreground. Saint Luke is in blue and there is a bull standing behind him.

They are, in descending order from the right (north) light:

1. Saint Mark in a purple cloak,with a lion beneath him in front.
2. The Conversion of Saint Paul.
3. Saint John in yellow,wearing a red cloak, and an eagle holding an ink-pot in its beak.

These panels are probably from The Netherlands, and are "not likely to be earlier than 1520-1530". The initials "T.C." which appear at the bottom right-hand corner of the panel relating to Adam and Eve have not as yet been traced.

The Window in the North Aisle was created in memory of Lord Tennyson who, during the summers, from 1868 until his death in 1892, lived at Aldworth on the edge of Blackdown. The design for this window is taken from a painting by the late Sir E.Burne-Jones, who was a friend of Lord Tennyson, and is the last in a series illustrating the Holy Grail. The Window next to this commemorates Gerard Manley Hopkins, born in 1843, died 1889, at The Garth, Haslemere. It is most likely the only window in the Church of England depicting a Jesuit priest.

Memorials.

1. The large alabaster mural on the South Wall of the Chancel is in memory of Stewart Hodgson who lived at Lythe Hill House and Dene House. He was the only resident of Lord of the Manor of Godalming and Haslemere and a benefactor of the Church and the Parish. The sculpture was executed by Saint Pepys Cockerill and a plaster case was exhibited at the Royal Academy of 1903.

2. The memorial tablet on the North Wall is in memory of James More Molyneux,the eldest son of the Lord of the Manor of Godalming, who was M.P. for Haslemere from 1754 until his death in 1759.

3. A brass tablet located at the entrance to the Chancel, commemorates the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897,and nearby is the Saint Cecilia Panel in the organ screen which depicts a choir of singing angels. It was designed by the late Miss Lily Bristow and Miss Ann Macbeth,who were associated with the Glasgow School of Art, and was worked by a team of local Haslemere embroiderers.

4. A stone tablet positioned to the right of the entrance to the Chancel, commemorates Robert Hunter,1844-1913, the Solicitor to the General Post Office, the first Chairman of the local Parish Council, and a founding member and first Chairman of the National Trust.

The Organ.

No further reference to the Organ is made until the 1880's, when T.C.Lewis, who was one of the finest Organ Builders of his time, was commissioned to build one for the Parish Church. Much of this work remains today. In 1929 the Organ was rebuilt and enlarged by Messrs. Harrison and Harrison of Durham. Fifty years later the three manual Organ was again rebuilt, enlarged and modernised, with a detached Console by Henry Willis and Sons, another famous firm. The opening recital was given by Anthea Morton,FRCO(CHM) ARCM. It is a fine instrument which is designed and used for both the congregation and recitals. The large pedal reed and the great manual reed were given in memory of Miss Philis and Miss Edith Day of Redcot, both of whom were benefactors of the Church and Town.

The Bells.

John Stede of Half Moon Farm left 30 to buy a new Church bell in 1639. The bells at Saint Bartholomew's owe much to the skill and interest of the late Major J.H.B.Hesse, who was an authority on campanology. It was largely through his efforts that the bells were thoroughly overhauled and re-cast in 1923 at a cost of £700. Four years later, he helped in providing two further trebles, bringing the full range to ten, and it is considered to be one of the best-toned peal of bells in the South of England. The ringing chamber was lowered from the first floor of the Tower to its present position in the 1930's and at the same time the Belfry Screen was erected.

Parsonage Houses.

The first known Parsonage House was occupied by William Mereditch who was Curate in 1587, the year before the defeat of the Spanish Armada. It was a cottage with a garden built near the burial ground in the Church. It remained a Parsonage until 1630, when the Curate,Thomas Burgess, took a lease on Goodwins in the High Street, just above Well Lane. The Rectory in Grayswood Road/Three Gates Lane was built in 1867 and sold in 1927. This former Rectory was renamed "Saddlers". The present Rectory, which stands in Derby Road, was built in 1929.

The New Vestry.

During the Rectorship (1932-1941) of Canon Martin Jones, a clergy vestry was added and the choir vestry enlarged. The Architect was Sir Charles Nicholson. In 1931 the West End of the North Aisle was dedicated as a Children's Chapel and furnished in memory of Mr.Turner Bridger.

Re-Ordering.

When Revd. Neville Morton was appointed Rector in 1979, a major scheme of re-ordering of the Church, rebuilding yet again of the Organ, and restoration of the Church fabric, was undertaken. Laurence King OBE FSA FRIBA prepared the plans. The Choir was moved from the Chancel to a new position in the East End of the South Aisle. The detached console of the Organ was sited alongside the new choir stalls. The stalls, made from English Oak, were designed by Martin Caroe FRIBA and made by Horsmanns of Ware, Herts. These were a gift from a number of public companies in memory of Sir John Partridge. The North and Central Aisles, the Chancel and Tower were re-roofed and the redecorated in 1984.

With the introduction of the Alternative Service Book in 1980 and the placing of a Nave Altar, rails, made again from English Oak and designed by Laurence King, were donated in memory of Molly Smith.

The Altar frontals for both the High and Nave Altars were made by CARE group. The Blessed Sacrament is kept in the Sanctuary, and the Lamp was given by the late Dorothy Roose, a generous benefactor of the Parish Church.

The Churchyard.

The ancient Churchyard, especially the lych-gate end of the grounds contains many fine headstones, and is a splendid example of the traditional English Parish Churchyard. It is carefully maintained and there is a Garden of Remembrance for the interment of ashes situated near the Bell-Tower.

Schools.

Saint Bartholomew's Parish has been involved in education since its inception, but more specifically from very early in the last century.

The Link, next to the Church, was built in 1812. Here generations of children were taught the Christian Faith and the 3Rs. At the beginning of the 1900's, under the inspiration of Canon George Herbert Aitken, who was Rector from 1897 to 1917, another School was built in Chestnut Avenue. In 1976, the Infant School next to the Church was converted into a complex of rooms for the use of the Church and the Community. The infant School was transferred to the School in Chestnut Avenue and a new Middle School was built in Derby Road in 1974. Both Schools are 'aided', under Church control, and there are strong links with the Parish Church.



Copyright © 1998