What’s the history of St John’s Church?

There were plans to build a church in the hamlet of Farncombe from the late 1830s, and the building was completed and consecrated in 1849, just before the railway line was extended through the village to Godalming, encouraging the expansion of the population. Sir George Gilbert Scott, the well-known ecclesiastical architect, was the designer. Within about ten years a new aisle was added on the north side of the church, and another was built in 1874; there hasn’t been any major change to the church since apart from the building of the vestries. The only descriptive word Sir Nikolaus Pevsner uses of the church in The Buildings of England: Surrey is ‘dull’, whereas we like to think of it as ‘homely’!

The building underwent a major reordering in the early 1970s when the old High Altar was abandoned for worship in favour of a westward-facing nave altar, several rows of pews were moved round, and the chancel screen removed. In 2012 the church was again refurbished and an oak floor laid throughout the nave and aisles, the pews replaced by modern oak benches and chairs, and new lighting was installed. The furniture was designed by Irish Contract Seating and you can find out more about them here.

St John’s has always functioned as a traditional village church at the centre of its community and over the last few years has played host to the Village Show, with veg, flower and produce competitions.

List of Rectors
Samuel Lyon, 1849-59
Charles Dallas, 1859-78
Henry Benson, 1879-90
Edgar Bowring, 1890-1918
Frank Pickford, 1918-26
Charles Knight, 1926-45
Charles Allingham, 1946-67
Edwin Barnes, 1967-78
Dennis Hedges, 1979-94
Tim King, 1995-2001
Margaret Blake, 2001-09
James Rattue, 2009-

List of (Recent) Curates
A.B. Speed, up to 1952
M.E.G. Allen, 1952-after 1953
Anthony Carter, 1956-1960
Dennis Hyde, 1960-1962
Graham Hawkett, 1963-1967
Roger Robins, 1969-1973
Chris McKenna, 1973-1977
Jim Bates, 1977-1979
Brian Llewellyn, 1980-1983
Dudley Vargas, 1983-1986
Peter Norman, 1987-1991
David Cameron, 1991-1993
Dean Henley, 1995-1999
Nikki Arthy, 2000-2004
Margaret Dean, 2007-2011
Maggie Stirling-Troy, 2013-

We have a number of booklets about the history of the church, which are available in the church itself or to purchase via the church office. All cheques should be payable to ‘Farncombe PCC’.Celebration 150 (£3.50) tells the story of the first 150 years of the church, up to 1999. Physician of Souls (£3.50) is a short account of the life and work of Fr Reginald Somerset Ward, the priest who had an enormous impact on the spiritual life of the Church of England, and who lived for nearly fifty years until his death in 1962 at Ravenscroft, no.5 Wolseley Road, Farncombe. Beloved Amma (£4) looks at the missionary Sister Carol Graham, who founded The Farncombe Community in Somerset Ward’s house after his death, dedicated to working and praying for Church unity. The Lord’s Service (£4) examines how worship has changed at the church between its foundation and 2014. The final booklet in the series, A Place of Refreshment (£4) is a ‘spiritual guidebook to the church’, describing not its history but why its various features and fittings are there.

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