In the 1890s, a wealthy family called the Christies moved to Ribsden House in Windlesham.
Harry Carnell, their groom and coachman, left his native Derbyshire and came with them.
He spent the rest of his life in this area. His descendants still live in Valley End today.
Joan Weymouth, née Millard,remembers Harry Carnell well. She used to cycle to church with him on Sunday. He was her granddad.
“My grandfather, he never bowed and scraped. But you know, he left school at 13, and he just was so educated. He taught himself. He was treasurer of Valley End for all those years.”
Harry Carnell married Mary Grace Foster, who was also from, Ribsden, in 1898 in St. Saviour’s. They had two children, Ellen Mary and Lilian Annie.
Ellen married Francis Gear in 1925. This was Colonel Gear, Joan’s uncle, who was treasurer of Chobham and Valley End churches for 25 years. I’ve heard him praised as a formidable fundraiser, but as Joan says, “He gave a lot of money of his own” too.
Lilian Carnell went to Valley End School, and joined the church choir. That was where she learned to smoke at 10 years old! Her path would have crossed with that of Reg Millard.
Reg was the nephew of George Vass, who was Parish Clerk for 43 years. When he retired 118 parishioners and friends had a collection and presentation to thank him. An illuminated scroll with all their names is hanging in the church.
Illuminated document in St. Saviour’s Church.
Reg Millard had been brought up by his uncle and his aunt Georgina. “But my Dad was so lucky to go to them, because they thought the world of him. He used to take my Dad to church, and Winn Smithers could remember Mr Vass coming down to the front, ‘cause there was the choir, and fetching my Dad because they weren’t behaving.”
Lilian Carnell married Reg Millard in 1926, and they remained involved with the church.
They were both in the choir. “My Dad was a tenor, and he used to sing in the crucifixion at Chobham on Good Friday from Valley End, with Mr Rolph and Percy Mumford.”
He used to collect subscriptions for healthcare. “My Dad did the Slate Club. You used to pay that at the Vicarage every Monday. And that is because you didn’t pay for a Doctor if you paid into it.”
Lilian was busy at St. Saviour’s as well. “My mother was on the PCC, she was the last churchwarden. She was the first woman churchwarden too.”
She was a very thoughtful person. “Mum was a Girl Guide and she was Brown Owl of the Brownies, and she had this little girl from Dr Barnardo’s, who wasn’t treated very well, and Mum, well if you’d known my Mum, she was special. She used to take this little girl to Valley End Church. When she grew up this girl left £30,000 to Valley End Church, that was just through Mum being so kind to her.”
This legacy went towards the heating in St. Saviour’s. If you are warm during the services at Valley End, this is solely due to Lilian Millard’s caring nature.
Lilian and Reg’s daughter, Joan, followed in their footsteps.
She went to Sunday School in St. Saviour’s. “Mr Rolph used to play the carillon, the bells, at Westcroft Park at the time we were in Sunday School at half past 3.”
Joan sang too. “I was in the choir. The choir stalls were up behind the organ, so the choirmaster could see you.”
She remembers all the vicars, right back to Mr. Edmonds. “Mr Edmonds was vicar but he had a wig. He went and saw Mrs Blackett, and she’d got a flypaper, where flies get stuck to it. I didn’t see it, but evidently his wig got stuck to the flypaper.”
Later, “I was on the PCC for years. When my uncle died Timothy Thornton came up here to get me to go on the PCC, and I said no.
He said, “Joan, you’d really be good there.”
“No,” I said, “Honestly, I’m not a clever person, I’m not like my mother.”
He said, “Joan, we don’t want too many clever people on the PCC.”
I thought well, that lets me in then.”
Joan Weymouth In St. Saviour’s Church, Valley End.
In his sermon for the 100th anniversary of St Saviour’s in 1967 the Rev. Roney Ackworth mentioned the Vass family, and Reg Millard, of that family, who had just read the second lesson.
Then Ackworth spoke of “Harry Carnell, who perhaps did more for this church than any other single person. He was treasurer for 50 years, and his daughter and son-in-law are treasurers to this day. He was a sidesman for 12 years and churchwarden for 38 years. And when he had been churchwarden his daughter carried on as the succeeding churchwarden. His great grandchildren are still in our Church School.
“So that family has meant very much to this place.”
With thanks to Joan Weymouth. All quotes by Joan Weymouth.
“Time will tell,” sermon by Rev. Ackworth on the 100th anniversary of St. Saviour’s Church, Valley End. In Chobham Parish Magazine, July 12th. 1967.
“ A pleasant occasion.” (The presentation to George Vass.) In the Parish Magazine for Long Cross, Botleys and Lyne, and Valley End. September 1930.