Last week St. Saviour’s Church, Valley End, marked the 150th anniversary of its consecration.
A church consecration in Guildford, 1867. (Image by kind permission of Surrey History Centre.)
This is how the original ceremony was conducted in 1867;
“CONSECRATION. – The ceremony of consecrating St. Saviour’s, Valley End, and the churchyard was performed by the Bishop of Winchester on Tuesday last. A large, and distinguished company was present. The Church and Parsonage have been erected at the cost of the Honourable Mrs. Seymour Bathurst, of Hyams, Chobham. The Architect was Mr. G. H. Bodley, of London. Mr. James Harris, of Woking Station, was the Builder, whose excellent execution of the work, has elicited the warmest commendation. We regret that a want of space, compels us to defer a full report of the interesting proceedings.”
Surrey Advertiser, Saturday 27th July 1867.
This is how we celebrated the 150th anniversary with our own interesting proceedings in 2017!
The church was decorated with wonderful flower arrangements. The plan had been to repeat the lavish floral displays that used to be a feature of church celebrations. In the past, these had been done by the gardeners of the big houses of Valley End. On this occasion it was done by some very talented ladies, Sandra Bedford, Rosemary Cobb, Sue Goldsmith, Cally Siegert, Many Ann Merritt, Clare Reed, Christine Belcher, Kathie Brum, Lavinia Sealy and Elaine Scawn.
A full church! Many of the guests had family connections to the church and to Valley End. Some people were descended from the children at the school, who were taken to see the first turfs cut for the site in 1866.
We were also delighted to welcome Earl Bathurst, the great great great grandson of our founder, Julia Bathurst, who came with his cousin, James Bathurst.
Many of those present have helped with this blog and with the booklet on the history of Valley End, and have been extremely generous with their time. We are very grateful to all of them!
The Bishop of Guildford, the Right Reverend Andrew Watson, took the service together with our priests, the Rev. Chris Bessant and the Rev. Chris Bedford. The choir from Valley End School sang for us, and were wonderful. Joan Weymouth, who has so many family connections with the church, gave a Bible reading from the original Bible given to St. Saviour’s on the day of its foundation.
At the end of the service a document was signed by the Bishop, the Vicar, and Joan Weymouth. It will be framed as a record of these celebrations.
Cutting the cake! From left to right, James Bathurst, Bishop Andrew, Earl Bathurst, and Vicar Chris Bessant.
After the service, we had a birthday cake. (It was probably bigger than some of the children!) We had asked Earl Bathurst to cut it, but in his speech he pointed out that since it was the Bishop’s birthday, it would be appropriate for him to do so. In the end Earl Bathurst, his cousin, the Bishop and the Vicar managed to cut it together.
Everyone was invited to join us for a slice of birthday cake, tea, coffee, and cupcakes. Behind the church, a stall was cooking homemade burgers and sausages. There was a face painting, and a balloon artist. There were tables and gazebos to allow people to sit and eat in comfort.
There was a display outside the church about the history of the church and parish.
A booklet, “St. Saviour’s Valley End, 150 years; a history of a church, a parish and its people” was written by Sallie Buchanan for this anniversary, and edited and designed by Jennifer Britt Searle. It was on sale for the first time.
Inside the church there was an exhibition based on the different chapters. There was a section on the school, demonstrating life in a Victorian classroom.
It was a wonderful day, and a fantastic celebration of the first 150 years at St. Saviour’s. What will the next 150 years bring to Valley End?