” A large and distinguished company:” remembering St Saviour’s consecration


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?









The Battle of Chobham Place Woods

“They hang the man and flog the woman

That steals the goose from off the common,

But let the greater villain loose

Who steals the common from the goose.”[1]


The entrance to Chobham Place Woods.

The people who lived on the ancient heath lands had rights on the common land. They could graze their livestock, and gather fuel and building materials. When the common land was enclosed to be cultivated, it had a massive effect on rural society.

One example of enclosed land is Chobham Place Woods. These are now a public space with a car park off Valley End Road, near the junction with Windsor Road.

In the 1850s they were part of the common and Denis Le Marchant, the owner of Chobham Place, wanted to enclose them.

NPG Ax46399; Sir Denis Le Marchant, 1st Bt by Hills & Saunders

Sir Denis Le Marchant, 1st Baronet. 1795 – 1874.   National Portrait Gallery.

He was virulently opposed by Richard Gude, a local landowner, who lived at Valleywood Farm and was therefore a neighbour of Le Marchant.

Where litigation was concerned, Gude had previous form. He took a dispute over an annuity, Gude v. Mumford, (descendants of the family still live in the village today,) as far as the Court of the Exchequer in 1837.

But Le Marchant was the Clerk to the House of Commons, and a powerful man. Gude was too incensed to care. Between 1853 and 1854 he petitioned the Queen and Parliament three times, writing to Lord Palmerston, the Secretary of State, who must have known Le Marchant well.

NPG D1396; The House of Commons, 1860 by Thomas Oldham Barlow, after  John Phillip

“The House of Commons, 1860″(including Denis Le Marchant) by Thomas Oldham Barlow, after John Phillip, mezzotint, 1863 or after.   National Portrait Gallery.

Gude wrote bitterly, “I am goaded by the scandalous and oppressive nature of the proceedings of Sir Denis Le Marchant and the Inclosure Commissioners.”

One of his arguments was that the poor would suffer when the common land was enclosed. This sounds suspiciously like special pleading; Gude he had been such an unpopular Guardian of the Poor that he was subject to arson attacks.

Gude complained that Le Marchant bought the land at his own valuation, while William Abdy’s offer, of three times the amount, was rejected. But the real cause of frustration shines through when he complains that the other adjoining landowners, William Abdy and himself, would get no part of the woods.


The Avenue in Chobham Place Woods.

He claimed that Le Marchant had twisted the law in his own favour, secretly putting clauses into a Public Bill for his personal benefit.. And he was clearly infuriated that Le Marchant, a relative newcomer, should profit over old Chobham families. Such as the Gudes.

The issue was settled in 1854, by the Inclosure Commissioners.

They looked at the deed by which Le Marchant claimed the to have bought the land, and accepted it. But they refused to let Gude see it, as it was a private document.

No wonder he was so frustrated.

The Commissioners complained that Le Marchant’s Agent had interfered with the appointment of the second valuer. They found this so objectionable that they refused to accept him. Maybe some of Gude’s fury was justified.

Le Marchant won, and took Chobham Place Woods. For many years they framed the approach to his house, Chobham Place.


Chobham Place from the woods. It is now known as Wentworth Place.

But during the Second World War part of the common was taken for the Tank Factory. To compensate the village, Chobham Place Woods and Round Pond Woods were given as a replacement, and now, after a century and a bitter dispute, they are once again common land.


National Archives HO 45 /5530.

Reports of cases argued and determined in the Court of Exchequer in Equity…Vol. II, 1838.

With thanks to Rob Searle.


If you would like to know more about Richard Gure’s case against Denis Le Marchant, here is the text of his 1853 petition.

In Parliament.

Sir Denis Le Marchant’s Inclosure.

Reasons against the inclosure.

That CHOBHAM COMMON is 25 miles from London and easily accessible by railway, – midway between Windsor and Guildford, and near Virginia Water, Sunning Hill, Staines, Bagshot, Chertsey and Woking, and therefore likely to be resorted to, as Railway facilities increase, by the London Population.

That the intended Inclosure of these 32 acres of Common, adorned with 300 trees and upwards, the growth of centuries, and some 12 feet in circumference, is a wrong to the Public, and a case not contemplated by the Inclosure Acts, which were passed “ for the Improvement of Commons, subjected to rights of property, which obstructed cultivation and the productive employment of labour.”

That no cultivation can improve this spot, beautiful by nature, and no employment of labour upon it can be so productive as its fuel to the poor, and its shade, shelter and food to their cattle and pigs, and to those of the adjoining proprietors and their tenants.

That a Public Highway is included in the Inclosure, the diversion whereof will increase the distance, already about Two miles from the Village, and send the public up two steep bleak and scarcely traversable dusty hills.

That the two adjoining Proprietors have about equal frontage to this Common with Sir DENIS LE MARCHANT, and have therefore an equal right with him to the Common proposed to be inclosed, whereas he is to take the whole, and access to their lands is to be stopped.

That Sir DENIS LE MARCHANT proposed to give £10 an acre, which he considered more than the value and claimed the trees as his property; whereupon Sir WILLIAM ABDY offered £30 an acre and to pay for the trees by valuation, and insisted that at all events this Common should be submitted to public competition by a sale by Auction.

The Inclosure Commissioners however direct this Common be sold by valuation to Sir DENIS LE MARCHANT, by virtue of their Act of Parliament passed in June 1852, after he had been informed he would not be permitted to put up further embankments until he had thrown open his previous Inclosures, pursuant to his written undertaking to the Parish, and no notice of such an intended Act of Parliament was given to the parties greatly interested in preventing this Common being inclosed.

That by such an Act of Parliament, seemingly passed for this express purpose, this part of the Common, of importance only to the public, to the promoter of this scheme, and the two adjoining Proprietors, is to be transferred from the two to the one, and the price thereof given for public purposes, to the majority of the Parish, to whom any rights over it were of little or no value.

That the inclosure of the 32 acres will tend to delay bringing into cultivation the remaining 7000 acres of Common, which have not the same recommendations to promote their inclosure.

That the estates of some of the opponents of this Inclosure have descended to them through centuries, whereas Sir DENIS LE MARCHANT purchased his house abutting the Common, in the year 1840.

That all the documents and papers relating to this Inclosure ought to be laid before Parliament, that full justice may be done to the Public and the parties interested, this however is opposed by the Secretary of the Treasury, so that the right by sanction of Parliament to all Inclosure Bills is reduced to a mere sham, as it can have no materials upon which to form a judgement as to the propriety of an Inclosure, directed by the Commissioners of Inclosure, and will account for their utter defiance of all legal rules and the acknowledged rights of property.

It is hoped Parliament will erase “CHOBHAM” from the schedule to the Inclosure Bill about to be brought in, and show the public that the machinery of the Inclosure Commission is not to be set in motion and worked by the Chief Clerk of the House of Commons, that he may monopolize advantages equally belonging to his neighbours.


8, George Yard, Lombard Street,

May 1853.

[1] Quoted in “Surrey Heath in the 18th century,” by Phil Stevens. Surrey Heath Local History Club and Phil Stevens, 2007.

St. Saviour’s Church

In April 1866, Chobham Church opened again after being closed for restoration.


Charles Cracklow. St Lawrence, Chobham, before the restoration of 1866.

Julia Bathurst was present and may well have compared the newly spacious ancient building, now unencumbered by galleries, and opened to the north by a new aisle, with the church she was planning at Valley End.

The differences in style must have been striking.

Julia had chosen a well-established architect, George Frederick Bodley, for her church.


Photo of George Frederick Bodley (1827-1907), English architect and poet.

Bodley is known as one of Victorian England’s Gothic Revival architects.

One of the features of this style is the use of colour. For example, when Pugin designed the Drummond Chapel at St. Peter and Paul, Albury, he covered the walls with painting. And when St. Peter, Hascombe, was rebuilt in 1866 – a year before Valley End – the interior was richly decorated.

St. Saviour’s opened in 1867. At first sight it seems to lack the colour of other Victorian Gothic buildings. The stained glass over the altar sheds light into the chancel, and the organ pipes are strikingly ornamented.  The texture and colour of the building comes mainly from the warm hues of the brick.

But a careful search shows remnants of lost paint and decoration.

The pews were trimmed with red and green along the top. The sides still show bright red detail.

The sconces for the lamps were coloured red and green, although this has faded. So are the iron tie-rods.

But it is old photographs that give some concept of the dazzling display that was once in St. Saviour’s. They show the back wall, covered with a design of fleurs de lys, a pattern repeated behind the pulpit, and inside the ceiling arches. The stone behind the pulpit on the left is outlined. There is no clue to the colour, but I would imagine they repeated the theme of red and green.


St. Saviour’s Valley End, showing the old decoration. date unknown; possibly about 1900.

The furnishings in the chancel were beautiful. The graceful globes of the lamps shine on the gleaming cross, and two ornate candelabras stand beside the altar.

The few photographs we have of the old interior were taken on special occasions, such as Easter, when the church was overflowing with lilies, and greenery framed the chancel arch. The gardeners from the local big houses decorated the church for special occasions, and maybe there was  an element of competition to their work.

When the air was heavy with the scent of flowers, the church glowed with bright colour from the pews and the metalwork, and the east walls shone with fleurs de lys, it must have been stunning.

St. Saviour’s opened in 1867. Julia Bathurst, sitting there in her pew, may well have compared it to St. Lawrence. She may have privately thought that Chobham had the Norman arches; but that Valley End would have the colour.


St. Saviour’s Valley End as it is today.The painting on the walls has been lost.




Coventry Standard. 18th May 1866.

With thanks to Chobham Church for the old photograph of St. Saviour’s Valley End. The illustration of St. Lawrence is by Charles Cracklow, and from  ‘Views of the Churches and Chapels of Ease in the County of Surrey, 1827.’

Photo of George Frederick Bodley (1827-1907), English architect and poet – from http://www.stdavidscathedralhobart.org/history/

For more information and illustrations of St. Lawrence see Chobham, Architecture