The Leschallas family in Valley End.

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Highams Hall, the residence of the Leschallas family in Valley End. (Image courtesy Ann Wolfe.)

Henry Pigé was born 1833, to a Huguenot family in Bethnal Green. They were pawnbrokers, and Henry took his turn behind the counter.

However his cousin, John Leschallas, was in a different trade; he was a builder. It was an era in which cities were expanding, and huge fortunes were to be made in development. John Leschallas lived in the “pretty suburb of Tottenham” in the prestigious Rows House, a mansion with extensive grounds.

Henry left the pawnbroking, and moved in with his cousin. In 1874, he changed his name to Henry Pigé Leschallas, and in the same year he married Alice Beaumont Rogers. They had 6 children, John, Mary (Alice) , Gilbert, Percy, Harry and Beaumont.

In 1877 John Leschallas died. Henry was not the sole beneficiary, but was left a huge fortune.

Henry sold Rows House. A born businessman, he added a note to the sale particulars to the effect that it would be a valuable building site. But he couldn’t resist adding a note explaining his new situation; “The proprietor… has purchased a large Estate at Bagshot in Surrey, and is removing from the neighbourhood.”

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The gardens at Highams. (Image courtesy Richard Wingfield.)

The large estate was Hyams – later  called Highams Hall. The Leschallas family moved in, and seem to have hit the ground running. Almost immediately Henry built a lodge, and seems to have added a laundry and a gas works.

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Highams Hall. (Image courtesy of Ann Wolfe.)

Henry went on to buy other houses and land. He purchased the Manor of Boscastle in Cornwall, and then Glenfinart in Argyllshire, Scotland. He also bought land around Valley End, and at one time owned properties in Brick Hill. No wonder he was sometimes known as the Governor!

But it is in Valley End that he is remembered as a benefactor, and a generous supporter of local causes. Even after Henry died in 1903 the Leschallas family continued to take an interest in parish events.

Henry, and then Alice, were valuable friends to St. Saviour’s. The vicar knew he could rely on them. Henry Pigé Leschallas was churchwarden from 1893 – 1903. His son Gilbert took the office during 1904, and Percy held the post from 1905 to 1914. It was unusual for people of such high social standing to become churchwardens, and was a measure of their commitment.

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Memorial to Gilbert and Percy Leschallas. (Photo by David Fettes.)

The family is remembered in the church. Henry and Alice are buried in the churchyard near to their son Percy. A stained glass window on the west wall was given in memory of Henry, and there are memorials for his sons Gilbert and Percy.

In about 1892 the church ran a Young Men’s Club, which met in the school. The venture was supported by local people, including the Leschallas family. Funds were tight, and Henry used to send them his illustrated papers after he had finished reading them. This was the origin of the Valley End Institute. In 1915 the Leschallas family gave land for a new building, and paid for the hall. This building was replaced in the early 1970s, but the main room is still called Leschallas Hall.

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The memorial window to Henry Pigé Leschallas. (Photo by David Fettes.)

The Valley End Cricket Club was founded in 1895, and in the first annual report thanks are given to, among others, Mr. And Mrs. H. P. Leschallas, “for their donations to the club.” By the mid 1900s, the Leschallas family were not only a force on the pitch, but guiding lights in running the organisation. When the Cricket Club had to leave their ground at Windlesham Park, they simply invited them to Highams.

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A board at Valley End Cricket Club, remembering benefactors. Several of the Leschallas family are included.

The family seem to have opened their home to the community. There are photographs of a Flower Pageant held at Highams in 1905. The girls look surprisingly solemn.

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A Flower Pageant at Highams Hall, 1905. (Image courtesy J. End.)

In 1911 a fete was held at Highams to celebrate the Coronation of George V. There are pictures of villagers processing along the lane to the Hall.

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Going to the Valley End Coronation Fete at Highams Hall, 1911. (Image courtesy J. End.)

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Children marching to the Valley End Coronation Fete at Highams, 1911. (Image courtesy J. End.)

The family were also involved in Valley End School. Percy Leschallas was a school manager for some years, and was proud of this; it is included on his memorial in St. Saviour’s. Mrs. Leschallas paid for some of the school dinners, and helped with school treats. When the Armistice of World War 1 was celebrated with a special bonfire and sports day, Alice gave every child a patriotic flag and a Peace mug.

The school appreciated all this support. When Miss  Leschallas married in 1902 sixteen schoolgirls scattered flowers in front of her when she left the church. When the happy couple returned after their honeymoon all the children were invited to a celebratory tea and entertainment.

The Leschallas family were major landowners and employers. What would it have been like to work at Highams? The photographs we have tend to be of special, happy occasions, such as this picture of the stables, decorated for Christmas.

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Christmas at Highams – decorations in the stables. (Image courtesy D. Hizzey.)

There was a large staff. Some servants lived in, but many had their own homes. There were many outdoor workers. The gardens at Highams were spectacular, with a lake, long greenhouses, kitchen garden and lawns, and consequently a large number of gardeners.

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The greenhouses at Highams. (Image courtesy of Ann Wolfe.)

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The gardens at Highams. (Image courtesy Richard Wingfield.)

For some people, their service with the Leschallas family is literally carved in stone. When Duncan Brown died in 1914, his tombstone proudly announced that he had been “ for 43 years the valued servant and faithful friend of the family at Highams Valley End.” John Teal’s gravestone proclaims that he had been “for 62 years faithful servant of the Leschallas family.”

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The staff at Highams, pre 1914. (Image courtesy Richard Wingfield.)

Even more poignantly “Hattie” Harriet Olleson Luckie was remembered as “the loving friend of Mrs Leschallas of Highams.” In the 1911 census Hattie is shown living at Highams as a companion, but Alice must have known her for years. Hattie had inherited some money from John Leschallas in 1877, as had Henry Pigé.

In 1934 Alice Leschallas died, aged 90. The family had lived in Valley End, and had been closely involved with local affairs, for over 50 years. The vicar wrote sadly, recognising their commitment and support.

“Mr. Leschallas took a very deep interest in all things parochial and in those old times the Church never failed to have him as a worshipper and a generous supporter…Mrs Leschallas never let her interest in the Church and parish cease…”

Alice was buried next to her husband in Valley End churchyard. Highams Hall, their home for so many years, was sold. It was the end of an era.

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Sales particulars of Highams. (Image courtesy Richard Wingfield.

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Sources.

Parish Magazine for Long Cross, Botleys and Lyne, and Valley End. October 1934.

With many thanks to Richard Wingfield.

Sale particulars of a singularly valuable Freehold Estate… London Borough of Haringey Archive Service, Bruce Castle Museum..

“St Saviour’s Valley End 150 years; a history of a church a parish and its people.” By Sallie Buchanan, 2017.

“A brief history of Valley End Church of England School 1859 – 1977: researched and written by Ann Thompson.” A. Thompson 1978.

 

 

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

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Last week St. Saviour’s Church, Valley End, marked the 150th anniversary of its consecration.

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A church consecration in Guildford, 1867. (Image by kind permission of Surrey History Centre.)

This is how the original ceremony was conducted in 1867;

“CHOBHAM

“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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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The church that Bodley built.

On the 16th. July 2017, we are meeting at St. Saviour’s, Valley End, to celebrate 150 years of the church that Julia Seymour Bathurst founded, and that George Frederick Bodley built.

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St. Saviour’s Church in 1872. (Photo courtesy Hugh Holland.)

It’s a small, friendly place, with a deceptively simple design. It’s been described as: “St. Saviour, Valley End… A real attempt to re-interpret Surrey traditions in 19th century terms” *

If Bodley had introduced local materials and methods of building, it would explain why St. Saviour’s rests so peacefully in the landscape. But what were the traditions which inspired him?

Surrey has always been rich in trees and forest. Even today it remains the most wooded county in England. It is no surprise that builders in the county have always used timber heavily.

When Bodley first arrived at Valley End, he would have been faced by a  fine half timbered farmhouse, Westley Green, opposite the site.

 

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Westley Green Farmhouse. (Photograph by David Fettes.)

This is not the only half timbered house in Valley End. Fosters Farm is another one, and there are more timbered buildings along the Windlesham Road, such as Biddles Farm and Buckstone Farm.

Did this style inspire Bodley? It’s possible. He added a half timbered porch to St. Saviour’s, which is unique among his designs.

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The porch at St. Saviour’s Valley End. (Photograph by David Fettes.)

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The west wall at St. Saviour’s. showing the beams. (Photograph by David Fettes.)

Wood had been used heavily in Surrey churches for centuries, and Bodley was probably aware of this. There are over 40 churches in the county which retain their medieval wooden towers, and they are often clad in wooden shingles.

This is what Bodley did at Valley End. The steeple was covered in wooden shingles, which have just been replaced.

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The wooden shingles at St. Saviour’s. (Image courtesy Parish of Chobham with Valley End.)

At St. Saviour’s the timber is teamed with brick. Bricks had been made in Surrey for hundreds of years, and Chobham has some wonderful examples, such as the 17th century Brook Place. Bodley would have seen Rose Cottage at Valley End, glowing with the subtle shades of local brick.

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Rose Cottage. (Photograph by David Fettes.)

Valley End  had it’s own brickfields on the Common, but it seems that Bodley decided that the quality was too poor, and brought materials in from elsewhere.

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Brickwork inside St. Saviour’s. (Photograph by David Fettes.)

 

Tiles have been made in Surrey for generations. In the 13th century nearby Chertsey Abbey was producing the best floor tiles in England. During later centuries roofing tiles became so good in the county that thatched houses  are unusual in Surrey.

In Surrey, and in Sussex and Kent, another use of tiles developed. From the late 17th century tiles were hung vertically to protect the upper floors.

Bodley must have been aware of this. He added a small panel of vertical tile hanging to the exterior of St. Saviour’s, but tucked it away at the back, beside the vestry.

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Small section of tile hanging at St. Saviour’s.

But the church wasn’t the only building he designed at Valley End. Julia Seymour Bathurst also asked him to build the vicarage, and here he included sweeps of vertical tile hanging, an acknowledgment of the local building traditions that had inspired his  work on the church of St. Saviour’s, Valley End.

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Vertical tile hanging at Valley End Vicarage.

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*“St Saviour, Valley End. 1867. By Bodley. The standard chapel of ease, but done sensitively. Brick with a shingled belfry and well-managed Whipped gable. Honest interior with exposed bricks and big iron tie-rods. A real attempt to re-interpret Surrey traditions in 19th century terms; a great pity that it had to have Gothic detail.”

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One of the red and green tie-rods at St. Saviour’s. (Photograph by David Fettes.)

“The buildings of England, Surrey.” By Ian Nairn and Nikolaus Pevsner, revised by Bridget Cherry. Penguin books. 2nd edition 1971.

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Sources.

“The buildings of England, Surrey.” By Ian Nairn and Nikolaus Pevsner, revised by Bridget Cherry. Penguin books. 2nd edition 1971.

“The churches of Surrey.” Mervyn Blatch. Phillimore, 1997.

With many thanks to David Fettes.

 

Suffer the little children

 

Arthur Charles Bailey was baptised at St. Saviour’s church, Valley End, on March 31st 1907.

He was the first child of James and Eliza Bailey. His sister Margaret arrived a few years later.

The family lived in Apple Tree Cottage on the Chertsey Road, opposite Ribsden. This was convenient, because James had been trained as a gardener in Berkshire, and was working as head gardener on the Ribsden estate.

Then in 1912, Arthur fell ill with diphtheria.

In many ways life was safer than it had been in the 19th century. The terrible epidemics such as cholera had been contained by public health initiatives.

But diseases spread by droplet infection, (coughing, sneezing,) such as diphtheria, measles, whooping cough and chicken pox could not be controlled.

Of all these, diphtheria had the highest mortality rate, and was especially dangerous for young children. It was not until after 1939 that immunisation against this disease became widespread.

Arthur was desperately sick. An antitoxin serum for diphtheria had been discovered in 1894, but this had to be administered within the first few days of the illness, when the symptoms may not have been obvious. Was he given it, or was it too late?

Arthur Bailey died on 17th April 1912. He had just turned 5 years old.

His family was grief stricken. They took him to be buried at St. Saviour’s.

The people who met them at the church were afraid. They knew diphtheria was a killer, and they knew it was contagious. But they did not understand how it was spread.

Because of this ignorance and fear of infection, the funeral party was not allowed inside the church.

The burial service took place outside, and Arthur was buried in a quiet corner of the churchyard.

His mother never recovered from the loss of her son. The day of his death nearly coincided with the sinking of the Titanic, and for years every mention of the shipwreck reminded Eliza of her lost child.

Arthur Bailey lies to the right as you enter the churchyard. His headstone reads;

In loving memory of Arthur Charles Bailey who died April 17th 1912 Aged 5 years.

“Suffer the little children to come unto me.”

It was some years before his mother felt able to add another inscription. The final words were;

“Thy will be done.”

 

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Arthur Bailey’s grave at St. Saviour’s.

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If you would like to find out more about diphtheria ; http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/diphtheria/pages/introduction.aspx

If you would like to find out more about vaccination for diphtheria;

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Diphtheria/Pages/Prevention.aspx

Sources;

“A history of English public health 1834 – 1934.” M. Frazer. London, 1950.

“The people’s health. 1830 – 1910.” E. B. Smith. London 1979.

With many thanks to Helene Parris.

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Below Stairs

“If it had not been for the big houses in this neighbourhood – Hyams, Chobham Place and a few others, this church would never have been built.

“In one of those big houses alone there were over 40 servants. Those were the days when the gentry went to church – mainly Matins – in the morning and the servants to Evensong. It is said that when they returned home in the evening they had to report on the Vicar’s sermon. Poor Vicar!”

The Rev Roney Ackworth, speaking at the centenary of St. Saviour’s, identified with the Vicar. I feel for the maids, sitting in the pews and trying to sum up the address in a few words.

The large houses in Valley End were major employers. In 1901 there were 27 people resident at Highams, including 15 servants and their families. The staff came from Scotland and Wales as well as from the south of England.

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Ribsden – one of the “big houses.” (Photo courtesy Joan Weymouth.) 

This is no surprise, as in Victorian and Edwardian England a huge number of people were employed as domestic servants. It was the main employment for women.

The work could be strenuous. Mrs. Beeton recommended that a Cook should rise at 6am, (7 in winter,) light the kitchen fire, brush the range, clean the hearth, rinse the kettle, clean the kitchen, sweep the kitchen stairs, sweep the hall, shake the hall mats, prepare the breakfast room – and then cook breakfast.

Servants could be vulnerable to ill-treatment. One tragic case is that of Emily Jane Popejoy of Bagshot, who went to work as a maid in Kensington in 1898. She died within a year of the ill treatment that she received from her mistress.

So what was it like working in the mansions of Valley End?

Joan Weymouth can remember her parents and grandparents talking about life in the big houses.

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The staff at Ribsden, having tea in the garden. (Photo courtesy J. End.)

“A lot of girls went into service. Well, they had to, because you didn’t get a bigger house, if you got more children, and girls grew up, and they kept the boys at home to work and it’s what happened. And you got a lot from Wales. But then it was a home, you had to get somewhere.” Servants were given accommodation. Ribsden had 10 servants living in.

There are stories of mothers searching for a place to employ their daughters, and deciding on the the furthest – so that the girls couldn’t run away home. There were happier reasons for a servant to move.  Staff could travel long distances to find a good place.

A good employer was someone to keep. When the Christies came down to Ribsden, some of their staff chose to move with them, and to live the rest of their lives in this area.

“My grandfather, Harry Carnell, came down in the late 1800s and he came down from Matlock in Derbyshire with Mr. and Mrs. Christie to Ribsden. He came down as a coachman.

“My Mum’s mother’s side, they came down from Northamptonshire. My Mum had 2 aunts (in service at Ribsden) and her mother was ladies maid to Mrs Christie. My grandmother was the ladies maid there, and her sister was the housekeeper, my Auntie Annie.

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Annie Foster, Housekeeper at Ribsden, and her sister Louisa. (Photo courtesy Joan Weymouth.)

“And that’s how they met their wives, the other people in the house.”

Harry Carnell, the coachman at Ribsden, met Mary Foster, the ladies maid, and they were married in 1898.

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Harry Carnell and Mary Foster on their wedding day. (Photo courtesy Joan Weymouth.)

The big houses enjoyed a friendly competition. “There was rivalry between the big houses – but not nasty, it was just that you wanted the best. I can remember my Granddad saying that our carriage went faster than that one. But they were all friends.”

St Saviour’s Church was decorated with floral displays for the big festivals, and old photos show incredible arrangements of plants and flowers. They were put up by the head gardeners of the big houses, vying with each other.

Joan’s family had good memories of Ribsden, and Mrs Christie.

“Mrs Christie looked after her staff. She sent my grandmother, because she had a bad heart, down to Brighton for a month.

“If you got a good employer, you were made.”

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Sources.

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.

“That family has meant very much to this place” – Joan Weymouth and Valley End Church.

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.

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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.”

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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.”

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Sources.

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.

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St. Saviour’s Church

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

 

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Sources.

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

 

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