Car inventor’s grave restored at St John’s

One of the most famous graves in the churchyard at St John’s – that belonging to the motor vehicle inventor John Henry Knight – has been restored.

The grave dates from 1917 and had fallen into disrepair so we sought and received the go-ahead from John Knight’s descendants to repair the monument.

John Henry Knight, who was born in 1847 and lived in Weybourne House, Weybourne Road, invented one of Britain’s earliest petrol-powered motor vehicles. In October 1895 he also went down in history as one of the first recipients of a motoring fine when he and his assistant James Pullinger were found guilty at ‘Farnham Petty Sessions’ in Farnham Town Hall of using a locomotive without a licence and of not having a red flag carried in front. James Pullinger had been stopped while driving the vehicle in Castle Street, Farnham, earlier in the month. The car can now be seen in the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu.

John Knight pleaded not guilty on the grounds that the vehicle was too light to come under the Traction Act, but he and Pullinger were both found guilty and received a fine and costs. After that, he ran the vehicle on a private road but even then was nearly caught by a policeman hiding in a hedge. John Knight stated afterwards in his Recollections that this was “probably the first police trap on record”.

John Knight was responsible for several other inventions, including a steam-powered hop-digger, a brick-laying machine, a grenade-thrower, a radiator and a ‘dish lever’ for tilting plates when carving meat. Appropriately, given his motoring brush with the law, he also invented wooden vehicle tyres and a speedometer.

John Knight had also built a steam carriage as far back as 1868 and drove it on the roads around Farnham. According to contemporary writer William Fletcher this could carry three people at up to eight miles an hour and “easily mounted the hills in the neighbourhood of Farnham”, though John Knight himself admitted that “breakdowns were frequent”.

Lesley Crawley commented: “John Henry Knight seems to have been a colourful and clever man who was always using his ingenuity to create something new and solve problems of the day. Everyone in the parish has the right to be buried in our churchyard and everyone is equally special and equally loved by God. I find it humbling to think of all the people who have been associated with the church over the past 175 years and who will be in the future. The church is for everyone from the most eccentric inventors to the quietest passers-by.”

The grave.

Weybourne House 1Weybourne House where John Henry Knight lived as a child.

Pictured top: John Henry Knight (standing) with his vehicle in 1895. Picture courtesy of the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu.

Inspiring vision and pathways to prayer

Lent is as much a time for taking up new habits as it is for giving up old ones, and one of the habits we are encouraged to develop is that of prayer.

Sometimes we need new ways into prayer and one such is being offered this Lent at St John’s on a Wednesday evening from 7.30pm – using the visual arts to provide inspiration and pathways to prayer.

The first was Wednesday this week, when a small group considered ‘Prayer and the Trinity’, meditating on the painting Holy Trinity by Rublev, reading a passage from Paul’s letter to the Colossians (chapter 1, vs 3-14) and considering the creator, saviour and inspirer – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Next Wednesday, we will look at Prayer in Challenging Times and the painting The Scream by Edvard Munch, and in subsequent weeks Prayer and Discipleship, and Caravaggio’s The Call of Levi; The Joy and Excitement of Prayer with The Visitation (Mary and Elizabeth) from the Church of the Sitio, Suchitoto, El Salvador; and finally Repentance and Forgiveness with Rembrandt’s The Prodigal Son.

Come and join us and find new ways in to prayer through art.

the scream

Pictured above: The Scream by Munch

Pictured top: Holy Trinity by Rublev

What is the heart of your faith?

I have written about this before, and will no doubt write about it again, but it is a subject that keeps returning in my reflections.

I believe that whatever questions we are asked, once we can no longer answer the mythical 2 year old’s “why”, we will each eventually come to a common answer for ourselves.  This works for people who have a faith, and for those who have none.

Not only do I think that we will reach that common answer for us, but that once we have discovered what that common answer is we can then predict our answer to many different issues of the day.

I also believe that it is this which causes so many of the differences between Christians.  For example, if at the heart we believe that “God loves everybody” that will lead to one set of conclusions, whereas if we start from “the Bible is the inspired word of God” it will lead to another.  I am not here saying that people who start from different places do not believe the words of the other place, just that which takes priority determines a number of outcomes.

So – what is at the heart of your faith?  If I were to keep asking why after every answer you give, what do you get when you no longer have an answer?