St John’s through the years

An update from the Farnham Church Recorders:

We are now well under way with our work at St John’s. We record everything inside the church, but we also look at changes that have been made to the building to help us with dating items like windows and stonework. Our visits to the archives have revealed some interesting information about the changes made to St John’s since the church was built in 1844.

The first proposed alterations were featured in a previous blog post, and plans from 1844 and 1861 were then recorded in a later post.

However, according to a document at the Surrey History Centre, dated 1st July 1868, other improvements were made including the construction of a porch (whether south or west isn’t clear) which is not shown on the 1861 plan:

Then in 1895 a ‘Jubilee Memorial’ was proposed, and a draft version of an appeal leaflet found at London Metropolitan Archives during a research visit by one of our team explains why the changes were so badly needed!

The people elected to raise the funds for these improvements include names well known to those who are interested in the story of the church.

In the same bundle of documents is a plan dated 1896 showing what was eventually built.

It’s well known that Bishop Sumner and his wife Jennie were buried in St John’s churchyard, and we had heard various opinions about the exact position of their graves. The plan shows that they now lie under the vestry. The graves were originally outside the church, and the 1896 extension was built over them. The original gravestones are still in the churchyard but were moved to the east side of the church, and the beautiful memorial plaque to Bishop and Mrs Sumner in the chancel indicates that their graves are nearby. The plaque was designed by the Sumners’ grandson, Heywood Sumner, who was a noted artist in the Arts and Crafts movement.

We’re now looking into the next significant alteration and will reveal our findings in due course…

Farnham Church Recorders are a voluntary group of The Arts Society Farnham. Read about us by clicking here.

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