Category Archives: Church Buildings

Badshot Lea Christmas Lights switch on

23561399_1517829351636802_4747106213135004656_nCome to at St George’s on 20 November between 17:00 and 18:30 to celebrate the switching on of the Christmas Lights. There will be hot dogs, hot chocolate and mulled wine available to buy. The switch on of the lights will be at 6pm and in between there will be music from the Sea Cadets, the School Choir and the Church Choir. We will finish at 6.30pm.

Not just on a Sunday: Survey looks at new ways of using local church

An open session and display to discuss the possible future of St John’s Church, Hale, will be held next Saturday, 27th May, at the church from 10am to 2pm.

The discussion will centre around the ideas generated from responses to a recent survey sent out to residents living close to the church. This asked for their ideas about how to ensure the church remains open in the long-term and how it can be used for the local community during the week as well as on a Sunday.

The survey was delivered to 1,700 houses in Hale. The overall response was positive to the idea of the ‘interior of the church being altered to create a space for complementary uses, while maintaining worship as its primary use’.

Ideas include removing the pews and replacing them with chairs which would be used in church services including baptisms, weddings and funerals, and also allowing complementary uses during the week such as a soft play area, a cafe, and groups offering support for those suffering with addictions or needing debt counselling. The space created could also be used for art exhibitions, or for orchestra and choir recitals.

One respondent commented that by “removing the dark pews and replacing them with bright comfortable chairs will create a versatile space and be lighter”. Another said: “as much as I love the pews, they do limit the way the space can be used and make worship very formal and perhaps for many do not foster a feeling of participation and equality”.

However, for some of those who responded, the idea of reordering the interior of the church is painful and difficult. A respondent who regards himself as a traditionalist sad that he could “see the need to increase usage of the church for other activities apart from church services” but would “just have to accept it as progress”. However, another added: “St John’s will remain beautiful whatever happens and to me will feel more beautiful if the building is more full of life”.

The feedback session with refreshments will run from 10am to 2pm on 27th May 27. Come along to discuss some ideas and options for the future of St John’s.

For further information, contact Rev’d Hannah Moore on 01252 659267, email or visit

St George’s Car Park

You may have noticed that we now have a permit system in place in St George’s car park. This is because for many years the car park has been used by people with no connection to the church and this has caused immense problems both for the church and for those who hire the hall. Groups have suffered from reducing membership because when members come to the group they find they can’t park. Other groups have chosen to move to other halls, with an obvious financial implication. The final straw was when a hearse couldn’t get into the car park because of the number of cars in there, most of which did not belong to mourners.

In terms of the church car park, church and hall users must always be our priority and so those who attend groups will be given permits as required. This should ensure that they can now park more easily. In addition to this, we are offering the car park free of charge to those who are dropping off or collecting children from Badshot Lea School during specific hours in term time.

Our current parking arrangements, while not perfect, are necessary to meet the needs of those who use the church. In line with other organisations within Badshot Lea we need access to and control of our car park. Consideration has been given to suggestions that people pay for permits and remove their cars from the car park for large funerals, parties, services and events. However, this feels unworkable from an administration point of view as the hall is booked by several groups every day, each user having different requirements, also there are also many one-off bookings. The church is run by volunteers who work immensely hard and so we don’t want to burden them with extra work.

Looking to expand the use of St John’s

St John’s Church in Hale is a large, Victorian building with wooden pews which currently don’t allow the space to be used flexibly. The church is open daily but is chiefly used on a Sunday for a 9.30am service and for weddings and funerals at other times in the week.

We want the community to have a say in how the building might also be used so that more people can take advantage of the space it offers, while maintaining worship as its primary use.

To this end, a questionnaire is being sent out to people living close to St John’s asking them if they would be happy for the interior of the church to be altered to create more space and what they might like this space to be used for. Ideas include a cafe, soft play area, GP surgery, debt counselling service, rehearsal space, studios, small office space for home workers, and meeting rooms. The results will be analysed and an exhibition will be held at the church on Saturday May 27 from 10am-2pm.

Rev’d Hannah Moore from St John’s Church said: “We have a beautiful building that is open every day and has a worshipping congregation which meets every Sunday, as well as being used for weddings and funerals. However, the church has great potential as a community resource with more community events and participation and we would like local people to tell us what they would like from the church. We are sending out a questionnaire with an Easter card and will look carefully at the responses to see how we can best serve everyone and ensure that the church is a vibrant part of Hale life for many years to come.”

Please help us by filling in the following questionnaire:

1. Would you be happy for the interior of the church to be altered in order to create more space for complementary uses, while maintaining worship as its primary use?
2. How can you envision this church being used for:
a) Community use, (eg. café, soft play area, debt counselling, GP surgery)

b) Cultural (mosaic studio, orchestra rehearsal, book-swap library, local history display)
c) Commercial (office space, shop, meeting rooms):
We really need your ideas! What does our community need? At the back of St John’s is a box for you to pop your ideas into, alternatively email (please note, we will not reply to emails to this address – it is just a way of collecting ideas)

New store room at St Mark’s

You probably weren’t aware of the dungeon at St Mark’s. I wasn’t for quite a while, and, as warden, I’m supposed to know about these things. However, around the “Tesco” side of the building there was a mysterious red door, half hidden by vegetation. It was only about four feet high, so obviously built for goblins or other inhabitants of the netherworld. Or possibly to incarcerate manacled, recalcitrant members of the congregation in less tolerant times.old boiler room

However, there was a padlock on the door and when we eventually found the key, a rather grim looking cell emerged. A set of rotten wooden steps led down to an earth floor about four feet below ground level, but fortunately no skeletons or rotting corpses manifested themselves. The older members of the congregation informed me that this was the Old Boiler Room. Capital letters were definitely implicit in the phrase. (There could also have been an unspoken, “abandon faith all ye who enter therein”, but maybe that was my imagination.)

We’ve needed a place for the Brown Bin club to store lawn mowers, petrol and other garden implements for some time. Last time we had the diocesan representatives around, they complained about the storage of these items in the choir vestry. We moved them to a vestibule attached to the other vestry after that, but, whilst an improvement, this was hardly satisfactory. The smell of petrol pervading the vestry was regarded as a necessary evil until something better could be done. (Probably kept the moths down.)

So, now something better has been done. We had to remove they chimney from the Old Boiler Room, as it was about to fall down and, anyway, had a nice asbestos cowling. Adam the architect was called in, faculty notices approved and, In January, Marshels began construction to convert the evil pit into a new, useful store room

It’s now finished and I moved things in last week. We have a proper floor at the same level as the surround, a door we don’t have to crawl through and lots of storage space. (They’ve thoughtfully put a hatch in the new floor with steps leading down to the original level, so we could still use it as an oubliette if required in the future.)

I wonder if I’ll get nostalgic about the smell of petrol in the vestry….

Bob Shatwell

March 2017

St George’s Heating Appeal

During the summer we noticed the boiler at St. George’s was not working properly. Investigations showed that there was a leak somewhere in the pipework that caused a drop in pressure, making it unsafe to use. Unfortunately, the pipes run under the concrete floor of the hall. It is going to cost £4000 to get the heating working. We cannot let the hall without heat and hot water, so have borrowed the money from other Church funds.

So – we need raise £4000! We have a ‘visual aid’ – four bamboo canes, taped together, one representing each £1000. (We can do it together) Around them are 10 pipe cleaners, one will be removed each time we raise £100. When we get to £1000, we will remove a bamboo cane.

We plan ‘fund raisers’ (Craft Fair, 19th Nov, Advent lunch and hopefully others) – but we would also be very grateful for personal donations – PLEASE!!

The Craft Fair on November 19th is at St. George’s Church hall. 11am – 1pm. Come along and find unique Christmas gifts and decorations. Free entrance. See demonstrations of crafts – lunches and refreshments available. If you would you like to hire a table for £10, contact me on 01252 318135


Maxine Everitt

Can you help identify these figures?

At St Mark’s Church, Upper Hale, painted on the walls of the chancel is a unique piece of local history. About a hundred years ago, Kitty Milroy, a local artist, painted local people and local scenes in murals. The paintings now are in a precarious condition. There is curling of the paint and paint losses and areas where the paintings have been rubbed over many years resulting in a powdering of the paint. In order to save this piece of our local heritage, St Mark’s needs to apply to various organizations for grants in order to stabilise the loose paint as conservation is the first and most important goal. Once this has been done, then filling and restoration can take place hopefully with further funding. But you may be able help.

Nick Seversway, a local restorer of paintings says, “What we need to do to put a case for grants is to gather as much info as is possible and this is where you come in. There are some names linked to the figures, but we would love to know exactly who posed for which picture. Also there was once a huge amount of preliminary drawings and paintings does anyone know what happened to them? The biggest mystery is Kitty Milroy herself. She was the daughter of the Vicar of Carisbrooke whose mother moved the family to The Oast House between 1902 and 1911 after his death. Does anyone know where Kitty trained in art? Did she paint any other pictures?

All and any info will help in our bid to save this unique piece of local history.

I am a restorer of 35 years’ experience working locally and in London. This work is no run of mill amateur work. It is simply rendered but well drawn, perfectly set in its patterned surround and a huge undertaking for one very talented woman.”

If you have any information, please contact:

Nick Seversway

The Art House


Photograph by Richard Heath

St Mark’s Reordering

The reordering committee have finished the job they were asked to do and have produced a plan to re-order St Mark’s. I would like to express my thanks to them for all the time and effort they put in. It is only possible to give a brief account of the plans but I am happy to answer any questions arising.

• We have received permission to remove the choir stalls and are in the process of selling them.
• The present font to be replaced by a custom made metal and glass font which will be moveable.
• The Victorian wooden floor boards to be sanded and polished and lay Victorian style tiles in the aisles.
• Electrical rewiring and installation of modern lighting.
• Creation of a quiet area with comfortable seating for private meetings,
• Replacing the wooden doors at the back of the north side of the church with glass doors.
• Insulation of the roof.
• We considered including conserving the wall paintings but the cost was so high we decided not to proceed at this time.

The estimated cost of the plans is £128,180, not including the architects fees. We are investigating getting grants to help with the cost and there will be meeting at 12 midday on October 25th in St Mark’s to discuss applying for grants and plan fundraising. The meeting is open to everybody and I hope as many people as possible will come. If you are interested but not able to come to the meeting please let me know.

Pat Manton

A concert to save our pipe organ ‘Emily’

St Mark’s Church, Upper Hale will be hosting a superb musical evening’s entertainment on November 14th at 7.30pm. This includes an organ recital by Stephen Lacey resident organist and director of music at St. Andrew’s Church Farnham, a choral repertoire by the Sedici with musical director Valerie Hoppe MBE and a performance from the Sedici recorder consort. There will also be a range of readings by a wide variety of authors from Noel Coward to Conan Doyle and J.M.Barrie to Kipling, all read by Rosemary Wisbey. Refreshments will be available during the interval.

The Reverend Lesley Crawley, a priest at St Mark’s said, “Emily is a beautiful Edwardian pipe organ that is just over 100 years old. She is referred to as ‘Emily’ after her benefactor – Emily Mangles. Sadly, she has been used very rarely over the past three years because after a century of service she is in need of a complete overhaul. The ‘action’ which links the keys to the pipes has become sluggish, the leatherwork is failing and the wind noise from the leaking wind trunks is detracting from her beautiful tone. The time has come for us to restore her.”

She continued, “There is no charge for this wonderful evening of entertainment but a retiring collection will be taken in aid of our pipe organ ‘Emily’. Please put the date in your diary and come along with all your friends.”

It has always been done this way

People can get very defensive about pews in churches, however they are a relatively modern invention.

Initially the only seating in church was around the wall or pillars – leading to the saying the weak go to the wall – with most people standing. Then in the 14th Century pews started to be introduced, becoming popular in the 15th Century as the sermon became a more important part of the service.

As pews were introduced, so came the habit of pew renting, where people paid to install “their pew”, or rented one, and often secured a name plate to it. Despite the fact that in 1612 a court had declared that a church “is dedicated and consecrated to the service of God, and is common to all inhabitants”, and therefore it belonged to the bishop to decide the question of ownership of a seat there; the practice continued into the 1970s.

This practice mirrored the stratification in society on churches, with some people furnishing their pews with cushions and curtains, and lighting fires.

Pews tend to create a particular approach to church in which the congregation become more like an audience than those gathered around participating. In more recent times some churches have removed pews and replaced them with chairs, which allow for a variety of layouts, from the traditional rows, to services in the round, with the altar in the centre of the people.

The layout of a church can say much about what we think is happening there. What do you think?