Category Archives: History

Happy 175th birthday – church says it with flowers

The 175th anniversary celebrations at St John’s Church, Hale, kick off on May 18 and 19 with a flower festival.

Local organisations, artists, schools, churches, charities and other faith groups are all planning their entries to the festival that weekend. Among those preparing displays are the three churches which make up the parish; the Hale Gardening Club; the local Mothers’ Union; the Opportunities Project; the Hale Women’s Institute; the Darby and Joan Club, Farnham Baha’is, Petal & Stem florists, Crown Chain nursery and Rainbow Church (welcoming all who are LGBTI+).

There will be art and craft too and All Hallows School art club are presenting a collage, Badshot Lea Infant School will be displaying floral photography, and there will be contributions from local artists Susie Lidstone, Judith Needham, Penny Fleet and former Surrey Artist of the year Denise Jaques who will bring garden mosaics. Local milliners Mind your Bonce will be providing an elegant touch with hats and flowers.

Among the charities taking part will be Farnham Assist and Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice Care who will be bringing samples of planting done in the hospice’s Social and Therapeutic Horticulture sessions. Amnesty International will be bringing a display reminding visitors of the plight of political prisoners across the world.

Lesley Crawley said: “St John’s was consecrated in November 1844 and since then has been a much-loved focal point in the village of Hale. We would like everyone to celebrate with us this year, so we are holding a series of events to which all are welcome. One of the first of these is the flower festival in May where, for two days, the church will be overflowing with colourful floral displays and art, and there will be live music and refreshments, including Pimm’s.

“St John’s is everyone’s church and as well as celebrating our anniversary, we are looking forward to the future. We know that our church could be used to serve the community better and we want to know what people would like from us as we look forward to the next stage and discover what God has in store for us all. We have therefore launched a survey for residents and local organisations to complete. You can find it on our website (www.badshotleaandhale.org) or in the church.”

The survey is also available at  https://goo.gl/XQQ8qT.

The flower festival will take place from 10am-4pm on Saturday, May 18, and from noon-4pm on Sunday, May 19. Entry is £1 and everyone is welcome!

 

Pictured above: Spring crocuses by Susie Lidstone

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.”

John Henry Knight's refurbished grave reduced sizeThe 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.

…there is not one gentleman resident in [Hale]

This is a wonderful document from perhaps the late 1860s, thanks to Bob Skinner from the History of Hale:

History of St John's

This is what it says:

Enlargement of The Church of St John the Evangelist, at Hale, In the County of Surrey

The Church of St John the Evangelist, at Hale, midway between Aldershot in Hants, and Farnham in Surrey, was erected in the year 1844, by public subscription.

The late Queen Dowager, who was the first contributor, gave the sum of £25 towards the commencement of the undertaking.

A few years after the opening of the Church, Aldershot, from being an obscure hamlet, became a large Garrison town. The effect of this upon the adjoining Parish of Hale, was such, as almost immediately to double the population.

At the census of 1861, it was found to have risen from a few hundreds, to nearly 3,000 people; the population is now little less than 4,000, and is still rapidly increasing.

With so large a Parish, there is only Church Accommodation for 175 persons; —and besides the regular Parishioners, many Officers and their families are in the habit of attending from Aldershot, and they would do so in greater numbers, could room be found for them. It is therefore proposed to meet the urgent demand for further accommodation, by an addition, of 400 Sittings to the Church, this being the largest increase of which the building is capable.

Plans have been drawn out by Benjn. Ferrey, F.S.A. Esq., of Charing Cross, the Architect of the original structure, for the Erection of a North Transept, the Enlargement of the South Aisle, and an Extension of the present very contracted Chancel.

To carry out those alterations fully, a sum of £1300 will be required, for which an appeal is now made to the christian liberality of churchmen. The Parishioners of Hale, are among the very poorest, in the Diocese of Winchester, and there is not one gentleman resident in the place. The present Incumbent has no private means, and his clerical income is insufficient to meet the demands of so poor and so rapidly increasing population.

The Archdeacon of Surrey, who is the Patron of the Living, will afford any information on the subject.

Subscriptions will be thankfully received by the Incumbent, the Rev. George E. Fox, Hale Parsonage, Farnham, or they may be paid in to Messrs. James Knight and Son, Bankers, Farnham, to the credit of the “Fund for the Enlargement of Hale Church.”

A list of Subscribers will be issued, when the whole sum is raised.

(George Fox was the incumbent from 1868-1875)