Monday, 12 July 2010

St Bartholomew's church, Wanborough

Just a few miles west of Guildford is one of Surrey's oldest and smallest churches. Measuring hardly more than 43 ft by 18ft, St Bartholomew's in the small hamlet of Wanborough is a lucky survivor. The original Saxon church, built shortly before the Norman conquest, was rebuilt in the thirteenth century by the Cistercian monks of Waverley Abbey, to whom the Manor of Wanborough had been sold c. 1130. Another of their legacy is the Great Barn nearby. By the second half of the seventeenth century the church was falling into disrepair and it became necessary to rebuild the west wall after the bell tower collapsed or was demolished because of its poor state. Brick rather than the original stone rubble and flint was used to carry out the work. Shortly afterwards, c. 1674, the Birkbecks, a Quaker family, who was farming the land for Lord Onslow and had little use for the church, transformed it into an ordinary farm building. For nearly two centuries its only religious use was as a mortuary chapel, whenever necessary.
The fortune of St Bartholomew's improved when it was decided to close Puttenham church for repairs and to celebrate mass at Wanborough instead. Thus Henry Woodyer was asked to restore it and the church re-opened on 14th June 1861.

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