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Our History



There has been a church on the present site since the 12th century  - possibly succeeding to a Saxon church of timber. With the exception of the picturesque 14th century  Tower, the walls of the church were entirely rebuilt in 1859.  Many of the original features of the 1380 buildings were preserved and rebuilt in the reconstruction” so stated Mr. P. J. Johnston, F.S.A., writing when the tower was repaired  in 1935. The present chancel and vestry were also added in 1859.

   The Porch and Main Entrance. The lower part of the Porch is sandstone similar to that in the walls of the church,  and built at the same time;  but the upper part is openwork timber,  parts of which seem to have come from the original building.  The roof is tiled.  The doorway is of soft sandstone, ‘clunch’ or Surrey ‘Firestone’. The oak door was given in 1935 in memory of Miss G. M. Ballantyne-Dykes by her surviving sister, daughters of the Rev. Joseph Ballantyne-Dykes, Rector 1848-1872.

   The West Tower. Entrance to the tower is gained through a door in the west wall, under the 14th century arch, and the lower level here is the original level of the whole floor of the church.  The tower, except, for the parapet with its battlements and pinnacles, dates from about 1380. These embellishments were added after the wooden shingled steeple was burnt down in 1836 when the church caught fire on Ascension Day during morning service. The porch was set alight by children playing with a tinder box. The congregation escaped through the east window. The flames spread to the spire which caught fire and fell on to the roof. The gallery at the west end was destroyed.

The interior of Headley Church before the screen between the Chancel and the Nave was erected in 1892. Other points of interest are that this is prior to the fitting of the wood panelling on the walls and it also shows the old deal pews, which were replaced in 1937

   The Nave. As in many old churches, the congregation used to step down on entering, and the floor was raised to its present level when the church was enlarged in 1859. Undoubtedly the most outstanding and interesting feature of the building is the wonderful beamed roof. The massive tie beams are 26 feet in length, and each one is of a different girth. The ribbed surfaces found on these beams are evidence that they are very old, and there are no traces of the use of an adze. It is more likely that they were cut and shaped in a saw pit. They date from the last quarter of the 14th century. Repairs to the crown posts have been made at intervals over a long period and there is a hotch-potch of wood here, dating from the 15th century to the 20th. Nail marks on the rafters show that at one time they were boarded over to form a barrel roof.  These facts came to light in 1986 when the timbers were being treated and the use of scaffolding enabled a close inspection. On one kingpost near the west end is carved the head of a man, possibly meant for the master-carpenter.

   The Chancel Arch. The present chancel appears to date from the enlarging of the church in 1859, but possibly some of the arch stones may be old ones reworked.

   The Oak Screen was erected in 1892 in memory of Major-General H.Woodbine Parish, and his Arms are carved low down on the front to the left of the Chancel steps.  They incorporate the rising sun and the rock of the Argentine, because his ancestor was responsible as Consul-General for signing a treaty of friendship with that country in 1825.

The Headley Cope was dedicated at All Saint’s church on 28th May1972 by the Rector, the Rev. David Bentley. The beautiful material from which it is made belonged to nineteen year old Tamara       Ashmore, who was killed in the Hither Green train crash in November 1967, and her parents gave it to the Rector to be used for the church. It was considered suitable to be made into a Cope, and then the designs for the embroidery were worked out. The design for the hood is taken from the only mediaeval glass in the church, the small window on the north side of the sanctuary, showing the kneeling figure of an unknown Saint and her executioner. The shields on the orphrey are the arms of the patrons of the Living of All Saints’, Headley, depicting from the bottom upwards the arms of the Priors of Merton, who were the first Patrons, followed by the arms of the Bishops of Winchester, who became the Patrons in 1536. In 1586 the patronage passed to the Crown, which is represented by the arms of Queen Elizabeth I. Subsequently, in 1626 it passed to Queen’s College, Oxford. The top shields, above the morse, are the arms of the Diocese of Guildford, to which Headley belongs. The work was started in the autumn of 1970, and carried out by a group of people, some skilled embroidresses, and some willing novices, who met weekly until it was finished in May 1972. Jennifer Balderson was responsible for the design and co-ordination of the whole work, and was helped by Janet Berry and Hester Whittle (drawings); Kathleen Anderson (design and embroidery); Pam Fyfield, Betty Guerrier, Eleanor Prior, Grace Reed, Jean and Frank Rowland, Jean Sillence and Helena Smith (embroidery). Much appreciated help towards cost of lining and silks was given by members of the congregation and by Brocklehurst Fabrics.

Note:- Orphrey (orfray) = an ornamental strip or band on an ecclesiastical vestment, often richly embroidered. Morse = the clasp of a cloak.

   One of our Altar Frontals was found to be made from the fabric designed and made for use during the Coronation Day on May 12th 1937 of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth; the parents of our present Queen.
It was initially used for decorating the Stands and balconies of Westminster Abbey. The design is based on a fifteenth century Italian pattern, but incorporating the Imperial Crown, the Tudor Rose, oak leaves and the fleur-de-lys. The fabric was called “Crown Brocatelle”


   The Early Altar Paintings (18th century) of Moses the lawgiver and Aaron the priest were hung in the vestry in 1890, they were cleaned and rehung in their present position at the west end of the church in 1975. They are mentioned by Nikolaus Pevsner in his Buildings of England, and described as “quite good”. Moses is holding the tablets of the law, and Aaron is wearing the robes of a priest.  The carved stone reredos behind the altar was given in memory of  J. R. Phillips of Hilland in 1882. The oak panelling was given in 1912 by Miss Alice Parker of Wishanger.

   The Second World War Memorial Book stands at the foot of the West wall. It is illuminated, and contains a short biography of the war service of each of the 48 men who are commemorated. It was the work of Mr. Graily Hewitt of Liss and Miss Ida Henstock (members of the Society of  Scribes and Illuminators), and the oak case was made by Mr. E. Barnsley, C.B.E.  These three people were all Hampshire people, and the wood was Hampshire oak. The book is bound in royal blue morocco, and rests on blue velvet which was brought from Italy with no little difficulty (rumoured to be via the diplomatic bag) in those troubled days just after the war. The cost of the memorial was entirely defrayed by the relatives and friends of the men and no public appeal was made. It was dedicated on 12th October 1947.  The book is opened at each man’s name on two days during the year as chosen by his relatives. At other times the title page is displayed, showing the complete list.
























   The Windows. All the glass is 19th century, except the little window above the credence table on the north side of the altar. This is a very valuable relic of mediaeval art dating from about 1260, and is very like some of the world famous glass in Chartres Cathedral. It depicts a saint kneeling before execution. This window was conserved and remounted by Mr Harold Thomson of Petersfield, a renowned craftsman in stained glass, in December 1985. A plaque records the donation from the family of someone who had worshipped at the church for many years.

   The Red Silk Flag by the Belfry arch was given to the church by the Canadian regiments who were stationed in the village during the Second World War.

   The Font and Brasses. The font is of the 15th century type, octagonal, with quatrefoil panels on the bowl. This may

be old but if so has been reworked.

  The cover, given in memory of Canon Tudor Jones, was made in the workshop of Edward Barnsley the world famous craftsman from Froxfield, (who also made the desk for the war memorial book).

The brasses are memorials to a man and his wife, names unknown. The woman is wearing a kennel head-dress, frequently seen in Holbein portraits and on playing card Queens today, The date of these brasses is about 1510.

   The Pews.  The original shabby deal pews were replaced by oak ones, given by public subscription, in 1937. Many of them are in memory of relatives or past parishioners. A list is on the south wall of the nave on the east side of the door.


   The Lectern carries a brass plate inscribed as given “by four sisters here married” and the dates.  They were sisters of Mrs Laverty.

Another old view of the inside of the Church, after  the screen was erected. The inscription shown over the arch is no longer visible.

   The List of Rectors is on vellum, embellished with an illuminated border and including the heraldic devices of the various bodies connected with the living. It represents over 700 hours of work for the script and painting alone, apart from the research involved, and is the work of Mr. Amos, a former headmaster of the Holme School. Another example of Mr. Amos’ work is the list of people commemorated by the gifts of oak pews, previously mentioned.

   The Statue of the Virgin and Child in the corner of the West window, which was formerly the children’s corner, was given by Sir Michael Wright, son of Sir Robert Wright, who lived at Headley Park and who gave the church clock (see later). It is made of Italian marble, and was bought by him and his wife on their honeymoon in Italy.
















   The Clock on the East face of the Tower, was given by Sir Robert Wright of Headley Park in 1900 in memory of his son Ewan Stanley (always called Jack) who died at the age of six in that year. On each corner of the clock are the initials of Sir Robert, his wife, his son, and the year.  The peal of six bells was given in 1935 in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Charles McAndrew of Headley Park.

   The Organ was completely rebuilt and enlarged by Wood, Wordsworth and Co, Leeds. It was re-dedicated by the Archdeacon of Surrey on the 2nd May 1971.

   The Exterior Vestry doorway is late Norman, and is the only remaining feature of the original 12th century building.

   The Church Registers are amongst the oldest in the country. It became a legal obligation to keep registers from 1538, and the first entries were in 1539.

   The Church Plate.  The Communion plate is of great interest. The large chalice dates from 1567, and the flagon was given by the Rev. George Holme in 1734. There are two pewter alms plates, one of which has been used as a paten. It is inscribed “Hedley”.


The Monuments. The Latin inscription on the north wall by the pulpit is to William Huggins, who died in 1761. He lived at Heath House - which no longer exists. Near the font is another to Catherine Holme, wife of the Rev. George Holme, Rector of Headley, 1718-1765. He founded the Holme School in 1755.

   The Patrons of the living were originally the Priors of Merton Priory, but in 1536 at the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII the patronage passed to the Bishop of Winchester. In 1586 it passed to the Crown. In 1626 Charles I granted the patronage to the Queen’s College, Oxford, with whom it remained until 1982. Up to, and including Mr. Laverty, all the incumbents of Headley since the Queen’s College held the living, were Fellows of the College. The Provost of Queen’s told Mr. Laverty that Headley was unique in this. With the formation of the Team Ministry the the Patronage was shared between the College, The Bishop of Guildford and the Archdeacon of Surrey. In March 2002 the Team Ministry was dissolved and the patronage returned to the College.

   The Sundial erected in 1748 has John Lee and William Lee, churchwardens, inscribed round the sides.




















   The Lych Gate was erected to commemorate the Queen’s Coronation and was dedicated in May 1954. The work was designed and carried out entirely by Headley men amongst whom were Messrs H. Fyfield, E. E. Nash, K. J. O’Brien, R. L. Robinson, J. Wakeford and E. J. Warner, the overall supervision being in the hands of Mr. C. K. Johnson-Burt, the designer of the Mulberry Harbour in 1944. Inscribed on the arch above the gate on entering are the words:“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving" whilst on leaving the churchyard you will see the words:“Go forth into the world in peace”

   The Cushions in the Choirstalls:  In 1937, inspired by the needlework in Winchester Cathedral, a group began work on new cushions for the clergy, and choir stalls. These can be divided into two groups:  those bearing heraldic designs, and those which show scenes of different parts of the parish.
Headley Mill, with the words “5 hides - a Mill”. 5 hides (a measure of land, a Knight’s fee) are mentioned in the reference to Headley in the Domesday book. The church tower. The church as seen from the street. Suter’s The wooden footbridge over the River Wey at Standford, leading to the Robin Hood from Tulls Lane. Ludshott Common. Ploughed Fields 1940. This was the time of the Dig for Victory Campaign, and this particular field - the Rectory field - opposite the church, had not been ploughed before within living memory. The cushion in the Rector’s Stall is in petitpoint and shows the Queen’s College arms, flanked by Mary and Joseph. The Curate’s cushion bears the Army badge - for many years  our organist was a Mr Horniblow, who trained at the army school of music, and in addition, during the second World War the church was used by the troops stationed in the village for their weekly Services. The remaining cushions bear heraldic designs relating to Patrons of the living and to the Province of Canterbury and the Dioceses of Winchester and Guildford. The kneelers were also made by parishioners.


In early January 2020 the church clock decided to go on strike – or rather not to strike! Upon investigation by the experts, it was found that the part supporting the pendulum was bent and fractured in two places. As a result, the faulty part had to be removed, repaired and replaced which was done in February and is now keeping good time and chiming in its familiar way. The Rector put out an appeal for donations towards its repair on Facebook which produced some welcome donations. In addition, Cllr Anthony Williams has kindly awarded a grant of £800 towards the cost of the repair from his EHDC discretionary fund. We are very grateful to him for assisting with restoring this community asset to its full working order. The balance of the cost is being funded from The Friends of All Saints Church Headley Trust.

Donations are welcome to The Treasurer, All Saints Church Office,High Street, Headley GU35 8PP cheques to ‘FoASH’ Friends of All Saints Headley charity which ensures the Guildford Diocese don’t take any of it in church tax! Or call treasurer Bob Wilson on 01428-713113 for BACS payments info.


Thank you 


A major task has been the tower restoration and associated works. Preliminary stone carving was undertaken in early May 1996. Difficulties arose during the demolition of a World War II Royal Observer Corps Post on top of the tower which was causing damage to the tower walls due to corrosion of the metal reinforcing in the concrete used for the post.
   The removal of an unsatisfactory hard render that had been applied earlier to the south face of the tower took longer than planned; consequently it was not until November of ‘96 that the scaffolding was removed, to reveal the fully restored tower in a finish which is as near as possible to the original lime wash and rough plaster that could be achieved. The restoration is well liked in the Parish. Whilst digging at the base of the tower to install improved draining, the base of an old wall was revealed which joined the tower from the south, also found were some large stones which appeared to be acting as spread footings to the tower walls, including some circular ones which could have started life as millstones. It was therefore decided not to make the excavation round the tower foundation as deep as initially intended. The County Archaeologist was unable to view the site before the trench was filled, but no historic remains have been disturbed. The restoration work on the tower itself gained the East Hampshire District Council’s Award for Conservation - one of three made in the Council’s new Conservation and Design Award Scheme. The judging panel considered the work to be of the highest quality using traditional material and repair techniques. The award takes the form of a circular plaque in cast aluminium alloy with a black finish, which is mounted on the tower wall above the existing stone plaque recording the observation post’s installation and removal. The architect was subsequently given a gold award by the “King of Prussia’s committee” in recognition of his work on the restoration scheme.
   The organ has been upgraded and restored and the guttering has been replaced. An improved hearing aid loop has been installed in the Church, the wiring and lighting has been brought up to modern standards.

With thanks to Joyce Steven and John Wilson for supplying this information.

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