Your Parish Church……..
Take a Tour…..
One of the first things that any visitor to All Saints’ will notice on looking round the building from the outside is that it appears incomplete. Indeed the original concept was for a church with a central nave and north and south aisles, but this was never realised, although it was not until some ten years after the consecration that the plans were finally abandoned due to lack of finance.
Nevertheless the church as it stands is Grade II listed and certain features are well worth more than a casual glance. Entering by the north door and crossing to the centre of the nave, a backward glance upward at the main west window reveals the ‘Good Shepherd’ window in the central section.
Originally placed in the east window of the north porch, the glass was repaired in the 1990’s and then moved to its present location to avoid further vandalism. The blue surround is not part of the original design. The window was dedicated in May 1896 and bears the inscription:- “Given by fellow teachers and friends in memory of Lewis Reuben Stone; for 23 years schoolmaster of this parish. Died 8th March 1895. This window was constructed by Kempe of London and, as such, is of considerable historical interest. Charles Eamer Kempe was a Tractarian artist who was only deterred from taking Holy Orders by reason of his distressing stutter, and who first came to fame by way of the work that he did in the decoration of Castle Howard Chapel in 1872. His windows appear in several cathedrals including Wakefield, Gloucester, Southwell, S. Paul’s and Lichfield, and he was additionally responsible for the restoration of the windows in Kings College Chapel, Cambridge. Some of his fairest work however, is to be found in parish churches and the examples in our own church are worth careful study.
Below the west window is the font.
This was dedicated on St. James’ Day 1898 – the seventh anniversary of the laying of the Foundation Stone. It was the gift of the children of John and Marion Murray and is constructed of “verde antico” marble (lapis atracius, Connemara marble, serpentine marble). Serpentinite with veins and/or fracture fillings of calcite, dolomite and/or magnesite, has had widespread use as a facing stone and for the fashioning of diverse ornaments. A brecciated variety of this serpentine-rich rock was quarried at the “classical locality” of Casambala, near Larissa, Thessalia, Greece and the marble for the font in All Saints’ came from this source. The design was adapted from that for the font in the Baptistry of S. Mark’s, Venice and bears the inscription:- “Keep innocency and take heed unto the thing that is right for that shall bring a man peace at last.” Sir John Murray – the publisher – was one of the earliest benefactors of All Saints’, sadly passing to his rest one month prior to the consecration of the permanent church. Ironically his will was published in the local press in the column adjoining that in which was described the consecration of the building to which he gave so much support. In addition to the font given by his children, four hundred communicants also gave an oak lectern in his memory.
Moving down the north aisle the visitor reaches the War Memorial.
Bearing the Inscription:- “Remember Before God the Men of this Parish who gave their lives in the Great Wars,” it was dedicated by the Bishop of Kingston and unveiled by Lt.Col.G.B.Chetwynd-Stapylton T.D.,(Commanding Officer of the 5th Batallion East Surrey Regiment) on Wednesday September 16th 1925. Many local dignitaries were present as were many families of those whose names were recorded on the roll of honour. The Memorial was designed by W.H.R. Blacking, M.S.A and cost £47. Mr. Blacking was one of the more distinguished pupils of Sir John Ninian Comper and his work appears in Gloucester Cathedral and many other parish churches. There is more information on the names recorded on the memorial in the sub-menu ‘The War Dead’ in the Church History section of this website.
Continuing down the North Aisle and passing the statue of Our Lady on the right, the visitor arrives at the Chapel Screen, with the large Rood Screen to the right. In fact there are a number of sections of oak screen in the church and all were given at different times by different people. The first dedication, in 1893, was of the portion of oak screen that divides the chapel from the sanctuary. This was erected at a cost of £135 and given in memory of Henry Trickett and Fanny Jane, his wife. A year later, this time at a cost of £330, the portion of screen across the chapel aisle was given in memory of the mother and father of Robert Fenwick. It was dedicated on Easter Day. The oak side screens were dedicated at Whitsun 1900 and were the gift of Florence Keane.
The major portion of the screen however – the rood – is a memorial to Robert Fenwick, one of the great benefactors of All Saints’, who died in 1897. The design for the screen was commissioned by Fenwick himself and more than 200 people subscribed to the appeal. It cost about £500 and, so impressed was the Bishop with the finished article, that he agreed to its erection in the church without a faculty! It was dedicated on All Saints’ Day 1899.
Looking up at the rood screen you will see at its centre the large oak cross with the figures of the Saviour, the Blessed Virgin Mary and S. John. This was not added until 1907 and was originally sited at the west end of the church. To the design of J. T. Micklethwaite, it was dedicated on Thursday October 31st of that year.
The other major piece of carved oak in the church is the Pulpit which was given in 1895 by the Reverend Brancker and his wife as a Thank Offering for their Golden Wedding.
Proceeding through the screen at the top of the north aisle one enters the one of the first parts of the church to be finished. This is the Chapel of S. Michael & All Angels.
The inspiration behind the dedication is revealed in its East Window.
On the Feast of S. Michael and All Angels 1893, the window was dedicated to the memory of Edward Thurston Holland – a Chancery Barrister by profession, but a warm-hearted and sympathetic man well-known to the congregation of All Saints’ as a founder and supporter of the South Wimbledon Church Extension Fund.
Constructed by Kempe of London, and costing £200, the window was the gift of Mrs. Holland, and represents S. Michael surrounded by eight angels. Herein probably lies the impetus for dedicating the chapel to S. Michael as this particular Saint was likely to have been especially dear to Mr. Holland and his wife. As long ago as 1884, the couple were actively involved in the formation of the S. Michael’s Club for Friendless Girls in South Wimbledon, and sadly it was whilst on his way to inspect the new premises that Mr. Holland met his untimely death.
Whilst in the chapel one should notice that both pillars framing the entrance to the chancel bear inscriptions. The easternmost of these is a memorial to John Murray and the other a reminder of the ‘Markby’ memorial. It reads thus:- “The Chapel eastward of this pillar is given for the service of God by some friends of Alfred Markby.1899.” This postdates by some seven years the death of Markby – on the 19th January 1892 -, and the original illuminated scroll detailing the memorial, and recording the names of many prominent local dignitaries who contributed to it, is held in the Surrey County Records Office at Woking.
Also in the chapel is the Foundation Stone, though it cannot been seen either inside or outside the building. It was laid on S. James’ Day, 25th July, 1891 by Robert Bloomfield Fenwick in the presence of many local dignitaries and clergy. It was his wish that there be no inscription to record the event and it lies to this day unseen below the chapel altar.
Moving to the right and through the screen the visitor enters the Sanctuary.
Again there is some fine stained glass to observe. The East Window was constructed at a cost of £300 and dedicated on All Saints’ Day 1893. It was given in memory of Harry Pollard Ashby and Harriet, his wife, and represents Our Lord enthroned with the Blessed Virgin Mary and S. John the Baptist on either side. On the north extremity is S. Augustine of Canterbury and on the south, S. Alban, the first British Martyr. The other two figures depicted are those of S. Peter and S. Paul. The whole fabrication was conceived to represent “typical saints” and was christened “The All Saints’ Window.”
The glass in the Window on the South Wall of the Sanctuary is in memory of Alice Isabel Fenwick – the wife of Robert Fenwick – and was dedicated on the same day (Easter 1894) as the screen across the chapel aisle. She had died on 17th January 1893 – “loved, respected and remarkable for the gentleness and universal kindness of a simple and unostentatious life of piety and service for others.” The window – constructed at a cost of £130 – depicts five more saints. From left to right they are:- S. Nicholas, S. Mary Magdalen, S. Andrew (Patron Saint of Rochester Cathedral in which Diocese the church originally stood), S. Martha and Saint Cuthbert (the Northern Saint of our English Church).
All the windows in the church have succumbed to vandalism over the years, but the P.C.C. are to be congratulated on having them all restored and protected in order that they might be appreciated in their full glory by future generations.
The Sanctuary Lamp is a memorial to Reverend E. H. Bell and is purported to be 16th Century.
The original intention – and that stated in the faculty – was for the provision of the full seven lights, but lack of finance hindered the project. The lamp you see today was purchased from Krolls of Regent Street at a cost of £16, and was originally fuelled by oil. It was lit for the first time at Festal Evensong on Christmas Eve 1911 when its care and upkeep was entrusted to a Miss. Knight who untertook, not only to trim the wick and clean the brass, but also to provide the oil
Last, but not least, we come to the Organ. Described as “a fine instrument in a modern case,” the organ was built by Henry Jones & Son of South Kensington. It was noted for its “powerful and varied tones, sweet solo stops, and a grand effect when used for choral purposes.” The organ has a tracker action and was originally pumped by hand – various crudely carved inscriptions testimony to those who laboured in years past! Today, after a number of restorations, it is in regular use and continues to delight in the capable hands of our Organist & Choirmaster.
Details of the Henry Jones Organ
Great Organ c.c. to a. 58 notes
1 Open Diapason cc 8ft. metal, 2 dulciana (grooved), c.8ft. metal, 3 kohr flote cc 8ft. wood, 4 principal cc 4ft. metal, 5 harmonic flute (grooved) c 4ft. metal, 6 fifteenth cc 2ft. metal
Swell Organ c.c. to a. 58 notes
7 vox angelica (grooved), c 8ft. metal, 8 gamba (grooved) c 8ft. metal, 9 lieblich geduct cc 8ft. wood, 10 gemthorne cc 4ft. metal, 11 cornopean cc 8ft. best spotted metal.
Tremulant Pedal Organ c.c. to f. 30 notes
12 bourdon (full scale) ccc 16ft. Wood – Couplers:- 13 swell to great, 14 swell to pedals, 15 great to pedals. 16 sub octave. There are two combination pedals on both great and swell organ.
Returning to All Saints Road just take time to look at the Bell Tower.
This is clearly a more modern addition and is a legacy of the last war. In February 1944 the Wimbledon News reported an “Early Morning Hit and Run Raid” during which bombs fell on a working class district in the London area. The censorship of the time meant that the true location of the raid could not be revealed, but we now know it to have been South Wimbledon. A stick of five large bombs destroyed twenty-seven houses, seriously damaged forty-eight with three hundred and twenty suffering minor damage. The Sultan public house was destroyed, along with no’s. 24-28 Deburgh Road, but remarkably few people were killed. It was also rumoured that All Saints’ had been blown up and that the priest was lying under the ruins! The truth was that, although a bomb had indeed fallen adjacent to the west window of the church, it had failed to explode. Only a small pile of earth betrayed it’s presence, and this the priest thought had been caused by a dog scratching in the ground! Although subsequently defused and removed, it caused enough damage to seriously weaken the west end of the church and the tower housing the bells. Originally there were three of these – given by the Reverend Brancker at a cost of £92 and rung for the first time on Christmas Eve 1892 – but the war damage was such that in due course their continued use became dangerous. Once they had been taken down, and the original tower reconstructed, they were never replaced. Today only one bell hangs in the modern replacement.
I hope this ‘tour’ has proved interesting. Of course there have been numerous gifts and additions to the church over the years, and by no means all have been mentioned here. Nevertheless the church has been enriched by all of them and we owe a great debt of gratitude to those who have supported All Saints’ for over one hundred years.