Witley, June 24, 1917

Sunday        No church parade washing guns went to Hascombe & Church P.M.

hascombe Frith
Hascombe is about six miles east from Witley Camp. It is not clear whether Percy attended service in St. Peter’s Church there, or whether he returned as usual to Milford  for Evensong.

The picturesque St. Peter’s is a Victorian church, built “in 13th-century style in 1864 from designs by Mr. H. Woodyer,” (1) and clearly to Ecclesiological principles of design and decoration.  Nikolaus Pevsner describes it as having “one of the best high Victorian interiors in the country, combined with an austere closely reasoned exterior.” (2)  Very little remained of the church it replaced, except a font and a 15th-century chancel screen.  The “mid-Victorian scheme of decoration” (which Pevsner declared “worth careful preservation [having] an ornamental effect as rich as anything that Art Nouveau produced”) included painting that screen, as well as the walls of the nave, and ensuring that all the windows were filled with stained glass. (1)

A curious feature is the “squint” — an aperture allowing a view of the chancel and altar from a position outside the nave. Such an opening in an outside wall permitted undesirables such as lepers to see the services from which they were excluded. At St. Peter’s, as in many other churches, the opening is in an inside wall, and allows privileged worshippers in a side chapel to see the service without themselves being seen by lowlier parishioners.

Hascombe interiorEcclesiology is the study of church architecture and associated arts; in the 1840s the Cambridge Camden Society (later Ecclesiological Society)  advocated changes to Church of England buildings and liturgical practices that were in keeping with the theological reforms advocated by the Oxford (Tractarian) Movement. One might say that Ecclesiology is the outward and visible sign of the Tractarians’ intellectual and theological grace. John Betjeman made the connection when he called St. Peter’s, Hascombe, a “Tractarian work of art.” (2)

(1) “Hascombe.” A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
(2) Pevsner and Betjeman are quoted on a website devoted to Hascombe, which also provides the photograph of the interior.

The exterior photograph is a Francis Frith postcard from 1908.

Copyright 2017. See “More about this project.”





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