There has been a place of worship on the site of St Bartholomew’s from the reign of Henry II in the 12th Century. Originally part of Chiddingfold, Haslemere became a separate parish in 1838. With the town expanding and with the coming of the London to Portsmouth railway, it was decided to rebuild the church in 1871. The previous Church had been inspected by the Diocese of Winchester.

The Bell Tower and Bells

The Bell Tower is 13th Century, the oldest part of the Church. Originally, there were five bells of mixed origin but in 1882 a new ring of six was installed. In 1908 a treble and a second bell were added, following an appeal. These new bells had quotations from Tennyson’s In Memoriam engraved on them. ‘Ring out the darkness of the land’ and ‘Ring in the Christ that is to be’ which were transferred to a replacement ring of eight in 1923 (the sound of the old bells was blasphemous according to the Rector of the time).  The final two bells of the current ten were added in 1927.

Flemish Glass

Little is known about the precise origins of the eight panels of Flemish glass thought by experts to be not earlier than 1520-1530. The panels depict Adam and Eve, the Nativity, Noah and the Ark, Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and Offerings by the Wise Men. They were among 10 panels donated in 1801 by a ‘lady of ample fortune’. Originally installed above the altar in the east end of the Church, they were moved first to make room for the stained glass above the altar, then to accommodate further stained glass windows. The eight remaining panels now reside in the Bell Tower window.

Priests in Charge

On the left of the entrance to the Bell Tower, is a list of the incumbents of St Bartholomew’s. Seek out James Fielding 1772 – 1783. He lived in the Town House in the high street and was known as the ‘Highwayman Vicar’. At the time there had been a number of instances of missing mail in the town and eventually, after Fielding had died, lead seals and brass labels from post bags were found in the cellar of his home.

Stained glass window commemorating Gerard Manly Hopkins (1844-1889)

Gerard Manly Hopkins was virtually unknown during his lifetime. His poetry was collected and published after his death by his friends in 1918. Hopkins studied at Oxford and converted from the Church of England to the Catholic Church. Cardinal Newman wrote to him, “I think it is the very thing for you… Don’t call the Jesuit discipline hard, it will bring you to Heaven.”

It is the only known stained glass window to a Jesuit Priest in an Anglican Church. At the time there was no Catholic Church in Haslemere and Hopkin’s parents gave it to the church in 1890.

Stained glass window in memory of Alfred Lord Tennyson

Alfred Tennyson was born in 1809 and started writing poetry at the age of eight. By 14 he had written most of a blank verse play. In 1827, the year he went to Cambridge, his first published poetry appeared in Poems by Two Brothers. Tennyson was profoundly shocked by the early death of his closest friend at university, and it is often said that out of his grief came his best poetry. Poems (1842) made him a popular poet, The Princess (1847), In Memoriam (‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all’). He was appointed Poet Laureate in 1850 which firmly established him as the most popular poet of the Victorian era.

The window was made by the William Morris workshop, financed by subscription and was unveiled by the Bishop of Ripon on August 8th 1899.

Memorial to Sir Norman Angell

Norman Angell was a pacifist who’s book Europe’s Optical Illusion (1909), which he then expanded into The Great Illusion (1910) argued that a European war would be economically dangerous for victor and vanquished. The book had a tremendous impact on the intellectual community, with the financial support of Sir Richard Garton, and wealthy individuals including Joseph Rowntree, Angell established the Garton Foundation to spread his message.

In October 1913 he founded a pacifist journal, War and Peace. In an attempt to keep Britain out of a European War, Angell formed the Neutrality League. He was knighted in 1931 and won the Nobel prize for peace in 1933. He lived the last years of his life on Fernden Lane and died in 1967.

Memorial plaque to Inspector Donaldson

Inspector William Donaldson was the local Chief Officer of the Surrey Constabulary. On the night of the 28th July 1855, when a group of local railway labourers went on a drunken rampage, the Inspector, aided by his only Constable and one civilian volunteer, Dr Henry Bishop, stood firm against the mob. In the early hours of Sunday 29th July, the rioters attempted to release one of their number who had been arrested. In the ensuing attack, Inspector Donaldson was beaten with and iron bar and died soon after.

Memorial to Sir Robert Hunter

Sir Robert Hunter founded the National Trust in 1885. He had previously been appointed solicitor to the Commons Preservation Society and saved common land from enclosure including Epping Forest, which Queen Victora declared a public park in 1882. In 1883 he moved his family to Three Gates Lane in Haslemere. The following year, the owner of Sayes Court in Deptford wanted to give her property to the nation, but no organisation existed to accept it. Hunter felt that a new ‘Company’ should be created for such a purpose and so began his idea of a ‘National Trust’. The idea lay dormant for 10 years until some beautiful land in the Lake District was under threat from developers. This time action was taken and Hunter became the first Chairman of the National Trust.

The Organ

Church music was originally provided by a band of musicians. They were replaced by a Grinding (Barrel) Organ in 1839. The current organ was built in 1890 by then renowned firm of Lewis, and several beautiful ranks of pipes belong to that period and are greatly cherished. During 1928 the instrument was enlarged by Harrison & Harrison of Durham. With the advent of the Nave Altar in 1980, a new organ console was built and installed in the south aisle, together with the new choir stalls alongside. Henry Willis & Son of Petersfield redesigned the whole layout of the pipe-work within the organ itself, and also moved the small choir organ, including new pipes, to its place behind the grill on the north side of the chancel.

The Silk Screen

The silk screen is a representation of the St Cecilia, the Patron Saint of Music. The screen is made up of five panels strapped together on wooden frames. It is believed to be of the Glasgow School of Art. Ann Macbeth designed the screen which was beautifully embroidered with fine stitching by members of the congregation.

The Kneeler Project

In 1995 a small committee was formed to create a new set of kneelers using cornflower and royal blue. In the beginning the designs were simple crosses, angels and flowers but they gradually became more ambitious. 250 kneelers include depictions of church life including depictions of Bible stories and local societies. In 1999 the team sewed seven long altar rail kneelers to commemorate the Millennium.