WONERSH
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HISTORY SOCIETY

A TALE OF TWO CHURCHES

Wonersh is lucky enough to have two churches: St John the Baptist Church on The Street and the United Reformed Church on Wonersh Common Road. St John the Baptist is by far the older of these two churches and so will come first here. The oldest part of the church is probably Norman with a 12th Century tower, a 13th Century chancel and a 15th Century north chapel. In the 18th Century the tower was embattled and the south side of the nave and the south transept chapel were rebuilt by Lord Grantley after a fire. In October 1864 the church was described as being in ‘a deplorably dirty and neglected condition’ with the churchyard being in ‘an equally reprehensible state’. Fortunately, at the beginning of the 20th Century the church was restored with the east end being rebuilt. Whether a time-travelling member of the congregation would recognise his church was entirely dependent upon the date of the visit. St John the Baptist has its own extensive website with information covering, amongst other things, its history, services, news and events. The history of the United Reformed Church in Wonersh starts with William Colebrook . William was a Guildford butcher with a shop first at 16 Mount Street, later moving to Quarry Street and then 67 High Street (where he is said to have kept cows at the back of the shop). He and his wife Mary had seventeen children and in 1853 they took a 21 year lease on Great Tangley Manor Farm. Soon after the Colebrooks moved to Great Tangley, William started Sunday services in the kitchen as the nearest nonconformist chapel was in North Street. When the kitchen became too small a large barn at nearby Great Tangley Manaor Farm was taken over for Sunday services and another for Sunday school. After William’s death in 1869, his son continued the services which eventually outgrew the barns. A devout nonconformist, William Seth Smith, living at Little Tangley bought the land for what is now known as the United Reformed Church but which was initially known as Tangley Chapel. According to the Surrey Advertiser at the time, the cost of the building was £1950.
St John the Baptist Church website St John the Baptist Church website
The Colebrook Family c1852