WONERSH
© Wonersh History Society - www.wonershhistory.co.uk   (WHS)
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