Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

St Peter, Hascombe

OK, not every Victorian church is a horror.

And here's one that isn't. St Peter's, Hascombe was built by Henry Woodyer, the glass and fittings are by Hardman Powell and the person who micro-managed everything was a Medician clergyman called Vernon Musgrave. The work was done over a period of something like 50 years- starting in the 1860s- but is all of a piece. Every surface is decorated. Where much Victorian church architecture feels dutiful- with solemnity standing in for spirituality- St Peter's is clearly a work of love. Everything is bright, stylish, light-hearted, joyful. Look at the fish; aren't they such fun?

Historic England gives the church a grade two listing- which means worth preserving but not much to write home about. Historic England is so wrong. Simon Jenkins, on the other hand, awards it three stars out of a possible five- which is much more like it- and places it high up among the best 1000 churches in the country.

The walls of the nave are hand-painted with a motif of fishes and fishing nets. The designer, whoever they were, must have been looking at Japanese art.

The chancel and high altar are as wonderful as paint and glass and carved wood and gold leaf can make them. "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth. Heaven and earth are full of thy glory. Glory be to Thee, O Lord most high."

Hascombe, by the way, is a tiny village in the Surrey Hills to the south of Guildford. According to Wikipedia the name comes from the Saxon "Haegscombe" which means "Valley of the Witch". Lovely. It was a dark, forgotten nook when Vernon Musgrave accepted the living but as Surrey moved closer and closer to London (the railways, you know) so rich and artistic people started hiding their mansions away in the woods. According to Wikipedia (again) previous and current residents include Dirk Bogarde, Boris Berezkovsky, Anthea Turner and Chris Evans.
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