Sir John Betjeman, in his Guide to English Parish Churches, called it ‘a Tractarian Work of Art’. The authors of the Surrey volume in the Penguin ‘Buildings of England’ series wrote that it was ‘worth a very special look to see how good and how free from period associations a Victorian country church could be when the architect took pains over it’.
THE CHURCH REBUILDING
The old church was in a state of lamentable decay by the time Canon Musgrave became Rector of Hascombe in 1862. He said the churchyard was ‘dark and gloomy, abounding in tall weeds and rank grass, with high mounds of graves piled up and carelessly kept’; the church had ‘great gaping cracks and rents in the walls, windows robbed of glass, filled up with bricks and mortar’.
The churchmen responsible decided that entire rebuilding was the only solution. Henry Woodyer, a pupil of Butterfield, was appointed architect. Demolition began in June 1863 and the new church, built on the old site at a cost of £3,100, was consecrated in June 1864. ‘The day was made one of general rejoicing in the parish and all the men were entertained at dinner in the afternoon.’
THE OLD CHURCH
Formerly, Hascombe was in the Diocese of Winchester. The records of the See and of the Cathedral of Winchester were destroyed in the 16th Century, so that the early history of the Church is difficult to trace. It is believed that the old church was built around A.D. 1220; the first official mention occurs in a list of churches in the Deanery of Guildford, circa 1283, where it is described as ‘Ecclesia de Escumbe’. ‘John’, the first known Rector of Hascombe, died in 1316.
THE PRESENT CHURCH
The church was built by Woodyer in the general style of the late 13th Century. It is of Bargate stone, quarried within the parish, with a shingled bellcote. The plan is simple; nave, chancel (or apse) and separately-roofed lady chapel. This simple plan sets off to best advantage the rich and intricate decoration on windows, walls and roof, the gilding and dark colours being further enhanced by the modern lighting.
Much of the oak timber in the present porch came from the old porch. The massive mid-Victorian lock on the door was made to fit the ancient key with which the Rectors of Hascombe have, for centuries, been inducted.
As you enter the Church, you see to your left the spiral staircase leading to the belfry which houses a peal of five bells. These bells are exceptionally light and have an excellent tone. They are rung every Sunday. To your right is the font of Purbeck marble, given by a Rector of Hascombe in 1690. At the back of the nave is an interesting 18th Century stone tablet in memory of William Diddle fold.
The stained glass windows by Hardman Powell commemorate events in the life of our Patron Saint — St. Peter. Around the walls are the ‘one hundred and fifty and three’ fishes of the post-Resurrection miracle all caught in a net which is being dragged in by the 6 disciples — shown on the east wall — whilst St. Peter ‘girt in his fisher’s garment’ is seen casting himself into the sea (St. John 21).
The pulpit’s panels show our Lord and the two greatest preachers in scripture — Noah and St. John the Baptist — with St. Peter standing between them.
THE LADY CHAPEL
The east window of the Lady Chapel by Clayton and Bell, and the lancet window by Hardman Powell, commemorate members of the Godman family of Park Hatch, whose family pew this originally was. The conversion into a lady chapel, in memory of Joseph Godman, took place in 1936.
The Blessed Sacrament is permanently reserved here.
The beautiful oak screen is about 500 years old; it was restored and painted in 1864.
Above the lettering on the exterior of the Chancel arch is a picture of the Last Judgement, our Lord in Glory flanked by the twelve apostles. On the inside of this arch is a picture of our Lord calling into being the nine orders of blessed spirits.
The stained glass windows, the splays giving into them and the spandrils above them portray biblical scenes involving angels. In the windows and splays they are scenes in the life of our Lord. The lovely central window shows our Lord on the cross with St. Mary and St. John standing by. In the spandrils, the episodes start on the north side with the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden and continue with Old Testament stories until the last small spandril on the south side showing the Archangel Gabriel appearing to Zaccharias — the end of the Old Covenant and the beginning of the New.
The subject of the reredos comes from the Book of the Revelation — the Adoration of the Lamb. To connect Hascombe with the nineteen churches of the then Rural Deanery are the patron saints of their churches, who frame the reredos as in a picture.
The roof rafters are cusped and gilded to provide a continuous interplay of highlights.
The Victorian 2 Manual Organ, made by Messrs. Brindley of Sheffield, was installed in 1869.
THE CONGREGATION AT WORSHIP
We have a service each Sunday at 10.00 a.m.and we also hold a 1662 Holy Communion on the second Sunday in the month at 8.00am and an Evensong at 6.30pm in Summer & 6.00pm in Winter on the third Sunday. On certain festivals & 5th Sundays we alternate with Dunsfold for joint services. Please see schedule under Services. You will always be very welcome when you are able to join us on any Sunday in the year. Hascombe owes a great debt to Canon Vernon Musgrave who was Rector of the Parish from 1862 to 1906 and was in consequence the last incumbent of the old church and the inspiration behind the building and decoration of the present one. He wrote a little book (from which the material of this leaflet is derived) ‘first for the Parishioners, who already for the most part take a pride and interest in their Church . . . and secondly as a guide to strangers visiting the Church of St. Peter at Hascombe, that they need not ask questions of accidental persons and be imperfectly or erroneously answered’.