A Chronological History of Abinger & St James


MesolithicArea of apparent occupation at Paddington Tolt.
Meso-/ Neolithic Pit shelter or habitation in field near Abinger Manor (excavated by Dr LSB Leakey and Sir Edward Beddington-Behrens in 1950).
Bronze Age A four-and-half inch pottery food vessel dug up (1960) in the fields of Fulvenden Farm (mostly in Shere parish). Food vessels in this period are unusual in Surrey.
Iron Age Holmbury Hill Fort. circa 55BC. Anstiebury fort (Coldharbour) possibly about same period.

0 - 1000 ACE

AD 100-400 Roman villa (remains of mosaic pavement, ten rooms, vessels and a few coins) believed built circa 1000 AD (occupation till after 400 AD). Excavated 1877/8 &1995/7.
Anglo Saxon Arrivals gave their names to the places where they settled: Abinger and Paddington.
7th Century Surrey is likely to have been converted to Christianity by the West Saxons, perhaps by Birinus whom the Pope sent to work among the pagan inhabitants of the West Saxon area.
672 Surrey's connections with Winchester were confirmed in the charter founding Chertsey Abbey in 672. (The arch-deaconry of Surrey within the Winchester diocese existed in 1128).

1000 - 1500 ACE

Before 1066 The manors of Abinger and Paddington held by a "huscarle" of King Edward (The Confessor). Probably both had mills by this time.
1086 Domesday book records a church in Abinger (then Abinceborne), possibly built by William Fitz Ansculf, the Tenant-in-chief (who also held six other Surrey manors). Original here.
Before 1100 Fitz Ansculf's tenant Robert of Abinger is very likely to have been the builder of the little Bayeux Tapestry castle (Excavated in 1949). Fulk Paganel (or Paynell) the succeeding lord of the manor may have carried out a known rebuilding of the motte.
13th Century Abinger church dedicated to St James. Norman chancel built.
circa 1220-1240 North chapel believed built.
1273 David de Jarpenville held Manor of Abinger. He died in 1293. The Manor fell to his brother, Thomas. In 1305 he was Patron of the Abinger half of the living.
1286 12th April: Richard Fulvenne, first recorded Rector of Abinger. Patron was Sir Adam Gordon (or Gurdun).
1291 Valuation of living for taxation by Pope Nicholas.
1341-1348 Members of de Jarpenville family were Rectors of Abinger; Roger, grandson of David, was a patron.
1364 The two halves (moities) of the parish (Paddington and Abinger) were united.
15th century Belfry added.

1500 - 1700 ACE

1525 Carved oak vestment chest made in Normandy. Brought from France in 1990 and given by Celia Sheppard.
1552 Edward VI's commissioners for survey of church goods visited Abinger church  on 6th October and committed the care of all the church's possessions including "a wodden cros plated with silver gilted with roses and branches weighing 16 ounces" to Robert Haryson, Thomas Songhurst, William Att Lee and Raffe Datton.
1553 New Surrey commissioners given instructions to leave in small parish churches only "convenient and comely things mete for the administration of the Holy Communion": 1 silver chalice, 1 surplice and ornaments for the communion table. Everything else, including the bells, was removed for the crown except church linen which was to be given to the poor.
1559 Church registers of Abinger Church exist from this date. The first entries are: Baptism - Lawrence Dayre, son of Matthew Dayre, 23rd April 1559; Marriage - Richard Edshue & Joane Mower 20th October 1559; Burial - Alce Tallard 2nd November 1559.
by 1575 Responsibility for fencing the churchyard allocated to individual properties in the parish.
17th Century Present manor house (but with later additions) built by John 'Sylva' Evelyn the diarist, friend and apologist of King Charles II; it occupies the site of the bailey and an earlier hall. The 17thC manor pound is in the garden of Manor Cottage, the former manor stables; here the lord of the manor held stray cattle. John Evelyn was born at nearby Wotton and was buried at Wotton Church.
1645 Rev. Anthony Smith, rector of Abinger since 1638, was deprived of his living. he is said to have spoken or preached against Parliament and prayed that God would prosper the King. He probably used the prayer book which was illegal at that time. (36 Surrey parishes had ministers sequested from their livings).
1653 Under the Civil Mariage Act, Thomas Webb was appointed "Parisk register" and entered in the parish book most of the 14 civil marriages in Abinger.
1654 29th November: a lease granted to Thomas Hussey of Old Sutton Place and son Peter for 1000 years for a space 7ft x 51/2 ft for putting two pews "on the south side adjoining the pulpit, the reading place and the clerk's seat" at a yearly rent of one peppercorn and a charge of £5 in consideration of the lease.
1674 Two bells cast for Abinger Church: a tenor in D (4 cwt.) and a treble in E (31/2 cwt.) inscribed "William Eldridge made me 1674" and "HS and DD Churchwardens", i.e. Henry Spooner and Daniel Dibble who were signatories of the pew lease in 1654.
1679 At least one section of the churchyard had been walled. The initials of the builders, probably Richard Worlsford of Pinkhurst, were set in the wall and are still visible today 19yds north of the lychgate.
1690 Rev. Robert Offley was appointed rector of St James', Abinger. He was a distant relative of the Evelyn family through marriage and is referred to in John Evelyn's famous Diary. He remained in the living for 52 years. With few exceptions, patronage of of the Living of Abinger from 1638 to the last few years of the 20th century has been by members of the Evelyn family.
1718 Reference to a "... fair kept on St James' day for cattle etc. now much decayed" at Abinger in John Aubrey's Natural History & Antiquities of Surrey 1719.
1730 12th July. Burial of John Marsh, "a noted travelling hog-ringer"
1758 29th April. Baptism of "Samuel, base-born son of Jane, the wife of Robert Lane who was transported 3 or 4 years ago".
1793 Date of the oldest discovered picture of St James' church: [histphotos#petrie"|a water-colour by Henry Pitrie].

1700 - 1900 ACE

1800 A spire added to the bell tower replacing the cap.
1820-1830 Considered to be the last decade in which the [[histphotos#stocks1875|stocks]] and whipping post, on the green outside the church, were used.
By 1851Churchyard completely enclosed.
1853? Ecclesiastical parish of Abinger reduced in size by the creation of Okewood parish from outliers of Abinger, Ockley and Wotton.
1856-7 The Singers' gallery in the west end which formerly held a small orchestra for services was replaced with a barrel organ (two barrels of ten tunes each).
Roof gutters and downpipes installed.
1862-3Churchyard enlarged southwards by 1 rood (0.25 acre)
1878 Part of Abinger's Ecclesiastical Parish was taken to form Holmbury St Mary.
Unmade gravemounds in churchyard levelled
1879 Rationalisation of bounds of Abinger and neighbouring parishes brought Okewood into Abinger civil parish. (See modern boundaries here).
1879-1880 Further restoration and enlargement of St James' church. This included a third bell (1880), cast by Mears & Stainbank (later Whitechapel Bell Founders); bellcot and weather vane were repaired. The West window was created; a new (Old) vestry and Organ Chamber built on the South Chancel Aisle; carved oak altar rails added; choir stalls and north aisle pews made; a porch was added; floors were repaired; roofs wewre repaired; the lychgate was built. The church re-opened 5th August 1880.
1890 A roof erected on the stocks.
1894 Creation of parich councils (and civil parishes).

1900 - 2000 ACE

1909 Central heating radiators installed for first time £160
1919-1920 The war memorial designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens RA was erected, a gift of Mrs Margaret Lewin, widow of Col. Lewin of Parkhurst, in memory of the men of the ecclesiastical parish of Abinger who fell in the 1914-1918 World War.
1917Churchyard enlarged southwards by 1 rood (0.25 acre)
1920 A new vestry added to St James', given by Mrs Waterhouse in memory of her late husband, Edwin.
1921 War memorial dedicated
1924 The old 1887 organ in St James' was restored and enlarged.
North Aisle floor renewed with wooden blocks. New boiler installed
1927Creation of the diocese of Guildford.
1928 Unmade gravemounds in churchyard levelled
1933Running water laid on
1934-8 Restoration of St James' church.
1935-8 Church roof repaired by Stanley Ellis Ltd £820
1936 Organ dismantled and repaired by J W Walker & Sons £49.10.0d.
1938 Electric light installed by B G Southers £70, old oil lamps removed.
1944 A German flying bomb exploded very near the church early on Sunday 3rd August. Only the walls and the 13th century chapel remained more-or-less intact. The 1st World War Memorial suffered severe damage.
1944-51 Church services held at various locations (Evelyn Hall, NAAFI canteen on army camp, Goddards); oak beams given by Hon Mrs Vaughan Williams from her own estate at High Ashes for rebuilding of the church.
1951 Completion of re-building of church (by F Etchells FRIBA), based on the 1879 structure with an additional 10 feet added for placing the organ. Re-consecration took place in May. Approx. 46,000.
1964 Church struck by lightning in June. Extensive damage to the tower, roof and east window. Chruch again repaired. "The repairs were again expertly handled and the result is superb, one of the most lovely of village churches..." Surrey Villages (Pitt & Shaw.]
1967 The glass for the restored East Window given in memory of John Coe. The new design by Laurence Lee ARCA depicts the cross as a living tree. Concealed ceiling lighting introduced.
1974 The two oldest bells were repaired, re-tuned and re-hung and rang again in their tercentury year, most of the cost being met by Mr. Robert Clarke of Abinger Manor.
1990 A custom-built Nicholson pipe organ was installed: dedicated by the Bishop of Guildford in January 1991.
1994 Complete re-decoration of the church interior.
1996 Vestry extension completed.
1999Three new bells were added in June to the existing three to mark the millenium, cast by Whitechaped Bell Foundry, first rung on New Year's Eve.
Michael Bowler, verger, died after 59 years of continual service: the longest-recorded service to the church. A new oak cross and candlesticks commemorate his life.

after 2000 ACE

2001 Abinger Civil Parish Census
2002 Celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's 50th anniversary
2006 50th anniversary Abinger Fair
2017 Belfry reclad in oak to counter woodpecker damage

Compiled with contributions by Eric Burleton (2000) used with permission. Original pamphlet here. Subsequent edits and links by Philip Rawlings 2009-2019.