Some Famous Parishioners

George Rennie 1791-1866.

He was the eldest son of John Rennie who designed many famous bridges with a flat roadway avoiding any hump. George, like his father, was a great civil engineer surveying an alternative railway route to Brighton via Dorking in 1830. But his genius lay in mechanical engineering, designing the first screw propelled vessel for the Royal Navy – H.M.S. Dwarf in 1840. In 1862 he retired to Holmwood Lodge, North Holmwood but was involved in a street accident in London 1865. Rennie died from his injuries on 30th March 1866 and was buried at the parish church, South Holmwood on 6th April where there is a memorial tablet.

Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm 1834-1890.

He came to England from Austria in 1848 and became naturalised in 1865. Boehm was a sculptor and specialised in terra cotta statuettes. Those of Millais made his work fashionable so that he enjoyed a virtual monopoly in the production of statues of the Royal family and the famous. He also worked in bronze and his work can be seen in the Wellington group at Hyde Park Corner. Around 1880 Boehm built a large residence in North Holmwood called Bentsbrook House (now occupied by Bentsbrook Park estate) and converted two cottages near the church into a studio – a building still known by this name.

Howard Martineau 1865-1954.

The family built up a fortune from sugar refining and in 1918 the Martineaus bought the Goodwyn’s farm moving into Goodwyn’s Place. Howard’s wife died almost immediately and he entered into all the voluntary activities that he could, supporting societies in Dorking and North Holmwood particularly those relating to sport. He is best known locally as a benefactor of the Dorking Halls, one of which is named after him. In 1937 he gave eight and a quarter acres of his land south of the by-pass to the King George V Memorial Playing Fields Trust as an open space. After thirty years of service and benefactions he was the victim of a compulsory purchase order on the farmland which is now Goodwyn’s estate. He left the parish in 1953.

Rev. Somerset Lowry 1855-1932.

He was a hymn-writer as well as a Vicar of North Holmwood (1891-1900) and whilst incumbent here married a Miss Vernon on 1st February 1891. They lived at the old Vicarage in Inholms Lane. Lowry wrote sixty hymns including ‘Son of God, eternal Saviour… ‘ and ‘A man there lived in Galilee..’

Prebendary Wilson Carlile 1847-1942.

First involved in mission work when he became organist to Ira Sankey. In 1878 he took holy orders and within four years founded the Church Army to attract the working classes to the Church of England. It was modelled on the Salvation Army but based its organisation on the parish. Carlile set up homes for tramps and ex prisoners often spending a winter’s night on the Thames Embankment. In 1895 he came to live in the parish after building a house called Torthorwald, off Chart Lane (now called Glenwood House). it is believed that he presented the church with the Font cover, and it was while living here that he was made an honorary prebendary of St. Paul’s Cathedral in 1906. Following the death of his wife in 1925 he moved away from the parish. In 1926 he was made Companion of Honour