The Church Building

The architect responsible for the design of St John the Evangelist was Major Rohde Hawkins. At the time he lived at Redlands, South Holmwood, and between 1873 and 1877 was Parish Churchwarden at St Mary Magdalene. He died in 1884 and is buried in South Holmwood churchyard.

Building went ahead during the latter half of 1874, consecration was performed by the Bishop of Winchester on Easter Day, March 30th 1875.

The exterior may be briefly described. St. John’s is built of flint on the Early English Style, with a tower topped by a spire, at its North-West corner. The spire is 75ft. high from the porch step to the top of the weather cock. According to N. G. J. Stiff in his “The Church in Dorking and district” which appeared in 1912, the tower contained “a clock and two bells”. The clock, which came from St. Martin’s Church remains, but there is now only one bell in the tower.

The interior is equally straightforward. The nave (with pews able to seat about 110 people) has a single aisle, leading to the chancel containing choir stalls and the organ. The sanctuary is small, but in proportion to the size of the other parts of the Church. On the south side of the chancel, behind the organ is the vestry, which was restored and enlarged in 1901.

The west windows are worth studying. The stained glass (1891) is by C.E.Kempe and depicts the four Fathers of the Western Church and just below are small symbols of the four evangelists.
The three evocative stained glass windows on the north side of the chancel recalls the statements, “I stand at the door and knock … I am the light of the world… I am the good shepherd …”.

The East Window contains the original glass of 1874. The stained glass work was executed by Messrs Powell of White Friars. (This firm also did work in St. Martin’s Church in Dorking town centre). The main panels, left to right, depict: The Annunciation (Gabriel and Mary); Nativity; Crucifixion; Resurrection; Jesus meeting two friends on the road to Emmaus. The upper panels left, John and Mary at the foot of the cross, right John, to whom the Church is dedicated, the elderly Evangelist at work, accompanied by his symbol, the eagle at the top in the centre, Jesus is represented as the sacrificial Lamb. (The legend at the bottom is from Revelation 5 v.12).

Beside the pulpit is the Legge Memorial pew which commemorates Hugo Molesworth Legge who was killed in World War 1. The next of kin of casualties were sent a bronze plaque from the King and this has been incorporated in the pew top.

This extract is taken from The Church in Dorking and District by Rev. Neville G.J. Stiff, 1912

In 1874 an event of considerable importance in the church life of the rural deanery of Dorking took place. The parish of the Holmwood, formed in 1839 from Dorking and Capel, was at this time divided and a new parish of North Holmwood, in the gift of the Bishop of Winchester, was founded, with a new church to provide for the residents on the outskirts of the town and on the northern part of Holmwood Common.

The church of St. John the Evangelist was erected in 1875. It is built of flint in the Early English style, and has a tower with spire containing a clock and two bells. The east window is stained, and there are now memorial windows to the late Henry Thomas Waters, M.A., who was the first vicar appointed to the church and who worked there from 1875 to 1891. Almost all the parishioners subscribed to the memorial, which cost about £200. The windows show figures of four of the Early Fathers – Saints Jerome, Augustine, Ambrose, and Gregory; they also depict the emblems of the four Evangelists and some scenes of the Resurrection. The work, as would be imagined from Mr. C. E. Kempe, is very fine.

Mr. Waters was succeeded by the Rev. S. C. Lowry, who resigned in 1900 to become vicar of S. Augustine’s with St. Alban’s, Bournemouth. The next vicar was the Rev. H. Evelyn Betts, who has just left the district after nearly twelve years of faithful work. His successor, just appointed, is the Rev. F. W. Drewe. This parish has schools dating from 1875; they were enlarged in 1883 and have a present attendance of well over l00.

The church itself was generally restored and repaired in 1901; it ministers to about 600 people.