... from the Abinger & Coldharbour Parish News archive

Visiting Local Churches No. 19

St. Mark's, Peaslake

The church at Peaslake was built in 1889 as a daughter church of St. James', Shere. For about 20 years before the church was built Sunday afternoon services were held in the School Room at the foot of Ridge Hill in the centre of the village, but in 1888 the Misses Spottiswoode (of Drydown, Hook Lane, Shere) persuaded the lord of the manor of Shere and the Hon. George Cubitt (later Lord Ashcombe) that a new church should be built.

The original idea of a wooden building was felt inadequate and Mr Cubitt offered £1,000 towards the cost of a stone-built church. The site - at the foot of Ridge Hill again. Other donors rallied to the cause including the Misses Spottiswoode and the final cost of £1,800 was met. The architect chosen was Ewan Christian (1814-95) and the builder Goddard & Son; the foundation stone laid by the Spottiswoodes in September 1888. The consecration, by the Bishop of Winchester, took place on St. Mark's Day, 25th April 1889. The church was tilled well beyond its seating capacity of 200. The Association for Free Seating in Churches' donation ensured "free" seats for all but a hundred who had to stand.

Much of the early wood-carving in St. Mark's was done by a class of wood-carvers led by Gertrude Edlmann. The choir-stall panels were carved at a later date by Doris Downing and the cupboards by Denis Sherlock. The colourful kneelers featuring motifs of St Mark's Lion and a wide range of village interests and glimpses of Peaslake's history were created for the 100th anniversary in 1989.

As with so many churches the stained-glass windows were gifts from many local residents in memory of their loved ones. However, the most recent north wall window, installed in the Spring of 2000, marked the Millennium; it was designed by local artist Rhiannon Morgan and the cost was met from many private donations. A Millennium Year Pageant staged to a packed church in May 2000 has encouraged a group of writers, social historians and artists to produce a complete history of the village. The publication is due for launch in late 2003.

St. Mark's is usually open on weekdays. The Key holder is Mrs Plaw at Old School Cottage, Peaslake.

Eric Burleton - from Abinger & Coldharbour Parish News, July/August 2003