Visting Local Churches

Holy Trinity, Westcott

A growing, population in the mid 19th century and the establishment of a non-conformist chapel prompted the building of a church in the village of Westcott as an alternative to worship in Dorking or Wotton. The Evelyn family gave a piece of land on Westcott Heath and Sir George Gilbert Scott prepared the design and specification.

The cost of the building the church was raised by public subscription and the patronage of the living was vested in Mr. Barclay of Bury Hill, who was the principal benefactor.

Sir Gilbert chose a 14th century Gothic or Decorative style, mainly in dressed flint with a shingled spire. Consecration by the Bishop of Winchester was in June 1852; 150 years ago this year.

Originally built to seat 250 it was soon increased to 400 by the addition of a south aisle in 1855. A vestry was added later in the south- east corner, this was further extended with an upper room to it in 1985. On the north side of the nave is the organ, installed in 1872, and now refurbished for the 150th anniversary. Entering the chancel, the unusual arched rerodos of marble with a central section of mosaic work makes a striking feature. It was erected in 1882. The mosaic features Christ and several figures set against a gold background.

The east window is a beautiful example of the work of James Powell & Son (Whitefriars). It depicts the Ascension and was donated by Miss Barclay of Rokefield in 1893.

he window on the north side of the sanctuary showing scenes of the life of St.Timothy is a memorial to Frederick Salzmann, Vicar of Westcott 1910-1944, and that on the south side commemorates Charles Maine who died in 1888 aged 88.

The side chapel originally faced north but in 1936 the north-facing pews were removed and the Lady chapel created. The colourful dossal and altar facings were embroidered in 1995. On the south wall of the chapel hangs a photographic reproduction of the work of 17th C Italian master, Giovanni Sassoferrato. The original painting of Madonna and Child, a gift from the Barclay family, can be seen in The Treasury at Guildford Cathedral. Another Madonna by Sassoferrato hangs among what is regarded as one of the great and unspoilt art collections in Britain's country houses, in Wilton House, Wiltshire.

The windows on the north side of the nave are of interest. The one beside the pulpit depicts St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music - the music lover was Mary Ellen Druce of Rokefield, who died in 1930. The window to her memory was erected by her singing class, her husband and her friends. The other window of interest is in the middle of the north wall and commemorates Emily Mary, Marchioness of Hertford who died in June 1902.

A common commemoration or Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee of 1877 was the installation a clock in a prominent village location. Holy Trinity was the chosen place in Westcott. The lych gate was erected three years later.

Two war memorials line the wall of the south aisle; the more colourful, with 20 different badges representing the regiments of those who were killed in action, relates to the 1914-18 World War; the second, in carved wood, more sombrely records the 40 servicemen and women who were killed in the 1939-45 War as well as 10 civilians who died as a result of enemy action.

An attractive carved relief of a "Happy Warrior", from the studio of G F Watts, in memory of a young army officer killed on the Somme in 1916 adorns the north wall of the chancel. In a simpler way. a young Pilot Officer RAF, who was killed in action in 1943 is reorded on a memorial plaque on the north wall.

Two standards of the Royal British Legion are laid up in the church providing a reminder that until 1986 Westcott had its own branch of the Legion, now incorporated in the Dorking branch. Various extensions have occurred to the churchyard and a Garden of Remembrance was established in 1988. The names of those whose ashes are interred there are recorded in a Remembrance Book kept in the Lady chapel.

Westcott has remained a "single" parish over its 150 years. It held an extensive programme of events to celebrate its anniversary in 2003; a Flower Festival 0n 18th md 19th May, concerts in the church on the 18th and25th' organ recitals and special services and a talk about Gilbert Scott, the architect of Holy Trinity and the early history of the church as revealed in the record books. The anniversary concluded with a Celebration Eucharist on the last Sunday of May conducted by the Bishop of Dorking.

Holy Trinity is open daily during daylight hours.

By Eric Burleton - from "A Brief History of 25 Churches within 6-mile Radius of Leith Hill" 2007