A Chronology of

Abinger & St James’


Area 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 CE

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.
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 CE

Before 1066

The manors of Abinger and Paddington held by a “huscarle” of King Edward (The Confessor). Probably both had mills by this time.


Norman church believed to have been built, probably over a previous Saxon church of wood.


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. [Translation in Papers on Abinger Church 1939 – paper1, page10]

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. 

A fulling mill at Abinger for finishing cloth production, a century later this became a grain mill and later still in the 16th Century a gunpowder and copper mill.

circa 1220-1240

North (Patron’s) chapel believed built.

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.
12th April: Richard Fulvenne, first recorded Rector of Abinger. Patron was Sir Adam Gordon (or Gurdun).
Valuation of living for taxation by Pope Nicholas.
Members of de Jarpenville family were Rectors of Abinger; Roger, grandson of David, was a patron.


A fulling mill at Abinger for finishing cloth production, a century later this became a grain mill and later still in the 16th Century a gunpowder and copper mill.

The two halves (moities) of the parish (Paddington and Abinger) were united.
15th century
Belfry added.

1500-1700 CE

Carved oak vestment chest made in Normandy. Brought from France in 1990 and given by Celia Sheppard

1526 ca.

Perriots, large house in Abinger Hammer was rebuilt (centuries later it was again rebuilt as the Abinger Arms).


Edward and Thomas Elrington bought the manor of Abinger and the land near “Padynden Mill”.

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.
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 poo


The Elringtons bought Padynden Manor. In 1557 they built an iron mill on the site of a corn mill, where they installed a “trip hammer” to forge iron. This hammer, weighing up to 8cwt, struck the anvil about 30 times a minute. The hammer pond was where the watercress beds are now. The iron mill remained in use until circa 1787. In 1560 the Elrington’s licence for wood to be used for the making of charcoal was limited to 15 years only.


Church registers of Abinger Church exist from this date, following an Act by Queen Elizabeth I. 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.


Elrington signed bond undertaking no more making of ordnance without a licence.

by 1575
Responsibility for fencing the churchyard allocated to individual properties in the parish.


All casting of guns or gunshot forbidden in Surrey. Cannon and cannon balls likely to have been made at the forge from 1560.


Tenants brought a series of unsuccessful law suits against the lords for loss of their customary rights on the commons through enclosures and felling.


Hackhurst Farm Cottage built. Leasers Barn thought in existence by this date.

between 1595, 1624

Richard Evelyn of Wotton aquired the manor of Abinger, Paddington, Paddington Pembroke, Paddington Bray.

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.
Abinger Hatch built.


John Aston of Cocks Farm hanged for horse-stealing.

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).
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.

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.


Seven civil marriages performed by (or in the presence of) Peter Hussey as a Justice of the Peace.


Two bells cast for Abinger Church. A tenor in D (4 cwt.) and a treble in E (3 ½ cwt.) inscribed “William Eldridge made me 1674” and “HS & DD Churchwardens” i.e. Henry Spooner and Daniel Dibble who were signatories of the pew lease in 1654.


At least one section of the churchyard had been walled. The initials of the builder, probably Richard Worsfold of Pinkhurst, were set in the wall and are still visible today 19 yds north of the lychgate.


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.


George Evelyn died and John Evelyn his brother, then aged 79, inherited Wotton estate.


John Evelyn, Commissioner of the Privy Seal, diarist, died 27th February. His tomb in Wotton Church bears the inscription “…that all is vanity which is not honest, and that there is no solid wisdom but in real piety”.


Daniells renamed Paddington House.

John Dibble, iron master of Abinger forge and timber merchant, who lived at Daniells, bankrupted.


The Countess of Donegal, who later gave to St. James’ church a four-part set of silver (hall-marked 1736) by John Swift, (now in Guildford Cathedral Treasury) bought Paddington House.


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.


Paddington Mill built (or rebuilt) by miller John Bide.


12th July. Burial of John Marsh, “a noted travelling hog-ringer”


Rev R Offley bequeathed in his will four farms to the church of St John the Baptist, Oakwood.


29th April. Baptism of “Samuel, base-born son of Jane, the wife of Robert Lane who was transported 3 or 4 years ago”.


July 23, William Bray (historian). To the “Hatch” to dinner, Mr. Evelyn, Mr. Godschal, Mr. Bridges, Mr. Steere, Mr. Spence, Mr. Courtenay, and Mr. Walsh there; left at 7; paid for dinner and wine, 4s. 6d


New Abinger Hall built by Matthew Pitts.

circa 1787

The iron mill at Paddington manor ceased working.


Date of the oldest discovered picture of St. James’ church – a water-colour by Henry Pitrie.


George Macartney became Baron Macartney of Parkhurst, (Abinger) the first peer to bear Abinger in his title and our first ambassador to China. He died in 1806, leaving no issue and the title became extinct.

1800-1900 CE

by 1800

A spire added to the bell tower replacing the cap (between 1793 and 1809, probably 1797).


The Scarlett family came to Abinger Hall.


Tithes valued at £427 pa and the glebe at £52.


Considered to be the last decade in which the stocks and whipping post, on the green outside the church, were used.


In autumn of that year Abinger Hall was threatened with “an attack by the mob” during the Reform Riots .


James Scarlett, QC, (Attorney General 1827) ennobled; he took the title Baron Abinger, Surrey. He is buried in the family vault under the yew tree in Abinger churchyard.


Wm. King started a wheelwrights business in Abinger, later to expand into the building firm W & G King, with a forge and a brickyard from the 1890s.


Hon. James Yorke Scarlett, younger son of Lord Abinger, elected Member of Parliament for Guildford.


Sale of Abinger Workhouse and Poor House at Abinger Bottom and Redhill Cottage near Mays Green.


The rail connection to the area at Gomshall provided trains to London via Redhill and shortly after its arrival the watercress growing industry was started by William Smith and the Coe brothers.

by 1851

Churchyard completely enclosed.


School “held in temporary building on The Rectory premises” fitted up for the purpose. 39 children from 15 families. (Stoke Deanery visitation report).


Ecclesiastical parish of Abinger reduced in size by the creation of Okewood parish from outliers of Abinger, Ockley and Wotton.


General The Hon. Sir James Yorke Scarlett led the Heavy Brigade in Crimean War at Balaclava.


Restoration under Henry Goodyer, architect. 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. New oak pulpit made. Oak pews replace old high, deal ones. Church re-opened 29th June 1857 by Bishop of Winchester.


Warming apparatus installed at expense of Wm Wheelwright of New York, manufactured by A M Perkins. Part of glebe land (approx. 1/4 acre) given up as site for the school and teacher’s house.


Churchyard enlarged southwards by 1 rood (1/4acre)


Easternmost window on the south side in the Chancel filled with painted glass “memory of Frances Carleton Bayley widow of Wentworth Bayley, Esqre. of Weston Hall, Suffolk, and of Jamaica” at the expense chiefly of “her daughter Miss Frances Bayley.”


Abinger Common School built on a quarter acre of Glebe; a Church School which became a National School in 1873-74.


Abinger Common School built on a quarter acre of Glebe; a Church School which became a National School in 1873-74.


Paddington Mill rebuilt for W.J. Evelyn, with work by Thomas Spencer of Guildford, millwright.


Part of Abinger’s Ecclesiastical Parish was taken to form Holmbury St Mary.
Unmade gravemounds in churchyard levelled. Churchyard secured to prevent damage form cattle.

1870 circa

The first Parish magazine started, it covered Abinger, Wotton and Oakwood with local sections for each parish.


Train service from Dorking to Epsom started.


The last Abinger Hall designed by Alfred Waterhouse, built by Thomas Farrer (later Lord). The inn called Abinger Arms opened in part of Perriots.
Abinger Manor was rebuilt. The porch of the original building was retained.


On July 19th, Samuel Wilberforce (third son of William Wilberforce , anti- slavery reformer), Bishop of Winchester fell from his horse to his death in Abinger Roughs. A stone cross was erected on the spot inscribed with his initials and a bishop’s crosier.

Paddington Farm lime kiln on the downs above New Barn repaired. Evelyn estate supplied 500 bricks to Mark King.


Wotton, Abinger & Okewood Magazine started.


Edwin Waterhouse, founder of Price Waterhouse the major accountancy firm, bought an estate in Abinger and built Feldemore. He lived here for 40 years and was an Abinger Parish Councillor. He died in 1917. (The house is now the home of Belmont School). School Management Committee for both voluntary schools supported by ratepayers until 1909. Paddington Farm lost part of its sheepwalk when 222 acres were sold to Lord Lovelace of Horsley Towers by the Evelyn estate. West Hackhurst built for Miss Laura Forster by her brother, E.M. Forster’s father.


Part of Abinger’s Ecclesiastical Parish was taken to form Holmbury St. Mary.


Rationalisation of bounds of Abinger and neighbouring parishes brought Okewood into Abinger civil parish. (See modern boundaries here).


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 were repaired; the lychgate was built.


The church re-opened 5th August 1880 after restoration.. The choir wore surplices for the first time.


The Volunteer at Sutton Abinger was acquired by the Guildford Brewery Lascelles Tickner. It opened as a beershop after 1871.


Richard Redgrave RA (1804-88) English subject painter, died 14th December. He was appointed Surveyor of The Queen’s Pictures in 1857. Redgrave painted many scenes in the Abinger area. Several of his paintings show St. James’ church in backgrounds. A plaque in Abinger church to his memory says “… who spent 34 summers in the village”.


Abinger Mill stopped working (grinding animal feed). The last miller, Arthur Crane, died 1901 in the Union Workhouse , Dorking.


The Abinger Monthly Record started July (price 1 penny).


Glebe Act of 1888 permits the parish to sell glebe land. Rector Hill sells glebe land in 1890 for £11,700 (av. £173 per acre).

A roof erected on the stocks.

The Abinger Institute (later Evelyn Hail) was built by W.J. Evelyn.


The first clock at Abinger Hammer was added to a house built on a site which had been a blacksmith’s smithy since the 17th Century.

Mark Ash, Abinger Common built by E.H. Ledward.

by 1892

The first (western) row of The Dene built for Kings’ brickyard workers. Second row in 1895.


Thomas Henry Farrer, a leading member of the Civil Service, was created Lord Farrer of Abinger. In his time he built a new Abinger Hall, 17 new cottages, a school, the wheelwright’s and smith’s shops and the Post Office.

“Pasturewood” built for Sir Frederick Mirrielees KCMG. Later it became a school. After the 1939-45 war it was adapted to make Beatrice Webb House. More recently it was taken over by Hurtwood House School.

St. James’ Well (150 ft. deep) on Abinger Common was declared open on 11th August. Built by W. J. Evelyn for local parishioners. Works by Messrs. W. & G. King, Abinger Hammer.


Creation of parish council (PCC) and civil parish (PC)


A further 17 acres of Glebe land was sold. (The Glebe land sold between 1890 and 1898 realised £11,700, or over £173 per acre.

“Goddards” built for Sir Frederick Mirrielees as a country rest home for “ladies of small means”. House designed by Edwin Lutyens and garden by Gertrude Jekyll.

1900-2000 CE


Central heating installed for first time by Messrs. Stone & Turner, Iron Foundry, Dorking. £160 raised from parishioners.

Pageant held on Abinger Roughs. Cast of 150 including knights on horseback. Morris dancers and actors.


The blacksmith clock at Abinger Hammer was erected in memory of Lord Farrer of Abinger. The structure used local oak and wrought ironwork made in the local forge.


Abinger Hammer School enlarged for 108 children. Abinger Common School enlarged for 120 children. Both became Public Elementary Schools under S.C.C.


Paddington Mill stopped working.


Churchyard enlarged southwards by 1 rood (0.25 acre)


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.


A new vestry added to St James’, given by Mrs Waterhouse in memory of her late husband, Edwin. Calvary erected.

As a Memorial to men from throughout Abinger who died in the War three open spaces were dedicated to public use under the management of the Parish Council, Mr. JGC Evelyn sold the freehold field next the churchyard long attached to the “Green House” or Abinger Hatch, also his freehold rights over the manorial wastes of Forest Green and the Hammer Marsh.


War memorial dedicated


Wall built around 1917 churchyard extension £240.


The old 1887 organ in St James’ was restored and enlarged. North Aisle floor renewed with wooden blocks. New boiler installed


Greenwich Royal Observatory (Magnetic Department) moved to Abinger.


Creation of the diocese of Guildford.


Abinger Hammer village hall built by public subscription. Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote Mr. Fortune’s Maggot for string quartet for its inauguration.


Unmade gravemounds in churchyard levelled


In February, Roland Vaughan Williams of High Ashes handed over Severells Copse at Friday Street to the National Trust. Put up for auction by Sir Frederic Richmond, many visitors and local people had helped raise the £8,500 which saved it from becoming “a choice building estate”. The campaign was epoch-making for the national movement to protect countryside.


Rector Denny sold 22 .75 acres of glebe land (parsonage + lands) for £3,800 to C J Evelyn.


Running water laid on


Abinger Pageant held in the grounds of The Old Rectory. Ralph Vaughan Williams and E.M. Forster wrote the music and words. Most of the villagers took part and played to large crowds. Proceeds of the Pageant went towards cost of repairs and improvements to the church.

Electric cable run (paid for by Abinger Manor)


Restoration of St James’ church. (plan)


Church roof repaired by Stanley Ellis Ltd £820


Organ dismantled and repaired by J W Walker & Sons £49.10.0d.


Electric light installed by B G Southers £70, old oil lamps removed.


3rd September: World War II began. The Time Department of the Royal Observatory moved to Abinger. Until 1957 the BBC time pips originated from the Abinger Observatory.

The Head Office of National Federation of Women’s Institutes moved to Abinger Hall until 1945.

Abinger Chronicle, a small local literary magazine, was started by Mrs Sylvia Sprigge of Abinger Common at Christmas. Articles by distinguished names of the period, including Max Beerbohm, then living at Abinger. The publication ran until 1944.


Army built camp on Abinger Common, some large houses and Evelyn Hall requisitioned by the military.


East window damaged in May, from a wartime ammunition explosion on the common


Church hit by flying bomb 3rd August. Extensive damage.


Church services held at various locations (School, Goddards, Evelyn Hall, NAAFI canteen on army camp); oak beams given by Hon Mrs Vaughan Williams from her own estate at High Ashes for rebuilding of the church.


11th November, first service back in St James’ (north chapel) after rebuilding.


Excavations of mound at Abinger Manor started: it was identified as a small Norman castle in 1952.


Mesolithic Pit Dwelling excavated “the oldest humanly-made dwelling in the UK” according to Professor Leakey who led the team working in a field near Abinger Manor.

Abinger Roughs became National Trust land.


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. Aprox. £46,000.


Abinger Fair revived and renamed “Abinger Mediaeval Fair”. Initially for raising funds for St. James’ church.


The benefices of Abinger and Coldharbour were united. The incumbent Rector of Abinger with Coldharbour.

The Waterhouse Abinger Hall demolished.


Church struck by lightning in June. Extensive damage to the tower, roof and east window. Church 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)


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.


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.


A custom-built Nicholson pipe organ was installed: dedicated by the Bishop of Guildford in January 1991.


Abinger Hammer Mission Room was closed after 90 years. The wooden font was moved to St. James.


First “Teddy Bears’ Picnic” at Abinger Hammer Green inaugurates Abinger Hammer Village School Trust, after closure of County School.


1st issue of a new style of “Parish News” (devised by Gordon Kent) in October. 32 pages with advertising.


A custom-built Nicholson pipe organ was installed and dedicated by the Bishop of Guildford in January 1991.


Complete re-decoration of the church interior.


Vestry extension completed.


Three 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 CE


Celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s 50th anniversary


50th anniversary Abinger Fair


Belfry reclad in oak to counter woodpecker damage

Compiled with contributions by Eric Burleton (2000) used with permission. Included as a free pull-out in the December 2000 edition of Abinger and Coldharbour Parish News. Original pamphlet here. Subsequent edits and links by Philip Rawlings 2009-2024.

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