St John The Evangelist Church
(We apologise for a poor picture but the trees
obscured the church!)
The first known Church in Hook is the tiny Congregational
Chapel which was built in 1816 This disused Chapel still stands in the village
The Anglican "Tin Church" was constructed in 1886
and this was later replaced by St John the Evangelist in 1938 but Hook, was not
until 1955, a separate ecclesiastical parish. Before this worship was in the
parish churches in Odiham, Nately Scures or Newnham.
The church in Hook can be traced back to the 12th and 13th
century and possibly earlier still. But it was not until the 18th century that
Hook was put on the map as it became an important crossroads for the stage
coaches. As the hamlet began to grow the need for an Anglican Church was
realised and the "Tin Church" was constructed though still some of the
parishioners travelled to services at Odiham, Nately Scures and Newnham.
During the 1920s the 'Church Path' which can still be seen
today was a favourite walk by Mary Deare who used to accompany her parents to
the services, and she described the route as follows:
"We would walk up over what I would know as Stimpson's
Common and along where Proud*s Close goes into the track called
'Church Path'. Then the path went round behind the thatched
cot'tage (Church Path Cottage) and on behind 'Oaklands' and what
was until recently 'Seton House' (Edenmore). It went across the
front of the cottages (now gone) where the Claridges lived and
down across the track that leads to Owen's Farm. The Church Path
then continued across the f ields to the edge of Kingsbridge Copse
where there was a stream running along which you crossed by means of a wooden
bridge. You would then cross another field and come out beside Tithe Barn at
Newnham Green. From there you would cross the Green and go up to the Church."
There was no burial ground as such in the village until
October 1943 and families used to bury their loved ones at the church where
their family graves were situated and even today there are still people who live
in the village who feel that they do not belong here but in the
A letter from Mary Varndell was sent to the Bishop asking
for a church to be built on land that stood beside 'The Acorn' and she was
prepared to donate the land for this purpose. In the local newspaper it was
reported that the Rector of Newnham at the time, the Rev Andrew Wallace Milroy
did indeed buy the piece of land from her and with his own money had an iron
church built on the site by Messrs Gowers, who ran the nearby iron foundry. This
church took only three months to build and was originally designated a Chapel of
Ease to the church at Newnham. The cost was £230 and people gave generously
towards its furnishings as they thought the Rector had been good enough to pay
for the building himself.
|IMAGES OF ST JOHN'S
The opening ceremony was held on Thursday 6 May. And Mrs
Mary Elizabeth Varndell felt so proud that she kept the newspaper cuttings from
the Hants and Berks Gazette to be passed down through the family.
The "Tin Church" lasted for fifty years but now the site
has been used for shops and offices and the Yew tree which once stood at the
entrance has long gone. All that remains as a reminder of this church is the
iron bell which was once in the turret on the church roof which was donated by
the Curate Rev. W.E Windle in 1886. It has now been placed in the new church.
The bell from the mission church was found in a basement and was cast in 1870 at
the Gower's Foundry in Hook and is constructed of steel and is the only known
bell cast by this firm as they normally only made agricultural implements. It
still has its iron headstock and clapper but is without canons. It weighs about
half a hundredweight and its note is 'F' and has 1870 on its inscription band.
But there is no actual evidence that Gowers did indeed
cast the bell but it is thought that as they built the church then they would
probably have cast the bell as well, also why is 1870 been inscribed when the
church was built four years before this and the bell was also donated to the
church at the same time, the bell does have what looks like four figures
engraved on it but it is completely illegible.
A NEW CHURCH FOR HOOK
It was in 1891 that Frederick George Barker moved to Hook as a farmer and took
up residence at Hook Farm. His family came from Sherfield-On-Lodden. At this
time the incumbent was Rev P.D.Eyre who was a popular figure and it is said that
he always had a large congregation and Frederick Barker recalled that if
the Reverend heard a wagon going by he would ask the verger to go out and stop
it and ask the driver to make less noise!
Frederick Barker became a warden at the church and also at
the church in Newnham and in the 1890s it seemed that the Tin Church was not
large enough for the local community which was growing day by day, and the
building of a new church was suggested.
At the beginning of the 1900s 'Hartletts' was built where
Geffery's House stands today and it was here that Frederick Barker took
residence. He also owned the land that is where St John's church stands today
and in 1918 Col F.G.Barker, as he was known locally, donated this land for the
building of a new church. At this time the incumbent was Rev W.H.Mowat and Mrs.
Close and Frederick Norman Harvey were the two Church Wardens.
At the same time the piece of land was transferred from
the Parish of Odiahm to the Parish of Newnham by an Order in Council under the
Pluralities Act dated
June 4, 1918. Details were published in the London Gazette on June 18, 1918. A
large notice was erected stating that a new church was to be built here, but it
was not until 1936 that work began.
DESCRIPTION OF THE CHURCH
'Hants and Berks Gazette' of June 24, 1938 published a description of the church
" On entering one is struck by the surprisingly
simple dignity of the design..... The tall lancet windows with oak frames light
the Church from north and south, while at the west end there is a great shaped
window to let in the flood of evening light. At the east end there is a rose
window high up over the Altar."
The stained glass had not been inserted in the east window
in time for the consecration ceremony, the original window bore the 'Chiro'
which is Greek for Christ. It is this symbol which was chosen to crown the tower
and the same symbol can be seen on some of the furniture. The rose window is the
only piece of stained glass in the Church even today and it was put there by
Brig. General F-B. Matthews in memory of his son. There is a plaque on the wall
of the Church
which bears the following inscription.
"The East Window is Dedicated To The Glory
Of God in Memory of FRANK GEORGE MATTHEWS Midshipman Royal Navy lost with
H.M.S.Cressy 22. Sept. 1914. His Life For The Country. His Soul To God."
There is another plaque which people normally never see as
it is usually concealed by the Altar cloth, that reveals that the Altar was
donated to the Church in Affectionate Memory of Rev. William Hipgood Mowat who
was Rector of the Parish from 1916 to 1924. Mrs. Pilcher donated this Altar
table along with a frontal and dorsal.
The men that worked on the building of the Church came from all around -
and often were prepared to cycle 6 or 7 miles and sometimes further in those
days to get work.
Arthur Young was born and bred in Hook and he is one of the few survivors
who actually helped to build the Church
Arthur Young said, " I lived in Holt Lane and Mr.Gubby (this was John Gubby.
the Father of Peter Gubby) had just got a job there as a bricklayer,
knowing that the work was coming up. One day John Gubby came over and said that
the work on the site had started and to bring any tools I could lay my hands on
- a spade
or anything and go over as soon as possible so I did and I stayed on right until
Arthur Young recalls that Alf Barrett from Bartley Heath was also a
bricklayer working on the Church site.
George Tocock was the foreman bricklayer and he kept the old pub called
'The Royal Oak' (opposite Hartley Wintney Police Station).
A chap called 'Alee' - an army man from up Morris Street also helped out
on the site.
Arthur Young also mentioned that 'Dibber' Morris (Arthur Morris) worked
on the site. Arthur Morris was working as a lorry driver for 'Fosters' at the
time that the Church was built. He didn't help with the actual building but he
helped to dig the foundations and cart it all away in his lorry. He used to dump
the soil all over the place, a lot of it went up on to Hazeley Heath. Arthur
said that it was hard work digging out the heavy clay without the aid of
mechanical excavators and they had to go down about 4 feet all round (and deeper
where the undercroft was built).
Moving the organ was one of the main things Arthur Morris remembers but to him
it was just a job to be done. The organ came from one of the Churches in Queens
Parade. Aldershot (possibly St. Andrews). 'Dibber' and his mates had to
dismantle it in Aldershot then re-assemble it in Hook. It was a bit chaotic.
They only paid peanuts for it. It must have been alright though because it was
nearly 30 years before they got another one. Arthur added, "It was marvellous
really - getting the organ so cheaply. They wouldn't have had one any other
way." It was a manual organ with no foot pedals and only half a dozen stops.
Mr. Maloney from Amesbury (presumably of the flooring contractors Hollis
Bros. and Co.) did all the beech-wood floor in the Church and for two weeks he
lodged at Rose Kersley's house. Rose thinks that it was in the Spring of
1938 and that seems quite feasible because the floor would have been left until
the Church was nearing completion.
Bill Astlett started working for MusselIwhites after the Church was
finished but when he was building his bungalow 'Kildare' in Reading Road, he
could see what was going on at the Church and he and his wife used to be able to
watch it growing.
Bill knew Ernest Dunstan, the stonemason. Ern was Musselwhite's foreman
on the Church site.
Bob Skinner recalls climbing up on the scaffolding of the Church when it
was being built. He was a teenager and he climbed up there with several others
from the village to get a view from up higher - none of them had been up that
When the Church was nearing completion, the bell had to be hoisted up into the
belfry. This was no mean feat when you consider that the bell weighed over 3
cwt.(approx. 175 kg.)