THE CHURCH ON THE HILL

PRIOR to the late 1930’s the parish church for Box Hill residents was Christ Church, Brockham Green, at the foot of Box Hill – a fair distance for dedicated worshippers.  

The Misses Brodie – Miss Phoebe, known as “Miss Biddy”, and Miss Margery – feature very largely in the story of our Church. In 1928 the indefatigable sisters had a meeting room erected on Brockham Warren Estate (where they lived in the family home), which housed various organisations, including the WI.

After the estate was sold the sisters bought the site opposite the present Church and Village Hall and moved their room - then known as the Brodie Room and later as St. Andrew’s Hall - lock, stock and barrel, to the site

Own place of worship  

It was in 1938 that services were first held in St. Andrew’s Hall, on Box Hill Road (pictured left, conducted by the Rev. Anthony West, Vicar of Brockham;  thus, the Box Hill community had its own place of worship. As well as being used as a Church the timber hall also served as doctors’ surgery, library and meeting place for various organisations.

One of the memories of the Hall was the rather temperamental stove which, according to a WI report,  “joined in one day as we raised our voices in Jerusalem ; at ‘Oh clouds unfold….’ It belched out a pall of soot and smoke!!”

The building of a new Church for Box Hill was first discussed in 1957 – and the land was purchased and given by the Misses Brodie. Services continued at St. Andrew’s Hall for a further ten years; work on building our present Church began on 24th April 1968 .

It is interesting to note that the contractor, Mr Brian Spiller, a life-long resident of Box Hill, and most of the craftsmen were local men. (*Such was Mr Spiller’s interest that, after building was completed, he undertook maintenance and acted as Church Sacristan for many years).

Raising the funds

But during that decade a great deal of fundraising had to be done and among the initiatives were coffee mornings, ‘bring and buy’ sales, cheese and wine parties, fetes (in Fort Field), carol singing and Christmas bazaars; a letter to residents of Box Hill inviting their co-operation in raising funds to build a new Church was delivered by the local newspaper delivery service and followed up with personal visits by members of the committee of the Box Hill Church Building Fund; a fete held by a Church on Reigate Heath raised £245.

By 1965 it had been decided that the building of a Church and a Village Hall should be two separate ventures and on 28th April the new Box Hill Church Committee was formed, chaired by the Rev. Anthony West, with Miss Margery Brodie as vice-chairman and Mr Leslie Worth treasurer.

It was agreed that the PCC (Parochial Church Council) should be asked to approve a 99 years lease for the specific section of the site to the Village Hall Committee.

Church Army Captain

At a meeting in September the Vicar stated that he had been in touch with the Church Army as he was of the opinion that a Church Army Captain would be more acceptable to the varied population of Box Hill than a Church of England Curate.
Total funds at this time had risen to £2,416. By the end of February 1966  this  had  grown  to  £3,071.  In  April 1967  both Southwark and
Guildford Dioceses confirmed that each would donate £1,000 to the project.  

At a meeting on 4th August the treasurer reported that the Building Fund then stood at £4,962 (excluding the promised donations from Southwark and Guildford Dioceses). Almost a year later, on 8th March 1968 , he was able to estimate that funds then available for building the new Church had reached £8,100 (which included the donations from Southwark and Guildford ).

Estimated building costs

It is of interest at this stage to look at the costings. The estimated total for building, layout of the ground, architects’ fees and interior furnishing was £11,000.  

At the time building commenced £10,520 had been raised, as follows:                       

Diocese of Southwark £1,000:
Diocese of Guildford £1,000:
Parishes from Reigate , Epsom and Dorking Deaneries £759;
Firms and business houses £265;
Fundraising and individual donations (ranging from one shilling to one thousand pounds) £7,496.

During the building three precious things were placed in the wall behind the altar – namely a bottle of water from the River Jordan, earth from the Via Dolorosa, and leaves from the Mount of Olives .

Gift Fund set up

A Gift Fund for the furnishing of the church was set up and by the end of 1968 individual residents of Box Hill had given money for specific items – 100 chairs (including an amount of £171.12.6 from Miss Brodie), 100 kneelers, the altar fall, candlesticks and candles, 100 hymn books, flower pedestal and two altar cloths. The organ was given by Brigadier Schreiber of Belassis.

Other items, such as the sanctuary carpet, 100 prayer books, wafer box, etc. were paid for out of general contributions. The chalice was paid for by the Rev. Anthony  West, Vicar of Brockham.

Dedication Day  

The new Church on Box Hill was dedicated to St. Andrew by the Lord Bishop of Kingston on Saturday 1st February 1969 at 2.45pm , as the daughter Church in the Parish of Christ Church, Brockham Green, the Vicar being the Rev. Anthony West. Church Army Officer, Captain Eric Shaw – who had moved to Box Hill in 1966 and was attached to the parish – was a keen Scouter and took over the Cub pack previously run by Miss Brodie; some of the boys formed into a robed choir. Each year the Vicar and Captain took a number of young people from the parish on holiday on the continent, driving the parish (double decker!) ‘bus in turn.  

A thriving Sunday school was run by Miss Hayward and Miss Sherlock for many years, from the time the church was built until they were no longer able to continue.  

St. Andrew’s was transferred from the Parish of Brockham Green in the Diocese of Southwark to its present place in the Diocese of Guildford in 1971.  

In  1986  more   fundraising  was  done  on  Box  Hill  for  a  new  organ  for St. Andrew’s. A total of £1,700 was raised by individual donations, coffee mornings, an organ concert, ploughman’s lunch, a barbecue, a raffle by the Heath Players. A local man – Ron Coates – installed the organ.  

Marking the new Millenium, the exterior of the Church was completely renewed, with replacement uvpc windows, soffits, fascias and doors. And the “new look” was then completed with re-decoration of the interior.

Des Langley

THE CHURCH ON THE HILL was first published in November 2000; reprinted in 2004, with

additional information.   (Des Langley was a member of the PCC and Churchwarden in the

Parish of Headley with Box Hill in 2000/ 2001, and is currently editor of BOX HILL NEWS.)