St John the Baptist Parish Church
Our Church building
The history of our church building
The site was given as a free gift by Mrs Gibson of Sandhurst Lodge and Mr A.W.Blomfield was appointed as the Architect. The foundation Stone was laid on 27 September 1872 and only 8 months later there was a great gathering for the Consecration of the new Church by the Bishop of Oxford, Dr J Mackarness, on 5 May 1873.The church was built only as far as the Chancel (the arch where the green carpet starts) until further funds could be raised. This was done with enthusiasm and the Chancel, the Lady Chapel, Organ Chamber and Vicar's Vestry were all completed in 1889. The lovely Victorian East Window was put in place in 1894 - the original Chancel Screen was added in 1899 and the Choir Vestry was built on nine years later in 1908. Outside the Church, the Lych Gate was added in 1913 and was later converted into a War Memorial to the men of Crowthorne who lost their lives in the 1914 -18 War and the Churchyard Cross was erected in 1914.
The West End of the Church was altered in 1968 and the Hall extension added and during the early 1980's the Chancel was re-ordered into its present shape and an extension added to the Hall.
The Nave. This is the main body of the Church and still contains the original pine pews. The word 'nave' comes from the Latin word for 'a ship or ark' and the Church is seen as the Ark of God sailing on the storms of life. Like most churches the seats face forwards - we have experimented with putting them in different ways, but we are very limited by our architecture.
The List of Vicars of Crowthorne. This is on the right hand side as you enter the church and begins with Mr Lenny who, as Curate of Sandhurst, oversaw the formation of the new parish of Crowthorne and became its first Vicar in 1874. The longest serving Vicar was Canon Coleridge, who served as Vicar from 1894 until 1946 - 52 years. He became Vicar four years before the Boer War and served here throughout both the First and Second World Wars. His grave is just behind the western wall of the hall.
The Font. This was originally at the West End and the first thing that one saw on entering the Church - because baptism was the 'first step' on our Christian journey - it was moved to its present position in 1959. Because the space around the font is severely limited, when we have more than one baptism (Christening) we use a ‘portable’ font at the front of the Church. The brass Ewer was given in memory of Leslie Neve Goodhard, who died in 1890 and the Paschal (Easter) Candle is there too. In the ancient Church, when baptisms took place at Easter, the light from the Easter Candle was a sign that a Christian's life should be led by the light of Christ, and still today, the newly-baptised receive a lighted candle to remind us of this.
The Standards and Memorial. On the left hand side of the back of the Church are the 'old' standards of the local branch of the Royal,British Legion, which have been 'laid up' for safe keeping. Also the memorial from St. Paul's School, London, which was evacuated during the war to Easthampstead Park and used the Church as the School Chapel during the war years.
The lectern. The large brass eagle - often thought by small children on school visits to be made of gold. The lectern holds the Bible or the Lesson Books for reading at the Services. The Eagle is the symbol of the gospel writer St John, and reminds us of out charge to take the 'Good News' of Jesus to everyone.
The Pulpit. Made of oak and was in keeping with the original Chancel Screen and is the 'raised platform' where the preacher stands to preach and teach.
The Altar. This is the focal point of the Church and the focal point of our services of Holy Communion when we 'Do this' in remembrance of Jesus, just as He commanded us. Just as the family meal around the table is a focal point of family life - so the altar is central to our worship as the Family of the Church.
The East Window. The Victorians loved stained glass and this window was given in. memory of Crowthorne's second Vicar, Henry Thornhill Morgan (1884 -1894). The bottom panels are about our Patron Saint, St. John the Baptist. At the top we have a depiction of Angels, one sitting on the Sun and one on the Moon, but the window is dominated by the figure of Christ on the Cross.
The Banners. The Banner of St John the Baptist was made in 1927 by the Wantage Sisters. The Mother's Union Banner near the Lady Chapel was made by Beryl Greenup who used to live in Crowthorne and, as one of our M.U. member's is the Deanery Branch Leader, we also have the Deanery Banner in the Lady Chapel.
The Lady Chapel. The side Chapel has this name because it is dedicated to 'Our Lady' - St Mary - the Mother of Jesus. An interesting feature here is the Reredos - the carved panel behind the Altar. The central figure of Jesus on the Cross in not the usual format, instead, He is dressed as a Priest with a golden crown upon His head and the Cross is green and represents the Tree of Life. This is to remind us that Good Friday is always followed by Easter Sunday and that pain and suffering has been conquered and the Way to eternal life has been opened for us by Jesus. So Christ, the Priest/King, reigns from the Cross and on either side are His beloved mother, Mary and His beloved disciple, St John. This screen was given in memory of John Brock Bishop - Physician and Churchwarden of the Parish, who died on 4 August 1958.
The Organ. This is a two-manual, made by Henry Speechly & Sons. It was installed in 1882 at the cost of £295 and has been regularly up-dated and re-built.
We have attached a guide to the Church which you may like to download.
Listed Building Status
On the 4th December 2009 The Secretary of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport added St John the Baptist Parish Church Crowthorne to the national list of buildings of special architectural or historical interest and designated the church, churchyard cross and lychgate as GRADE II.
Our church was designed by the leading church architect of the day Sir Arthur William Blomfield (1829-1899) in what has become known as the High Victorian style. English Heritage describe our church as "A well-composed and well-crafted building".
The use of a lychgate as a war memorial is rare and therefore has national significance as a memorial to those who fell in the Great War.
The granting of GRADE II listing will assist in conserving our Parish church for future generations. It will also allow us to reclaim VAT on all repairs and conservation measures regarding the fabric of the building, and enable us to seek funding from outside agencies who provide grants for listed buildings.