History of St Andrew's Church

St Andrew's Church is open between 9am and 5pm each day. Below are some points of interest in the church. During your visit you will see blue signs which provide additional information.

Points of interest

St Andrew’s Church is an outstanding, Grade 1 listed building with many points of historic, architectural and artistic interest. At every point in the church there are views, enclosed by arches, punctuated by delicate timber screens, and with an assortment of complex timber roof structures above. The recent internal re-ordering has given this spectacularly beautiful building a new lease on life. It is also the winner of the 2005 Waverley Borough Council’s Design Award in the category of Alterations and Conversions.

One of the key features of St Andrew’s large churchyard is the recently refurbished grave of William Cobbett, Farnham’s famous political reformer and author.

This is situated right in front of the main north entrance to the church. Towering over the churchyard is the refurbished tower which houses a recently refitted bell support frame, new bells and the restored 17th century clock.

As visitors come through the main north entrance they can see the Georgian-styled pavilions with gallery which are used by the church and whole community for meetings, social events, receptions, as well as theatrical and musical performances.

In front of the pavilions sits the nave font. Further up the aisle, in the crossing you will see the altar, now allowing worship services to be held ‘in the round’ with congregants sitting on three sides.

The church’s stained glass windows include a magnificent work by the famous artist Augustus Charles Pugin. This was first exhibited at London’s Great Exhibition in 1851 and it depicts scenes from the life of Christ. Six other panels on adjoining windows feature matching glass depicting, on the north side, three scenes from the life of St Andrew, and, on the south side, portraits of St Peter, St James and St John.

The west window under the bell tower, installed in the early 1880s, depicts God in the Burning Bush and Jacob’s Ladder and was placed in memory of John Manwaring Paine and his daughter. The windows in St George’s and the Lady Chapels were installed in 1959. The three lancets in the former show St George in the centre window and the Arms of the Diocese of Guildford and of St Andrew in the two flaking ones. The latter’s east window is of the Blessed Virgin Mary with the Christ Child. They are the work of G.E. Crawford.

On the south east side of the church resides a 15th century font, carved with sacred monograms and the symbols of the four Evangelists. The modern carved cover, installed in 1962, depicts children climbing up to the reigning Christ Child at its apex. Nearby, in the south aisle, the Pulpit of oak and burr walnut resides. It dates from 1895 and a memorial to the Revd Philip Hoste, Rector from 1875-1893. Just opposite in the north aisle sits the Lectern, a large brass eagle given in 1874 in memory of Bishop Charles Sumner.

St Andrew’s also houses some distinctive 16th and 17th century brasses, including one in the Lady Chapel commemorating the death in 1692 of Sir George Vernon. Another brass commemorates Sir George’s father Henry Vernon, who famously hosted King Charles I for a night in December 1648, just prior to his trial and execution. A more modern brass was erected in the 19th century in the memory of the Farnham-born Revd Augustus Montague Toplady who wrote the popular hymn “Rock of Ages”.

In addition to a number of wall monuments in memoriam to members of Farnham families, the

church features a collection of 12 distinctive funeral hatchment panels spanning the period 1740 and 1855. These used to be displayed in the homes of the bereaved during a period of mourning, before being transferred to the parish church.

The new terracotta limewash walls in St James’ Chapel provide a more sympathetic backdrop for the highly ornamental painted 19th century reredos.

To read more about the history of this magnificent building go to: The Story of St Andrews


The Re-Ordering of St Andrew’s Church

In the 1990s it became clear that the church required substantial conservation and repair work. The clergy and parish council decided to extend the scope of this task to include re-ordering and development work to make the infrastructure better suited to its modern role in the wider community. 

Over the course of some 10 years around £1.3 million was raised and spent on the project. The conservation phase was overseen by architect Charles Brown and the work was done by Eaves Sure. St. Andrew’s entrusted the development phase to a rising, young architect called Ptolemy Dean. The work was done by local builder F.W.German & Sons, led by Philip German. The two phase project included the following elements: restoration of the tower (requiring two of the tower’s massive buttresses to be completely rebuilt); clay peg tiles reinstalled on all eight roofs over the main body of the church; the lead valleys completely replaced; construction and installation of a new bell-frame along with new bells; and restoration of the ancient clock and carillon. New external floodlighting and enhancement of the churchyard was carried out and replacement of the Victorian timber floor in the nave with York stone to match the older floors. Improved entrance with provision for disabled access was added along with glazed doors to improve light levels within the church and to encourage more people to enter. Refurbishment of the St. George, St. James and Lady chapels was also undertaken. 

New Georgian-style rooms, known as “pavilions” were created at the west end of the nave to improve the range of activities that can take place in the church. New kitchen and toilet facilities were added, the drainage system was renewed and the wiring and lighting renewed throughout.   The interior was painted white except for the nave ceiling which became a dark blue inspired by the St. James’ Chapel’s star-lit blue ceiling. The interior of the church has been re-ordered to improve sight lines and allow greater participation both for worship and community events. Victorian pews have been replaced with chairs for more flexible seating.   By providing open space in the nave and the west end, St. Andrew’s has become a place of worship, gathering and celebrating for the whole town.

Apart from worship every Sunday, the building is used more and more by the whole community. Concerts, plays, art exhibitions, school events, receptions and public meetings have all been successfully held within this magnificent Grade 1 parish church, a venerable building of great charm and delight.