© Parish of Hawley 2021

History of Holy Trinity

Holy Trinity was founded as a result of the "Oxford Movement". This was as revival of "Catholic" traditions within the Church of England which was started in the 1840's by notable theologians such a John Newman (1801 - 1890) and John Keble (1792 - 1866).

To this day the Parish of Hawley identifies with the catholic wing of the Church of England under the patronage of Keble College, Oxford who recommend and put forward to the Bishop of Guildford suitable candidates to be Vicar of Hawley.

Holy Trinity has been described as an "almost perfect example of a complete Victorian Church". The present building was built in 1856/7. A second consecration was performed on 2nd June 1868 following another major extension.

The present building replaced the original church which was built in 1837, and consecrated on St Thomas's day ( Dec 21). It was according to records " a very plain and simple building, for church architecture was not much studied, or understood at that time" !! The whole cost of building and endowment was about £2,000, this was paid for by the Revd John Randell. Nothing now remains of this original structure. Two small paintings can be seen in the porch of Holy Trinity, showing both the original and extended church prior to the addition of the steeple and tower.

The church and original vicarage were built by the first Vicar John Randell, whose family provided almshouses and the village green opposite the church. They also provided for another church in the parish ( the old "All Saints" - replaced by a modern structure consecrated in 1976 ) and a convent. The old All Saints and Convent buildings with modern additions now form "Randell House" which is run as a charitable senior citizens residence.

John Randell died in 1856, a year before his new larger church was completed, he is buried under the present chancel steps.

The second vicar, Fr. J.I.P.Wyatt, came originally as curate, intending to stay for six months. On the death of John Randell, he became vicar and remained so for 50 years. His wife Harriet was a gifted artist., who also composed Organ music, was choir mistress and taught herself to carve stone! She was responsible for the intricate stone carvings depicting detailed flower and leaf designs, which were taken direct from nature and can be seen mainly in the Chancel and Sanctuary area. These took many years to complete and are a fine memorial to her outstanding skills.

However, it is for her exquisite Altar Frontals for which she is best known. Four have survived and can be seen at Westminster Abbey, Winchester Cathedral, Chichester and Oxford, having been restored to their original splendour in recent times. It is documented that each frontal took some seven years to complete! Sadly we do do not have one in Holy Trinity Church. A brass plaque on the west wall commemorates Harriet and her work.

Why did Harriet chose the above locations for her frontals?

WINCHESTER - where her sons went to school - portrays the Transfiguration. Made between 1880 - 1887.

CHICHESTER - where her husband was ordained - portrays the Resurrection. Made between 1887 - 1893.

OXFORD - two sons went to Christ Church College - portrays the Ascension. Made between 1893 - 1897.

WESTMINSTER - to fulfil a need - portrays the Transfiguration. Made between 1897 - 1905 (first used Easter Sunday 1905).

Like many Victorian families, the Wyatt's produced a large family, with Harriet somehow finding time to bring up no fewer than 7 children! No doubt there was help from those "below stairs". It seems they inherited her artistic skills and the girls often assisted their mother in her "labour of love" with the Altar Frontals and other fine embroidery and needlework.

Interesting Features and Details about Holy Trinity

1) The Baptistry at the West End of the Church behind the North Aisle.

It contains an intricately carved Font displaying many delicate and fragile features. It was constructed shortly after 1837 and moved to its present position when the North Aisle was extended. The Octagonal bowl rests on a central column surrounded by eight Purbeck marble shafts and Capitals. These Capitals are a later addition, having been carved by Mrs Harriet Wyatt.

Eight symbols are featured around the font:

*Three Fishes * Crown of Thorns * IHS Symbol * The Dove * Star of David * Agnus Dei * Chi Rho or Constantine Cross * Pelican

The carved font cover is an original wood carving from Oberammergau in Southern Germany. Oberammergau is famous for the Passion Play , held once every decade. The work was executed by Oscar Zwink, and shows Christ, seated on a rock, in the act of blessing some little children. The cover was given as a memorial to Field-Marshall Sir Lintorn Simmons, a regular and devout worshipper at Holy Trinity.

The Baptistry stained glass window is particularly attractive and makes a beautiful backdrop, especially on a bright sunny day.

2) The 14 carved stations of the cross were provided as memorials circa. 1948. Although a later addition they complement the internal victorian style and are an integral part of the Anglo Catholic tradition. These are used as a focus during Lent and Holy Week to walk with Christ to Calvary.

3) The stained glass windows on the north and south aisles are typical victorian work depicting various saints.

4) Adjoining the chancel on the North Aisle is the "Resurrection Chapel". This was erected as a memorial to William Peel and was completed in 1908. The Resurrection Chapel is used to house the Aumbry in which the "Blessed Sacrament" in form of consecrated bread is retained as a constant presence of Christ; this is indicated by the Sanctuary candle - the Light of Christ, the candle is never extinguished when the aumbry is in use.

The chapel is used for private prayer, confessions and weekday masses. This chapel also houses the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. .

5) The Sanctuary, in which stands the High Altar has a set of attractive and informative stained glass windows. They tell the story of Christ's death on the Cross, his Resurrection , Ascension to Heaven, and the first Pentecost.

Mosaic panels either side of the High Altar depict, on the left, the Old Testament prophets Melchisedek, Moses and David; on the right, the Apostles St John, St Paul and St Peter.

The Altar Reredos shows the signs "Alpha" (the beginning) and "Omega" (the end) either side of the floriated carved stone cross made from English Alabaster. In addition there are Christian symbols, a Pelican and the Lamb of God in the side panels.

The beautiful glass mosaics described above were imported from Italy and installed , piece by piece, circa 1875.Messrs Salviati of Venice was commissioned to complete the task. They were a gift from Miss Tipping and cost more than £300.

The Reredos also has Green Marble Shafts from Connemara and other marble columns are made from Cornish Serpentine.

6) The Chancel has many features including Harriet Wyatt's stone carvings adorning the pillars, some of which are fashioned from Purbeck marble.

The Oak Choir stalls are also carved and sit upon the patterned tiled floor which becomes more intricate beyond the High Altar steps.

Two mosaic panels set in the walls above the entrance to the Resurrection chapel and the vestry are of special interest. They were executed by Bourke and Co. of Paris, from designs by Clayton and Bell ( who also designed several of the stained glass windows). They depict, on the left, Christ's entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and on the right, the Martyrdom of St Stephen. Recent cleaning has revealed the true beauty and artistry of these works.

7) The oak lectern is a very fine example of wood carving in the shape of an Eagle. Originally purchased in 1868 at a cost of £16-0-0, the craftsman is not known.

8) The communion rails and supports originated from the old All Saints church following its deconsecration in 1975. Like the Nave Altar these are modern additions introduced (as in many churches) to help the congregation feel more "central" to the service

9) The church has a peal of 8 bells rung from the bell tower over the west entrance to the church. They were originally rung from what is now the main entrance porch until a ringing floor was installed in 1904. The original bells were inscribed "cast by John Warner & Sons London 1882" - the two smallest being dated 1891. They were overhauled and re-hung in 1949 as commemorated by a plaque in the Porch.

When the church tower and spire, built in 1882, underwent a structural survey in 1990, it was indicated that the ringing chamber was not strong enough to support the combined weight of approx. 3.5 tons (3540 kgs), so something had to be done. The solution was both practical and unusual:

Having established that lighter bells were necessary, the possibility of a "part exchange" arrangement was considered and adopted. In 1992 the original bells were removed after much planning and preparation. Following modification of the frame and tower, the bells were replaced with bells that originally been cast at the famous Whitechapel foundry for Epsom Common Church in 1890. At a mere 2.45 tons (2490 kgs) they were ideal for Hawley, but before re-hanging, they were returned to Whitechapel, 102 years after they had left, for overhaul and tuning.

Restoration and Maintenance

As with any beautiful building there is a constant need to repair and restore the church fabric. The church is "living" and modifications need to be carried out to our buildings to enable modern liturgy to be celebrated.

During the early 1990's, a major refurbishment programme was implemented, both inside and out, to help maintain our church in the best possible order. This is ongoing, much has been achieved, largely due to the generosity of many parishioners who have supported the heavy financial burden through "Stewardship" giving. Those who visit the church can see the results.

The interior was completely redecorated - from floor to roof ( which entailed cladding the interior shell with scaffolding and closing the church for eight weeks).150 Years worth of soot was removed by pressure blasting etc. to reveal beautiful warm bricks in reds, greys, yellows,and brown, the stonework was a mellow yellow - a true revelation

The wood "rafts" on which the oak pews sat were removed to give a level floor area; no longer did we have a step to trip over. No one knew what we would find under the rafts - in the event it was wet and dry rot, plus a large void with brick floor supports which looked very insecure. When a similar "raft" supporting the chapel altar was inspected, it was discovered to be in imminent danger of collapse because of dry rot ( the priest could have fallen through at any moment!) below was a 6ft drop! All these timbers had to be renewed rather than re-used, which had been the plan, so our congregation is now quite safe.

Some pews were in poor condition, so the better ones have remained in the centre aisles and chairs introduced to the side aisles. This gives us flexibility for certain events, plus new pews are very expensive.

Organ History and Technical Details - Past & Present

The current organ was a gift from the Randell family and installed in 1873, having been delivered to Blackwater station by train. It was built by John Nicholson of Worcester. Additional stops were added in 1876 and 1889 and it was renovated in 1931. The laborious task of manual pumping became redundant in 1949 when G Osmond & Co. of Taunton fitted an electric blower, they also overhauled the organ in 1953.Th

The organ was moved to its current position at the back of the south aisle in 1995, having been originally located in the vestry area - not the best place from an acoustic point of view. This has created more space in the vestry for preparation before services etc. The organ was completely rebuilt and modified ( not for the first time) including a new hand built outer case in Ash and Elm wood. The case incorporates 23 of the Great Open Diapason Bass pipes. The construction was based on a design submitted by Mr Tawney Jones, the church architect. The whole project took the organ builder - Mr Robin Rust of Fleet, Hants - well over two years to finish.

The rebuild retained the Double Manual and Tracker action together with all the original pipes - some 700 in all. Many of the pipes are wood, the "show" pipes are metal.

The rebuild included restoration of the original soundboards, electrification of the Bourdon chest, new open Wood chest and extension chest. A new wind system was installed, giving each department its own bellows, but the original Discus blower was retained. Completely new tracker action was provided to the manual departments and pedal couplers, with solid state action to the pedals.

The new console features adjustable pistons and reversers, which also required the provision of "Electro-pneumatic drawstops" to replace the old mechanical system. A standard curved (radiating) concave pedal board system has replaced the old "inline" original and overhanging keys provided.

During the rebuild it was decided to replace the first rank of the mixture and as there was ample room in the swell box, also the bottom octave of the Open Diapason. Why or when these features where removed from the instrument is not known, as it was found to be capable of supporting the demands of the full Swell, including the full compass 16ft Dulciana. The old tenor "C" Cremona was also restored and completed by the addition of a bottom octave.

The Humidifier unit* - a feature not obvious to the untrained eye - also had to be refurbished.

* Organs are complex instruments with many moving parts, often made from wood. In particular, leather bellows controlling the air supply need to be kept supple, and not allowed to dry out; otherwise they tend to crack. To maintain the parts in good working condition, the correct air quality inside is important - hence the humidifier. This is controlled automatically by a sensor.

So not only does our organ require air and electricity, it requires water as well ( not to mention the Organist of course).

Odds and Ends

1) When the church was given a facelift in 1992, workmen found a clay pipe up in the roof beams.

2) When the organ was re-positioned and rebuilt it was discovered that the sound box, that was being replaced, had been constructed from part of the original packing case the organ had been shipped in, and still had a small label attached which read:

Wood Work
Mr Nicholson
(the organ builder)
Hawley Church
Blackwater Station Farnborough
(South Eastern Railways) Hants
Carriage Paid Sept 21 1873

This label has been framed for posterity.

3) The tower and spire were erected in 1882 at a cost of £1270. In 1910 the spire was inspected and the shingles ( Oak tiles which clad the spire) replaced/repaired for a cost of £19.15.0 (£19.75).

In 1939 the shingles were completely replaced having worn out and been damaged by woodpeckers, this time they were replaced with cedar at a cost of £150. A framed photo of this event was recently (1999) found gathering dust in the belfry. Whilst being reframed by one of our parishioners, a small leaflet, pleading for funds to repair the spire, was discovered secreted behind the photo. This photo and its hidden contents can now be seen in the porch.

Sixty years later, they needed replacing again. In 2001 the shingles were replaced, this time with a stainless steel liner under them, that should give the woodpeckers a headache!. The cost? Approx. £21,000 ouch.

Incumbents of Hawley

JOHN R. RANDELL 1837 - 1856

JOHN I. P. WYATT 1856 - 1901


HERBERT J. GLENNIE 1922 - 1926


KENNETH C. DAVIS 1948 - 1955

STANLEY M. COLLIER 1956 - 1960

R. GARTH LONG 1960 - 1975

MICHAEL J. GUDGEON 1975 - 1980

IVOR M. HANCOCK 1980 - 1996

MARTYN W. NEALE 1997 - 2017