Chaldon Village Council
|Chaldon Church is of Saxon Foundation and is recorded in the Charter of Frithwald, dated 727 AD. It came under the overlordship of the King of Mercia who founded Chertsey Abbey in 666 AD.|
|Chertsey Abbey was the first religious settlement in Surrey and was run by Benedictine monks. Little is known of the early church buildings, possibly a wooden structure, dating from 675, but there are no remains of them. The Normans set up the Manorial System in England and in 1085 made the Great Survey which resulted in the Domesday Book in which Chaldon is recorded as "Chalvedune, being of two hides (200 acres) and a church". Tollsworth Manor and Chaldon Manor both came under the Charter of Chertsey and remained so until the Dissolution of the Monasteries by King Henry VIII.|
The present church was started in the late 10th or early 11th century, before the Normans came. It consisted originally of a rectangular nave, 27 feet long and just over 17 feet wide with high walls probably having an apse at the east end, characteristic of Saxon church building. The west wall is of traditional flint construction and is almost certainly original, and the wall containing the chancel arch may also be. The aisles were opened up by simple Early English arches into the similar high walls, - the south aisle in the early 13th century, and the north aisle perhaps 50 years later. The pair of arches of the south aisle have a simple chamfer, while those of the north aisle have a double chamfer, and the capitals of the piers confirm the age.
The chancel arch is also Early English, an enlargement of the original archway. Originally there were arches from the chancel to extensions of both aisles, but the northern arch is walled-up, (and revealed in the 1869 restoration). The east window of the chancel contains scenes of Christ's Nativity, Crucifixion and Ascension, by Powell, and dates from 1869, erected in memory of John Pickersgill of Netherne House died 11th November 1865. There is an Easter sepulchre on the north side with quatrefoils and blank shields from the 15th century.
Next to this on the same wall is a renaissance tablet, with ornate pilasters and pediment, dated 1562, with a face resembling a flaming sun, bearing the easily readable inscription
Good Redar warne all / Men and Woomen whil they / Be Here To be ever good to / The poore and nedy. The / Poore ever in thys / Worlde shall ye have. God / Grante vs sumwhat in / Stoore for to save. The Cry/ Of the Poore is Extreme and / Very sore. God graunte us / To be good evermore. In thys / Worlde we rune our rase / God Graute us to be with / Christ in tyme and space.
The R may refer to the Richardson family, John and Ellen lived in Chaldon, Ellen died in 1580 and John in 1584, and it may be that these two left a charitable bequest to the poor of London.
The south aisle extends into St. Kateryn's Chapel, built in the 14th century, now the Lady Chapel with two scenes from the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the east window which is a memorial to the Lambert family, containing the family emblems. Beneath it is a brass plaque referring to the family connections, placed in 1879. The south window contains some original, very old small glass panes.
The north aisle ends in a corresponding chapel which is now shortened, with a pair of windows depicting St Peter and St Paul to the north and a pair of angels in the east window. Both of these windows commemorate the Gardiner family of Rockshaw.
In the south aisle there is a double window dating from the seventeenth century with two stained glass windows of recent date, recording the fallen in the second world war and depicting Saints Michael and George. Next to it is a stone plaque recording the names of those fallen in the first world war. Below the window is a Book of Remembrance, whose pages are regularly turned revealing the names of local men who died in two world wars with a little history about each one person. Nearby there is a board on which is inscribed the names of the Rectors of this church dating back to 1304 AD.
Here follows a list of those who died:-
1914-1918 and 1939 - 1945
The pulpit, made from lizard oak in Jacobean style bears the name Patience Lambert (of Tollsworth Manor) and the date 1657, making it one of very few specimens of pulpits of Cromwellian times.
Still in the porch, above the door to the church, is the framework from which hung the ancient bell, St. Paul, for well over 750 years. It was inscribed '+ Capana Beati Pauli'. Sadly, it was stolen in 1970 and broken up for bell metal. A plaster cast of this bell hangs in the south aisle. There was also another bell called St. Peter which vanisjhed in the 18th century. These bells were reputed to be the oldest bells in Surrey. A plaster cast of St. Paul is on a ledge in the south aisle. In 1902 a new peal of six bells, cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, was installed in memory of Queen Victoria's long reign: these were overhauled several years ago for the novocentenary of the entry in the Domesday Book, in 1986, as a gift from the Chaldon Furnishing Trust.
The bowl of the font is square in shape, hollowed out into a hemisphere, standing on an octagonal shaft, and it is the only one of its type in Surrey. Like the Renaissance Tablet, it is made from Merstham stone from a local quarry.
On the right hand side of the porch is an old stone coffin lid dated about the 12th century: beside this rests the original stone doorstep of the church. This doorstep has been worn through to breaking point by the feet of countless generations of visitors that have passed over it during the last 1000 years.
The shingled broach spire was added in 1842, and the vestry was built at the same time.
The west wall contains a very high small (1ft x 4ft6in) window, cut straight through, very late Saxon or early Norman, and low down beneath the tower is a small window dedicated to William and Mary Roffey, known as the Pilgrims' Window.
The picture on the west wall is famous as the earliest known English wall painting - it dates from about 1200 and is without equal in any other part of Europe. It is thought to have been painted by a travelling artist-monk with an extensive knowledge of Greek ecclesiastical art. The picture depicts the 'Ladder of Salvation of the Human Soul' together with 'Purgatory and Hell' Wall paintings of this kind were intended as a visual aid to religious teaching and they provide a wide philosophical background to such studies.
The fresco, in dark red ochre and yellow ochre, measures 17ft3in x 11ft2in. At some stage, probably in the seventeenth century, during the 'Commonwealth', the painting was white-washed over. In 1869 when the Rector, Reverend Henry Shepherd, had decorators in to prepare the walls for re-limewashing, he noticed signs of colour and stopped the work. The workers had already reported having found some more figures on the north wall arch, which were unfortunately hacked off irretrievably, including a devil and two human figures. The Surrey Archaeological Society undertook the cleaning and preserving of the mural and Mr. J.G.Waller, an expert in these matters, undertook the restoration. A certain amount of addition of colour was made at that time. Later it was covered with a protective wax coating, which over the years caused it to lose colour owing to the growth of mould underneath. This was removed in August 1989 when the Mural was cleaned and conserved by Mr.Wolfgang Gartner, Conservator and Director of the Canterbury Wall Paintings Workshop.
The whole picture is in the form of a cross formed by the Ladder and a horizontal division between Hell and Purgatory known as nebuly, with some intricate patterns on it. Starting at the lower right of the picture we have the 'tree of the knowledge of good and evil', loaded with fruit, with Satan in the form of a serpent in the branches. It can be assumed that the figures mentioned above were probably Adam and Eve. This is the beginning of the story of the fall of man. Two demons hold up a 'bridge of spikes' which dishonest tradesmen have to cross. The artist must have felt for them , for their feet do not stand on the spikes. First, the blacksmith making a horseshoe without his anvil, then a mason without a chisel, the spinners without a distaff, and a potter without a wheel. Below the bridge, the usurer is sitting in flames. He is being held upright by two demons holding pitchforks. He is blind, money pours from his mouth, and he has to count it all while it pours into a pouch, with more round his waist - avarice, one of the seven deadly sins. On his right two figures represent envy, one has longer hair than the other while on the left, two figures embrace - lust. Each pair is being encouraged by a demon.
The whole bridge scene is a delightful piece of mathematical symmetry. The remaining deadly sins are scattered around in small scenes with human figures to the left of the ladder. A demon plucks souls from the ladder of salvation on which there is obvious two-way traffic. Next to him, a woman's hands are being gnawed by a demon wolf, pride in her hands, or perhaps she fed her pets too well in life but ignored the starving. Above her, two horizontal figures fight over a hunting-horn - anger. At the feet of one of the devils is the drunken pilgrim. He has sold his cloak (his badge of office) to buy wine - gluttony. At the far left, three women dawdle - sloth. Another theory is that they were dancers, very much frowned upon by the monks of those days. The two devils at the cauldron are throwing murderers in. It would seem that you are a murderer if you kill your father or brother, no mention of mother or sister! Note also that most of the demons have three or four toes, but on has cloven hooves.
At the foot of the ladder is the symbol of life. On the far left is the archangel Michael. He is weighing the good and bad deeds. The devil, whilst dragging souls by a rope to hell, has a hand on the scales trying to weigh it down with the bad deeds. A penitent seems to be pleading or pointing out to St. Michael what the devil is up to. We then have an angel leading the three Marys to heaven. Above is an angel carrying the penitent thief to heaven. Our Lord, on the cross, had said 'this day shalt thou be with me in Paradise'. Or it could be a depiction of the assumption of the blessed Virgin Mary. The ladder is supported by two angels.
The one on the left has a purse with the alms of the poor. On the right of the ladder, Enoch and Elijah ascend to heaven. The angel appears to be giving them a hand up while holding a scroll of the good deeds. The angel above has a scroll with 'open ye the gates that the righteous may enter'. On the far right, our Lord is transfixing the devil with his cross in the gates of hell, depicted by a dragon's jaws and welcoming the Old Testament characters to heaven. Above the ladder is a semicircle of wavy-edged cloud containing the head and shoulders of Christ surrounded by an aureole, with the sun on his right and the moon on his left.
At the lower left hand edge of the Wall Painting on the west wall is to be seen a well defined cross from the original consecration of the church, originally a rough cross, but elaborated because of its proximity to the painting. A second dedication cross can be seen painted on the pillar nearest the church door. Immediately below is a Becket monogram cut in the stone in the shape of a 'T'. This is understood to be a pilgrim mark.
The church today
The church remains an active place of worship, with two services every Sunday and a thriving and increasing congregation, in which prayer and music have for long played a great part. The organ, situated in the NW corner of the nave, having been moved there from the chancel in the 1950s is a small instrument of two manuals and a single pedal stop, built by the Willis family. The choir stalls are beneath the west wall and are of elegant oak construction with Lambert family emblems on the ends. The remaining pews which are boxed are of Victorian pine.
Monuments and plaques
The oldest of the burial monuments are beneath the carpet in the central aisle. These are ornately carved on large rectangular slate slabs. From the west end they are:-
Buried in the chancel, again under carpet are two former rectors of Chaldon :-
On the west wall there are plaques to:-
On the north side of the chancel there are plaques to:-
In the St. Kateryn's Chapel, below the Lambert window is a brass plaque placed in 1879, referring to William Lambert, Lord of the Manor Tollsworth, and Patience his wife, descended from Lambert of Banstead, 4th son of Roger Lord of Banstead of Startes Place and Lamberts Oaks in Woodmansterne
High on the south wall of the chapel is a very ornate marble memorial to Christian, the wife of John Home. She was born in Scotland in 1710, went to join her husband in Jamaica, survived a shipwreck on the way, and died in 1752. John Home himself died in 1777 aged 70. They are buried nearby. Below it is a marble plaque to Joanna Farr, the only child of the Homes. She died aged 79 in 1810
On the wall of south aisle next to the list of rectors is a plaque to William Roffey, parish clerk for 45 years, who died on 2nd December 1922, aged 84.