Situated in the Deanery of Dorking in the Diocese of Guildford, Christ Church was united into the new Leith Hill Benefice on January 1st 2015. Christ Church seats 150 people and ministers to a population of about 350. The rector attends services at Christ Church every Sunday except the fifth Sunday in any month when joint services are held in rotation at one of the four Leith Hill Benefice churches which includes St. James' of AbingerSt. Mary the Virgin in Holmbury St. Mary and St. John the Evangelist in Wotton.

This ecclesiastical ‘parish’ should not be confused with the civil one called the  ‘parish council’ (PC) which is a secular, elected body handling local planning and amenity issues.

Snow in 2007

The building is a fine example of victorian Gothic Revival architecture. It has a plain nave and chancel in 13th-century style with a pointed arch between them. The church is of local stone with chalk dressings and has a stone bell-turret at the west end. The nave, chancel and sanctuary are separated by steps, the three sections symbolizing the Trinity with the design influenced by the Ecclesiologists movement, the same style was used for the hexagonal font. The heads on the corbels at the spring of the arch over the outside of the east window are likenesses of the original benefactor John Labouchere and his wife Mary. There is a large graveyard on three sides of the church wherein rest some notable people of the nineteenth and twentieth century (some details are below).The building has been modified several times, the history of which follows, and it is a now a very flexible place of worship as well as a concert hall and venue for exhibitions and the performing arts.

Abinger and Coldharbour Parish News. Every household in the parish receives a free copy of the monthly magazine. It is full of interesting information about the church, local history, events, tradesmen and council news. Please contact the Coldharbour reporter (details below) before the 12th of each month if you have material to be considered for the next publication. Back copies and the history of the magazine can be found on the St. James' church web-site.

Below are the PCC committee who manage Christ Church and the John Venus Hall. Volunteers are always needed for cleaning, flowers, sidesmen and graveyard maintenance, please contact them if you would like to get involved.

Name
Address
Role
Phone
Rev. Tony Berry
(Sally McCance)
The Rectory, Abinger Common, RH5 6HZ
Rector
Parish Office
01306 730746
01306 737160
John Roberts
The Old Vicarage, Coldharbour, RH5 6HG
Warden
01306 713651
Mary Hustings
Chasemore End, Coldharbour, RH5 6HF
Warden
01306 711846
Sue Harman
1, Chasemore Cottages, Coldharbour, RH5 6HF
PCC Secretary
01306 711211
Martin Neve
Gordon Lodge, Coldharbour, RH5 6HH
PCC Treasurer
01306 713382
Helen Potter
2, Chasemore Cottages, Coldharbour, RH5 6HF
Gift-Aid secretary
01306 712214
Helen Simkins
Kitlands Farmhouse, Coldharbour, RH5 6HQ
Children's Church
01306 711926
Graham Mytton
Roffeys, Coldharbour, RH5 6HE
Parish News Reporter
01306 712122 
Ed Sutton
 
Organist
 
Phil Rawlings

web@stjameschurchabinger.org.com

Webmaster
01306 730382

Brief history. Christ Church was consecrated on Thursday 19th October 1848 by Bishop Sumner at that time it was a chapel of ease attached to the parish of Holmwood. Shortly afterwards is was endowed by John Peter Labouchere enabling it to become a separate parish. Labouchere of Broome Hall funded the building of the church and vicarage on ground given by the 13th Duke of Norfolk Henry Charles Howard, using designs by Benjamin Ferrey a well-known victorian architect and pupil of Augustus Charles Pugin. In 1893 the parish church room, now the John Venus hall, was built in the north-east corner of the graveyard chiefly for use as a reading room.

In 1849 the advowson was settled on the same trustees as that of St Pauls, Dorking (John Labouchere and his wife, Alexander Beattie and the Revd John S Utterton). £5,000 was invested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to pay the incumbent £150 in quarterly payments. On 26 April 1900, a grant of £600 was made from Queen Anne's Bounty to match a benefaction of £1,300 offered by Mrs S.B. Brown of Bearehurst, this increased the living by £57. In 1923 the gift of the living passed to the Church Patronage Society.

A major overhaul was carried out in 1904 supervised by architect William D. Caroe. It included a new king post roof, organ by Rothwell, pulpit, choir stalls, reredos, the east window by Powell and the refitting of the chancel and sanctuary. This refurbishment was funded by Sir Alexander Hargreaves-Brown of Broome Hall in memory of his mother Sarah Benedict Brown who lived at Bearehurst as well as The Heaths of Kitlands and Hervey Vaughan Williams (Ralph's brother) of Leith Hill Place.

The church remained largely unchanged until 2000 when it was subject to another major overhaul and a new room and balcony were constructed at the west end of the church, to the designs of Jonathan Mansfield. The pews were liberated from the floor and made movable and the font moved to be aligned with the main entrance.This refurbishment was primarily funded by a legacy left by Annabel Constantine with additional funds raised by generous donations from within the parish.

Planning permission has been granted in 2017 to install a toilet in the current boiler room and for a replacement boiler in a new outside building, this work will commence shortly.

Notable events.

The marriage on 22 February 1868 of the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams' parents, Arthur Vaughan Williams of Tanhurst and Margaret Wedgwood of Leith Hill Place. She was the daughter of Josiah Wedgwood and Caroline Darwin, elder sister of Charles Darwin who lived and worked at Leith Hill Place.

Patrick Leigh Fermor, the noted soldier and travel writer, was christened in the church in 1915. 

Ralph Vaughan Williams is known to have often played the church organ when visiting nearby Leith Hill Place and his sister Margaret left a legacy for its upkeep which was used in 1932.

The George John Livanos Trust has been a very generous supporter and funded repairs to the organ in 1995 and a further £12,500 for the recent extensive organ refurbishment.

History of Ministers.

Rev. C.R. Bird 1849 - 1852, Rev. G.W. Hillier 1852 - 1884, Canon Pelly 1884 - 1890, Rev. J. Rooker 1890 - 1897, Rev. J. Harding 1897 - 1913, Rev. M. Denman 1914 - 1927, Rev. J.F.O. Lewis 1927 - 1930, Rev. L.W. Wale 1930 - 1954, Rev. F.W. Argyle 1954 - 1956, Rev. C.T. Chapman 1956 - 1961, Rev. P.M.H. Kelly 1961 - 1965, Rev. A. Cardale 1965 - 1982, Rev. J.C. Venus 1983 - 1993, Rev. A.N. Berry MA 1993 to present.

Sections of this text have been copied from 'A Brief History of Coldharbour' by Patrick Newberry, Copyright 2003 and 'Coldharbour, A Surrey Village' by Bill Smith, Copyright 1985.