Church’s 150th birthday

THE 150th anniversary of Chobham’s ‘church off the beaten track’ is being marked with a year-long project that includes a history booklet and an internet blog.

St Saviour at Valley End was built 1867, a red-brick contrast to its ancient sister church in the village High Street.

It serves a community and schools on the heathland edges of the parish that has been noted for big houses, farming, brickmaking, Victorian philanthropy and a prisoner of war camp.

As the church reaches one and a half centuries old, a small committee is planning commemorations including a booklet about the hamlet’s history, an art and photographic exhibition, an open day and a special church service.

A weekly history blog, compiled by Paula Gerrard, is already online at valleyend150.wordpress.com. The other members of the committee are Sallie Buchanan and Elaine Scawn.

Paula’s blog celebrates the history of the church and the parish, Valley End’s Church of England school and people of Valley End.

Sallie said: “The blog’s focus will be on written and recorded memories of the Valley End area and its institutions. We see this as an important way of saving valuable information and the material will be lodged with Surrey History Centre and Chobham and Surrey Heath museums.”

The latest post relates the story of a toddler, Harold Nix, who fell down a 24ft deep well in March 1902. He was saved by his 15-year-old sister, Mabel, who bravely climbed down and held him up in the 4ft of water until they were rescued.

Mabel, a former pupil of the school, was awarded a bronze medal and certificate by the Royal Humane Society for her courageous act and her feat was proudly noted in the school’s logbook.

Valley End School was founded in 1859 by the Hon Julia Bathurst of Hyams Hall, who was keen to provide education for the poorest children of the area.

Hyams Hall, at the Junction of Hyams Lane and Chertsey Road, was later to become the Convent of the Good Shepherd and the site of the British Oxygen company’s headquarters.

The land was donated by Chobham’s Lord of the Manor, the Earl of Onslow and the school was built and equipped for £783, with annual running expenses of £35. It had 62 children and one teacher when it opened.

The history booklet will have sections ranging from the interesting architecture of the church building to stories of Valley End during the two world wars. It will have a map showing the area’s footpaths and walks around places of interest.

“It’s not an academic study but a popular account intended to raise awareness of Valley End as a community in its own right, having its own institutions and shared memories,” said Sallie.

The PoW camp at Brick Hill will be featured, with memories of the German prisoners working in local farms, as will the camp for allied troops built opposite what is now Roundabout Car Park.

The commemoration service will be at St Saviour’s on Sunday 16 July, when the organisers hope a large number of people from the area will attend.

Anyone who would like to help compile the booklet or blog or with arrangements for the exhibition, open day or service can Sallie on 01276 586783 or email her at sallie.buchanan@btinternet.com.

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