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Holy Innocents Anglican church is the first Parish Church in the village of Southwater. It is almost entirely a Victorian gem built to accommodate the relatively small numbers of residents in what was then a long and straggling village based on several farms, including Great House Farm and College Farm. Much of the land was then, and remains now, in the ownership of the Fletcher family, which gave the original land upon which the Church was to be built.

The foundation stone was laid on 28 December 1848, the Feast Day of the Holy Innocents. Whilst the fact may be thought to account for the dedication of the Church, the choice of dedication derives from the misfortune suffered by the Fletcher family, three of the children of the Sir Henry Fletcher dying ‘early’. Sir Henry himself died in September 1851, the baptistery window being dedicated to his memory.

The building was constructed very largely of local materials from a quarry at Stammerham (Griggs Farm), a pit on Great House Farm and the quarry at St. Leonard’s Forest. The cost was said to be ‘in the region of £1,800’.

The Church was consecrated by Ashurst Turner Gilbert, Bishop of Chichester, on 7 June 1850, and the parish was formed from part of Horsham Parish in the North and part of Shipley Parish in the South, being, at the outset, the ‘Consolidated Chapelry of Southwater’, and served by curates from Horsham Parish Church for the first three years. The first Incumbent (Vicar), Arthur Dendy, was inducted in 1853.

The original Vicarage was built in 1854 and is still a good example of a substantial Victorian country house. It was sold off in the 1960s when a modern purpose-built Vicarage was built in the grounds.

The Church remains much as it was except for the addition of a vestry on the South side in 1909/1910, at a cost of £280, of which sum £200 was donated by the Fletcher family. Various works of repair and decoration have been carried out over the years.

Holy Innocents now serves a much larger population than can every have been envisaged when it was built. It continues to serve the community but time and changing weather patterns have taken their toll. Climatic change in recent years in the form of a series of very dry summers has resulted in the building suffering serious subsidence. Substantial underpinning works were undertaken in 2002 together with large-scale repairs to the stonework.

[edit] Famous Residents

  • Alan Mullery (Ex-England and Tottenham Hotspur Footballer)

Liam Austin Hume- actor from 'men behaving badly'

[edit] External links

(Source: Wikipedia)
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