Sunday, 7 December 2014







Thursday, 4 December 2014

A History of St Leonard’s Church, Horsham, West Sussex.

Like so many other towns in the 20th century Horsham found it necessary to expand so the district of Horsham New Town replaced the rural character with many new streets and buildings. Consequently a large red-brick Church with a red tiled roof was erected in Art Deco style at the corner of Cambridge Road and Clarence Road. The church was designed by architects Godman and Kay and built in 1939 just before the Second World War. Godman and Kay were quite interesting architects who appear to have dominated Horsham in the 1920s and '30s., from designing the Councils first Council houses in 1919 through to the War memorial, Drill hall, Capitol cinema and much else besides. The original design called for a spire and railings around the grassed areas, but these were not provided as the metal was needed for the war-effort. It has taken 70 years for a spire to be added, albeit of a modern design.

The church consists of a red brown multi facing brickwork laid in Flemish bond with snapped headers to a hipped roof bearing Norfolk pantiles (red profiled interlocking clay tiles) with half-round ridges and third round hips. At the east end of the church lies a half-octagonal apsidal Chancel.

The north elevation faces north-east along Cambridge Road. Here single-storey ancillary accommodation with flat roof and brick parapet flanks the central main entrance tower, and which now has a shallow pitched metal roof and perforated steel spire. There is a projecting plinth section in the external wall at low level some 8 courses or so above general ground level running around the building.

Above and behind the ancillary accommodation may be observed a row of clerestory windows which are clear glazed and have semicircular heads with leaded light effect trim to the outer pane. The windows are in groups of three defining three bays to either side of the central tower.

The main entrance consists of a large opening with semicircular arch in three stages. The outer stage consists of a two-ring rough arch of headers. The inner stage comprises a recess of brick tiles set in a herringbone pattern and radial lines, with a single ring inner arch over the third stage consisting of a stepped two ring arch.  Within this hang double leaf panelled hardwood timber doors with a semicircular head.  At either side of the doors there are wrought iron floral decorations and above the doors there is a stainless steel cross. Above the cross there is a single window opening consisting of a narrow rectangular window. On the east and west facing elevation of the tower there is a small window with semicircular head overlooking the flat roofs.

There are a series of narrow windows consisting of opening casements with rectangular heads and leaded light effect trims to the outer pane along the entire elevation. They form a symmetrical arrangement to either side of the main entrance and tower set within three bays subdivided by pilasters. The space between the windows and jambs is formed by special V shaped bricks creating a series of vertical indents. All the window openings have special V shaped brick surrounds to the jambs creating sharp vertical recesses. The window heads and sills are formed by a row of canted headers.

The central bay has four windows and there are three windows to the outer bays on either side. This arrangement is repeated to both wings of the ancillary accommodation. The pilasters dividing the bays have canted quoins and tops which stop short of the moulded parapet by three courses of brickwork.

The east facing wall of the ancillary accommodation has a single panelled hardwood timber door, up to which lead two steps. There are two wrought-iron handrails, one either side of the door. The central brick panel of the apse facing Clarence Road incorporates a cross feature formed from special V shaped bricks. The other facets of the apse on all sides have a central tall window with a semi-circular head illuminating the sanctuary.

The structure was designed as a combined Church and Hall and was named St Leonard’s, though some would have liked St Andrew’s. The cost was £6000 – half was contributed by the Parish of Horsham and half by the Diocese through the Sussex Church Builders. The cost included chairs, pews, etc., but the first organ was not purchased until 1956. 

Unlike domestic and commercial buildings, Art Deco Churches in this country are quite rare. It is not a style much associated with religious buildings probably because the 20s & 30s were not a period of church expansion. Curiously enough, however, some former Art Deco cinema buildings are now utilised as churches. It has to be said though, in the medium of brickwork, as opposed to the alternative reinforced concrete Art Deco churches, I can only think of 3 others in the country – All Hallows, Suffolk (designed by Munro Cautley); St Alban the Martyr, Larkhill; and St George the Martyr, Brentwood.

We have a gem here in Horsham, although alas, a gem that had seen the ravages of time, and sadly to say, 70 years of neglect. It is only within the last 10 years that the entire interior has been reordered, but it has been modernised, with much of the Art Deco features being removed – the tulipwood pews, the proscenium and stage in the hall (which would have done the Capitol theatre proud), and much else beside. However, much thought was put into the redecorating and the resultant works very much had 21st century functionality in mind. In talking to the people involved, I do believe they had no idea that they had a building of such structural importance on their hands.

However, the original architects must have seemed old-fashioned to be building in the late 1930s a perfect example of the Jazz Modern enthusiasm of the 1920s. The clouds of war were already gathering, and the architecture which would follow the peace of 1945 would be quite different, a deliberate rejection of what was seen as the ossifying conservatism of the likes of Art Deco. How unfashionably decorative St Leonard’s must have seemed then!

And yet, externally, it is not an ornate church, despite the little tower with its cross. It has the same gritty quasi-industrial quality of a 1930’s power-house, - there is a soundness and symmetry about the way those red bricks build to their big-boned roof, with bold angles and geometric juxtapositions.

How did the architects come to design an Art Deco building here in the first place? Well, I don’t think they did really. The may have been using the language of Art Deco, but they were still thinking Medieval. - witness the clerestory above the ground-floor. 

I just love it, and here it is in our own back-yard, unpretentious, unassuming, and - unknown.

The appeal fund for the building of the church was launched and maintained by Mr Coultham, Parish Church Warden, and Mr Robert Walton, whose recollections of the district at that time observed that “for many years the church owned land at the corner of Cambridge and Clarence Roads known as St Saviour’s Church Site, but when it came to be built upon for some reason the name was changed.”

The dedication service took place just before the outbreak of the Second World War. In the porch is a tablet with the inscription “To the Glory of God and in the service of man this Church and Hall as dedicated for pious and charitable uses by the right Reverend Bishop Walter Carey, D.D. July 24th 1939”.

In 1979, when Ms Winifred Connard produced a small pamphlet on the history of St Leonard’s Church for the occasion of the Ruby Anniversary of the dedication, she made enquiries as to how the site of the church was obtained, with Thomas Eggar & Sons, the Church Solicitors. The reply, via Mr C L Hodgetts, Solicitor to the Bishop of Chichester, Registrar of the Diocese, stated that “St Leonard’s Church was not a consecrated building, the site being vested in the Chichester Diocesan Fund and Board of Finance, and the Deeds were held by Messrs Fitzhugh Eggar & Port, Solicitors, of Brighton.”

A letter of enquiry to these latter solicitors, was answered in Feb 1980, stating that “The land which is the site of the Church was purchased by private individuals as Trustees in 1899 immediately prior to the making of both Cambridge and Clarence Roads. Canon Evan Daniel was one of the Private Trustees. In 1905 some surrounding land was acquired and the land already owned by the Trustees was referred to as St Saviour’s Church Site.

The site of the Church was conveyed to the Diocesan Board of Finance in 1933 and was expressed to be held for the benefit of the Parish of Horsham with no designations of any Saint’s name. There is marked on the deed in pencil (St Saviour) but this is not conclusive.

In 1940 some surrounding land was vested in the Board of Finance but the plan does not show any name. By 1956, however, we have a plan showing that the name had been changed.”

Out of this came the mystery of the name. The intention being that it was to be called St Saviour’s; a suggestion by some parishioners-to-be, that it should be St Andrew’s, and the final dedication upon completion of the building as St Leonard.

St Leonard – who was he?

Those interested in this church may be surprised to know that this was not the first church in Horsham to bear the name of St Leonard. There was, before the Reformation, a chapel in St Leonard’s Forest, supposedly built on the site of a cell where a hermit named St. Leonard had dwelt, of which some information is given in the Rev. Edmund Cartwright’s history of the Rape of Bramber. Cartwright stated:  “The earliest notice that has been met with (of this chapel) is in the Taxation of Bishop Langton in 1320, when it is excused payment on account of its poverty. In 1400 W. Ashendon was presented to the chapel of St Leonards-juxta-Horsham, by the king, during the minority of Lord Mowbray. In the Augmentation Office this chapel is only noted twice. ‘The free chapel of St Leonard, near Horsham, no incumbent, for the priest did give up the same to my Lord of Norff.’,(Norfolk) a lytil time before his attaynder.’ ‘Capella S’cti Leonardi per annum, claire volet, ixli, xiiijs, iiijd.’(£9.14s.4d.)”

However, other documentary evidence tells us that the chapel was standing as early as 1215, and it seems likely that it gave its name to the forest, rather than vice-versa, as it had been founded by c.1208. The chapel survived until the mid-16th century, when it was dissolved shortly before 1547 by the Duke of Norfolk. It was not a chapel-of-ease, because the incumbent of the parish church at Beeding, in which most of St. Leonard’s Forest lay, apparently had no jurisdiction over it.  Instead, it was described as a free-chapel or chantry belonging to the successive lords of St Leonard’s Forest, the Braoses, the Mowbrays, and the Howards, who presented its chaplains. At the Crawley Exhibition, in 1865, a venerable old key was shown, said to have belonged to the chapel in the forest.  No trace has survived of the building. The site is supposed to have been in an enclosure of about one acre, some two miles outside Horsham, sited either on what became the bay of Hawkins pond, or not far from the parish boundary near the Horsham-Colgate road leading to Pease Pottage.

Horsham abounds with references to St Leonard, his name being given to the Church, road, forest, and pub. But who was he? 

The Victoria County History states that “the connexion with St. Leonard evidently postdates the Norman Conquest: the saint, a forest hermit, was French, and was especially favoured by Benedictines, such as those of Sele priory in whose parish the forest lay. It seems likely that the forest took its name from the chapel dedicated to St. Leonard which was evidently built by the lords of the forest, the Braoses”.  But there has always been a question whether the French St Leonard could really be our Patron Saint.  There seems to be no apparent connection between St. Leonard of Noblac, who lived all his life in France, and the St. Leonard of Sussex who was said to have lived in the forest as a hermit, and became the subject of a number of legends over the centuries. The lilies of the valley that grow in St. Leonard’s Forest were said to have sprung up where the Saint’s blood fell on the ground, after a bloody battle in which he slew the dragon.  

Another legend that was later attached to him was first postulated by Andrew Boorde in the 16th century, who wrote of the absence of nightingales in St. Leonard’s Forest, apparently at the request of a hermit who found that their song disturbed his prayers;  “The bird wyl syng round about the forest, but never within the precinct of the forest”.  The water bailiff who wrote a description of the course of the Arun in 1636 ascribed this legend, with some diffidence, to St. Leonard, rather than to an unnamed hermit;  “I have enquired of many old Inhabitants, yet as far as I could ever learn, an Nightingale heard to sing, if at all, never since (if the Tradition be true) she was by St. Leonard, for her unseasonable disquieting of his devotions, interdicted”.  Howard Dudley added a little more colour to the story in 1835 when he said “The celebrated St. Leonard also, through whose efficacious prayers ‘The adders never stynge, Nor ye nightingales synge’ in its gloomy mazes is often the theme of the cottagers’ fireside conversation”. Cartwright gave the saint’s day of the local St. Leonard as 17 November, (the day on which St. Leonard’s fair was held in Horsham) while the saint’s day of the French St. Leonard was 6 November – thus suggesting that there might be some evidence of a local St. Leonard,  as well as the French saint.

 In the course of my researches I came across a little known book entitled “St. Leonard of Sussex”, by The Rev. Arthur C. Crookshank, Vicar of Ditchling from 1940 to 1958, which seemed to provide the answer to this question.  

In the preface he said “It is strange that the Life of Saint Leonard of Sussex has never before been written.  He alone of the Sussex Saints has left his name on the map, for part of the Weald is still called St. Leonard’s Forest. Nor is there any lack of records from which to obtain the incidents of his life”.   Crookshank claimed that St. Leonard lived in Sussex in the 11th century, some 500 years after the French saint, and was responsible for building Worth Church. Yet despite the detailed picture that he built up of the life of St. Leonard, he was unable to provide proof that he was ever more than a legendary figure.  So, let us examine what has been said about the two saints in more detail.

St. Leonard of Noblac or of Limoges (c. AD 485-559), was a French nobleman in the court of Clovis, the first king of France, and the story of his life is reasonably well documented, although the compiler of the Oxford Dictionary of Saints concluded his article on Leonard of Noblac with the words “Leonard’s historical existence is probable, but unproven”.  He was converted to Christianity along with the king by Saint Remigius, Bishop of Reims, and secured the release of a number of prisoners. He entered a monastery at Micy near Orléans, under the direction of Saint Mesmin and Saint Lie. Then, he became a hermit in the forest of Limousin, where he attracted a number of followers. Saint Leonard was noted for his sanctity even more than his nobility. Through his prayers, the French queen was said to have been safely delivered a son, and, she rewarded him with royal lands at Noblac, near Limoges, where he founded the abbey of Noblac, around which a village grew, named in his honour Saint-Léonard-de-Noblac..

The French saint, St Leonard of Noblac

In the 11th century his cult spread rapidly. Bohemond, a charismatic leader of the First Crusade, visited the Abbey of Noblac, where he made an offering in gratitude for his release from prison. Bohemund’s example inspired many similar gifts, enabling the Romanesque church and its visible landmark bell tower to be constructed.  St. Leonard’s cult spread through all of Western Europe: in England, no fewer than 177 churches are dedicated to him. Leonard was venerated in the Low Countries, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, particularly in Bavaria, and also in Bohemia, Poland, and elsewhere. Pilgrims flocked to worship at the tomb of Saint Leonard in the church at Noblac, and it became a stage on the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostella. Leonard became one of the most venerated saints of the late Middle Ages. His intercession was credited with miracles for the release of prisoners, women in labour, and the diseases of cattle. He was linked especially to the Benedictine order. As the Abbey of Sele, which owned part of St. Leonard’s Forest in the Middle Ages, was a Benedictine house, this is generally thought to explain why the French saint is linked to this part of Sussex. His feast day is observed by the church calender on 6th November.

But what of Saint Leonard of Sussex? According to Crookshank’s account, Leonard was born in 1046 at Chidham in Sussex, the son of a man called Cobnor, and a British woman named Una.   Cobnor was said to be a son of the Danish King Canute, by his first wife, Aelgifu, who was the sister of Werna, priest of Worth. Canute was said to have met Aelgifu after the Danes subdued Sussex and he set up his court at Bosham, and lived with her in a house he built for her at Chidham.  What evidence is there to prove or disprove this story?   Shortly after his father Sweyn Forkbeard’s invasion of England in 1013, Canute did indeed marry a Saxon noblewoman called Aelgifu (known as Aelgifu of Northampton), but she was the daughter of Aelfhelm, a Saxon ealdorman from Mercia, rather than a yeoman’s daughter from Sussex. After the death of his father in 1014, Canute was driven back to Denmark by a restored King Aethelred, the former Anglo-Saxon king, and it took another Danish invasion of England in 1015 and fourteen months of hard fighting in many parts of England to establish his rule.  He was eventually accepted as king of all England after the deaths of Aethelred and his son Edmund in 1016.  Canute proved to be a strong and successful king whose twenty-year reign restored peace and prosperity in England after a very troubled period, and he also consolidated his control over Denmark, Norway and part of Sweden.  Having been baptised as a Christian and visited Rome in 1027, Canute gave splendid gifts and land to many religious foundations.

The hermit, St Leonard of Horsham at his devotions

Canute had two sons by Aelgifu of Northampton, Sweyn Knutsson, who was fourteen years old when Canute sent him to rule Norway in 1030 as a co-regent with his mother, and Harold Harefoot, who became King Harold I of Denmark and England, ruling from 1035 to 1040.   But this marriage between a Danish prince and a Saxon noblewoman was not well regarded by many people in England at the time.  When Canute finally established his sovereignty, he decided for political reasons to marry Emma of Normandy, the daughter of Duke Richard the Fearless and widow of King Aethelred, in order to seal his conquest of England and complete the process of pacification. This marriage took place in July 1017, and is mentioned by Crookshank.  Emma’s sons by Aethelred, Edward and Alfred Atheling, the heirs of the Anglo-Saxon royal house of Wessex, went into exile in Normandy at the time of their mother’s remarriage, and remained there as a potential source of opposition. Emma was a powerful woman who later commissioned her own biography, the Encomium Emma Regina, to exonerate herself from criticism for failure to support her son Edward in an abortive invasion in 1036, which aimed to overthrow Harold Harefoot. However, there is considerable confusion in the existing accounts, because, in England, it appears that Emma was usually known as Queen Aelfgifu, the same name as Canute’s first wife. 

The frontispiece of the 11th century Liber Vitae

The frontispiece of the 11th century Liber Vitae, the register and martyrology of the New Minster and Hyde Abbey, Winchester, shows Canute, identified as “Cnut Rex” and Emma, here named as “Aelgyfu Regina”, placing a large cross on the altar of the New Minster. There even seems to be some doubt whether or not Canute’s second marriage involved the repudiation of his first wife, Aelgifu of Northampton, since she too appears to have remained an influential figure.  She was sent to Norway with her son Sweyn, as co-regent, in 1030.  Frank Stenton thought that she was probably the real ruler of England for part, if not all, of her son Harold’s reign. She was said to have held Wessex for her son Harold from her base in Winchester, but escaped to Bruges in 1037.

 Little of this wider picture is reflected in Crookshank’s life of St. Leonard, which is focussed entirely on his life in the forest. According to Crookshank, Leonard was kept in ignorance of his ancestry for the first ten years of his life and worked as a swine-herd during his childhood.   It was his uncle Werna, the priest of Worth, who eventually told Leonard the secret of his birth, for Leonard’s parents had both died during his infancy and he had been committed to his great-uncle Werna’s care.  It was because of Werna’s influence and example that Leonard embraced the religious life.  Crookshank also claimed that Leonard was responsible for rebuilding in stone the then wooden church at Worth. He was said to have discovered an old Roman quarry near Worth which provided the stone, and the building work was financed by the sale of lands that Leonard had inherited in Chidham.  His grandmother, Aelgifu came into the story when she returned from exile in Denmark to look after Leonard in the forest for a while, but the dates and places Crookshank gives do not correlate with the known facts of the real Aelfgifu’s life.

Revd. Arthur Chichester Crookshank.

 So what do we know of the author, and how can we judge his work?   Arthur Chichester Crookshank was born in Eastbourne in 1888, the youngest son of Edgar March Crookshank, J.P. for Sussex.  His father bought the Saint Hill estate in East Grinstead in 1889, and Arthur grew up there.

He went to St. Christopher’s School in Eastbourne before being commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the army in 1910.  He served in the Royal Field Artillery throughout the First World War, reaching the rank of Major before the end of hostilities.  In 1919 he became Commandant of the Royal Field Artillery Cadet School at Exeter, but retired from the army in 1921. It was almost certainly because of his wartime experiences in France that he decided to embrace a more spiritual life during the 1920s. St. Leonard of Sussex was published while he was training for the Anglican ministry at Bishop’s College, Cheshunt in 1928.

Arthur Crookshank was known to have a rather dry sense of humour, as his photograph would suggest, and this is apparent when he says in the Preface that “this work might have been expanded to twice its present size by filling the pages with footnotes giving references to Domesday Book, Bede, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Cart. Rot. Sax. and so forth; not to mention the Roman writer Op. Cit., and the female historian Caetera Desunt.  But such things are for Professors and very superior folk.  The aim has been to make his life the life of a real person without embroidery or invention, and not the chemical analysis of a handful of dry dust”. He probably had his tongue in his cheek when he called Cobnor’s two supposed brothers “Elsinore” and “Itchenor” (both place-names rather than family names)  -  this was perhaps an in-joke for students of literature. Crookshank dismissed the legend of the nightingales disturbing St. Leonard’s devotions as one of many “ridiculous stories” about the saint, and claimed that “only what has been set down here is authentic and true”.  Yet he included the tale of St. Leonard killing a dragon in his story – and even made the dragon able to talk, as there is a long conversation between him and St. Leonard in which the dragon taunts him about what he has achieved during his life!  This sits rather uneasily with other passages where he describes the effects of the Battle of Hastings on some of its participants and the efforts of the Norman conquerors to establish their rule over the whole country, with reference to the Domesday Book.  Crookshank ended his story by saying that on St. Leonard’s hundredth birthday in 1146, he and his hermit’s cell were found to have disappeared, leaving only “a scented plot of lilies of the valley” as the evidence of his existence.  

So in the end we have to conclude that Crookshank’s book was simply a colourful retelling of the old legends, with background material drawn from historical sources and local references.  It was clearly not what it purported to be - the genuine life story of a real saint – so what was its purpose? It was probably an attempt to recreate something of what life must have been like in Sussex in the 11th century, intended to interest local children in the history of their county. The very obscurity in which the book has languished for many years is perhaps comment enough on this somewhat misconceived work, which is half myth and half historical novel. This is not to detract from its author’s undoubted scholarly knowledge - in later years, Arthur Crookshank became a well-respected local historian of Ditchling, and he was an active member of the Sussex Archaeological Society from 1922 until his death in 1958. St. Leonard of Sussex was simply an experiment that did not quite work.

  However, his account of St. Leonard does give rise to some interesting thoughts about the Anglo-Saxon church of Worth.   At the time when the Domesday Book was written in 1087, Worth was hardly even a village, since it consisted of only a few houses.  Yet the imposing church there (dedicated to St Nicholas) was built in a much grander style than that of all other Saxon churches in Sussex. The Domesday Book entry read: “There is a villein with half a plough. In the time of King Edward it was worth 30 shillings, and afterwards 2 shillings, now (in 1086) 20 shillings” Worth appears to have been a small, poor, isolated settlement, perhaps hardly more than a clearing in the forest. In the area around it of about 30 miles wide, east-west, and 20 miles, north-south, only one other small settlement (Ifelt, modern Ifield, some 3 miles to the west) was recorded in Surrey or Sussex in the Domesday book; all around was merely forest. As a result of its isolation, the actual parish of Worth was huge, and included the forests of Worth and Tilgate, which covered more than 13,000 acres. The question arises, why was so fine and large a church built in so small and unimportant a place? Hardly to meet the needs of one villein and his family!

   In fact, Worth, which in the 11th century was in Surrey, in Reigate Hundred, was, before 1066, held by Oswol (or Oswold) under King Edward the Confessor for half a hide,part of the holdings of his wife Queen Edith, and an outlier of the manor of Cherchefelle (in Reigate).  Here perhaps we have the suggestion of a link with King Canute, as Edith was related to his family through her mother, Gyffa. It is not known who actually built Worth church, but E.A. Fisher, who has written a classic work on the Saxon churches of Sussex, thought that it might have been built by the King “(not necessarily by the Confessor)” or by “a member of his family”.  It is interesting to note that Fisher observed that “another possible founder was the rich abbey of Chertsey, which owned, wholly or in part, 21 manors in Surrey. Oswol who held Worth (and five other manors) under King Edward was a brother of Wulfold, abbot of Chertsey, this family or personal connection may have been of some long standing.”  Clearly Worth was a place of far more importance in its royal and clerical connections than might have been suspected from the account in the Domesday Book.

As a postscript it may be added that at Warninglid there is a place-sign which depicts a very un-priestlike warrior with a spear below which appear the words “Werna Gelad”, obviously an attempt to explain the etymology of Warninglid;  Werna or Wearda being the name of the warrior (a contracted or simplified form of Weardbeorht) and Gelad meaning path.  Possibly this was the inspiration for Crookshank’s “Werna, the priest of Worth” who is otherwise unknown? 

The Revd Edmund Cartwright, who wrote the History of Bramber rape (The Parochial Topography of the Rape of Bramber in the Western Division of the County of Sussex Vol 2, Part 2 publ. J B Nichols 1830), gave the Saint’s day as 17th November – the day on which the St Leonard’s fair was always held in Horsham – and I quote from page 334 of his work:

“ On 17th of November, being St Leonard’s day, a fair was formerly held in the forest, but now removed to a piece of waste land on the north side of the town”.

Dorothea Hurst in her History and Antiquities of Horsham, published 1889, also mentions this fair on page 34, where she says:

“On the 17th November a fair was formerly held in the forest, but this is now removed to the town; it is chiefly for Welsh cattle.”

This fair which was actually held for three days on 16th, 17th, and 18th November, was changed by the new style Calendar (1752) to 27th November, and thenceforth held for one day only. It was held on the north-east part of Horsham Common, bordering St Leonard Road until 1813, and was always known as St Leonard’s Fair. When in that year the Common was enclosed the Fair was moved to the East end of the town and was held in some private meadows near there.

The reason saying that 17th November is St Leonard’s day stems from the Charter for the Fair, dated 3rd August 1233 which declares:

“For William de Breus’
The King (Henry III) to the Sheriff of Sussex greeting. Know ye that we have granted by our Charter confirmed to William de Breus’ for us and our heirs that the said William and his heirs may have for ever one fair at his Manor of Horsham every year continuing for three days to wit in the vigil and in the day and in the morrow of the Translation of St. Leonard except that fair be to the hurt of neighbouring fairs and therefore we order you that you cause the aforesaid fair to be proclaimed and held as is aforesaid. Witness myself at Westminister, the third day of August in the xviith year of the reign.”

Please note  - vigil [eve], day, and morrow being the key. The fair was held on 16th, 17th, and 18th November, so St Leonard’s day therefore, by inference, must be on the 17th!

The lectionary for the church calendar gives the date 6th November for the Feast of St Leonard, but qualifies the entry by providing a clarification – “St Leonard, hermit, 6th century”. Patently this refers to St Leonard of Noblac, who lived at the time of the French king Clovis (AD 466-511), and not St Leonard of Sussex, who purportedly lived at the time of King Canute (AD 1016-1035).

 St Andrew’s Mission Rooms

But back to our own church, what of the third group of parishioners who wanted the church to be named St Andrews? Where does their choice of patronage fit into the picture?

To understand this, one has to go back to the late 19th century. Under the care of the Parish Church, there existed a Mission at the eastern end of town, known as The Barrington Road Mission Room., We have a reference in the Sussex Daily News for 1886, that the Chairman of the Horsham PCC had reported “that a room had been secured in the Barrington Road which was to be used as a mission place, and the Rev. Hudson Shaw had already got to work.”.  Barrington Road lies in the East end of town and runs between Station Road and Depot Road, and the The Mission Room lay on the left hand side of the road as one travels from Station Road, and stood beside Messrs Pannett & Sons’ builders works.

The old St Andrew's Mission Rooms in Barrington Road.

This mission did sterling work in the East end of town, providing divine services each Sunday at 6.30pm, and other charitable works amongst the working classes who lived in the surrounding roads, Looking through the Deanery Magazines for the period 1890 to 1914 gives very little about this mission except for one charming entry dated January 1894 which provides an insight to its involvement with the community. It reports that “an entertainment, for funds in aid of this room,was held on Thursday December 14th,. The programme was very varied, consisting of songs, readings, and instrumental  music. Miss S. Bostock greatly delighted the audience with her violin playing, and Miss E. Hodgson introduced her strange and wonderful ‘Gigalera’. A dialigue between Mrs Young and Miss E. Hodgson was much enjoyed. We have to thank Miss Maunsell and Mrs J. Bostock for their songs, and Miss Rogerson for her brilliant pianoforte solos. Mr W. H. Anderson, it need hardly be said, was heartily welcomed, and so were Messrs Pannett & Gardner.” 

The author has a copy of the Horsham parish Magazine for 1915, listing the Barrington Road Mission.

As time progressed, population growth in the east end of the parish put greater & greater pressure upon the Revd John Bond, then Vicar of the Parish Church of St Mary’s to make provision for bringing the sacraments, for their convenience, to the inhabitants residing at a distance from St Mary’s church. In order to regularly tend to their spiritual welfare, in 1917, a licence for “the performance of divine Worship, to preach the Word of God, and to administer the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper” was applied for, and granted by the then Bishop of Chichester, The Rt Revd Charles John, and a communion table and other necessary furniture was set up in the Mission Rooms.  

Licence for the performance of Divine Worship in the Mission Room, Barrington Rd

The Vicar of the Parish Church detailed one of his Curates to administer Communion at the Mission Rooms every Sunday morning, and this continued for some 32 years, and one of these curates, the Revd Woodhall, involved himself deeply with the life of the community.

Shortly after the commemcement of the provision of communion at Barrington Road, the name was changed to The St Andrew’s Mission Room. In the October 1926 Parish Magazine, a Mr A. M. Leefe wrote that he was “glad to announce that we hope to keep our Harvest Festival on Sunday October 10th. There will be a celebration of Holy Communion at 8am, and evensong at 6.30pm. Mr Clarke of St Mark’s has kindly promised to preach the sermon. We shall be very grateful for gifts of fruit, vegetables, corn, flowers, and bread for the decoration, which should be sent at 2 o’clock on Saturday afternoon.”   

The author has managed to find sets of accounts for the years 1931, 1933, and 1939:

The room was still used for worship in 1939 as it is listed in a local trade directory of that date. Small wonder then, that the congregation of St Andrew’s wanted the Saint’s patronage to continue at the new building in Cambridge Road when they had to move over in 1939.

Some of the choirboys at St Andrew’s were Geoffrey Manvell, Laurie White, John and Raymond Mitchell, George Wrighton, and Colin Brightwell. The sidesmen were Basil and Victor Turner and Mr Charles Muzzell who later went on to be Churchwarden at St Leonard’s. The St Andrew’s choir went on an outing to Guildford Cathedral in 1938 when the Cathedral was just the foundations. Revd Woodhall went with them.

Another priest who helped out during the transition from St Andrew’s to St Leonard’s was Rev Kenneth Ralph Prebble who had a dog named Hector. Rev Prebble was born in 1914 and went to St Edmund’s Hall, Oxford; there he obtained a 3rd class batchelor of Arts in Modern History in 1936. He went on to Ripon Hall, Oxford in 1938. He was ordained a deacon in 1939 and a priest in 1940 at Chichester. He was a curate in Horsham between 1943 and 1947, during which time he married a local lass, Mary Hoad before moving on to become a curate of St Luke, New Brompton, Kent for a year during which time he finally achieved a masters degree.He was vicar of Northcote between 1948 and 1954 before he and his wife emigrated to New Zealand where he took up an appointment in St Paul City and Diocese of Auckland 1954-1974. He became vicar of Wellsford in 1974 which living he retained until 1979. In 1965 he was elevated to the venerable position of Archdeacon of Hauraki.

Another of the priests was a Canadian – Rev F. E. Tomlin who went back home in 1939. He “nursed” the infant church for 2 or 3 weeks after its dedication from 25th July to August 6th 1939,-  his last service being the 6.30pm Evensong on Aug 6th.

A Mrs.Shier was the last organist at the Mission Rooms (1935-1939), and she was then asked to continue at St Leonard’s church following the latter’s opening and the closure of the Mission Rooms, which she did, until her untimely death in April 1947. She was followed by a Miss Taylor, who remained organist until Sept 1965.

Miss G Taylor, organist 1947-55

Just before I turn to the successive Priests in charge of St Leonards, I must remind the readers that a trust fund had been set up to help for the construction of the new church. The author has also tracked down the accounts of this fund and figures for 1931 and 1933 appear herewith.

In 1938 this fund was closed, and the sum of £421. 3s. 4d was passed to the Hon Treasurer of the New Church Fund

At the beginning of this article, I showed a photograph of the dedication plaque which is situated in the vestibule of the church. The following photograph is of the corresponding entry at the beginning of the very first register for St Leonard's.

Incumbents of St Leonard’s Church, Horsham.


Revd. John D. C. Fisher                       13 Aug 1939                        02 July 1944
Revd. Michael G. F. Farnworth            02 July 1944                       21 July 1946
Revd. Michael  L. Williams                 25 July 1946                       10 March 1954
Interregnum: March 1954 to Sept 1955 (services conducted by two curates, Revd Edwin L W Bell 21 Mar-30 Nov 1954, and then Rev Herbt A Hamnet from 1 Dec 54 to 22 Sept 1955).
Revd. Herbert A. Hamnett                    22 Sept 1955                       10 Feb 1957
Revd. Donald A. Johnson                     10 Feb 1957                        02 Nov 1959
Interregnum: November 1959 to June 1960 (services conducted by Revd R. Hepper, retired).
Revd. John Michael Walker                 4 June 1960                        15 Nov 1964
Interregnum: November 1964 to June 1965.
Revd. Howard W. Giddings                  25 Jun 1965                        01 Jan 1967
Revd. Peter H. Addenbrooke                22 Apr 1967                       22 July 1973
Revd. Keith Hyde-Dunn                       08 Sept 1973                      30 Oct 1977
Revd. Ernest S. Green                           06 Nov 1977                       07 April 1985
Interregnum  1985-1987 ( run by Sister K Potts, with services taken by Revd J. G. Nicholls, curate of Horsham Parish)
Revd. John M. Clark                            27 July 1987          Nov 1988 (died in post)
“The Long Interregnum” 1988-1994 (services conducted by Curates from Parish Church – Primarily Revd. Graham Piper from March 1993).


Revd. Geoff Pickering                        06 Nov 1994                        10 Aug 1997


Revd. Stephen J. W. Normand            23 Oct 1997                       10 May 2001
Interregnum        May – Nov 2001 (run by Mrs Margaret Symonds, reader, with visiting clergy)
Revd. Peter J. Apted                           06 Nov 2001                      26 Sept 2009
Interregnum        2009-2010 (run by Mrs Margaret Symonds, reader, with visiting clergy, primarily the Revd. Bernard Sinton)
Revd. Harold Hughes (“Hadge”)         17 Nov 2010                      18 August 2013
Interregnum        2013-2014, (run by Mrs Margaret Symonds, reader; with visiting clergy, primarily Revd. Jo Elvidge, Revd Natalie Loveless, and Revd David Evans)
Revd Natalie Loveless                         06 October 2014              date

(Please note that The Revd. Ernest Green never got to enjoy the post of “priest in charge”. Initially he “covered” during the long interregnum following Revd K Hyde-Dunn’s departure (1977-1983), but remained looking after St Leonard's flock following the installation of the Revd George Glew as Priest-in-charge of St Mark’s and St Leonard's on 22nd May 1983.)

Rev John Douglas Close Fisher (Aug 13th, 1939-July 2nd, 1944).

Revd Fisher was born in 1909; He studied at the late School of Saints College, Cambridge, where he obtained a 2nd class Batchelor of Arts degree in 1931; He then studied at the Litchfield Theological College in 1936 and ordained deacon in 1938, and priest in 1939 at Chichester. He was a curate in the Horsham parish between 1938 and 1944 and assigned to St Leonard's as priest-in-charge in 1939; His first service at St Leonard's was taken at the 9am Holy Communion on August 13th 1939, and he remained priest-in-charge until 1944, his last service being the 6.30pm Evensong on July 2nd. After leaving Horsham, he went to Brighton until 1947, Burwash Weald 1947-1951, and then Vicar of St Martha’s, Preston, Sussex, 1951-1958 during which time he was also Proc Conv Chichester; then Rector of Aldrington 1958-67; Vicar of Cuckfield 1967-77, when he retired. However, even in retirement he was kept busy, acting as priest-in-charge of St John’s Church, Hove between 1977 and 1981. In 1966 he became Canon and Prebendary at Chichester Catherdral, which post he retained until 1984.

Entry in the Church register for Revd. Fisher's first service.

...and entry for his last service.

In response to an advertisment in the local paper I had placed, for info on St Leonard's I had the following letter from Helen Richardson. Helen wrires:

“My mother, Doreen Sparkes, saw the article in the West Sussex County Times about you writing a history of St Leonard's Church. Mum attended this church for a few years at the beginning of WWII and it is where she met my father.  We have written down her memories - unfortunately her memory sometimes lets her down and it has taken a week or two to put this recollection together - well she is 87. I have also attached some photo's of the '21 Club' which my father took - we still have the negatives.  She can remember the names of most - but sadly not all of those in the photos. I hope these are of some interest to you.  Should you have any queries for Mum do let me know and I'll try and get answers for you. Good luck with your book,"

Her mother's memories accompanied this letter (& photos) and I reproduce them herewith:

“I was born at 6, Highlands Road, Horsham on 22/2/1922 – all the twos! I started attending St Mary’s Parish Church in the Causeway with my friends Kathleen Page and Daphne Knight when I was a teenager.  We used to sit at the back of the cross pews and one day in about 1939 we were approached by Cannon Lee and asked if we would help out at Sunday School on Sunday afternoons  at the new church - St Leonard’s - with the children who had been evacuated from London.  So we went along and we would each take a group of children into one of the side rooms and teach them stories from the bible – I don’t know whether they learnt anything, but at least we tried.

Mr Fisher, the priest in charge at St Leonard’s, started what was called the ‘21 Club’ for young people to enjoy dancing and chatting.  Stan Redford, who had a local dance band, used to play the piano for the dancing and this is where I met my future husband Geoffrey Sparkes  – his only dancing involved the palais glide.  We used to go out as a group on walks and bike rides– a favourite destination was the Heather Tea Gardens at Colgate – but this might have been because it was run by Denis Streeter’s (one of the other members) auntie.

I left the Sunday School on 15th March 1942 – I was presented with a prayer book ‘Beyond The Alter’ with a transcription written in it – ‘from the teachers and scholars of St Leonard’s Sunday School, Horsham in appreciation of faithful service’. 

I remember the church as being brick built and the inside was divided into two by a big wooden folding door.”

Back row - left to right:
Audrey Keen, Revd Jones, Nelly Goacher, Kath Page, Revd Fisher, Doreen Griffin, Mariane Keen, Jean Griffin (Mum's sister) and Geoffrey Sparkes.

Middle Row: Nancy Sharp, Lucy ?, Ruth Stedman, Joyce New, ?

Front Row:
Denis Street, Billy Thornton, ? Weeks, Joe Stedman, John Winch, Ray Brown.

Back row - left to right
Audrey Keen, Nelly Goacher, Kath Page, Doreen Griffin, Mariane Keen, Jean Griffin (Mum's sister)

Middle Row
Nancy Sharp, Lucy ?, Ruth Stedman, Joyce New, ?

Front Row

Revd Jones, ? Weeks, Revd Fisher, Denis Streeter, John Winch, Ray Brown.

Taken in one of the side rooms - mostly the back of heads.

I had another letter in the post recently, from a Sheila Weller (nee Grace) who  informs me that she grew up in Clarence Road in the 20's-40's and remembers seeing St Leonard's built on a piece of open ground on the corner of Cambridge Road during the 30's. 

In her letter, she goes on to say: 

"In the mid 40's I joined the youth club there, run by the Revd Fisher. We met every Thursday evening & danced to the music of Oscar Carter & his band. During the evening, Revd. Fisher conducted a short service in the church from which the Catholic members of the club were excluded. Meny of us were working for Confirmation.

Then one evening when Revd Fisher was away we were all waiting outside for Canon Lee to come to let us in. One boy found he had a key which fitted the lock so he opened up and in we went. A short while later in came Canon Lee in a towering rage shouting at us for going in & he turned us all out - for ever! That was it! No more Youth Club - ever! So we were left with just Saturday evening with the A.T.C. at their premises in Denne Road."

As it was wartime, one did not have films to take many photographs, so it is sad that very little remains for the reader today to gain a better image of community life back then. Worthy of note, however, it is interesting to mention that the Women’s Group used also to meet in the kitchen for their weekly meetings and they would knit squares, scarves, socks etc for the forces, and they became known as the “Sewing Party”. This became a regular meeting, and lasted well into the late 1960's, although the venue was moved from the kitchen into the church hall by the early 1950's. They met regularly on Tuesdays at 2.30pm.

Rev Michael Godfrey Frankland Farnworth (July 2nd, 1944-July 21st, 1946).

Revd Farnworth was born in 1918, and went to Selwin College, Cambridge, where he obtained a Batchelor of Arts degree in 1940. He went on to Westcott House, Cambridge in 1940, and was ordained deacon in 1942, and ordained priest the following year at Lewes for Chichester. He was appointed Curate in Horsham parish between 1942 and 1947, during which time he was made priest in charge of St Leonards Church. His first service at St Leonard’s was actually the same service in which Revd Fisher said farewell, 6.30pm Evensong July 2nd 1944; His last service was the 6.30 Evensong July 21st, 1946. Whilst at St Leonard’s he continued to study and obtained a Master’s degree in 1946, before moving on to Storrington where he remained until 1950. He became Chaplain to the Forces in 1950 in which post he remained until 1972 when he became a Team vicar of the Blakeny group parish, at Hindringham & Binham (with Cockthorpe) until 1977 when the group ministry was broken up and he continued as Rector of Hindringham until 1984, the year he retired. 

Register entry for Revd Farnworth's first service, 2nd July 1944.

Register entry for Revd Farnworth's last service, 21st July 1946.

                      Revd Farnworth & the organist, Miss Taylor, with choir outside St Leonards    

                         A party to celebrate Victory in Europe outside St Leonards, 2nd July 1945.                 
Rev Michael Leonard Williams (July 25th, 1946-March 10th, 1954.)

Revd Michael Williams attended Pemb. College, Cambridge where he secured a B.A. in 1928, and then an MA in 1934. He went on to Wells Theological College in 1940; He was ordained to the deaconate in 1941 and priested in 1942. He was first a curate in Chichester Diocese at the Church of St John the Baptist, Bognor Regis between 1941 and 1946 and then in which latter year he moved to Horsham parish. Although Revd Williams was not inducted as priest-in-charge until Thursday 25th July 1946, his first service was actually the 6.30pm Evensong on 16th June. He assisted Revd Farnworth for about one month before the latter left. His last service was 3pm Evensong on March 10th 1954. Throughout his time with St Leonards, he resided at No 10 Arthur Road.

Register entry Revd  ML Williams 1st service 16th June 1946

Register entry Revd  ML Williams last service 10th Mar 1954

It is interesting to note, whilst examining the old registers, that the order of services had settled down to a regular pattern. On Sundays, Holy Communion with address was held at 9.15am., also at 7am on 2nd and 4th Sundays; A family service for parents and children was held at 3pm, and Evensong with sermon at 6.30pm. On weekdays, Holy Communion was held on Thursdays at 9am.

The Very Revd Geoffrey Hodgson Warde, Bishop of Lewes on the occasion of
the Dedication of the Font June 29th 1950 (St Peter’s Day).

I had an interesting letter from Alex Cloke, who wrote:

“I was one of the altar boys from age 13 to 19 confirmed by the Bishop in 1950 and stand directly behind Mr Mussell. The boys from left to right are as follows; the first I cannot remember, (it was 60 years ago), but next to him is Bill Gates, Charlie Hills (fair haired) who went to Australia, and John Bowers. The one to the right of the Minister who I believe was the Bishops Chaplain is John Young, then me, Don Garman who went to South Africa, Allistar Carmichael and on the end, Geoff Hedger who played the piano and who unfortunately died just recently.

The occasion was the dedication of the font and as his father had died quite suddenly the Minister of the church, the Rev Michael Williams was absent. It was all very sad because it was a very important event in the life of the church and fundraising had gone on for years. The Minister on the left is Revd Rodney Smith from Holy Trinity, the Vicar (Canon Lee), the Bishop, Mr Mussell and lastly Brian Masters, a lay reader in training.

The reason I have the photos is because I went to the Rev Michael Williams funeral at Woodingdean and his house keeper gave them to me. Unfortunately there were so many I eventually disposed of them. Needless to say I now regret that decision.”

                                 Fliers for Dedication of the Font, St Leonard’s 29th June 1950

                  The new font, bedecked in flowers  at the dedication service 29th June 1950

                                       Register entry for dedication of font 29th June 1950

This font, which I have since been given to understand was made of Caen stone. (a light creamy-yellow Jurassic limestone quarried in north-western France near the city of Caen. It is a fine grained oolitic limestone formed in shallow water lagoons in the Bathonian Age about 167 million years ago. Caen stone was used extensivly in Canterbury cathedral. It was also used at Reading Abbey, but the most famous building in Caen stone built in Norman times is the Tower of London).

Unfortunately, the font met an ignominious end during the 2008 refurbishment when, thought to have been made only of concrete (a utility product of the 1939-45 War period when building materials were virtually unobtainable), it was smashed up and its remains included in the back-fill of the basement area.

June 1953, St Leonard's Church Coronation celebrations.

St Leonards Choir Boys & Revd. M. L. Williams, 1954. 
(Miss G. Taylor, the organist, stands to the right at the rear of the group).

Back row - left to right: R. Cull, C. Fretter, C. Meadus, M. Etheridge (holding processional cross), K. Garman, J. Wisley, G. Dursdon, Miss G. Taylor (Organist).

Middle Row: M. Smith, D. Miles, M. Beckwith, The Rev. M. L. Williams, R. Beckwith,
R. Moore, L. Palmer.

Front Row:   D. Hiscock, N. Grace, D. Garman.

It was Reverend Williams who reorganised the choir and under his leadership, together with the organist Miss G Taylor, they grew from strength to strength. Some of the Members of the choir were R Cull, C Tretter, C Meadows, M Etheridge, K & D Garman, J Wholey, G Dursdon, M Smith, D Miles, M & R Beckwith, R Moore, L Palmer, D Hiscock, T Clark, and H Grace. They would visit the local hospital at Harvest time and at Christmas and sing to the patients. Once a year they would be taken on an outing.

     St Leonard’s choir c 1946-54, with Revd M L Williams and Mr Watts, temporary organist.

The choir, similar date range Revd M L Williams and organist, Miss Taylor.

St Leonard’s Choir c1950’s, singing to patients at Horsham Hospital.

One of St Leonard's parishioners, Joan Young, passed me a photograph of her brother John from when he was a server (altar-boy) during the 1940s-1950's.

...and another parishioner, Elizabeth Beckwith, has passed me a photograph of her late husband, Michael, from when he was a choir-boy during the same period of time.

Revd Williams died, aged 49, in early April 1956, and the following month an obituary in the parish magazine reported: 

"All the St Leonard's people were especially sorry to hear od the sudden death of Revd. Michael Leonard Williams. About 20 of us attended his funeral at Woodingdean and heard a fine tribute paid to him in an address by the vicar of Brighton. St Leonard's held its own Memorial Service on April 15th. By his death many of us here lost a well-loved friend."

Rev Edwin Lucius Wyndham Bell (March 21st- Nov. 30th, 1954).

Revd Edwin Bell was born in 1919 and studied at Worcester College, Oxford obtaining a Batchelor of Arts 3rd class degree in Modern history in 1941. He went on to Westcott House, Cambridge and was ordained deacon in 1943, and ordained priest the following year. He was curate in St John the Baptist parish, Croydon between 1943 and 1950 (in charge of St George, Waddon from 1947), and then was a Chaplain in the Forces between 1950 and 1954. He briefly held post as curate in Horsham parish in 1954 when he was put in charge of St Leonards Church as a temporary measure until a new Priest-in-charge was found, so his was very much a caretaker role in the life of St Leonard's. His first service was the 09.15am Eucharist on March 21st, 1954. His tenure was short-lived however as the register shows his last service was 11.00am. Private Communion on November 30th that same year, when he went on become vicar of Bapchild with Tonge until 1963 (He was priest-in-charge of Murston 1954-57, and his remit also extended to Rodmersham in 1957). He went on to become Vicar of St Paul, Maidstone in 1963, where he remained until 1978. He then became priest-in-charge of Nonington with Barfrey, and also of Wymenswold, (also in Canterbury diocese), between 1978 and 1985 in which latter year he retired.

Register entry Revd  Edwin LW Bell 1st service 21st Mar 1954

Register entry Revd  Edwin LW Bell last service 30th Nov 1954

There are not very many photographs of the interior of the church at this period of time, but one has come to light recently dated on the back of the photo, July 1954, so it falls bang in the middle of Revd Bell's time. It is an interesting photo because it is the only one I have seen so far which shows St Leonard's originally had a pulpit (extreme right hand side of photograph)

Rev Herbert Arnold Hamnett (September 22nd, 1955-February 10th, 1957).

Revd Herbert Arnold Hamnet was born in 1922. He went to Kings College London where he graduated with a B.Sc. in 1949. He went on to Queens College Birmingham in the same year and became a deacon in 1951. He served his title at the Church of St John the Baptist, Greenhill, Harrow, becoming ordained as a priest in 1952. He moved to Horsham in 1954 where he served as a curate assisting Revd. Bell at St Leonards, and then taking over the running of the church from 1st December 1954 steering the spiritual life of the church during the ensuing interregnum. Eventually, he was inducted as Priest-in-Charge at the 7.30pm Euchristic Service on September 22nd, and despite the bad weather it was attended by over 150 people. His last service at St Leonard’s was the 9.15am Sung Eucharist on February 10th 1957 whereupon he continued as Curate within the parish, spending much of his time at St Marks. In 1960 he became Rector of Yapton with Ford, Chichester diocese where he remained until 1987 when he retired. Throughout his time with St Leonards, he resided at 18, Wellington Road.

Register entry for the Induction of Revd H A Hamnet as Priest-in-Charge 22nd Sept 1955.

Revd Donald Arnold Johnson (February 10th, 1957-November 2nd, 1959)

Revd Donald Arnold Johnson attended Lincoln College, Oxford and obtained a B.A. Hons degree in 1951, and went on to Cuddesdon College the same year. He was ordained to the diaconate in 1953, and priested the following year at Chichester. He was Curate of Henfield from 1953 until coming to Horsham as a curate in 1955. He was inducted as Priest-in-Charge at S Leonard’s church at the 6.30pm Evensong on February 10th, 1957. His final service was 8pm Holy Communion Service on All Souls Day November 2nd, 1959. He then moved to the vicarage at Oving Parish, near Chichester, (with the added responsibility for Merston) where he remained between 1959 and 1968, during which time he was also Dom. Chaplain to the Bishop of Chichester, a post he held between 1959 and 1969. In 1968 he went on to become vicar of Hellingley and Upper Dicker.

Revd. Johnson.

St Leonard's Choir, Revd Johnson, and Miss Taylor.

The St Leonard’s congregation bade an official farewell to Revd Johnson after Evensong on Sunday November 1st when a large congregation, including members of the other churches in the parish was present. Mr Muzzall, the chapel-warden, presented Mr Johnson with a cheque for £24 and thanked him for his ministry at St. Leonard’s.  Following his departure, Revd Johnson wrote a letter of thanks, in which he said: -

“Dear members and friends of St Leonard’s. It is with deep gratitude that I write to thank you all very warmly indeed for your most generous parting gift on the occasion of my leaving for Oving. The gift itself is a tremendous help , and my wife and I value enormously  the kind thoughts and wishes which it expresses. What a pleasure and support, too, to have the company and support of so many friends at the induction service on November 8. I know the members of my new parish appreciated the interest of, and were glad to welcome, the party from Horsham. It has been a privilege to be on the staff of the parish of Horsham, and to have shared in the worship and corporate life of St. Leonard’s. I very much appreciate the kind words of the Rev. H. A. Hamnett and Mr C, Muzzall on my last Sunday there, and my wife and I will always treasure the many friendships we have made, and be grateful for the many kindnesses which we have been shown. It is our prayer that the work and witness of St Leonard’s may prosper and increase as the years go by. God bless you all.  Yours very sincerely, Donald A. Johnson.”

It is interesting to note that following his departure, the Revd S. R. Hepper, who lived in retirement at Bognor, kindly undertook to come and officiate at the Sunday services during the interregnum.

Photograph of Revd Johnson and a few of the congregation. Mr Muzzall, the chapel-warden can be seen standing in the doorway.

Revd John Michael Walker (June 4th, 1960-November 15th 1964)

Revd J. M. Walker

By the Summer of 1960, a successor had been found to the Rev. D. A. Johnson, and a very warm welcome was made to the Rev & Mrs M Walker.

Rev John Walker attended Qu. Coll. Birmingham and was ordained deacon in 1957 and priested the following year at Southwark. Between 1957 and 1960 he was Curate of Ruddington, and moved to Horsham parish in the last of these years.

His first Sunday, very appropriately, was Whitsunday. It was the custom in this parish for the Vicar to “institute” the priest-in-charge to the daughter church, at a service similar in character to the institution of a vicar, though without the legal part. Consequently, such a service of institution was held at St Leonards Church on Sunday 4th June 1960 at 7.30pm.

Rev. Walker's first Service, Sunday 4th June 1960.

Rev. Walker soon began to tackle both the spiritual and the pastoral aspects of the church which he felt important, in order to not only combat the rise in delinquency amongst the youth of the times, but also to provide them with alternative activities, as a means of concentrating their minds away from raves, cinema and TV.

By March 1961, two new youth organisations had been started-up, the Youth Fellowship, and the St Leonard’s Guild.

The Youth Fellowship was intended for children attached to the Church and who were between the ages of 12 and 15; Activities included day trips, and similar outings, and also regular “Camping” – popular venues were campsites at Oving and Pagham. 

Youth Fellowship outing, Summer 1962.

The St Leonard’s Guild was formed mainly under Mr Graham Dunsdon’s inspiration and guidance, to promote a spirit of Christian Brotherhood between Church members of the 15 to 20 age group who had been confirmed.  Activities included day trips and also model making – particularly that of radio-controlled aeroplanes. The Guild also excelled at sport, particularly the game of stoolball at which they became very proficient, and won several prizes in the local league. 

Members of St Leonard's Guild playing Stoolball in Horsham Park.

Rev Walker was also guided to form a 3rd organisation, “The Over 60’s Club”, as a result of his concern for, and ministry to, the elderly people in the parish. He had observed that, as elsewhere, many of them were lonely and unable to get out very much, and no longer having relatives nearby. The aim of this new club was to provide for them just those things that they lacked at home; the gift of friendship, an outside interest, and that all-important sense of belonging to a community. The new club started on 12th May 1961, and met each Monday afternoon from 2.30 to 4pm for informal activities in St Leonard’s Hall for a weekly subscription of 6d. Outings were also regularly arranged, including Mystery drives, and Annual Seaside holidays also planned. In fact the first seaside holiday (in 1962) was to Devon.

Members of the Over 60's Club.

A 4th organisation was also re-introduced, that of the Young Wives Group. The original group was formed of many ladies from the Comptons Lane area, and was absorbed into St Mark’s Church with the object of concentrating their efforts in the area of town from which they came. The new group was to be formed out of those who live in the vicinity of St Leonards, particularly  mothers who had children in the Sunday School or Youth Fellowship. The Young Wives Movement was sponsored by the Mothers’ Union with the object of providing a contact between the Church and those who were on the fringe, or even outside, its life and influence. This new group which was launched on the 6th June 1961, met each month on the third Tuesday in St Leonard’s Hall at 8pm.

All these organisations annually built “floats” to participate in the Horsham Carnival, often winning prizes for their efforts. In 1960, The St Leonard’s Sunday School entered a float entitled “The Signing of the Magna Carta 1215” which won 1st prize in its category. Here Rev Walker can be seen with Mr Michael Burt as King John.

Rev Walker & Mr Michael Burt with 1st prize, Horsham Carnival, July 1960.

 In the following year the Young Wives also won 1st prize in their class with a float called “Joining God’s Family” which depicted a Christening. The Youth Fellowship also won a prize for their float.

Under Rev Walker’s guidance, the English Hymnals and Prayer Books were replaced by the new Ancient & Modern Revived Hymnals, and the Prayer Book for Family Services. An altar cloth & underlay, gifted by Holy Trinity, was installed, and the blue hassocks were recovered in red to match the new altar carpeting. The church was completely redecorated. New choir pews were also acquired and the church floor sanded and polished. A new English lectern Bible was provided in November 1961 at a cost of £3, and in the following May new altar curtains were purchased at a cost of £6.8s 10d.  A new cushion was acquired for the Bishop’s chair, together with a new Wafer box, and a new processional cross for the St Leonard’s Silver Jubilee celebrations.  He also reorganised the St Leonard’s Choir and I have managed to find a photograph of Rev Walker with Miss Taylor, the organist, and several of the choir members, amongst whom are Richard Beckwith, Graham Dunsdon, Richard Hilder, Barry Voice, and an older lad with the surname Stringer, but whose first name escapes me.

Rev Walker & the organist, Miss Taylor, with some of the Choir.

THE RIGHT REVEREND ROGER WILSON, who recently died aged 96, was Bishop of Chichester from 1958 to 1974 and before that spent nine years as Bishop of Wakefield. On 14th October, 1962, He paid an Episcopal visit to Horsham parish and conducted a Communion Service at St Leonard’s Church. Here is the entry in the church register:

9.15am Sung Euchrist, Sunday 14th October 1962. Bishop Roger officiating.

Also, there is a photo from the same day, of Rev Wilson and Bishop Roger, taken in the grounds of Horsham Vicarage, together with Revs. S Matthews, P Gillingham, M Cochraine, E Lewis, and S King.

14th Oct 1962 Rev Walker, Bp Wilson, Rev Matthews, Rev Canon Gillingham (Vicar), Rev Cochraine, Rev Lewis, and Rev King in garden of Horsham Vicarage.

However, The biggest social event ever held in Horsham was when the Rolling Stones played in the 1960s for Camida Promotions. The Gig was held on Saturday, August 3rd 1963, at St. Leonard's Church Hall, between 7.30 and 11pm. The Police were absolutely delighted, it was said, because for the first time that year they knew exactly the whereabouts of every youth in the town! The Hall was packed to overflowing.

Mick Jagger, Rolling Stones.      © County Times Newspapers.

 Memories of the night the Rolling Stones came to Horsham was published in the 26 April 2007 edition of the County Times, where Horsham rockers described the unforgettable night they shared a town stage with living legend Mick Jagger.  An on-line report may be found at

I reproduce the article here in its entirety:

“They took a trip down musical memory lane with Horsham beat group Peter and the Hustlers, the town teenagers who shared the bill with brand new fresh faced outfit the Rolling Stones at St Leonards Hall, in Cambridge Road, on August 3, 1963.

The first Sussex group to record a chart hit, Peter and the Hustlers, later The Beat Merchants, toured with '60s stars Jean Vincent, Lulu and The Honeycombs and played alongside international supergroup The Beach Boys on BBC2 music show Beat Room in 1964.

The Horsham boys sold over one million records in the US with So Fine, used as a B-side for the Freddie and the Dreamers smash hit You Were Made For Me which took the number one spot state side.

Horsham residents Geoff Farndell, bass, Vic Sendall, drums, Pete Toal, vocals, Gavin Daneski, rhythm guitar and harmonica, and Ralph Worman, lead guitar, opened the Horsham music night days after the unknown Stones released their first single Come On.

A contract for the gig was recently unearthed, revealing Brian Jones, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and friends were handed a one off payment of £50 between them for their one and a half hour set.

Peter and the Hustlers reached number 41 in the UK charts with their first single Pretty Face just a month after appearing with the Stones in Horsham. They were featured on top TV music show Thank Your Lucky Stars in October 1963, and turned pro in June 1964. The band folded in September 1966.
Geoff, 60, was the youngest member of the band on the night, at the tender age of 16. He said: "We were only school kids at the time. "We were very taken with the Stones. They were only kids themselves. Our style changed immediately there and then. It was a great night. We were excited and it was their first week in the charts. We were delighted to be playing with a band in the top 30. We knew they were musically very good, but I don't know if we thought 'they are going to be the biggest rock stars on the planet', because we thought we were going to be the biggest rock stars on the planet! All the momentum we had eventually disappeared and we ended up going our own ways. I remember Mick was quite nervous on the night. He wasn't bounding about the stage like he does now at the age of 110 or whatever he is. I am still a big fan of the Stones. You can't help watching them now and thinking maybe that could have been us."

Vic, who has been friends with Geoff for over 45 years, said: "I can remember the curtain opening and Mick came out and flicked that hair of his. It wasn't really that long, it just looked like he hadn't been to the barbers for a couple of months. I thought 'I like this'. It was so unusual. They were very different and we'd never seen anything like it before."

Pete Toal, who moved to Australia in March 1965, said: "I'll try and remember as much as I can but it was 44 years ago! Peter and the Hustlers were more or less the only band of any note in Horsham at the time and as such got to play at the St Leonards Hall fairly regularly. We must have been financially successful for the organisers as they were able to afford to bring other bands in to share the bill with us. That meant an hour and half for each band instead of the usual three for us. Being the resident band, we played first and put our heart and soul into our performance as we didn't want the guest band out doing us. Boy were we in for a shock. It's really strange, the locals were very loyal to us and didn't exactly go nuts about the Stones. We, however, were completely blown away. You have to understand that at this time we were playing numbers like Do You Wanna Dance and playing instrumentals Shadows style. Mick was a knockout with his long hair and his gyrations. We were clean cut. The music was so different to what we were doing. It was driving R&B with Mick sometimes on maracas then on the blues harp. Since leaving England, I often thought about telling my friends here about the time I played with the Stones but thought 'Who's going to believe that?'   Now I'm getting some long overdue creddo!"

On 13th July 1964, being in the St Leonard’s parish, Rev Walker accompanied HRH Princess Alexandra when she attended Horsham to formally open Oakhill House Care Home. Situated close to the centre of Horsham, Oakhill House had been carefully designed to provide a safe and secure environment for elderly people with dementia care needs. Accommodation included bright and comfortable lounge areas and a dining room, as well as pleasantly decorated bedrooms, many with en-suite facilities. The warmer months allowed residents to enjoy the delightful gardens, a great place to welcome family and friends. Here is a picture of HRH talking to Rev Walker.

HRH Princess Alexandra & Rev Walker, formal opening of Oakhill House Care Home.

In November 1964, Mr Muzzell retired from office as Priest’s warden, in which capacity he had served for 25 years, and prior to that at the St Andrew’s Mission in Barrington Road.

Rev Walker left to take up a post at Storrington & Sullington, his last service being at the Parish Church, 6.30 Evensong on November 15th, 1964. He remained at Sullington and Storrington between 1964 and 1970, and in the latter year went on to become vicar of Peasmarsh. Throughout his time at St Leonards he resided at No. 43, Brighton Road. Here is the entry for his final service in the parish register.

6.30pm Evensong 15th November 1964 Rev Walker's final service at St Leonard's Church.

Between 16th November 1964 and 24th June 1965 there existed an interregnum (period of time where there was no priest in charge.) The two Chapel Wardens (Mr Muzzell and Mr Sawyer) and the organist (Miss Taylor) carried on their duties as normal, and a curate was sent weekly from St Mary’s to officiate at the three Sunday services ( 9.15am Sung Eucharist; 10.30am Children’s Service; and 6.30pm Evensong), and also at the Thursday 10am Holy Communion service. On the 1st Sunday of each month, there was held an alternative arrangement of services (8am Holy Communion; 9.15am Sung Eucharist; 10.45am Family Service; and 6.30am Evensong).

It was at this point that a very serious consideration was given to suggestions that St. Leonard’s and St Marks should combine but after a lot of groundwork had been covered, it was decided to leave them as separate entities.

An announcement was made in March 1965 that a new priest (the Revd Giddings) had been found, but would not take up his post until the end of June. St Leonard’s House, 43 Brighton Road, was sold, and one of the new houses which were being built opposite the end of Clarence Road was purchased as a replacement. This move was considered pragmatic as it was closer to the church and more modern for the new incumbent to live in.

During Lent, it was found that the clergy team was very short-staffed, so the congregation of St Leonards joined the congregation of St Mary’s for their Wednesday evening services, and the Revd S. Matthews preached a Lenten Series at the 9.15 Holy Communion.

In May, 40 members of the St Leonard’s Over 60’s Club spent a week’s holiday at Llandudno, North Wales – another successful trip, following on from the previous year’s success when a full coach of 52 members went to Torquay for a week.

Revd Howard William Giddings (25th June 1965 – 1st January 1967).

The only photo available of Revd. Giddings was a rather poor one dating from the late 1970’s. There is a contemporary photo (shown further below) but is even less clear and impossible to enlarge.

Born 7th October 1930 in Bedford, Howard Giddings attended Kings College London and Warminster graduating as an Associate of King’s College in 1961; Ordained Deacon in 1962, and priested in 1963 at Durham; Curate of St Chad Stockton-on-Tees, 1962-1965; Horsham (in charge of St Leonards), 1965-1967; After he left Horsham, he went on to become a Chaplain in the RAF 1967-1983; then Incumbent at Birch with Layer Breton and Layer Marney, Chelmsford 1983-1986; Priest-in-charge Lincoln St Mary-le-Wigford with St Benedict etc. Lincs., from 1986 until his death on 23rd January 1989 aged 58.

Unfortunately, we do not have many records at St Leonards about Revd.Giddings. We do know that he did not come to St Leonards until the end of June 1965 and that prior to his arrival in the [parish, the old vicarage at  St Leonard’s House, 43 Brighton Road, was sold, and one of the new houses which had just been built opposite the end of Clarence Road, and which was still referred to as Plot 42, South Grove Estate,, was bought instead. It was thought that the new house would be closer to the church, and more modern for the family to live in.

The Institution of Revd Giddings as priest in charge of St Leonards Church was held on Friday 25th June 1965, at 8pm followed by a Social in the Hall when everyone had the opportunity of meeting Mr. & Mrs Giddings personally.  

One letter does survive from this time, which served as a thank you for his reception  – Revd Giddings wrote: “Now that the upheaval of moving house very nearly the length of England is over, I can find a moment to write and say how pleased we both are at having been invited to come and join the team at St. Leonards. My wife and I have been looking forward to coming to Horsham for some months now, and hope to meet as many people as possible in the next few weeks. Although we have just come from North-East England, we are not strangers to the south, by any means, and feel sure that we shall settle in very quickly. We were very touched by the several welcomes we have received -   and we were especially grateful for the kind gift of groceries, home-made cake and flowers left in the house the day we arrived. We would also like to say how much we appreciate having such a lovely home in which to live. We are well aware of the generosity and hard work on the part of lay people in the parish who have made this possible. We hope that the years ahead will provide us with opportunities to show our gratitude in practical ways. Incidentally our cup of happiness has literally been filled to overflowing by the house-builder – he presented us with a bottle of Champagne when we moved in!”  
Revd Giddings' first service was at 9.15 am, on Sunday 27th June 1965. His first task was to rearrange the services on the First Sunday of each month. The main service of Holy Communion was moved from 9.15 to 10.30a.m. The reason for this was to try to meet the needs of families with young children. It was hoped that parents would come and worship, bringing their youngsters with them no matter what age. It took the form of a Holy Communion, but presented in a way acceptable to all ages. Parents who had not been confirmed were also most welcome. The Sunday School also took part and also the Confirmation candidates. For parents who wished to use it, a creche was provided for babies, but no-one was to mind any noise should parents prefer to keep their children with them. This was a breath of fresh air, because up to this point the old adage “children should be seen and not heard”, particularly in a church environment, was considered the norm. Revd Giddings observed that there was no substitute for the whole family taking part in worship together, and he hopde for a large number of parents and children at this service each month. The first one proper took place on Sunday, 3rd October 1965 at 10.30 am.

In the Summer of 1965, Miss Taylor decided to retire from the post of Organist at St. Leonards. After so many years of devoted service the decision has been a hard one for her to take. However, the prospect of making her way to and from the church in all weathers for another winter was too much for her to contemplate. – The new organist, Mr Martin White, son of Mr Alan White who was well-known in the parish as a lay reader, took up post in October. At the St Leonards Autumn social on October 29th Miss Taylor was given a portable transistor wireless as a token of the congregation’s affection and best wishes for a happy retirement. The presentation was made my Mr Richard Beckwith, who as a former Choirboy under Miss Taylor well represented all the people of St Leonard’s who have known her over the years. Miss Taylor wrote; “May I express my thanks to the many kind people at St Leonards for the gift I received on retiring from the post of organist. A gift much appreciated.”

At this time, under the guidance of the new organist, the decision was made to go in for a Mixed Choir at St Leonards, and there was much anxiety to get this under way as soon as possible, so as to be in full voice by Christmas. An appeal was put out for young ladies, and male tenors and basses., and there was a very good response to the appeal.
in the early part of 1966, an open mixed Youth Club was started up on two nights a week.  It was felt that St Leonards church could not only make best use of its very good facilities but perform a useful piece of social service in the eastern part of town. For this purpose, they decorated and furnished the kitchen and end room at St Leonards as a coffee bar. The choir vestry was be similarly turned into a pleasant quiet room, available for discussions and relaxation. The Hall was thus left available for indoor games and dancing.

The over 60’s club had continued the tradition of Annual one-week trips, and in 1965 they went to Llandudno, North Wales. 40 members and friends left in sunshine on the 8th May when the Revd Alfred Jones kindly wished them Godspeed, they returned at 6pm on the 15th May all looking bronzed and having thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of Wales. Revd. Giddings may be observed standing at the rear of the coach.

The following year (in 1966), they went to Swanage. 36 members arrived back on the 5th May after their week’s holiday in the sunshine.

As usual, both the St Leonards Sunday School and the Over 60’s Club entered floats in the Horsham carnival in July 1965 and to everyone’s delight, both carried away first prize in their class of float. The Sunday School presented a tableau depicting the arrival of St Augustine, bringing the Gospel to England in 597 A.D., and the Over 60’s presented Charles Dickens Old Curiosity Shop. It was reported in the County Times that the costumes were First Class and were shown to good advantage by the very fine scenery and lettering.  

Alas, Revd Giddings had to leave St Leonards in January 1967 to take up an appointment as Chaplain in the R.A.F. and his last service at St Leonards was the 6.30 pm Evensong on 1st January.

 [to be continued]