Fire at the all Saints Church in Fleet
History of Church
Video of Church
Work on the rebuilding of All Saints continues, specifically on the rebuilding of the floor and installation of underfloor heating. Predictably, unexpected issues arise from time to time but rebuilding is still on course. Please, please, please, pray for all involved with this project, especially those onsite from day to day. Please also pray for the ongoing fundraising effort – I am convinced that the project will only be completed in full if we undergird it with prayer. Special words are not required, just ask God to bless and provide and he surely will!
The short service was led by Mark who said that
while it was good to remember, now is also the time to look to the
future, and give thanks for the new building project.
Donations to support the project can be sent to The Vicar, Rev Mark Hayton, 01252 219281.
Last week our building partners, Buxton Ltd, came along to start preparing the site for rebuilding to begin, and work will begin in earnest on or around the 7th June.
The work is estimated to take about 52 weeks to complete, but of course this is just phase 1 of the project.
Our intention is to restart fundraising in the next few months and to raise the money necessary to complete the project, complete with Annexe and new facilities, as quickly as can be achieved.
That we have reached this point is a great testament to the hard work not only of our PCC and in particular the members of the Rebuilding Committee; but also the many professionals we are working alongside from a whole range of fields – architecture, building and construction conservation, landscaping, structural engineering, quantity surveying, electrical and mechanical engineering, sound design, lighting design, heating engineering, tree surgery, archaeology, stone masonry, stained glass design etc.
As work begins, can I ask you please to pray for this extraordinary team of women and men, whom it is a privilege to work alongside. And let’s give thanks to God with great joy for this new chapter in the unfolding history of our parish and for all the opportunities we are being given to serve him and his people. Please do join us for worship, in person or online.
Building work to be conducted by Buxton’s Limited is set to begin on 7 June 2021. Prior to that they will have access to the site to erect banners and scaffolding. Please note that after 7 June, no access to the church or churchyard will be permitted until work is completed. FPCC will continue to be in use, but may be subject to disruption from noise, traffic etc. Please be patient as the work is undertaken.
At the November meeting the PCC resolved as
The Covid 19 pandemic has changed everything, as you know, and has had its effect on every business and every project. For our rebuilding project it has made things harder, more complicated and more difficult to predict. We are still waiting for approval for our faculty application, which has been further complicated by the formal opposition of the Victorian Society. We have also found that the changing times and the passing of time have had an effect on the cost of the project, which together with our inability to fundraise for the last 6 months means we are falling seriously short of the funds necessary to complete the project. That being said, we are still waiting for the insurers to tell us how much they will be giving us, so the actual shortfall is still unknown. The intervention of the Victorian Society at this late stage may also mean that we may have to re-submit our plans to the planning authority! The PCC are of course resolved to rebuild All Saints for the benefit of the whole community, I am convinced that all will eventually come together for good, and we will get the building we need, but some challenging hurdles still lie ahead of us, and that is very frustrating. Our Parish AGM will be held VIA ZOOM on 19th October at 7.30 pm and there will be a fuller report and discussion there, by which time we hope to have a few more tangible facts and perhaps some good news for a change! Please continue to pray for this project!
We are still waiting for approval from the chancellor of the diocese. Please pray that a positive decision may come soon! We have now received 4 tenders for the building work and it is clear that there is a significant shortfall between what the project will cost and the money we currently have to pay for it. This is due both to tenders being considerably higher than our advisors anticipated they would be, and the fact that we have been unable to do much fundraising this year. The PCC when they meet on Monday 21 September will have to consider whether to modify, delay, or abandon the project, or to find new sources of funding. All this is still conditional on the Chancellor’s final decision which we have been awaiting for some months now. Please soak all this in prayer, so that God’s will may be done!
This week the chancellor and deputy chancellor of the diocese visited the church. Their visit was very positive, and we are hopeful of receiving their final judgement in the next few weeks. Tenders for the building work will be received and sorted at the end of this week - we hope to be able to appoint contractors over the next two months. Pray that building work might begin in the Autumn. Mark
We really are getting very close now to making significant progress with our rebuilding project. Within the next few weeks the project will be sent out to contractors for tender – some have already registered an interest. Within the next few weeks our faculty application will be presented to the chancellor for final approval and permissions – it will have the full support of the Diocesan Advisory Committee. Please pray for all involved in this process – especially for our architects and the Chancellor of the Diocese. Please pray also for our fundraising group, whose work is made much harder by the Covid19 crisis.
Six contractors will be invited to tender for the rebuilding work. We have a response to our faculty application from Heritage for England and our architects have responded to their concerns. We are still on track for a summer commencement of rebuilding work.
Our architects have identified 6 contractors who will be invited to tender for the rebuilding work. We have received a response to our faculty application from Heritage for England and our architects have responded to their concerns. We are still on track for a summer commencement of rebuilding work.
Despite the difficult times we live in, the rebuilding project is now moving ahead fast. The architects and the rebuilding committee are planning to put the work out to tender in the next few weeks, and although these are unpredictable and unchanging times, we are optimistic that work will start on rebuilding in the summer.
Discussions continue between the DAC and our Architects, and these are moving forward quickly and constructively, and we are most grateful to the DAC for their support. Our plans will go back to the DAC at their March meeting. Unfortunately, the plans cannot go to the Chancellor of the Diocese for final approval until a response is received from English Heritage and Victorian Society – these are still awaited. Be assured however, that we are doing all we can in the meantime to move the project forward quickly. We are very grateful to all those who continue to be involved in the fundraising effort, and for all the money that has been given or raised in recent weeks.
Our thanks go to the DAC who received our faculty application very positively last week. That being said, they did call for some changes to our plans in two areas of conservation, the windows and the nave ceiling. This will unfortunately have the effect of causing further delay and greater expense – but these should be far less than we had feared. There are still further steps to go. The amenity societies (Victorian society, Heritage for England etc.) are still to submit their final responses, and when they do, our application will have to go to the Chancellor for the Diocese who will make the final decision. Nevertheless, I feel we made a huge step forward last week – thanks be to God and thank you for all your prayers. Mark
We are working with our architects and others on detailed plans for heating, lighting, and audio-visual provision in the church, and on landscaping. We are revising our statement of need at the request of the DAC. The DAC (Diocesan Advisory Committee) will meet in the New Year, and we hope to receive their positive support for our proposals then. Nothing will be achieved without our prayer! Please commit yourselves to praying daily for God’s blessing on this project.
Detail of New Plans:
Facilities will include a quiet place, small and large meeting rooms for local groups, a kitchen and toilets.
The West door is to be restored.
The church has so far raised over £514,000 towards towards its £985,000 target.
Planning permission has been received. We are grateful for this and we are now able to move on to the next stage of planning and preparation.
Hart District council Planning officers have asked for a further extension to consider our planning application. We do not yet know how long that extension will be. The reason for this seems to be that they are still to consult some interested authorities, as they are required to do. That being said, we are optimistic that their eventual decision will be favourable to our project. The rebuilding group are meeting with the architect on Monday to consider our next steps – please pray for this meeting.
The conservation officer for Hart has now lodged an objection to the whole project which could prevent the annexe being built. If you are in favour of the rebuilding project as we have outlined it so far, with an annexe to accommodate more church and community activities and to make the church sustainable for the future, please write to the planning officer and say so. The address is Rob Moorhouse, Principal Planning Officer, Hart District Council 01252 774075 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our latest plans are currently being considered by Hart District council. The latest response from the Victorian Society was received last week. Predictably it focuses upon preservation of heritage rather than providing a living church for the future. We wait to see what credence is given to it by the DAC and Hart DC.
Meanwhile we will continue to ‘Honour the past, and build for the future’. The fundraising group continue to work incredibly hard in working towards our target. Thank you to all who have been involved in this effort.
Once we have planning permission (which we expect to get in the next few weeks), we will move towards tendering the work and appointing builders. The PCC will then decide how much of the project we can begin to build for the money we have at our disposal, whilst resolving to complete the whole project once we have raised full sum needed – and as soon as possible. MEANWHILE – We rejoice at and celebrate the buildings we have and the congregations that worship within them.
We are richly blest in all we have, and are flourishing as the living church of today, not looking back to what we have left behind. Remember what that did to Lot’s wife! (Genesis 19)
Following some minor revisions to the proposed plans, and some new work on landscaping of the site, plans should finally be submitted for final planning permission in the next two weeks. The PCC will meet for an all day meeting on 23rd March to consider options and priorities should the full fundraising target not be reached by the time we are ready to start rebuilding. Please pray for this meeting.
The Fundraising Group are keen to hear from any members of the church community who wish to organise events or activities in aid of the rebuilding fund. The Rebuilding Appeal is now called ‘All Saints for Everyone’ in recognition of the fact that what we are trying to do is for the benefit of the whole Fleet community.
The PCC will meet for a whole day on March 23rd to review progress at that point and plan options based on the funds available.
Please pray, daily, for this project and all involved - which is of course, ALL OF US.
Final planning applications to local and church authorities will be submitted before the end of this year. The fundraising committee hope to raise 1 million pounds by next November in order to finance all the additional work and buildings we need to make the church viable for the future. Building is likely to start in the Autumn of 2019 and be completed by the end of 2020 or early 2021. It has taken this long because God has given us a vision for a better All Saints which will serve the whole Fleet community and we have been working flat out to achieve that vision. God will bless and complete what he has begun – but he needs each of us to do our bit! Please PRAY, GIVE, GET INVOLVED, AND ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO DO THE SAME.
A £1 Million Fundraising Launch is to be announced at an open event to publicize the rebuilding of All Saints church on Saturday 1 Nov between 10am and 4pm. Representatives from the architects and various members of the building groups will attend and the plans will be available to all.
FOR THE REBUILDING OF ALL SAINTS CHURCH
Heavenly father, we want to rebuild our church in such a way that it will honour you and serve our community, yet we know that unless YOU are the builder we labour in vain.
Therefore, we place this project into YOUR hands. May we build upon the foundations of your will and purpose for us. May we work together to achieve something lovely for you. May all obstacles be swept away on a tide of your grace. May the money, resources, good will and wise counsel, that we need to complete the task be released to us in abundance.
Finally, keep us steadfast in our determination, and firm in our faith, especially when we are discouraged or distracted.
All this we ask in the name of Jesus Christ - Craftsman, Saviour and Lord. Amen.
Latest Plans for the Rebuilding of the New Church
The latest, and we hope final, plans for the rebuilding of All Saints will be unveiled at the Annual Parochial meeting on 19th April at 7.30 pm. All members of our church family are welcome to attend.
Just to restate. We are determined to bring good out of a bad event by not only rebuilding All Saints, but also improving it, for our generation and generations to come. Although there are conservation groups that have prevented us from doing what we believed we should do, we are still pressing on to provide our community with the best church building possible. Any delay has been caused by those have the power to grant us their permission, or not; not by our architects or rebuilding committee, all of whom are working very hard to get this project done. We have more hurdles to get over, but we are working as fast as we can and making good progress. Please pray that no more obstacles will stand in our way, and please share all of this with those you know in the community who are interested. Thank you for your patience, prayers, and good will.
We are making fast and steady progress in drawing up detailed plans for the rebuilding.
We have been visited by the diocesan heating advisor, and by our electrical and mechanical designer.
We have also had a visit from our tree consultant.
All this is vital in enabling our Architects to draw up detailed plans, which will be unveiled when they are completed and submitted to the local authority for their response.
We are putting together a fundraising group – ideas or experience in this area, please speak to the vicar.
The data subcommittee
have completed their work on the detailed requirements of the rebuilt
26 Jan 2018
Would you like to join a team planning our fundraising effort for the rebuilding work and fixtures and fittings for the new church?
Do you have gifts you could bring to organising events and submitting grant applications? Please speak to the Vicar, ring him on 01252 219281, or email to email@example.com. Please note that the rebuilding of the church is covered by insurance, but we do want to make it better than ever, which will inevitably incur additional costs. Our community have been very generous so far, so we are confident that we will have funds to complete all that God is calling us to doQuestions and answers around the All Saints Rebuild for the next few weeks so keep watching this space!
Will All Saints Church be rebuilt? - Yes it most certainly will, and it will be better than ever.
Will it look like it did before? - Yes it will. From Church Road it will look much as it always did. Inside, the structure of the church will be substantially as it always was.
What will look different? – On the north side (Behind the church, where the churchyard is) we hope to build a new lady chapel, vestry, meeting rooms, and other facilities, with a cloister and separate entrance in order to provide facilities for prayer, reflection, small meetings – even some larger gatherings, which will we hope honour God and serve our community. We also plan to improve access to the church by restoring the west end entrance and porch that were there when the church was first built.
You will know that for some time now we have been working to achieve the goal of rebuilding All Saints in such a way that it will serve future generations even better than it has served us.
One of the ways people told us this would best be achieved was by removing some, or all, of the pillars from within the nave of the church. We have therefore been working on options to achieve this. It has now become clear, however, that we are very unlikely ever to be given permission from the relevant authorities to significantly change the internal structure of the church, and so, reluctantly, the PCC have now decided to abandon this route and instead to work on the best achievable building option.
This decision has been made because ? Every expert advising us has advised us that permission will never be granted to remove pillars ? Pursuing this option further would entail further significant delay to the project, with no real expectation of success. ?
Delay is doing harm to our ongoing mission and ministry, as well as the good will of our community. ? Delay will significantly increase the eventual cost of the project, and reduce the proportion of that cost likely to be recoverable from insurance. For all these reasons I believe that the PCC have made the correct decision, though I appreciate that not everyone will agree.
Please be assured that following other options will still mean that we will have a much improved new All Saints which will respect and celebrate much of the past, whilst providing significantly for the future. We will still be striving to improve access, sight lines, natural light sources, toilet facilities, lighting, heating, sound etc. The options for a restored west end entrance, and extended facilities on the north side of the church are still very much part of our plans, and we believe that these goals are achievable.
There will still be many hurdles to get over however, so please continue to pray for the building group, our architects, and all involved directly with the project. Mark (All Saints Church)
We asked our community how they believed the church should be rebuilt in order to honour the past and build for the future. We asked our architects to come up with designs that would meet these needs. The result was really three alternatives…
1) Restore the church as it was, but reorder it and build on new buildings on the north and west sides.
2) Build a purpose-built building on the site of the parish centre with a modest rebuild of the church providing a two-building solution to all our needs.
3) Remove pillars and arches from within the church, which together with additional buildings envisaged in option 1, would provide us with a more flexible and usable building, but still the church we all remember and miss.
The PCC and Parish in general were largely in favour of option 3. In order to achieve this vision, we need permission from civil and church authorities and to satisfy a whole raft of legal requirements and interest groups.
This is what has been occupying the building group and PCC over many months. We still await a definitive answer on what we will be allowed to do, which is a great frustration. We are hopeful this will be resolved soon.
The PCC are determined to do all that is possible to achieve the Parish’s vision for All Saints, but it looks more and more likely that a compromise will be necessary to get the job done, and it may not be achievable to remove pillars. Whatever happens, we will have an exciting, more ‘fit for purpose’ church building that will serve our community and our Lord long into the future.
I have written to Archbishop
Justin Welby asking for his support in our efforts to gain permission to
The rebuilding group have decided
to approach the Chancellor of the diocese – a judge who has the final
say over how we are allowed to rebuild – for an opinion on whether or
not he would grant us a faculty to remove pillars from the church.
Summary so far
Last Thursday was the second anniversary of the All Saints Fire. click
here for the service that was conducted to mark this anniversary of the
Last week the rebuilding group met with representatives of the Diocesan Advisory Committee, Heritage for England, The Victorian Society, Hart District Council, and the Church Buildings Council. From this experience, it is clear that… The Diocesan Advisory Committee are very supportive and encouraging of our attempts to rebuild All Saints in a way that will serve future generations. The heritage societies (because that’s their job) are likely to be resistant to plans that change the church structurally. Because of this, we have to make a strong case for any such changes, showing how they will benefit our community and serve our mission and ministry, to the extent that the need for change is seen as a higher priority than the need to conserve. With this in mind, the Rebuilding group are working hard to put together a robust ‘Statement of need’ for the project. The rebuilding group believe it is right to press on with trying to achieve structural change to the inside of the church because that was the wish of the large majority of those who responded to our recent consultation, and because they believe this will best serve our future mission and ministry. This will not however be easy to achieve, so please give us your prayerful support.
Following our consultation meeting two weeks ago, a large majority of those attending signified their preference for the options that would provide some structural change to the inside of the church (i.e. removal of pillars). The PCC concurred with this preference. The rebuilding group met with representatives of the Diocesan Advisory committee, Heritage for England, the Victorian Society and the church buildings council. There was a helpful discussion around our options, and encouragement for us to produce a robust formal statement of our needs. It is clear that we will have to make a strong case for structural change to our church if we are to get permission to do it. Please note that we are still some way from submitting final plans or even deciding which option ultimately to choose.
The Rebuilding committee had a very fruitful meeting with the architects and quantity surveyors this week. The outcome is this… The feasibility study has produced four alternative plans for rebuilding All Saints church. All are achievable financially, though at least one would require some fund raising. There will be an open meeting on Saturday 11th March at 10 am at the parish centre for all who are interested to view and discuss the options. The PCC on 20th March will consider their preferred option. We will meet with the diocesan advisory committee on 22nd March to get their initial response to these options.
10 Feb - New Donation
A generous gift of £215 has been received from from Fleet ’41 Club’ towards Arise All Saints.
22 Jan - Co-op Donation
A most generous donation of £500 was donated towards the fund by the Cooperative Funeral Directors.
15 Jan - Work Continues
Work continues towards the rebuilding of All Saints church in a way that will honour the past and build for the future. The PCC are looking at 5 alternative options for how the church might serve our needs in the future. These will be shared with the parish more widely once it is known a) How much each option will cost, b) Whether permission is likely to granted for any of these options. In furtherance of this a statement of the architectural significance of the church and its contents has been drawn up, and a similar document of our needs for the new church will be produced shortly. These are formal documents required for the application of permissions and faculties. The rebuilding group will be meeting with the DAC (Diocesan Advisory Committee) in the very near future to gauge their likely response to some of the options being considered. Once all this information has been gathered, it will be shared with the parish and the project will take a big leap forward. Meanwhile, thank you once again for your continued patience.
9 Dec - Drawings
Over the last few weeks the rebuilding committee have been working hard with the architects to produce a set of drawings that a) Address the needs identified by our consultation process and b) are in a format that is clear enough for us all to see and understand all the options. We are very hopeful that before Christmas the PCC will be able to view the plans for four alternative options, and that at an early point in the new year ALL our congregations and others will be able to see these plans - clear, costed, and with some idea from the diocese and others about whether they can be achieved. This we feel is the most positive way forward, and most likely to produce the best outcome.
1Nov - Fence Banners
The All Saints arise banner and boards with children’s pictures are nearly ready to go up on the fence around the church. Would anyone like to volunteer to help with mounting them on the fence?
19 Oct - The Appeal
Daniel Finnerty has had his sentence cut from 4 to 3.5 years and his three year extended license period overturned after the Court of Appeal heard that the teenager was on a 'positive trajectory' in his life. A statement from Rev Mark Hayton, originally presented at Winchester Crown Court before sentencing, was read out at the appeal. It stated that Rev Hayton thought he spoke on behalf of the parish of Fleet on the whole when saying we harbour no ill feeling towards Daniel. The ruling means that Daniel will be entitled to automatic release halfway through his sentence and will serve only 21 months. The teenager has been diagnosed with ADHD. Mr Justice Nicol urged that although 18 he should be allowed to carry out his sentence in the children's home.
9 Oct - Report from the Church News Sheet
This week the rebuilding committee met with our architects, Acanthus Clews. We are on target, hopefully, to see some provisional plans by the second week in November – which will be very exciting! These will offer some alternatives for us to consider, and will, in time be shared with the whole church community. We are planning to place a ‘Portacabin’ in the churchyard to provide additional temporary space for junior church, the parish office etc. We are working hard to obtain more chairs with arms, perhaps better seating for all, and to provide better service booklets, for those worshipping at the church centre. Tell us if there are other ways we can make this a better experience. We are close to finalising the pictures and banners that will hopefully make the cladding around the church scaffolding more attractive to look at. Please be assured that a lot of people are working very hard to get the rebuilding done as quickly as possible.
Report from the Church News Sheet
16 Sep -
Report from the Church News Sheet
There has not been an update for a while, but that does not mean that nothing has been happening. As you know we engaged a firm of Architects, Acanthus Clews of Banbury, to work with us in translating the vision that came out of our consultation exercise into some actual designs of what our rebuilt church might look like. They have been busy looking at all the material we have gathered, drawings of how the church was, a detailed survey of how it is, and our hopes for what it might become.
They have asked us a
number of detailed supplementary questions about how we actually use the
church and how we might use it in future. They are also working with us on
engaging other professionals who will work with us on the project, a
quantity surveyor, a conservationist, a structural engineer etc. In short
we are busy putting together the team who will help All Saints to ‘Arise’.
All this takes a lot of work and a lot of time.
9 April 2016
The work of scaffolding and erection of 'Top Hat' temporary roof is nearly finished, it should be completed by the end of this coming week.
Judge Keith Cutler CBE described the incident as "chilling" and that the photos of the church after the fire looked "horrific".
Crown Prosecutor Sharon
Senior stated "It has left the community heartbroken to see their
The Church fund towards rebuilding stands at £19,000. Support has been provided by Hart Council, The Diocese of Guilford, the insurers and loss adjusters. A specialist salvage team from Richford's have been working to clear the site and church from debris and making the area safe and secure.
The church is seeking the views of the Fleet community as to how it should progress with the re-building. They are holding three public meetings to update the public and to discuss issues surrounding rebuilding. These will be held at the church community centre on Sep 19th at 10am, Sep 24th at 7.30pm and Oct 10th at 10am. If you cannot attend put your ides in writing to: The PCC, Fleet Parish Community Centre, Church Rd, Fleet. GU51 4NN.
A 17 year old youth has been charged with arson and arson with intent.
About the Fire.
The fire started in evening of June 15th 2015
Fire brigades from Fleet, Rushmoor, Hartley Wintney and Odiham fought for over three hours before the blaze was under control. They could not save the roof of the church which has been completely destroyed although the brickwork has remained intact.
A 17 year old boy has been arrested on suspicion of arson. He was later bailed pending further investigation. Another boy aged 16 is helping police with their inquiries..
Children attending a ballet class within the adjacent church hall had to be evacuated to safety.
The 150th anniversary of the church was celebrated only last year.
Many local residents were huddled on the pavement in Church road, some in tears, as they looked at the ruin that was their church. Many were allowed to collect their belongings from within the church.
Thankfully no one was injured.
The vicar, Mark Hayton, has said the church was fully insured and plans are to rebuild to the original condition.
The church community is to keep track of its re-building using photos and information from the public.
In 1857 Mrs. Charles Lefroy died, and the squire resolved to build a church in her memory at Fleet. The first stone of the church was laid on 6th August 1860. Mr. Charles Lefroy and his two little motherless children, aged 11 and 12, were present. His own death in April 1861, occurred before the church was finished, and the work was carried on and completed by Mrs. Lefroy's father, Sir James Walker. It was designed by Mr. Burgess, the architect, in the style of an Italian Basilica, with a small apse for the chancel, and the narthex at the west end. The consecration took place in 1862 and a District was assigned to it and placed under the charge of the Rev. William Plummer. The church of All Saints contains a beautiful tomb with carved figures of the founder and his wife in effigy. The inscription on it reads as follows: To Janet the most dear wife of Charles Edward Lefroy, Esq. on whome may Jesue have mercy". To record the benefactions of her father, James Waker, Fsq. CE., F.R.S., to the parish of Crondall and his most liberal contributions to Christ's work of this building; this monument is placed MDCCCLXL". Also to Charles Edward Lefroy, Esq., born March 9th, 1810, died April 17th 1861, founder of this church, who in the midst of his work for God's Glory and the good of the parish, was taken to his rest".
The following is an extract from Notices of the Parish of Crondall by Sir J.H. Lefroy, R.A., privately printed in 1968: 'The last of the works it was given to my brother to inaugurate though not to complete, was the church at Fleet, in 1860-61. Many and mixed feelings induced him to select this distant corner of the parish for a monumental church to his wife's memory. It was not at the time much wanted, although a population was beginning to collect in the neighbourhood, evinced by the fact of a small railroad station having been established there, but it was certain to be wanted at no distant date, and the wild country, the open heath, the absence of elements of opposition, the pleasure of exercising a sort of creative power, all turned the scale against the suggestions to lay out the money in other ways nearer home. He did not live to complete the design, it was completed by James Walker, her father.'
The cost was: £ s. d.
C. E. Lefroy, or his estates by money or material 1122.0.0.
James Walker exclusive of an endowment of
The early Marriage Registers of Fleet contain many items of interest. The first marriage in the Parish Church was eighteen months after the consecration, and neither the bride nor the bridegroom lived in Fleet; the marriage was after the granting of the Superintendent Registrar's certificate; the entry in the register was wrong and had to be corrected two days later by the Rev. W.H. Plummer in the presence of the parties concerned. The second entry is also of interest, for the bridegroom aged 24 was a widower, and neither of the witnesses could write, and had to make a mark. Of the first eighteen marriages there were eight in which at least one of the parties could not write. Another interesting feature is the description given under the heading 'Rank or Professions', 'Coachman or Groom' figures frequently in the early days. 'Oil and Colourman', 'Railway Gateman' also appear and a remarkable number of 'Gentlemen'. In the first ten years after the opening of the church there were only eighteen marriages. The first Register book was not completed until 1922, and contains the records of less than 500 marriages, many of which were of families whose names are still frequently met in Fleet today.
The Church took over from a previously built school in 1863, and thereafter it was run as a Church School, supported by the Church, a little Government grant and the scholars' pence. (Each pupil was required to pay 2 pence per week towards the cost of their education).
In 1934 the church was enlarged to the west, which included the abolition of the narthex; and the removal of the west doorway with its sculptured typanum of Christ in Majesty to the south side, and a similar doorway of the Transfiguration (sculptured by Mr G. Parsons) being provided on the north side, and the removal of the founders tomb from near the altar to the south west corner of the extended north aisle.
In 1958 a new Lady Chapel and large modern vestry were added and dedicated by Ivor, Lord Bishop of Guildford, on the feast of Corpus Christi.
From time to time the church has been enriched by various gifts. The Processional Cross is a memorial to Lady Grace Bridges, and the silver cross and candlesticks on the high altar were presented by Lady Crookshank. The pair of eighteenth century Italian candlesticks were given in memory of the Rev J. Walker, and the large standard candlesticks in memory of Mr John Stronach.
The three windows in the apse representing Our Lord in Majesty, St Agnes Virgin and Martyr, and St Mary of Bethany are memorials to Colonel Bircham, Mildred Spurling and Grace Clare Oakley; and the large west window is in memory of William Mascall Kenrick, who carved the panels on the high altar. The Lectern was a gift in memory of Colonel Birchham. The statue of our Lady to the right of the altar was presented by Mr John Purser, A.RJ.B.A., and the della Robbia plaque of the Holy Family by one of the Clergy. The small cover for the font was designed and executed by Mr Seddon in memory of Miss Chinnock, a generous benefactor to the church.