Holmwood: Church of St Mary Magdalene

Church of St Mary Magdalene, South Holmwood. Photograph: Kathy Atherton

Church of St Mary Magdalene, South Holmwood
Photograph: Kathy Atherton

The church of St Mary Magdalene sits to the west of the Horsham road directly opposite what was the great carriage drive to Holmwood House (later Holmwood Park).

It was largely endowed by Mrs Charlotte Larpent of Holmwood House and her mother, Mary Ann Arnold. Designed by John Burges Watson, it was built in 1838. The original church was a small, simple and pleasingly rustic church, seating only 275. It had neither spire nor tower. A modest vicarage by the same architect was built for the first vicar, the Reverend John Sutton Utterton, the following year. The vicarage was much enlarged during the time of the next incumbent, Edmund Dawe Wickham, an independently wealthy man with a large family.

The parish of Holmwood was created from parts of Dorking and Capel parishes. Part of the parish was removed when Coldharbour parish was created in 1848, with a swathe of land to the north being added in recompense. In 1874, when North Holmwood parish was established, that area was removed.

In 1842 a chancel was added, designed by James William Wild. This added 150 to the seating capacity. So much has the church been extended, with the addition of a tower, that it is now scarcely recognisable as the simple church of 1838.

The church contains memorials or commemorative windows to John Gough Nichols, the antiquarian publisher of The Gentlemans Magazine, and to Admiral Sir Leopold Heath. George Rennie, the civil engineer and bridge builder, is buried in the churchyard, as is porn star Mary Millington.

13 thoughts on “Holmwood: Church of St Mary Magdalene”

  1. Steve Lucas says:

    My Great, Great Grandfather, Henry Lucas, married Susan West in this church on 31st October 1852. I do not know the name of the vicar who married them. The Reverend John Sutton Utterton was the first Suffragan Bishop of Guildford from 1874 until his death on 21st December 1879.

  2. John Morley says:

    The gate by the A24 has walls erected in memory of Major General Lionel Henry Planta De Hochpied Larpent. I can find no reference anywhere to his connection with the church or the district. I wonder if anyone has any information.
    Thank you

    1. Jon Curtis says:

      If it helps, Sir John James De Hochepied Larpent (1783-1860) is buried there with his wife Georgiana Frances Reeves De Hochepied Larpent (1801 – 1836)

      Theres a photo of the grave on http://www.findagrave.com


      1. Canon Dirk van Leeuwen says:

        The connection is Holmwood House.

        The wording of the Holmwood Larpent memorials is as follows:

        ‘Sacred to the memory of Catherine Mary, wife of Baron de Hochepied-Larpent, daughter of Major General Sir P Melvill Melvill KCS who died at Dharwar in the presidency of Bombay in the East Indies on the 27th of March 1872 at the age of 32 years’

        ‘To the glory of God and in affectionate remembrance of Charlotte Rosamund Larpent who with her friends in the year 1838 founded and endowed this church and built the parsonage and schools her body rests in this churchyard. The memory of the just is blessed’

        ‘In this churchyard lie the remains of Seymour Larpent Esquire of Holmwood House late barrister at law judge advocate of the forces under the Duke of Wellington during the Peninsular War and afterwards chairman of the Audit office’

        The lych gate walls were constructed in memory of Maj Gen Lionel Henry Planta de Hochepied Larpent died 29th Apr 1907 second son of Baron John James de Hochepied Larpent and his wife Georgiana.

  3. Maureen says:

    It was most useful to discover the gravestone of Captain Sydney Herbert Morris who died during WW1 – see http://www.findagrave.com He was Medical Officer of Health in Frizington, Cumbria before he joined up and was presented with a lovely gold watch by the residents when he left – I have a photograph. Are there any of his descendents in the area?

  4. Christine Barnes says:

    My parents were married in St Mary Magdalene on 22 March 1952 and I was baptised there in 1953. I have been researching my family tree and the Barnes family have lived in South Holmwood since the 18th century. ‘Uncle Pedlar’ even attended my parents wedding and he was a well known character being the local grave digger, I remember his black bushy beard. I lived in Ashleigh Cottages and went to school at South Holmwood Primary School, often walking along the lane next to the church, when Mr Jolly was the headmaster. I believe numerous members of my family are buried in the churchyard.

    1. Margaret McLear nee Norton says:

      Hi Christine. I remember you well. We were in the same class at school.my maiden name was Norton.

  5. Jandy Spurway (Paton) says:

    The Reverend Frank Spurway was my father and both my sister, Odeyne, and myself, Jandy, were married in the church by Dad during the 1960’s. I have so many lovely memories of growing up in Holmwood – it took my father 15 hours to mow the lawn and he marked out the tennis court too! – life seemed to be full of lovely summer days but no central heating and stone floors were a different matter.
    Recently I returned, after 50 years, for a visit which I much enjoyed.

    1. Roger Bolton says:

      Dear Jandy, if I may call you that,
      My name is Roger Bolton and I live in the Manor House, Little Gaddesden, which was the home of your mother’s great friend Kathleen Talbot.
      I have published a book about the Talbots called A Family at War, which includes references to your mother.
      I wonder if you had any details of her 1st world war work at Clopton with Kathleen?
      Best Wishes,
      Roger Bolton

  6. Margaret McLear nee Norton says:

    So many happy memories of Holmwood church. I sang in the choir for many years. Reverend Spurway was the incumbent when I was a child. I remember his children’s church very well.
    Both of my parents, friends and many acquaintances are buried in the church

  7. Karen Wheeler Cole says:

    I’m researching a relative to whom my father was close as a child. He was an ex WW2 POW. From research I believe that he has a grave in your churchyard – is it possible to have a transcription of his headstone, if one exists please? I am on the Isle of Wight so unable to visit in person.
    His name was Frederick George Weston, 1908 – 1966; his plot number is 3258.
    I’d be very grateful for any assistance you can give.
    Thank you so much in advance.

  8. My Tickner family grew up in Holmwood from 1850s to 1920s. They married in the church. I am writing up their story.

  9. Carol Bockman says:

    My 2x great grandfather, Charles Hill is buried in the churchyard. I am unsure if there is a gravestone. He was buried in 1906.

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