There is evidence of Christian worship in Banstead since Saxon times with a mention of a church in the Domesday Book of 1086.
The Lord of the Manor in Henry 1’s reign (early 12th century) gave the church to the Priory of St Mary Overie in Southwark. The stone church from the earliest times had a nave with North and South aisles and a chancel with North and South chapels. The chancel arcade and the nave piers are the most ancient parts of the present church. Most of the volutes on the capitals have not been finished by the mason. The church was a large building for a small hamlet with a small population. It is thought that the Lord of the Manor (at one time he was Hubert de Burgh) could have been the driving force behind this. The Manor House was adjacent to the church and archaeological remains have been found to the south of the church in the churchyard.
The present church, except for the aisles and vestry, was built between 1100 and 1220. The North and South aisles were probably added about a century later. The tower at the West end was built in the 13th century.
By the 19th century the church was in disrepair and was subject to extensive improvements by the architect G.E Street in the 1860s. In 1899 a set of six clerestory windows was added above the nave to improve the lighting. The windows of the South aisle and the naming of the Lambert Chapel (now the Choir Vestry) commemorate members of the Lambert family, significant donors to the church; and the Buckle family, major landowners who provided three vicars to the church, is remembered in the window at the East end of the North chapel. After 1920 this chapel became the War Memorial Chapel, and was later also known as the Lady Chapel.
Under the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947 the church was included in the list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest (Grade II*). The contents and fabric of the church have been recorded by members of the Chipstead Decorative and Fine Arts Society.
The Interior of the Church
As you enter by the door through the North porch immediately on view is the early 14th-century font of Caen limestone with a more modern stem, base and wooden cover dating from the restoration of the 1860s. The stone pulpit was also installed at that time, replacing a wooden structure.
The Chancel arch, part of the early structure, has a Victorian painted crucifix with the ancient roof beam above. There is evidence of some other wall paintings but these have been covered over.
The altar with seasonal frontal coverings is the focus of worship and backed by an Arts and Craft style reredos or gradine of beaten copper with the Latin words ‘Et Verbum Caro Factum Est’ (‘And the Word was made Flesh’). The East Window or Te Deum Window is in the form of three lancets showing Christ in Majesty, the Crucifixion and the Adoration of the Magi. This window was manufactured by Clayton & Bell in the 19th century.
The Lady (or Memorial) Chapel contains windows in the north wall to the three Armed Services, St George (Army), St Barbara (Royal Air Force) and St. Nicholas (Royal Navy). On the panels are listed the War dead of 1914-18 and in the Memorial Book all those local men who served, as well as those who gave their lives for their country. The East window is a memorial to the Buckle family, benefactors and priests. The windows were all manufactured by Herbert Bryans Studios in 1923/24.
The Epiphany Window on the North wall of the North aisle depicts the visit of the Wise Men to the infant Jesus at Bethlehem and was manufactured by Clayton & Bell in the 19th century. The cartoons for this window are held at the Surrey History Centre in Woking.
The oldest window, which dates from the 15th century, is above the vestry door in a wall which was once an external wall. It is regarded as an excellent example of Perpendicular tracery and has recently been restored.
In the South aisle there are many memorials of the Lambert family, who provided the funds for the restoration of this part of the church. The most notable one commemorates Sir Daniel Lambert, who was Lord Mayor of London in 1741. There are also several windows in memory of other Lambert family members. One contains shields of the Lambert family surrounding a picture of Christ in the carpenter’s shop, which was manufactured by Clayton & Bell in 19th century.
There are many other wall memorials and wall slabs in the church. The oldest is the low-relief figure of a chrisom child, Paule Tracy, who died in 1618 within a month of being baptised.
The tower is a massive early 13th century fortress structure with walls two metres thick and was restored in the 1860s. There is a ringing chamber for a peal of eight bells. The West window is also worthy of note: the design on the left of the figure of Ezekiel was by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the the figure of John the Baptist on the right was designed by William Morris. The window was manufactured by George Campfield at Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co, therefore being an ‘Arts and Crafts’ window.
The pillars are 13th century with pointed Gothic arches. The nave pillars are also polygonal but plain with apparently unfinished capitals. Some evidence of mediaeval graffiti has been found in the church.
The turret clock manufactured by J. B. Joyce & Co. Whitchurch, Shropshire. It was donated to the church by Lt-Col Thomas Parkinson in memory of his son, Lt Thomas Parkinson RN, who died in 1925.