Open days give insight into history of Grade I-listed All Saints Church

A Grade I-listed church designed by the famous architect George Edmund Street was open to the public as part of a heritage open day this weekend.

All Saints Church was originally built for £5,000 and commissioned by two sisters, Misses Maria and Emily Hulme, in 1857.

Former churchwarden and historian Ken Smith has spent years researching the history of the church, from the stained glass windows to the bricks from a company believed to be based in Bisham.

He said: “Boyne Hill was chosen as an open rural site which would be helpful to Emily’s poor health and Charles Pascoe Grenfell gave the land in 1854.

“Street felt that the Gothic style embodied the Christian faith and his best known design is of the law courts in The Strand.

“He regarded All Saints as his most important church design.”

The tower of the church was built in 1865 for £2,617, with additional money donated by the first Reverend William Gresley. There was also an extension to the church by Street’s son Arthur in 1907.

“The tower had to be refurbished in 2008 at a cost of £800,000, which was mainly funded by English Heritage,” added Ken.

The decor of the church is also significant, with the designs becoming more elaborate the closer you get to the High Altar.

Ken said: “The stained glass windows were designed by the likes of William Hardman, William Wailes  and Ninian Comper.”

Worshippers of the church may also notice 14 gold moulded plastic Stations of the Cross around the church, which were commissioned by ITV for an episode of Inspector Morse in the 1980s. After filming finished at Bray Church, All Saints contacted the producer and bought the crosses.

Gothic arches are also a common theme in the church and can be found in the window designs, the sedilia seats, the benches and the chancel.

The church has a number of war memorials to honour the fallen soldiers of the first and second world wars.

The oak cover of the baptism font is inscribed to the memory of William Howe Bissley, who was killed in August 1916 and was the son of a churchwarden at All Saints.

The church was open to visitors from Thursday to Saturday for the volunteer-led guided tours.

Ken said: “It’s been very successful, we’ve had some lovely feedback in our comments book.”

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