Highbrook – All Saints

The parish of Highbrook was formed in 1882 out of West Hoathly, which is over two miles away along hilly roads.  The population was only 186 and the church owed its existence to the concerns of two sisters, Mrs Frances Kirby and Miss Caroline Weguelin who are commemorated in the  church.   They considered that the distance deterred church attendance, especially in winter; in addition, they disapproved of the low church sympathies of the then incumbent of West Hoathly (Mitchell/Shell Guide p125).  Ironically, the parish is now re-united with its parent.

The church stands on a ridge, with fine views in all directions.  It is a handsome building of local stone, with a tower and shingled broach spire at the east end of the north aisle.  Though this is the only aisle, the church must always have been too large for its congregation.  The architects were R H Carpenter and B Ingelow and the foundation stone was laid in 1884 (A 31 p287), when the cost was estimated at £4000 without any fittings, a generous amount for such a church; in the event, the final cost is said to have been £6,500 (KD 1899).  The chosen style is that of around 1300 with Decorated tracery, including a five-light east window.  The inside is relatively low as there is no clerestory, but the heads of the chancel arch and the three-bay arcade with octagonal piers etc are quite elaborately moulded.  The responds of the chancel arch consist of clustered shafts, and further serve to make the overall effect that is richer than most small C19 village churches.

The only significant later change is the black and white marble chancel floor of 1933 by W E Tower (CDG Sept 1933 p351).


Font: Straight-sided octagonal bowl with traceried sides.
Glass: The church has a set of glass by Clayton and Bell, installed in stages between 1885 and 1892 (CDG Sept 1933 p351).  The east window commemorates the parents of the donors.
Reredos and adjacent panelling: The designer of these is not recorded though they appear later than the fabric  The form of the reredos in particular, with a row of carved figures under canopies, suggests that Tower was responsible.
War memorial: (churchyard) Cross designed by Kempe and Co [i e W E Tower], 1920 (BE(W) p435).

My thanks to Nick Wiseman for the photographs