St. Paul’s Woldingham
A church in Woldingham was first mentioned in 1270; that church being then, as now, St Agatha’s, about half a mile south of the village green. With the growth of the village’s population in Victorian times, a new, larger, wooden church dedicated to St Paul, was built in 1905 on the site of the current village hall.
However, as Woldingham continued to grow in the 1920s and 1930s, Mr Alexander Shaw, later Lord Craigmyle, in memory of his father-in-law, the Earl of Inchcape, decided to donate a new St Paul’s to the village.
The church was designed by Sir Herbert Baker in a medieval style and built of flint and stone in 1933. The lettering “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace” behind the alter is set in agates donated by the Nizam of Hyderabad. The colourful, stained-glass windows were designed by Douglas Strachan and H Hendrie.
In 2007, a new church room, in total harmony with the style of the existing building, was added to St Paul’s.
St. Agatha’s Woldingham
A church at the site of St Agatha’s, about half a mile south of the village centre, was first mentioned in 1270 and is presumed to have been dedicated to the same saint. The existing yew tree at St Agatha’s certainly dates from before 1270. It is believed that a parson’s house or cottage once stood adjacent to the church.
During the Reformation, church goods included a chalice of silver, a pyx of latten, cruets of tin, two altar cloths and various vestments of fustian and silk. All that was kept were a chalice (presumably a cheaper replacement), a cope, a vestment for use as a communion cloth table, two linen cloths and some bells. The rest were sold. Sadly, by 1677, according to John Evelyn, St Agatha’s had fallen into disrepair.
In 1809, Manning and Bray described it as follows: “It stands in a wood distant from any house, and consists of one room about 10 yards long and 7 yards wide”.
Those are largely the dimensions of St Agatha’s today, one of the smallest churches in England and the third highest in Surrey, on top of the North Downs, at some 240 metres (or 790 feet) above sea level.
The earlier church was replaced in 1832 by Mr G F Jones, owner of nearby Upper Court Manor, and restored largely to its present condition by Sir Walpole Greenwell in 1889. St Agatha’s has a country churchyard set in an area of outstanding natural beauty where residents of Woldingham have been laid to rest for many centuries.