History & Buildings

The present Church and Parish were created on 13th November 1913 when the Church was consecrated by the Bishop of Chichester, Dr. Ridgeway.

Before the Church was built, services were held both in the Ridge Chapel on the Forest and in the Church of St Richard de Wych in Ashdowne Park. The latter has since been demolished.

The Church’s principal benefactor was John Mc Andrew who lived at Holly Hill in the Parish. Mr Mc Andrew was a Churchwarden of St Mary’s the Virgin Church in the Ecclesiastical Parish of Hartfield. He was also a wealthy landowner, magistrate and County Councillor.

In 1911 Mr Mc Andrew had a major disagreement with the Rector of Hartfield. He and others, including the organist and choir, were offended by and objected to the Rector’s move towards a “high Church” style. Such disagreements were not untypical of the religious tensions prevalent in the early years of the twentieth century. Mr Mc Andrew resigned as a Churchwarden and Bishop Ridgeway was prevailed upon to create a new Parish and Church at Coleman’s Hatch.

The foundation stone for the new Church was laid by Ann Mc Andrew for Caroline Darling on 7th August 1912 and the Holy Trinity Church was consecrated on 13th November 1913.

Mr Mc Andrew and his family provided the land and money to build the Church, Vicarage, Verger’s Cottage and, later the Vicarage Room in the Church grounds. He installed a Vicar with a full endowment; and all his retainers and the local agricultural workers were then required to attend each Sunday for a “Broad Church” service.

The Reuniting of the Benefices

The benefices of Hartfield and Coleman’s Hatch remained separate from 1913 until they were reunited in 1979 when the Rector of Hartfield was appointed as Rector of Coleman’s Hatch. The two Parochial Church Councils (PCCs) voted to remain in place, with separate accounts and sharing the Parish Contribution to the Diocese. The Benefice achieved 100% responsibility for their incumbent but, as in many parishes, is now finding this increasingly challenging.

Recent history

In recent years, several services of significance have taken place in Holy Trinity Church including: –

• Foundation Stone Centenary – A special service was held on 7th August 2012 to commemorate the centenary of the laying of the foundation stone. The Bishop of Lewes, the Rt. Rev. Wallace Benn presided.

• On 14th April 2013, a special service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving and Rededication was held, following the restoration of the grave of Major General Clifford Coffin VC, CB, DSO & Bar (10 February 1870 – 4 February 1959) who was buried in Holy Trinity’s churchyard.

• Centenary Service – A special service was held on 27th November 2013 to commemorate the Church’s centenary. The Bishop of Chichester, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Martin Warner presided. The service was attended by several local dignitaries including the Vice Lord Lieutenant of Sussex, Sara Stonor.

The church is used for services by Ashdown House and Michael Hall Schools. It also provides an excellent venue for concerts for, among others, The Hartfield Singers.

Architecture and Construction

The architects of the Church were Arthur W Blomfield & Sons and the builders were James Longley & Co. The Blomfield practice was well known for building churches in the Gothic style of the 13th century. The use of brick covered with sandstone was a significant feature of sound building construction. The tower & spire is a prominent landmark.

A feature of the Church is its unusual spaciousness. Including the north aisle, the length of the Nave to the Chancel is 62 feet and the width 37 feet. The height is nearly 30 feet to the king posts. In addition to the space for a congregation of 330 there is vestry accommodation for the choir and clergy.

Interior Features

1.Tower & Spire and Entrance Porch

The tower & spire is some 100 feet high. Although it gives the impression of stone its main construction is of brick. It houses a bell chamber with a peal of eight bells and quarter chimes by Gillett & Johnston. The bells were the gift of friends and relations of Mr Mc Andrew. The eight bells are rung for all services.

The Church is entered through a spacious porch under the tower & spire.

2.Baptistery

On entering the Church, the interior apsidal baptistery with font is on the left. The windows were the gift of the Rev. J. L. Ogle, the first incumbent. The three lights represent Love, Faith and Hope.

3.The War Memorial

A War Memorial (by Gillett & Johnston) was put up in 1921 at the west end of the north aisle opposite the entrance. It commemorates those of the Parish from both world wars. The names of those who returned safely are recorded in the Vicarage Room. The Book of Remembrance and its case were the gift of Lady Hildyard. The three windows are the ‘Annunciation’, the ‘Vision of the Angels at Bethlehem’ and ‘Angels and Emblems of the Passion’, another gift from the Rev. J. L. Ogle.

4.Nave

The Nave consists of three rows of pews seating 330 in total and two aisles. The pews in the north and the north aisle are separated by four pillars from centre pews, the main aisle in the middle leading to the Chancel and the pews in the south. On the north side there are four windows and, on the south side, three.

5.Pictures

When John Mc Andrew died aged 87 in 1925 a faculty was granted for the hanging of two pictures on the south wall of the Church. These were copies made by his sister of pictures from the National Gallery. The one by the south east door is ‘The dead Christ with the Virgin Mary and Angels’ by Francia. The picture by the south west door is ‘The Holy Family’ by Murillo. An alabaster tablet in memory of John Mc Andrew is on the south wall.

6.The Windows

The windows were added at different dates, all in the first half of the twentieth century. At the west end of the north aisle by the War Memorial are the two Sussex saints, St. Wilfred and St. Richard with coats of arms. They are in memory of the Rev. Charles Brereton Foyster, the second incumbent.

On the north side there are four windows. The westernmost window, by Frederick Cole of the William Morris Studio, ‘I will ascend unto my Father’ was given by a benefactor Miss Evelyn May Savill. In the centre, a double window ‘Hail Mary’ and ‘On Earth Peace’ is by James Powell & Sons (also known as Whitefriars Glass) and from Edward and Alice Martin. Further east, a window ‘The Sower went forth’ and ‘I am the Good Shepherd’ is in memory of Marion Young. The untitled small window furthest east is in memory of John Riley Missen, Vicar of this Parish from 1939 to 1975.

On the south side, the eastern window has two compositions ‘He blessed them’ and ‘He took bread’ and is in memory of Caroline Darling. The central window ‘Jesus drew himself near’ and ‘He is not here’ is in memory of Henrietta and Jeffrey Hale. The western window, a single composition ‘Jesus said behold thy mother’ is in memory of Ann Mc Andrew, John’s sister.

7.Chancel

The Chancel and Sanctuary were given by Miss Eliza Darling in memory of her sisters Caroline and Agnes, who also added to the endowment.

Their father the Rev. F. Darling took the services in the Ridge Chapel. The east window, a Mc Andrew gift, is by Charles Powell and depicts ‘St. John’s vision of our Lord in Glory with the Saints and Archangels’. The choir stalls seat 24. The Church has a strong musical tradition and between the wars the choir won various awards.

The reredos behind the altar is in 13th century Early English style.

The east windows depict ‘St. Paul and St. Stephen’ and are in memory of George Charlton Hale and ‘Isaiah and Jacob’ in memory of Bernard Hale. There is a tablet in the Chancel to the Darling family.

 8.Organ

Built by Messrs. J.W. Walker & Sons 1913, it is set in its own separate space to the north side of the choir stalls. There is ample space around the organ enhancing the acoustics across the Chancel into the Nave. The instrument is typical of Walkers at a high point in the firm’s history and is highly thought of by local organists. The specification includes a Great, Swell and Pedal organ with a variety of two, four, eight and sixteen foot stops. There are 958 pipes and it has a manual compass of 58 notes.