Last week, staff from Wellington’s Works and Estates Department gave their time and expertise to help renovate the lych-gate of Crowthorne parish church. College Archivist Caroline Jones went along to document the work and uncover some of the historic links between the church and the College.
In the later 19th century the hamlet of Crowthorne expanded considerably, partly to service the College and Broadmoor Hospital. The growing population needed their own parish church, and a temporary wooden building was put up on the site of the present fire station in 1868. Four years later, the foundation stone of the present church in Waterloo Road was laid, in a ceremony at which Wellington staff and students were present and lent their support to the choir.
In May 1873 the completed new building was consecrated. The architect was Arthur Blomfield, also responsible for the Combermere block and the Chapel extensions at Wellington. As before, the College choir sang at the opening ceremony, and the Wellington organist conducted all the music. The Master, Dr Benson, wrote a new hymn especially for the service. Two Wellington teachers donated items for the new church: Rev A Carr gave a brass eagle lectern and Rev T H Freer an offertory plate. Both these items are still in regular use at the church, and Reverend Freer’s name can be seen inscribed around the rim of the plate.
Many more Wellington staff have been associated with the church. Mr Spurling, who from 1867 to 1899 ran the College prep school, ‘The Towers’, was a churchwarden, and Mr Kempthorne (Common Room 1867-1903) served as President of the Parish Council. During the 1950s and 60s the Chapel choir visited the church, and in 1973 the College was involved in helping to celebrate the church’s centenary. We are also aware of at least sixteen College teachers, servants or students who are commemorated or buried there, and our next article will focus on some of them.
The lych-gate was erected in 1913, and later made into a war memorial by the addition of panels listing the men of Crowthorne killed in the First World War. During its current facelift, Wellington staff have renovated the guttering and replaced the wood of the nearby bench, as well as removing the damaged wooden cross, which will be replaced by a new one made by a parishioner. The College is very pleased to honour our long local connection by helping out in this way.