Waterden Road 1903. Reproduced courtesy of the Francis Frith Collection
In the 19th century the now separate parishes of Christ Church; St Saviour’s; Emmanuel, Stoughton and St Peter’s, Stoke Hill all lay within the single parish of Stoke-next-Guildford. By the middle of the century it had become apparent that the small parish church of St. John’s could not provide for the needs of the rapidly growing population in the north-east part of Guildford. Daughter churches were planned and the Rector of Stoke, the Reverend Francis Paynter, who held the living from 1862 to 1896, played a major part in the development, which led in 1868 to the building of a Chapel of Ease, now the nave of Christ Church.
When houses began to be built in the London Road and Waterden Road areas, Samuel Paynter (father of Francis), who had then been succeeded by his son as Rector of Stoke, undertook, at his own expense, to build a church on a site in Waterden Road. The plot of land on which the church now stands was accordingly acquired from the Trustees of the estate of William and Mary Ann Newland of Bramley for the sum of £300 and conveyed to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners by deed dated 20th June 1867.
Having acquired the land, building was started in July of the same year. Two months later on 5th September the foundation stone was laid. What is now the nave was completed in 1868 and consecrated on the 27th August 1868. While supported by donations from the whole of the parish of Stoke-next-Guildford and a generous donation from his father, Samuel Paynter, there is no doubt that a substantial part of the expense of the building was borne by the Rector himself. It is known that he gave his successor at Stoke, Bishop Ingham, a cheque for £600 so that he could finish building the tower in 1899. Following the completion of the nave in 1869, substantial building work continued, and in 1873 the chancel, the north aisle, including that part which is now the organ chamber and which was then the vestry, and the north-west porch with the lowest section of the tower above were completed. Consecration then took place on the 1st January 1874. After a rather longer interval the new vestry was added in 1889 and the main building was finally completed at the turn of the century when the tower and south aisle were duly consecrated.
Christ Church was designed by architect Ewan Christian, one of the most prominent and prolific ecclesiastical architects of his generation. The building is typical Victorian Gothic, built of Bargate stone from Busbridge near Godalming, with the lighter Bath stone showing on the tower and round the windows and with infilling of particularly fine small bricks.
Christ Church became independent of the mother Church in 1936. The Reverend Francis Paynter, M.A., was a patron of the Simeon Trust and St. John’s, Stoke and subsequently the Chapel of Ease which was to become Christ Church, both reflect his strong evangelical outlook. When the action was being taken to create Christ Church as a separate parish, the Parochial Church Council of Stoke requested and was given an assurance that the patronage of the new benefice of Christ Church would be vested in the Simeon’s Trustees.
Acknowledgement: This is taken from the book “The Story of Christ Church Guildford” which can be bought from the Church Office