Blackham All Saints’  Laying the foundation stone
Nearly twenty years ago when the late Rev T F Rudston Read was Rector of Withyham and the present Rector (Rev C N Sutton) was his energetic curate, the latter conceived the idea of carrying the work to the adjacent village of Blackham. He speedily put the idea into operation and although the work had a very humble beginning, it progressed rapidly and in August 1884, an iron church was erected for the services Some years ago the Rev Rudston Read passed to his rest and was succeeded by his curate who has never failed to take the keenest interest in a work which was originated mainly through his exertions. Under the guiding hand of the mother church at Withyham, the work at Blackham prospered greatly and for some years the tiny building has been totally inadequate for the needs of the hamlet. However, although the hope of building a structure which would be at once more convenient and more dignified than the present room has been cherished for some years, it is only within the last few months that it was found possible to commence operations On Monday the Archdeacon of Lewes laid a foundation stone and Blackham is within a measurable distance of having a church of which it may well be proud. The outer walls of the new edifice are being constructed of local stone from the Hackenden Quarries at East Grinstead with dressings of Bath stone. The style is early English and the church will consist of a chancel and nave with a stone bell turret at the west end. It will have a five-light east window and will hold nearly 200 persons. The site secured is within a stone’s throw of the present church. The architect is Mr Lacy Ridge R.R.IB.A and the builder Mr Charles Day of Gilridge, Cowden. The church, which is known as All Saints’, will not be opened with the burden of a heavy debt; indeed, it is reasonable to hope that all the money necessary will be raised by the time the building is ready for services. The total cost of the site, church and some of the fittings will be just £1,256. Towards this, £1,117 is either promised or given. The Chichester Diocesan Association, recognising the value of the work and the need of support, have made four grants, amounting in all to £125. The collections at the foundation stone laying on Monday reached £15 6s 9d so that about £124 is still required. Altar cloth A handsome altar cloth and altar linen is promised as a separate gift and one of the congregation has volunteered to make with his own hands the communion table and prayer desk. As in the past the Rector intends, with considerable courage, to undertake the work of both churches,
at all events for a time; but it is hoped that ere long efforts will be made to assist him. The Foundation Stone Laying This important ceremony was performed on Monday afternoon by the Ven Robert Sutton, Archdeacon of Lewes, who was assisted at the service by the clergy of the neighbourhood. There was also a large number of parishioners present The Archdeacon was accompanied on the temporary platform by the Rev C N Sutton (Rector of Withyham), A J Swainson (Rector of Forest Row and Rural Dean), C C Woodland (Hammerwood), A J Pulling (Ashurst), R Formby (Hartfield), R Fisher (Groombridge), H B Dunlop (Crowborough), with the Rev Gilchrist (Presbyterian minister), Mr A T A Pryce, Mr Lacy Ridge &c. The form of service used was the usual one for such ceremonies in the Diocese of Chichester. The hymns sung were – “We love the place of God,” “O Lord of Hosts,” “The Churh’s one foundation” and “All people that on earth do dwell.” Before proceeding to place the stone in position, the Archdeacon of Lewes said a few fitting words. He remarked at the outset that his first word must be one of humble thankfulness to Almighty God for having put that undertaking into the mind and heart of their rector and those who were associated with him. After some delay and the exercise of considerable patience on the part of these earnest workers, God had been pleased in his His mercy to bring the undertaking to its present very practical and encouraging stage.
In common with all who were acquainted with the hamlet of Blackham and with its needs and with the labours of love that the rector had expended for its spiritual advantage, he did most faithfully and earnestly sympathise with him in his heart’s desire – a new and regularly ordered church in place of the old mission room. In 1894 when he came there to visit the mission room and to view the site of the proposed new church he got into conversation with two most respectable and earnest-minded working-men. They told him how frequently the Rector was to be found at Blackham and of his deep personal interest in all that concerned the place. They also told him how very much they hoped that ere long a proper and more comely place of worship would be established in their midst in connection with the mother church at Withyham. Thankful He did not know if those men were present that day but if they were they would probably remember the circumstances and must feel thankful that their hopes had been so far realised.. The first stone – the foundation stone of what was to be the new building – was the keystone of the whole and had to be laid very carefully and very accurately so that all the materials which were to be used in the construction might be well bonded together, each portion contributing to the stability of the whole. This remark on the material fabric of the building must be very suggestive to them. It must suggest certain very precious spiritual lessons which was of the utmost consequence to their souls. “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid.” This was the Lord Jesus Christ. Other stones, great and small, would help to make the whole foundation but they would all depend for strength and value upon the stone with which they would be bonded. The foundation stone of God’s Church was Jesus Christ, on whom
all members of that church depended for their strength and support. It was upon many a humble Christian, unknown to the world, but well known to God, that God had built His Church. What a lesson they might learn as to the unity of the Church. He did long that unhappy divisions would cease and that they might all be of one mind and heart, not only in the acknowledgment of Christ but in the worship of him also.. Their Rector had told him he had invited some there that day who did not generally worship with him and he was very thankful he had done so. He was a decided Churchman himself but his heart went out in yearning love towards those who differed from him. He prayed earnestly to God that they might not wait until they reached Heaven but be joined together in Christ in this world. He was sur the unhappy divisions that were to be seen hindered heathen people from accepting Christ. In India they were told the heathens, when asked to become Christians, replied that there were so many kinds of Christians and they did not know which to join. He believed there was a great hindrance caused in their own country from the same cause. Why could not they all be joined together in one mind and body? He trusted that corner stone might be the earnest of the union of all the people in that parish. The Archdeacon then laid the stone which was inscribed as follows:- 1901 To the honour of God C N Sutton, Rector A T A Pryce } John Hall      } Churchwardens At the conclusion of the service a move was made to a house near at hand where tea was served. At the conclusion the Rector, the Rev C N Sutton, moved a vote of thanks to the Archdeacon for coming to lay the stone. From the first he had shown great interest in the undertaking. No sooner had the site been purchased than he wrote desiring to come to view the surroundings that he might plead their cause before the committee of the Chichester Diocesan Association and as effectively had he done so that four grants amounting in all to £125 had been made.. This might almost be looked upon as a record. They hoped to have the Archdeacon’s kindly presence for years to come (hear, hear). The Archdeacon of Lewes made a brief acknowledgement and the proceedings terminated.
Transcript from Kent & Sussex Courier 27 September 1901 Not only describes the event but gives valuable background information on the building of All Saints’
Photograph taken on day of laying of the foundation stone See below for more detailed photos of those present
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