Churches in Loxwood
St John the Baptist Loxwood (above)
Our church was constructed at the turn of the 20th century by a team of local builders led by principal builder, Henry Spooner of Alfold. The foundation stone was laid on August 28th 1900 and the church was officially opened a year later on August 20th 1901. The church was designed by the renowned Victorian architect Rowland Plumbe, who worked extensively on prestigious developments around London and was a ‘Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects’. Rowland Plumbe was a close family friend of Lionel and Emily Constable the owners of Ifold Manor, and they generously provided the land for the church and were also at the forefront of the local fundraising projects which helped to pay for the construction.
The church was positioned on higher ground overlooking the River Lox, across the road from the Victorian Schoolhouse and Vicarage and is a classic design of English Gothic Revival, with a crenelated watch tower and bell tower. The stained-glass windows flood the church with light and the height of the roof gives the building great prominence. The church is dedicated to St John the Baptist, a dedication that comes from the 15th century ‘site of the old chapel’, which was in the centre of the village. The first place of worship was a small oak framed oratory constructed in 1404 and that building is now known as Church Cottage. Having a place of worship encouraged more people to settle and around c1447 a small Chapel of Ease was built next to Church Cottage to serve the larger community. Over the centuries the Chapel of Ease was significantly enlarged and on 9th August 1873, in the presence of Queen Victoria at her court on the Isle of Wight, Loxwood Chapel of Ease was ratified as a consecrated church and was thereafter known as Loxwood Parish Church.
A place of worship has been at the centre of village life since the earliest times and today our church remains at the heart of the community. The building now has modern flexible seating, excellent acoustics, and a sound system with a relay to the Loxwood Church Room, which adjoins the church. The Church Room provides space for the after church service refreshments, a creche, childrens' groups and for many other non-church activities. The churchyard is open for burials and is being actively managed to maintain its rural nature and there is a Garden of Remembrance to one side, which is a peaceful area for quiet reflection.
It is believed that our church was the only one designed by Rowland Plumbe outside London, and the only instruction he undertook in a village, which must have given the congregation a great sense of pride at the time. The church contains some very ancient pews which ‘hint’ at its 15th century origins and the full story of the ‘site of the old chapel’ and our church, is now revealed in fascinating detail on the Loxwood History website which can be found by following this link.