New book dismisses old village myth

Janet Balchin with St Peter and St Paul Ewhurst rector Rev David Minns
Janet Balchin with St Peter and St Paul Ewhurst rector Rev David Minns

A new book on Ewhurst Parish Church aims to shed light on the history of the Grade 1 listed building, which is more than 900 years old.

St Peter and St Paul Ewhurst, a Guide and History has been researched and written by village historian Janet Balchin.

Among other things, the book lays to rest a widely-believed local myth about the bell tower collapse in 1837.

A broken headstone in the churchyard is said to have been caused by the collapse, but the book dismisses this claim with the help of a recent churchyard survey.

Unusual carvings around the church door are revealed to be examples of 17th century graffiti, although some may date back to medieval times.

The churchyard survey identifies several important people - able to afford headstones which have survived to this day - who are buried there.

Notable examples include Major General Euston Henry Sartorius, who was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1879 for bravery in the Afghan war.

Also in the book is Mary Ann Ewart, a pioneer of women’s education who helped found Newnham College, Cambridge, and had Coneyhurst-on-the-Hill built.

The book documents the changing face of Ewhurst Parish Church through the centuries, both inside and out, with contemporaneous illustrations – some of which are published for the first time.

They include early 19th century watercolours by father and son, John and Edward Hassell.

The book is available at £12.50 (plus £4.50 pp) from Ewhurst History Society (email Janet Balchin (01483 277342) or Anne Barret-Lennard (01483 277075).

Proceeds from book sales (after expenses have been covered) will be divided between Ewhurst History Society and the church.