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St Peter and St Paul, Ewhurst, Surrey

(51°9′15″N, 0°26′29″W)
TQ 091 406
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales) Surrey
now Surrey
medieval Winchester
now Guildford
  • Sabrina Harcourt-Smith
1 September 2004

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A cruciform building of Wealden sandstone with aisleless nave, transepts, square central tower with belfry, and chancel. This church is complex to date, as although it is early Romanesque in origin with 13c.work and 15c./ 16c. additions, extensive repairs and drastic rebuilding in 1838-39 altered many of its parts, and covered up original features. The building styles fall into six periods, including modern times. (1). There are remains of 12c. masonry within the nave walls, but they are inaccessible behind a heavy plaster layer of c.1838 (V.C.H.III, 100). The exterior S nave doorway with twin columns and cushion capitals, is a fine example of early Romanesque style. (2).The tower arches were apparently altered during the rebuilding (Short Church Guide), but the rough and heavy stonework with double chamfered edges is basically 13c., also some fabric in the S.transept with its 3 single lancet windows (3). The nave has late-15c. alterations and additions: timber porch, the W. doorway made of chalk, W. 3-light window and a 2-light Perp. window in the S. wall. Perp. window in S. transept. (4). Late 16c. work includes the nave roof with king-posts and moulded tie-beams. (5). The tower fell in 1838, and together with most of the chancel and the N. transept, was rebuilt by Robert Ebbels in Romanesque style. (6). Spire, chancel roof and part of the N. transept roof are modern. There was a restoration programme carried out in 1954. The Romanesque features described here are the S doorway and the font.


There is no mention of Ewhurst in the Domesday Survey, probably because it was an outlying settlement of the Royal Manor of Gomshall in Blackheath Hundred, and is said to have originated as a chapel to Shere, becoming a parish church by 1291 (V.C.H. III, 97ff; Short Church Guide, 2). The advowson belonged to Merton Priory ‘from time immemorial’ who kept it until the Dissolution (V.C.H. II, 9; III, 101,n.95,96). At an Assize in Jan. 1207, jurors found that the most recent presentation to the church at Ewhurst had been made by the Prior of Merton (Heales, 64).


Exterior Features





The S doorway dates from the 1st quarter of the 12thc, and is rated by Pevsner as 'the best piece of Norman decoration in Surrey.’ V.C.H. (1911) considers the doorway to be ‘somewhat restored’. It was enclosed by a porch at some point in the 19th c., and was the principal entrance to the church until 1902. W.McG. Eager (1958 guide, see Pevsner) suggests that the doorway was altered during the 1838/39 restoration. Pevsner is less critical of the 1838 restorers than the VCH, and allows a fair part of original 13thc. work to be still in situ and authentic (nave, crossing arches, S.transept).

The evidence of the different column heights, the repaired western necking and later base, and the addition of the extra block to the eastern capital, does suggest that the doorway was restored or repaired at some time in the 19thc.

The remoteness of medieval Ewhurst, hidden in the Wealden forest at the southern edge of the Hundred, explains the unsophisticated font. It dates from the very late 12c. or even early 13c., but is wholly Romanesque in feel and style


P. Brandon, A History of Surrey, Phillimore, 1977

J. English and D. Turner, “Medieval Settlement in the Blackheath Hundred “, Chapter 8 in Aspects of Archaeology and History in Surrey: towards a research framework for the county, edited by Jonathan Cotton, Glenys Crocker and Audrey Graham, Guildford, 2004

A. Heales, The Records of Merton Priory in the County of Surrey, London, 1988.

I. Nairn and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Surrey, 2nd ed. 1971, revised B.Cherry, reprinted 1990, p.226; pl.10, S.doorway.

The Shere, Gomshall and Peaslake Local History Society, A Short History, major revision 2003.

Victoria County History; Surrey, II, 1967; III, 1911, pp.97 –101

C. Watson, The Church in Ewhurst ; 700 years, 1991. (Guide book available in church)

John White, Short Guide to our Parish Church, 1992.(leaflet available in church). Based on W.McG Eager`s “The Church of St Peter and St Paul” of 1958.