A Short Guide to St Nicolas Parish Church Cranleigh
As you enter the church you will see the Font which it is believed dates from the 14th century, although the stone carving is a later copy. The window behind is a reminder of various patrons and benefactors of the living, including Edward IV of the House of York, and Henry VII of the House of Tudor.
In 1552 there were four bells, the largest weighing 17 cwt (865 kg). There is now a peal of eight bells which were recast by Gillett and Johnson in 1954. To view, save or print details of the Bells in pdf format please see Bells specification.
A wooden screen and cupboards in front of the west window were erected in 2004.
Now walk up the centre of the Church. As you arrive level with the two pillars, surmounted by a statue of St John on your left, and St Nicolas on your right, you will have been walking very slightly uphill (the slope is 1:80). In ancient times the altar would have been just in front of you. It was mounted on a step which has now disappeared and has been lost in the slope of the floor.
The brass cross between the choir stalls is in memory of John Sapte, Rector from 1846 to 1906. Behind the altar there are Flemish brass panels (c 1565), and to the left there is an English brass of some importance, which shows an unusual depiction of the Resurrection.
The armorial shields behind the altar are those of the families associated with the estate of Baynards, Vachery and Knowle. On the other side, and on the floor, you can see under the credence table a brass of Richard Caryngton, a former Rector.
A noteworthy feature of the Chancel is the 14th century sedilia set in the south wall. The piscina is also 14th century but may have been redesigned in the 19th century.
The North Transept
On the north side of the pillar is a 12th century carving known as the "Cheshire Cat" reputed to have been the inspiration for the character in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.
In 1993 a new set of organ sounding pipes were installed. A series of cupboards were built in 2011 to house altar frontals, choir robes and flower arraning materials.
The North Aisle
The small statue by Edgar MacKennel (pictured right) was erected as a memorial to Amy Bonham by her mother. Originally sited in the north transept, the statue was moved when the cupboards were built.
The South Transept (Baynards' Chapel)
The South Aisle
On the south side of the pillar you will see a carved head. Some say it is Bishop Egynton of Winchester, 1346-1366, or his better known successor William of Wykeham. His coat of arms (Manners makyth man) can be seen in the window near the font.
The Organ at St Nicolas
By 1956 the organ was in poor condition and it was rebuilt by Hill, Norman and Beard. The Swell organ, Pedal organ and couplers were converted to electric or electro-pneumatic action (with the tracker action retained on the Great), the draw stops were replaced with stop tabs, some Swell Contra Oboe extensions were added, and the Great Dulciana was replaced with a Quint (which blended poorly).
The organ was thoroughly cleaned in 1974 and the Cornopean revoiced in 1987, but by the end of the 1980s the electrical relays were failing and the organ required a complete overhaul. A major reconstruction was completed in October 1993 by Brownes of Canterbury and the opportunity was taken to address other faults: the organ lacked brilliance and spoke into the Chancel rather than down the nave. Several new stops were added, the ranks were rearranged in the organ chamber and extended out into the North transept to improve projection down the church, and a new detached console was installed south of the crossing with a new electric action throughout.
To view, save or print the organ specification in pdf format, including notes on the extent of the work carried out in 1993, please see separate Organ page.
The Jubilee Window
The design is based upon the Tree of Life but there is much to see in the window, and it is really worth studying the printed card available in church which explains the significance and meaning of the design. Emily and Lily, Phillippa's granddaughters feature in the top part of the window.
The window was dedicated later in the year in the presence of HRH The Duchess of Wessex.
The Porch and Lych Gate
Several of the Sunday School children can claim to have touched the weather cock - but only when it was blown down in the storm of October 1987! The date 1702 is carved on the West Door, but the hinges suggest that it is rather older. One of the tombs at the back of the churchyard reputed to be the "smuggler's tomb" where contraband was concealed.
A very weather-beaten stone on the south wall dating from the 17th century was in memory of a yeoman, John Crabb (died 1628), who discovered the use of lime for lightening the heavy clay soil. The tablet was replaced in February 2013 on the initiative of the Cranleigh History Society as a joint enterprise between them and the Church.