Frensham Village Churches

Administration history

The administration of St Mary's was closely bound to the Archdeaconry of Surrey, which was endowed with the Rectory of Farnham and its four chapels (Frensham, Elstead, Seale and Bentley) from the 13th century; but from at least the time of the Reformation, the Archdeacon granted the benefice to a succession of lessees. They took all the tithes and had a duty to nominate the incumbent, who was a Perpetual Curate. He was licenced to the parish and held his freehold for life, none but the Bishop could remove him. He received a small stipend from the lessees; from the early 18th century this was augmented
by Queen Anne's Bounty.

The old parish was very large, roughly ten miles from north to south and 25 miles in compass. Even at the Tithe Commutation of 1839. over two-thirds was composed of waste, with settlements largely in the more habitable parts near the river and streams. From the southern end. Shottermill parish was separated in 1845, and Churt followed in 1865 The impropriator system as described above was ended by an Order in Council in 1865; each of the three parishes was to have its own Vicarwhose stipend was to come from the tithes of the old parish. The change was brought about by pressure from Bishop Sumner with sunstantial help from parishioners of Farnham and the villages. The Archceaccn was compensated with a stall in Winchester Cathedral but kept his patronage. By a formal exchange with Holy Trinity, Guildford, Frensham came under the Crown in 1929.

The Tithing of Dockenfield, formerly monastic land belonging to Waverley, came into the parish of Frensham immediately after the Reformation. It has its own daughter Church, The Good Shepherd, about one mile from Frensham. It was built in 1911 by Andrew Chuter and Sons or Frensham. 

In 2016 the parish status reverted back to that of a ‘Royal Peculiar’ following a ten year period when Frensham had been part of the Benefice of Rowledge.  

A "peculiar" is applied to ecclesiastical parishes, chapels or churches that are outside the jurisdiction of the bishop and archdeacon of the diocese in which they are situated. They include the separate or "peculiar" jurisdiction of the monarch, another archbishop, bishop or the dean and chapter of a cathedral also the Knights Templars and the Knights Hospitallers.  An Archbishop's Peculiar is subject to the direct jurisdiction of an archbishop and a Royal Peculiar is subject to the direct jurisdiction of the monarch. The concept dates from Anglo-Saxon times. Later it reflected the relationship between the Norman and Plantagenet kings and the English Church. Most peculiars survived the Reformation but, with the exception of Royal Peculiars, were finally abolished during the 19th century by Act of Parliament and became subject to the jurisdiction of the diocese in which they were, although a few non-royal peculiars do still exist. There are a number of Royal Peculiars of which Westminster Abbey (the Collegiate Church of St Peter, Westminster) and St George’s Chapel, Windsor (the Queen’s Free Chapel of St George in Windsor Castle) are the best known. Others include the Chapels Royal at Hampton Court and St James Palace, the Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy, the Chapels of St Peter ad Vincula and St John the Evangelist in the Tower of London and the Royal Foundation of St Katharine, and yes Frensham!