Frensham Village Churches

Church and Clergy 1750-1870

Reproduced below is the Abstract of a Dissertation by Mary A Hewett entitled "The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Frensham, Farnham, Surrey and its Clergy, 1750-1870". 


In the years under consideration, the parish of Frensham was twenty-five miles in compass and largely composed of waste land. Amongst rolling pine-clad hills and deep valleys were the scattered homes of poor agricultural labourers and a few skilled craftsmen. At the northern end, the territory was kinder, although not rich, and here lived most of the more substantial yeomen farmers, some of whom farmed several hundred acres. Even the Manor of Frensham Beale, on the river Wey, was a working farm at the time. These men (together with a few gentry who moved into the district in the 19th century) were the mainstay of the care and administration of the Church and the village, acting in turn as Churchwardens, Overseers and other parish officials. The incumbent was a Perpetual Curate in the patronage of the Archdeacon of Surrey or one of his lessees. Secure in his freehold, he was obliged to exist on a mere pittance until assistance came from Queen Anne's Bounty, and even that did not appear to produce very much income until about 1800. There is evidence that this system of patronage, shown to have existed here between the Reformation and 1865, was used by wealthy individuals to further the interest of their clerical relatives in addition to boosting their income from the tithes. Although some of the lessees lived in the village - and enjoyed themselves there - others were absentees, with the tithe income passing to a distant clime. The Archdeacon, with a large mansion near the church, appears to have been a somewhat nebulous figure, although his total income derived from the town of Farnham and the nearby villages must have been large.

When the desire for reform came in the mid 19th century, the Bishop and parishioners were engaged in a rather unedifying confrontation with the Archdeacon and his lessees. Eventually solved by the falling-in of the leases and an Order in Council of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners of 1865, the tithe rent charges were returned to each of the parishes, and the Archdeacon compensated by a Canonry in Winchester Cathedral. Three years later, Frensham church was in urgent need of major repair, but also received a Victorian beautification which removed most of its mediaeval and Tudor features. But its work continued