The churches of Beech Hill, Shinfield, Spencers Wood & Swallowfield serving the community
The churches of  Beech Hill,  Shinfield,  Spencers Wood  &  Swallowfield serving the community
The churches of
Beech Hill,
Spencers Wood
& Swallowfield

serving the community

Construction and interior

The church itself is constructed of local brick, flint and timber. The exterior of the building is faced with a pattern of red bricks and rough flints whilst the internal walls are decorated with ornamental bricks and tiles. The church was well endowed with stained glass windows, some of which were built by Gibbs and Kempe.

St Mary the Virgin, Beech Hill interiorThe inside of the church has changed little since its construction. Near the door, at the west end of the building, is the exquisite font given to the parish by Miss Hunter. The octagonal basin is of beautifully polished grey marble which contains many fossils. The basin stands upon a cluster pillar made of many types of marble. Near to the font are the ropes to ring the bells of the church. The two large bells were presented by Miss Ashburne and the smaller bell by the tenants and servants of Mr. Hunter and Mrs. Forbes.

The nave of the church is separated from the chancel by a rood screen of carved wood. At the centre of the screen is a canopy mounted with a large cross made of walnut and oak. The pulpit and lectern are also constructed from walnut and oak. In the middle of the chancel hangs a two tier corona which holds 40 candles.

The Bible and Prayer book, which were to be used during services, were given to the church by Miss Codrington. The linen for the altar of the church was given by Reverend G. Joyce, the rector of Stratfield Saye, whilst the vessels used for Holy Communion were a gift to the church from Mrs Forties. The alms-dish, also given by Mrs Forties, is of silver-gilt and has a representation of the Magi bearing gifts upon it in repoussé work.

To the left of the chancel is the church organ chamber. The original organ was a gift from James Forties and his sister and was constructed by the Nicholson Company from Worcester.

In 1873 after gaining the permission of the diocese the north side of the nave was extended to join the organ chamber. The vestry was also extended at this time. Once again William Butterfield was called upon to oversee the building work. Money for the extension was provided by Miss K Forbes. On 5th October 1936 permission was given by the Diocese of Oxford to install electricity in the church. The installation work cost the parish £40 14s 6d.

On 14th June 1967 the Commissioners of St Mary the Virgin, Beech Hill, were notified that the church was to be included in a list of buildings of special architectural and historic interest which was being compiled by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government.

To commemorate the centenary of the church a special evensong service was held on Sunday 15th October 1967. The service was attended by the Bishop of Oxford who gave the address. The Duke and Duchess of Wellington were also in the congregation.

The beautiful church of Beech Hill has been badly damaged over the years by subsidence. The 240 residents of Beech Hill managed to raise the grand total of £45,000 which together with an English Heritage grant of £150,000 was used to repair this historic building. Following the restoration work a service of thanksgiving took place on Thursday 3rd July 1997. Bishop Dominic Walker of Reading conducted the service and dedicated some new altar kneelers.
As St Mary the Virgin Beech Hill settles into the new millennium its congregation is thriving and regular services and many family events are held there.

The church is still the centre of this quiet village.

St Mary the Virgin Church, Beech Hill Road, Beech Hill, RG7 2BB