St John’s is the parish church of Crowthorne. We are a very sociable, welcoming church, inclusive to all and with a close sense of community. We value the eucharist at the centre of our life of worship, and enjoy good teaching and preaching.
We are a thriving church which coped well through Covid, and even through the lockdowns we kept our numbers up through online media. Around 70 people attend each Sunday morning for worship.
We have a strong focus on missions. 12.5% of all planned giving goes to our missions. In fact, our previous vicar was attracted to the church based on our heart for missions.
Our foundations which can be built upon are:
- Sunday Eucharist, with a robed choir with an Organist
- Crèche area for very young children, and The Sunday Club once a month
- Different forms of worship, e.g. Taizé, All-age worship, All-Souls
- Lay Ministry team assisting with worship and special services
- A strong tradition of teaching
- Mothers Union and work amongst families of all ages
- Carer and Toddler service/Minus Fives
- Social events
- Good parish involvement in practical activities
- Active links with Churches Together in Crowthorne
- Regular giving to our Missions
- Strong links with local schools
The site was given as a free gift by Mrs Gibson of Sandhurst Lodge and Mr A.W.Blomfield was appointed as the Architect. The foundation Stone was laid on 27 September 1872 and only 8 months later there was a great gathering for the Consecration of the new Church by the Bishop of Oxford, Dr J Mackarness, on 5 May 1873.
On the 4th December 2009 The Secretary of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport added St John the Baptist Parish Church Crowthorne to the national list of buildings of special architectural or historical interest and designated the church, churchyard cross and lychgate as GRADE II.
The West End of the Church was altered in 1968 and the Hall extension added. During the early 1980’s the Chancel was re-ordered into its present shape and an extension added to the Hall. Because of its age and the need to bring this up to new government regulations, the design and use of the whole Hall has been re-developed to accommodate a Parish Office, seven store cupboards, refurbished kitchen and toilets, a disabled toilet and improved central heating and new carpeting.
In the past few years we have completed a massive programme of repair and restoration. The entire roof has been replaced, the Church heating system has been completely renovated to provide a modern “smart” heating system. The organ has been completely stripped down and refurbished, and we have installed a “state-of-the-art” audio/visual system.
Layout of the Church buildings
The main Nave and Chancel, will comfortably accommodate a congregation of 250 people and the adjoining hall can be brought into use to increase capacity to 400 people for larger services.
The Lady Chapel has seating for 20 people. There is a Vicar’s vestry as well as a Choir Vestry and Organ loft.
The hall is used by Church groups and Community Groups.
The Audio/Visual system extends to the hall with a permanent screen and speakers, which are used for meetings.
There is a modest kitchen, toilets including a disabled toilet.
The Churchyard of St John the Baptist Church has been used as a resting place for those who have died since 1873.
Historically, the Churchyard was the burial place for every resident within the parish.
The original churchyard was to the immediate north and south of the building, with the main area being the triangular area to the east between the church and the village. These are now called Old North, Old South and Old East.
In 1893 a 72 foot strip of land, to the west of the church was donated and 5 years later the rest of the land as far as Church Road West was purchased. Memorial tablets to record interments are located beside the path to the north of the church and also in the east.
Since 1971, Bracknell Forest has provided the Bracknell Cemetery and Crematorium as an alternative. Nevertheless, anyone who dies in the parish or while resident in it is still entitled to burial there. These rights apply to anyone, irrespective of whether they had any church or Christian commitment.
There are some 3300 records of people buried or interred in the Churchyard. These are assigned to 2300 graves. Most of these are Parishioners. It is not recorded whether people buried in the Churchyard had any Church commitment, but it is likely that most did not have such a commitment.
There are around 150 entries for children with no known graves, and a further 230 people with no known graves. This is not a new problem; the parish magazine of March 1897 records that nearly 100 graves were unidentified, out of a total at that time of 310.
In 1913, a memorial was erected in the Churchyard in memory of all those who are buried without a memorial. The inscription says “To the glory of God and in remembrance of many who without memorial rest in his loving keeping this cross is dedicated AD1913.”
The Lych Gate was erected in 1913 and was later converted into a War Memorial to the men of Crowthorne who lost their lives in the 1914 -18 War. The 1939-45 War Memorial was provided by the Parish Council and installed in 1953.
The Berkshire Family History Society has spent three years photographing and cataloguing the memorials in the Churchyard. The CD which they have produced includes records of the memorials to men and women killed during the two world wars.
The Berkshire Record Office holds most of the historical records for St John the Baptist Parish Church in Crowthorne, including wedding, baptismal and burial registers. The Church holds current and recent registers. It also holds a burial index and associated maps. Enquiries concerning family history should be directed to the Church Office.
The Garden of Remembrance
There are no further plots for burials or interments in the Churchyard. The Church has therefore provided a Garden of Remembrance where ashes of loved ones may be strewed. Strewing involves pouring the ashes directly into a prepared hole. The turf is replaced afterwards. There is a Book of Remembrance stored the the standing feature, with a page for each person. This is available to the family when visiting. There is a bench for quiet contemplation. The Church will maintain the site.
As there are no memorials, this Garden can be used in perpetuity. Do have a look at the Garden and the Book of Remembrance.
Monuments and Inscriptions
Peter Beaven has spent three years cataloguing the monument and inscriptions in our Church and Churchyard, on behalf of the Berkshire Family History Society. He has produced an amazingly detailed record of memorials from 1683 – 2011. This includes details of the memorials inside the Church and burial details of those listed on the war memorial at the Lych-gate. There are photographs of each memorial and a plan showing the location of each grave.
The CD can be purchased from the website of the Berkshire Family History Society and is priced at £7:50.
Peter based his investigations on the Church records, which have been maintained in recent years by David Bainbridge. We thank both David Bainbridge and Peter Beaven for their efforts in preserving this information, which is proving to be very valuable to families with relatives buried in our Churchyard.
The Church has a copy of the BFHS CD. This is available for viewing in the Church Office. The office will now also take over the responsibility for maintaining the Church records of burials. There are copies of these in the Church Office. Alternatively, you may send queries regarding the location of graves and inscriptions to Ken Perrett (email@example.com)
Care of the Churchyard
The Churchyard team works hard to provide a place of beauty for visitors.
The Churchyard is of significant importance to the people of the parish, and the Church is grateful for the recognition given to this by the Parish council in making grants towards the upkeep of the Churchyard. We are also grateful for the assistance being provided by Bracknell Forest Homes to install our new Garden of Remembrance.
The Churchyard attracts many visitors. Most of these are local families, visiting and caring for the graves of their relatives. Some people travel a great distance to visit. There are graves of significant historical importance in the Churchyard and these attract further visitors.