St John the Evangelist Church, Stoke next Guildford, Surrey - Monuments

St John the Evangelist, Stoke-next-Guildford, a 20 minute brisk walk out northwards from the centre of Guildford, makes an interesting visit for its its ambience and its monuments – a goodly number of panels from the plainest through to several with good sculptural decoration.

The Church itself is mostly Victorian, with a few earlier features, and the tower being largely of the 15th Century. It is this tower, square, rather squat, and battlemented, which forms the main feature of the exterior, the rest being the rather plain walls, windows and roofs of the broad nave and aisles. Having said which, the Victorian coating of flint and large stones and the buttressing give a unity to the Church, and its site within its large churchyard is fine.

St John the Evangelist, Stoke next Guildford.

Inside there is an exposed-beam roof, low pillars, some ancient, supporting arches separating off the aisles, and a sense of several explorable spaces rather than just one (see an example above right) – and all those monuments on the walls, our interest here. In all, the Church contains over 30 wall monuments, with several from the early 18th Century, the majority from the 19th Century, and a few into the 20th Century. Most are shaped white marble panels, or the white-marble-on-black panels popular from the 1780s through to early Victorian times, but among them are four with figure sculpture, and a couple of good portraits in high relief. Also some variety of minor carving exemplifying a range of the types of panel of this period. A good number of the panels are signed by the sculptors or stonemasons who made them, which is always interesting, and we can find works by important sculptors – John Flaxman, John Bacon Junior, and E.H. Baily, and by less familiar names including Charles Regnart and C.H. Smith, as well as simpler works by a local man, J. Smart of Guildford, by the prolific Gaffin of Regent Street, and others.

18th Century panels:

19th Century Monuments:

20th Century Monuments:

Also in the Church

Outside the Church

Outside, the large churchyard, which extends across the road, contains a variety of headstones, of Gothic and Classical form, a fair number of crosses including Celtic ones (see the page on Cross monuments, and the page on Churchyard monuments) as well as a number cut to unusual shapes such as keyholes. There are a fair number of chest tombs of various types, and in various states of preservation. What sculptural ornament there is, is minor. There is also a tall cross as a World War I memorial.

St John in its churchyard, and Stoke War Memorial.

With many thanks to the Church authorities for permission to show pictures of the monuments inside; their website is http://stjohns-stoke.co.uk/.

Also in Surrey: Walton on Thames Church // Richmond Church // All Saints Church, Carshalton // St Martin's Church, Epsom // and formerly in Surrey: St Mary the Virgin, Merton // St Mary, Battersea

Monuments in some London Churches // Introduction to church monuments

Angel statues // Cherub sculpture // Sculptors

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