Haslemere, Surrey

Although Methodists had been living in Haslemere for a number of years beforehand, regular worship services were not held in the town until a Mr.Booth and others rented a room in former stabling at the rear of the White Horse Inn in the High Street sometime in the 1880s. The earliest formal record of services dates from 1887. The first Trust was formed in 1895 and a corrugated iron building was acquired in the garden of 'Hillcrest', the manse of the then Congregational Minister, the Rev. G.B.Stallworthy. With the building of a new ‘Technical Room’ in Foundry Lane (now Kings Road), they decided to move to more commodious premises.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, it was decided to move into more commodious premises. Under the auspices of Hugh Price Hughes, the Second London District Home Mission Committee had established the Surrey and North Hants Mission. With a grant from this body, a site was purchased for £100) and premises built on Foundry Lane (now King's Road) for £1200. They were opened by Mrs. Price Hughes in January 1901. (The Price Hughes were looking to retire to Haslemere, where they had acquired a home.) The old ‘tin chapel’ was moved to Greatham, where it was the local Methodist Chapel until 1965.

The new premises were on a steep, narrow site squeezed between two roads, with an entrance to the lower floor Hall on Lower Street and the entrance to the Church on the upper level in Foundry Lane. These premises suited the congregation well, though as time passed, the work of the Church required more space. Sunday School was held in various houses and the Sea Scout Hut. During both World Wars the chapel provided a friendly haven to the many British and Canadian troops encamped and billeted in the area.

In 1947, inspired by the local authority’s plan for a new civic centre at Lion Green, a larger site in the proposed centre was purchased for £1,000. After many delays and changes of plan, including the cancellation of the original civic centre scheme, a new Church finally opened there on 11th March, 1972 (upgraded in 2000 with improved accessibility).

The new Lion Green premises are spacious and flexible, both in the worship area and in their provision for social, educational and community use. The Open Door coffee shop is home to a listening and counselling service and the premises are used by a number of organisations, including Alcoholics Anonymous. As the only Methodist Church for quite a wide area, it continues to attract people from Surrey, North Hants and West Sussex.

Sources
  • Golden Jubilee, 1950: Souvenir Handbook
  • 40 years at Lion Green: Souvenir Handbook (2012)