No mention is made of a parish church in Chipstead in the Domesday Book, but this is not unusual where a parish church was clearly in existence prior to the Survey. The present church probably dates from 1185. However, the narrow triangular-headed windows of the chancel are similar to an earlier architectural style, which may indicate the retention of a feature of a pre-existing building. In addition, the old Norman north doorway displays proportions similar to Anglo-Saxon doorways as seen in St. Nicholas’ Church in Worth.
The unusual siting of the church on the very edge of the parish boundary was probably more for the convenience of the lay landholder than the local parishioners. From the reign of King John to the 15th century, the church was significantly enlarged, which resulted in a rather magnificent church for a thinly populated downland parish - in marked contrast to the more modest structures of nearby Woodmansterne and Caterham.
In the 17th century the south transept appears to have burnt down, and was not restored until the Rev Peter Aubertin rebuilt it in 1855, using the north transept as his model.
In the 18th century the church was served from Croydon. It is related that the dead used to be brought to the church and left until the parson next came round! The church appeared to be held in rather low esteem and suffered a long period of neglect with cricket matches held on Church Green and the church used as a pavilion for refreshments. The Rector would announce the next meet of the hounds from the pulpit. The coming of the Rev’d Peter Aubertin and his son changed all that and their influence was paramount.
The Rev’d Peter Aubertin, of Huguenot stock, came to St Margaret’s as curate and restored the old Rectory at Mugswell for his use. He became Rector in 1808 and began a long period of alterations and improvements to the church starting in 1827. A new organ was installed in 1852. His son initiated a programme of major structural changes to the church in 1882 which were finally completed after his death in 1889. These changes transformed the appearance of the church and included the rebuilding of the north wall to create the north aisle for additional seating, and the installation of the present pews. This was the great age of Victorian ‘restorations’, and while great improvements were achieved, some of the historic details of the old church were inevitably lost.
The expense of the restoration work was borne through the generosity of Mr J G Cattley of the Shabden estate. In return, Mr Cattley was granted exclusive use of the north transept for ‘the owners and occupiers of the Shabden Estate’. This arrangement continued until the death of Lord Marshall in 1936.
By 1900 the Rev’d Charles Young found the Rectory at Mugswell too far from the church and let it, finding lodgings in the village. In 1902 the new Rector, James Hervey, moved into the new Rectory in Elmore Road, an arrangement which continued until 1989 when the Rectory was sold to release funds to the Diocese. Rev John Gooden moved into the present Rectory in Starrock Lane in 1990.
There have been 56 incumbents of the Rectory beginning with William de Brompton who died in 1313. The longest tenure of 55 years was that of John Griffiths, and the two Peter Aubertins, father and son, jointly held the living for 81 years. Rectors over the past 300 years are:
|1718 – 1740||John Tattersall||1913 – 1920||William Henry Stone|
|1740 – 1747||William Lamb||1920 – 1939||John William Morris|
|1747 – 1753||James Pipe||1939 – 1945||Thomas Grigg-Smith|
|1753 – 1808||John Griffiths||1945 – 1948||Kenneth Percival Smith|
|1808 – 1861||Peter Aubertin (elder)||1948 – 1973||Christopher E A Harford|
|1861 – 1889||Peter Aubertin (younger)||1973 – 1990||Christopher J Blair-Fish|
|1889 – 1902||Charles Gordon Young||1990 – 2005||John M P Goodden|
|1902 – 1913||James Hervey||2005 -||Patrick Bateman|
A history of St Margaret’s Church would be incomplete without mentioning the valuable contribution provided by the Rev’d John Wates of Elmore. In 2007 John celebrated 25 years of ministry in the parish of Chipstead, first as a Reader licensed to St Margaret’s Church and latterly as a non-stipendary Minister when he was ordained in 2002.