Our Lady of Lourdes church, Haslemere, joined the hundreds of buildings throughout the country which open annually under the Heritage Open Days scheme in September.

Since the church is celebrating its centenary this year, this was just one of the events planned to mark the 100th anniversary.

The church owes its origin to Evelyn Dudley Coats who bought land from Lord Derby in 1923, before presenting it to the diocese and paying for the building.

Miss Coats, a non-Catholic when she arrived in the area, lived in Fernhurst and ran a dairy farm which supplied the King Edward VII Sanitorium in Midhurst.

At the time Haslemere was part of Godalming parish but she was so impressed with her friend Ethel Irvine’s fervour in trying to arrange for Mass to be said in Haslemere that she herself became a Catholic in 1907.

The church was designed in sober late Gothic style by Frederick A Walters, some of whose original drawings can be seen in frames in front of the Lady Chapel. 

There are some fine stained glass windows by the notable artist Geoffrey Fuller Webb.

The stone reredos behind the main altar is a representation of the Basilica at the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France.

Throughout the day there was a steady stream of visitors who could follow the prepared route around the church, identifying the various features shown in the printed guide.  

On the altar a selection of church silver could be seen, while the priest’s vestments in different colours were  displayed on models.

A team were available to answer questions, with drinks on offer in the sunny courtyard outside. 

The exhibition and Open Day were organised by Sam Dudley, Tony Lyons  and Judith Davys.

By Fay Foster