Church Green was purchased by Mrs F H Cook of Barnett Hill in 1935 and the Beatrice Elliott Cook Trust (also known as the Wonersh Church Green Trust) set up in 1950. Mr Frank Cook was the grandson of Thomas Cook of travel fame. A window in St John the Baptist Wonersh was given in his memory.
History of the Green
The area adjacent to the church was traditionally the site of the village green, and Wonersh was no exception. In 1677 Richard Gwynne purchased part of the Carill estate, which unfortunately for him did not include a manor house or title. The only suitable house for an aspiring Lord was Green Place, but this had fallen into a state of dilapidation and so the small farmhouse beside the green was chosen as the site of a gentleman’s residence. The estate passed cc1711 to William Chapple and the house and church are depicted in a large painting, part of which is shown below. Through his daughter Grace it passed in 1765 to Fletcher Norton, forming the house for the 289 acre Wonersh Deer Park. He enlarged the Manor house by adding a west wing and he enclosed a good part of the village green itself, closing the parishioners access to the church through the lytch gate in the eastern wall. The house was further enlarged by the 2nd Lord Grantley by an east wing, and the rest of the village green was enclosed for a further extension of the garden by a wall and imposing gateway and lodge. A little later the wall was raised to the whole height of the gateway and the sight of the house and church lost from the street. The Grantley Estate was sold cc 1885 and it subsequently was purchased by Mr J J Sudbury who died in 1902.
Wonersh Park estate was acquired by Mr R H Haslam and the Deer Park was developed as we know Wonersh Park today, however the mansion house fell into disrepair and was demolished in 1929. In 1935 the area of ancient green adjacent to the church (and a little more) some 2 ½ acres of land was purchased by Mrs F H Cook. The north west part was given to the church as a car park and the rest was laid out as a garden. The lytch gate was reopened for access to the church and the wall later lowered to restore the views. In 1950 the Wonersh Church Green Trust was set up.
Below are (l-r) photographs of Wonrsh Hall 1898, The Gatehouse possibly early 1900's and the green as it is today.
The ten foot stone carvings in the gatehouse were put in place in 1953 by John Hurren being carved in his studio at the back of the Grantley Arms.
The inscription is “The inspiration and design for this freize originated with Beatrice E Cook and was developed and carved by John Hurren both being residents of this village Finis 1953 EIIR”
The second panel is a memorial to “unpraised civilians” who served and endured the second world war, and is intended to depict figures which typify every aspect of village life.These include the Women’s Institute, the Land Girls, the Boy Scouts, the farmer and fishmonger. There are 22 figures in all.
The inscription is “ Now let us praise the unsung civilians who also served and with faith endured 1939-45. “They helped everyone his neighbour and everyone said to his brother be of good courage Isaiah XL1.6 ”