The church was built in Victorian times when one third of the population went to church. Hawley Church had proposed building a church on land granted by the Royal Military College, Sandhurst as it was found that ‘three hundred persons were living more than two miles from the parish to which they belonged’.
Originally known as Newtown, Yorktown was the first part of what is now Camberley to be built. Cambridge Town came later, but as this caused postal confusion, the name of Camberley was adopted for both areas.
The building was designed by Henry Woodyer, and built of local Frimley stone in Victorian Gothic style. It originally consisted of a nave and chancel only, with a small bell tower, later removed.
It was consecrated on 6 May 1851 by Dr Sumner, Bishop of Winchester, in whose diocese the parish remained until the formation of Guildford diocese in 1927.
The church was added to by Mr C Buckridge, and in 1891 the tower and spire were built in memory of Freda Middleton, daughter of the Revd and Mrs Middleton.
The carvings above the aisle are circular in design and depict biblical scenes. The artist was Henry Gomme who also carved the roses around the chancel arch.
Most of the important features of the building were gifts to St Michael’s in the latter half of the 19th century, including the pulpit, reredos (screen behind the holy table), the stained glass in the east and west windows. The original lectern was stolen in 1996: the replacement was crafted by the late Dennis Wagner.
The west window was probably in the main wall of the original nave, and was moved to its present position when the tower and spire were built.
The font was given in memory of Frederick Middleton, who was vicar of the parish for 27 years. The Middleton graves can be seen in the churchyard near to the gate to the vicarage. Three other vicars of St Michael’s are buried in the churchyard. A list of vicars may be seen on the south wall of the church and their photographs are in the clergy vestry. Near the font is a wooden cross made by prisoners of war held in Camberley during the 1939-45 war.
Another interesting grave, Grave 1, near the gate to the vicarage, holds the remains of John Stallwood, Cordwainer. Near to the south (main) door of the church you will find the grave of Sergeant Fineghan who fought in the Crimea and was an orderly to Florence Nightingale. There are also two holders of the Victoria Cross buried in the churchyard.
Parish records date back to 1851, the first entry being the baptisms of Stephen and Maria Ellis. The first wedding was in June 1852. The early entries show many infant deaths and few deaths of anyone over 70 years old.
St Michael’s Church (Yorktown) Bell Ringers
The sound of Church Bells ringing is as part of the English countryside as the thwack of a ball on willow in cricket. Here in St Michael”s Camberley we have a strong band of ringers who ring the bells on Sunday mornings and for special occasions such as weddings.
It’s a fun hobby, a very sociable club and indeed part of the church and wider community. We practise on Wednesday nights and are always pleased to welcome both visiting ringers and people wishing to learn. We generally ring a mixture of things for all experiences with an emphasis on having fun and getting everyone involved.