It all began in an old store at the dairy at the bottom of Vale Drive (south side) which is now the Dog Grooming Parlour). Highfield Dairy allowed the room to be used and in September 1934 the Bishop of Chichester gave permission for church services to be held. Mindful of more homes being built in the Valley from around 25 houses back in 1930, the small congregation started a fundraising initiative to build a permanent church on a plot of land purchased by Sussex Church Builders for £500 at the junction of Cissbury Avenue and Cissbury Drive. Construction started during 1935 as a church for meetings and social events (now the Church Hall) and on 6 January 1936 it was consecrated by the Bishop of Lewes.
A local parishioner had to leave her bungalow – 36 Cissbury Gardens – to live with her family in Hampshire, so she let the property while she decided on her future. Eventually she chose to sell it and wrote to the church authorities offering to sell it to the church for £1,500. The purchase was competed on 29 March 1944 and this was the Parsonage for future curates and families.
By 1939 parishioners felt their church should be more than ‘Findon Valley Church’ and therefore have a more dedicatory name. Everybody agreed to a ballot and the majority vote was ‘All Saints’. From then on the church in Findon Valley became an entity and a significant member of the Worthing Deanery while still being part of the Findon parish.
In 1940 parishioners were keen to have a permanent church rather than using the hall that had to be cleaned and rearranged on an ongoing basis between a place of worship and a social venue. With agreement from the church authorities, a committee was formed to raise funds for the church build and in December 1948 a leaflet was delivered to every house in the Valley and the Village. The result was £1,000 within the year. With social events being organised over the next few years and the funds increased to £4,000.
Voluntary work done by the committee led to decisions on the type of church the parishioners wanted and shortlisted 3 architects to send in quotations. These were considered by the congregation of All Saints and their choice was submitted to the PCC for approval. The Bishop of Chichester applied for a share of funds from the Church Commissioners keen to support churches that were beginning to emerge in new areas at the outbreak of war. The Bishop secured half of the estimated £12,700 cost of the building. With another loan obtained by the parish committee, repayable by half-yearly instalments over 20 years and the locally raised £4,000, the licence from the Planning Authority was received and the building of the church started.
The Foundation Stone was laid by the Hon. Mrs Margaret Wyatt on 26 February 1955. Over the next 12 months, the building continued and more fundraising for furnishings alongside the dedication of the local community involved in making beautiful crafted items for the church.
22 February 1956 was the date of All Saints Church Consecration by the Bishop of Chichester, the Right Revd GKA Bell.
All Saints Church became a full parish in 1989 and with the new arrangement in place the Diocese sold the Parsonage at 36 Cissbury Gardens and purchased 29 Central Avenue as the new Vicarage.
A Gala Jubilee Concert took place on 22 February 2006 to celebrate 50 years of All Saints Church in Findon Valley.
All Saints Church is the oldest church in Findon Valley and 2016 was their 60th Anniversary. It came about through the passion, dedication and community spirit of some parishioners in 1934 keen to have a more permanent church from the humble store room of a dairy they were using. Their hard work led to ‘Findon Valley’ Church Hall which then evolved to become ‘All Saints Church’ as it is today, keenly supported by the Diocese and Local Authorities.
For more information about service times, social events, room hire, news and much more, please visit www.allsaintschurchfindonvalley.co.uk.
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