St. Mary’s Church was consecrated on 10th June 1875, just 2 years after St. Nicolas; it was built by the same benefactor (Thomas Everrett Fowle), and designed by the same architect (J.L. Pearson), only 2 miles from St. Nicolas. Exactly why, nobody is quite sure, but the rumours inevitably abound. When it was built, there were only 188 residents in the Chute Forest parish, so was it built to provide a church for the workers on the Chute Lodge estate, or was it because Thomas Everrett Fowle had a disagreement with the first incumbent – Revd. E.H. Moberley?
Nikolaus Pevsner described St. Mary’s as follows:
“A very fine building. Flint and red brick outside, red brick inside. Square tower with a tall shingled pyramid spire. Low narrow aisles with lean-to roofs and transverse arches. The nave also has three bold transverse arches. Single-framed roofs. The windows in deep reveals.”
St. Mary’s was used as a chapel for Chute Lodge School for some time, but was closed for regular worship in 1970. In 1972, the church was declared pastorally redundant, subsequently coming into the care of, what is now, the Churches Conservation Trust. Further information on the Trust, and access to St Mary’s is available at http://www.visitchurches.org.uk/
An annual service, however, continues to be held there.
St. Mary’s is, without doubt, a complete and virtually unaltered example of Victorian church art and design by one of its foremost exponents. It also demonstrates Pearson’s ability to design in a controlled and restrained manner, in comparison to some of his other works such as Truro Cathedral.