At the start of the 1840s there was no church or school in Cookham Dean but the Vicar of Cookham, the Rev J Grantham, and the Vicar of Bisham the Rev F Vansittart Thornton determined to remedy this situation where “ignorance and immorality had prevailed for some time past”.
In July a committee was formed and a Subscription List opened, headed by a £20 donation from HM the Queen Dowager, Adelaide. In September the Bishop of Oxford licensed a small cottage for worship. Mr Hodson, the first vicar of Cookham Dean, moved in and his ministry began on 5th November 1843.
A site of 1 acre 10 poles of common land on Sterlings Green was given, with the consent of the commoners, by the Lady of the Manor, Mrs Anne Mary Vansittart of Bisham Abbey. Plans were prepared by Richard Cromwell Carpenter (1812-1855) a favourite architect of the Cambridge Camden Society that had been formed in 1839 for the study and promotion of ecclesiastical art. The foundation stone was laid by the Vicar of Cookham on 15th July 1844. The church was built by Silver & Sons of Tittle Row, Maidenhead, at a cost of about £1300. A contemporary description of the finished church said:
“It is a most satisfactory design; very simple, and yet not mean or starved; of unpretending but solemn character. The chancel is of good size, with windows of excellent workmanship. The style is of the fourteenth century. The pitch of the roofs is proper, and all the details are appropriate. The nave has a western bell gable, very ably treated, holding one bell. The aisles (sic) have lean-to-roofs, low side walls, the square windows; the Eastern windows of the aisles are like the side windows in the chancel. The south-western porch is of wood, well carved, and rather elaborate. The church holds 300 people.”
(In fact there was seating for 303 including 96 children. The backs of the pews were 31 inches [79 cms] upright and adults were allocated 20 x 34 inches [51 x 86 cms] and children 15 x 24 inches [38 x 61 cms]. Later capacity was reduced but comfort improved when the width of seating was increased).
The consecration of the church by Richard Bagot, Lord Bishop of Oxford, took place on 15 May 1845.
There is a comprehensive guide to the church available at the back of church, price £4, or to download FREE click here