A little weather boarded chapel that was once a barn.
For a hundred years St Barnabas was the centre of life on the Estate, answering the frequent question posed now when Mansion and original Estate are long gone, ‘Why this extraordinary building is here, apparently in the middle of nowhere?’
George Cubitt, later 1st Baron Ashcombe, was the founder of St Barnabas. Always interested in church matters, he wished to be ordained, but was prevented by his wealthy father Thomas Cubitt. The death of Thomas in 1855 left George immensely rich, and in 1857 he had plans drawn up for a church for the people who lived and worked on the Estate.
The exterior of the church is comparatively austere, and it looks like many another country church, but inside it is obvious that no expense was spared. The lavish decoration makes extensive use of marble and elaborate carving, so much so that, when the Bishop of Guildford visited St Barnabas for the first time, he remarked ‘I have discovered that I have another cathedral in the woods’.
The church was built in eighteen months, with the famous Sir George Gilbert Scott as architect. He was particularly fond of Gothic architecture and took the opportunity at Ranmore to build a High Victoriana scaled down cathedral for his weathy client.
The church has the advantage of an outstanding site on the ridge of the North Downs. Its tall slender spire, 700 feet above sea level, can be seen from all the hills in Surrey, even on a clear day from the Crystal Palace.
St Barnabas is a two mile taxi ride from Dorking, or a very nice walk from the Denbies Wine Estate.