A Brief History of the Church
The church was built in the late 10th or early 11th centuries when Chaldon land was owned by the Benedictine Abbey of St Peter, Chertsey, (675 AD). The church, built of flint and local Merstham stone, is believed to have been preceded by a wooden Saxon building on the land of a Saxon manor recorded in the Charter of Fritheswald between 674 and 693 AD. A possible reason for such an early church on this remote site may have been the nearby course of an important pilgrim route to Canterbury along the North Downs.
The church has remained virtually unchanged over more than nine centuries. The international fame of the building is centred on the great Tempera painting which covers the west wall of the church and which is reliably dated at around 1170 AD. The picture represents the journey of the soul after death and the difficult climb to heaven up the Ladder of Salvation, only achieved after a virtuous life. The whole picture is based on well recorded stories in medieval literature and is the largest and most complete example of this type of medieval art. It attracts many visitors, including scholars from many parts of the world and is one of the greatest works owned by the Church of England.
There are many other important items in the church, which include a rare 13th century font carved from a large block of Merstham stone, a 17th century pulpit made during the time of Oliver Cromwell and a unique early Renaissance Tablet, (1562 AD) associated with a parish charity donated by the family.
Reference: An account of the history and structure of the church is included in “England’s thousand Best Churches” by Simon Jenkins (1999).
The Friends of Chaldon Church works closely with the Chaldon History Group.