Holiday Bible Club has been held for a week during the summer holidays for several decades. Thousands of children must have experienced sound teaching on Christian faith over the years. It has grown so popular that by 2004 several age-groups were fully-booked even before the first day.
Arborfield has had one or more church buildings since Saxon times. The Saxon wooden church was replaced in the 13th Century by a flint and chalk building that still exists today as a romantic ruin near the River Loddon. It fell into disrepair by 1862, when the decision was made to build a replacement building on a site much closer to the main settlement at Arborfield Cross. For many years it was hidden by ivy which covered all sides almost to ground level - there's evidence that it was ivy-clad back in Edwardian times - see here for details.
By the mid 18th Century, a group of Dissenters had built their own chapel opposite the Bull Inn at Arborfield Cross. According to the history published in 1922 by the Women's Institute, in the mid-1800's, "there was an empty Church and a flourishing Chapel; but in a very short time the Chapel was pulled down, as no-one went to it, and those who did not go to Church regularly every Sunday could be counted on two hands. The men went in the morning and the women afternoon in the winter, evening in the summer".
The replacement St. Bartholomew's Church was consecrated in 1863, and is faced in flint. Some of the building materials were taken from the old church, leaving just the East Wall and the brick-built Conroy Chapel. In the 1930's the Standen Tomb and other monuments were moved into the new church, along with a surviving stained glass window known as "Aaron's Head", and the roof of the old Conroy Chapel was removed. The new church is about half a mile from Arborfield Cross along Church Lane, on the site of an old farmstead known as 'Elisha's Farm'.
There are several articles relating to the New Church - click here for details.
In the early 1900's there was a Congregational Chapel at Arborfield Cross on the site of the British Legion car park. It was later used as a Salvation Army Hall, but was demolished by the mid-century. Click here for more information.
A Mission church met at the Village Hall on Eversley Road for several years until mid-2006. Unlike the old dissenters, it happily co-existed with St. Bartholomew's, and the Rector and former Pastor are close friends.
The Rev. Peter Ditchfield was a Rector of Barkham for around 40 years up to his death in 1930. He was connected with Arborfield through the Arborfield, Newland and Barkham C.E. School, and was an historian of national importance, having published over 100 books. His hand-written 'Notes on an Archaeological Society field-trip to the Old Church' have survived, and have been transcribed - click here for details.
From 1846 onwards, the Liberty of Newland was placed in the new ecclesiastical parish of St. Catherine's, Bearwood, endowed by the Walter family of Bearwood Mansion. Thus, the official parish church for most residents of Arborfield Cross was not St. Bartholomew's in Church Lane, but St. Catherine's in Bearwood, which is over two miles away. The ecclesiastical boundaries weren't re-drawn until the 1980s, and now St. Bartholomew's is now the official parish church for the whole of Arborfield and Newland.
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