The Church in the Farmyard

Posted on 19/09/2021 By

Wisley Church

Wisley Church

You know how we love Wisley Gardens. Like the other week, when we just came to the gardens for an al fresco Al-Anon meeting. Read a book. Americano. With milk and shortbread. And, last week, a flower show as well! Luvverly.

The sun beamed down for a lovely day and off we went. Cruising. Classic FM. Until just short of the A3 there was a traffic jam. The Gardens are about a mile down the A3. No problem – take the country route through Pyrford. Narrow country lanes. The River Wey and, close by, the Wey Navigation and the very narrow crossing at Pyrford Lock. More and more cars until we reached Wisley Church and gave up.

Wisley is a tiny village of just over 100 inhabitants. A beautiful, exquisite little church A graveyard, with a large Copper Beech providing shade. This seemed a far more sensible choice than less than a mile away thousands of motorists descending on a special event at a garden that is already busy at this time of year.

Wisley Church with the Copper Beech to the right.

Wisley Church and Copper Beech.

We realise that Al-Anon is not for everyone and the operative word is Anonymous.

But many people get great comfort from meeting people who understand and care. So we Zoomed in from under the Copper Beech tree.

The portable chair where Bobby sat in the shade of the Copper Beech tree for his Zoom meeting.

Zooming into Al-Anon from the shade of a Copper Beech on a very hot day.

The topic was Step 9 and here is a reading to give you an idea.

In a meeting I heard someone say of Steps Eight and Nine, "I made the list of people I have harmed - and I put myself at the top of the list." This had not occurred to me. Somewhere in my past I got the message that to think of myself first was wrong, that it was my duty to care for everyone else. As a consequence, I was never ready to take care of myself and so become a burden to those around me. Have I harmed myself? Of course I have. That is ultimately what I am trying to recover from. In fact, improving myself is the only real action available to me. Now I know that to take responsibility for myself is the first thin I must do to make the workd a better place.

From “Courage to Change”.

Quite simple, isn’t it? Much of Al-Anon is common sense that can apply to anything in life. The ‘gift of desperation’ provides an opportunity for anyone to join if their lives are affected by the drinking of others. Ultimately, you can fall back on the saying ‘Take what you like the leave the rest’”. We have no expectation, but just offer a window of opportunity for people who need help and friendship.

The hours slipped by. Last entry to the gardens was 16:30. Should we chance it? No! Sitting there in the shade on a church bench now, we really couldn’t be bothered. A queue of traffic was still crawling passed the village down the narrow country lane. After four hours, we were still effectively trapped. Could do with some grub, but still had plenty of drink.

The church stood there impassively all this time. Despite the crowds less than a mile away, we didn’t see another living soul. Even the cars were out of earshot as they crept along the lane. We didn’t blame the motorists, having been one ourselves.

Sweltering or air conditioned, a flower show on a beautiful September day where so many have missed such things for nearly 18 months must have seemed so attractive. In reality, many must have spent the day in traffic jams and not got in at all. Later, on the travel news, the warning went out that the A3 was experiencing very heavy traffic due to the flower show that was to continue all week. The English weather would come to the rescue when the heatwave ended and rain was forecast.

As it turned out, the change in the weather (and whatever else reduced enthusiasm) the flower show was a much better prospect on Thursday. Our resident genealogist, Elizabeth, and husband ‘Brooklands Tim’ also love Wisley Gardens. They didn’t even have to queue on Thursday.

Elizabeth and Tim at the flower show on Thursday.

Elizabeth and Tim at the flower show on Thursday.

So here we were on Tuesday. The traffic had thinned a little by 17:30, but let’s just stay here.

Maybe our higher power intended this. Let’s just go in the church and show you some pictures of a little ecclesiastical gem.

The Church in the Farmyard

Bertie, wearing his Sutton United Scarf, outside Wisley Church Farm House.

Wisley Church and Church Farm House. Pity about the yew tree!

A bit of history about Wisley Church.

The short bell tower and spire of Wisley Church.

Wisley Church has never been dedicated to a Saint, or that knowledge has been lost over 900 years.

Gravestone for Henry Hewitt.

In memory of Henry Hewitt. Gamekeeper.

Two windows in Wisley Church.

Font at the back of the church.

See the tiny organ behind the font.

Georgian coat of arms (George III) in Wisley Church.

Georgian coat of arms. Restored in recent times.

Church Farm House.

Church Farm House.

The Traffic

Crept by all day. As you can see, it is a narrow country lane. Totally unsuitable for so many cars. In normal times, the majority of visitors to the gardens go straight back to the A3 leading to the M25. That Tuesday, access to the A3 was blocked by the sheer volume of flower show traffic. We suspect that Sat Navs had encouraged non locals to try this escape route. Not realising what a lovely, but totally inappropriate, route it is. Particularly the lock crossing itself, with large metal posts bearing the scars of years of scrapes with cars.

Pyrford Lock, Wey Navigation.

Pyford Lock. The narrow road bridge is just behind the lock gates.

Queue of cars.

Cars going nowhere.

Cars, cars cars. Going nowhere.

Bobby's car parked in the churchyard.

Except one. Parked at the Church in the Farmyard for the day.

Church Farm House from the graveyard.

Church Farm House from the graveyard.

The Royal Horticultural Society

In the latter part of the nineteenth century, Wisley’s population reached about 180 and included four ‘chief landowners’. Including GF Wilson, whose land was to make Wisley the household name it is today. After his death, the land was bought by Sir Thomas Hanbury, who gave it to the Royal Horticultural Society. They moved here from Chiswick in 1903 and it is now one of Britain’s, maybe the world’s, most famous gardens.

The Flower Show

Bobby never gives up. So, we went back to Wisley Church a couple of days later for him to take a couple of extra photos. Being greedy, and lacking common sense, he decided we would go to the show after all. Already tired from two hours gym, he had noticed that large numbers of cars were leaving the area.

The overflow car parks had overflowed into fields, where tractor pulling shuttle trailers had brought even more punters in. Heading back towards those car parks were legions of plastic collapsible boxes stuffed with plants and paraphernalia. To him, it was a scene from hell. But, of course he is a member. The flower show is free, isn’t it mate?

But, just because things are free it doesn’t mean you have to join in. Unless you are him. For him, the operative word is ‘Show’. The annual village show, with a big marquee full of entries from local people. Best Sweet Peas; longest Runner Bean; biggest Marrow; children’s miniature gardens; best cake. The only things on sale are tea and cakes and the beer tent. All the while, a silver brass band playing.

RHS Chelsea is the best Flower Show in the world we are told, and is still largely a show. RHS Hampton Court Flower show is an enormous market. We went there once. Lasted an hour, and got a boat on the river to Richmond. RHS Wisley is the lower end of the spectrum. An unashamedly large market, with very little ‘Show’.

There is nothing wrong with that, and horticultural snobs like Bobby shouldn’t go and get grumpy. But we did. Lasted fifteen minutes before heading into the glorious gardens where, it seemed, few of the punters had ventured. Here’s just one or two pictures from the show and the gardens.

Bertie admiring the peach coloured pompom dahlias.

The only ‘Show’ was by the National Dahlia Society.

Bertie in front of the Heucheras.

And there were some specialised stands. We really like Heucheras.

Bertie reading the Wisley Garden Dlower Show Guide.

I checked the Show Guide.

Bertie: “Bobby, can I have a Hobbit?”

Bobby: “No.”

Bertie: “Why not? Wayne, the YMCA Zoom Gym trainer reckons we live in a Hobbit house.”

Bobby: “That’s just because we are big,and Laurel Cottage looks small on Zoom. And he likes taking the Mick. Good bloke, Wayne from the Emerald Isle.”

David Goode Bronze Sculpture.

Just right for the garden!

Wayne, Zoom Gym trainer, holding Bertie.

Wayne. Who likes Hobbits.

Bertie: “So, can’t I have one?”

Bobby: “Which one?”

Hobbit sculpture.

Bertie: “This one.”

Bobby: “No. Check the price!”

Bertie: “Stone the crows and strike a light. I thought I was dear at 200 quid!”


To Elizabeth who got some looney emails from her favourite (and only) uncle. And to you, dear reader, if you like flower shows like Wisley. It’s his problem!

The Gardens

Were glorious.

Bertie in the yellow flowers.

Bertie in the Giant Rhubarb.

They even have Giant Rhubarb for Hobbits. (With lots of spikes!)

Lighting a Candle for Diddley

The church ast Wisley, with the Sun creating a halo around the spire.

Heavenly host.

The hymn board.

Hymn 503. A quiet place.


you were always enough for yourself, even on days when you don't feel like it. there is enough strength and courage growing inside your heart and soul to fill gardens full of colour with and the light you have inside is all that you ever needed to create rainsbows over those dark moments that hold you so tight. cr Elliott

Bertie in Wisley Church with a candle lit for Diddley.

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  1. Kate green says:

    Lovely as always… i think i know this chapel… you captured its beauty, just as you capture the beauty of everything

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