ST John’s Church, located in the heart of Churt, has celebrated a milestone birthday of 150 years.

The Bishop of Dorking, Reverend Canon Dr Jo Wells, known as Bishop Jo, marked the momentous occasion with local families, past clergy from the church, children from St John’s C of E Infant School, older members of the populace, and all the villagers.

The church was packed on November 18, with music and poetry written specially for the service.

People of all ages participated and rousing singing by the choir and congregation made it a truly memorable occasion, led by Reverend Clare Challis, resident minister, and Bishop Jo.

There was plenty of fun to be had in the morning, with youngsters enjoying activities including hand printing, face painting and a mocktail bar.

Bouncy slides and a blown-up jousting construction completed a programme of events for all ages.

The history of this family church was brought to life by a recently-found and restored altar frontal, depicting the seven great “I Ams” from St John’s gospel.

A number of years ago, it was noticed four embroidered panels and 12 lily motifs were hidden in various drawers and cupboards around the Churt parish.

These were thought to have originated on a hessian-backed altar frontal created for St John’s Church of Churt and Rushmoor in the late 1800s.

The challenge was to try to restore the embroidery and recreate the altar frontal for the celebration service.

Although the silks had turned to dust, the gold thread had survived the rigours of 150 years.

The result is said to be a very moving piece of history which it is hoped will survive and inspire for another 150 years.

The final event of this day of celebration was a jousting challenge between Reverend Richard Bodle, Vicar of The Benefice of Churt with Rushmoor and Hindhead, and Bishop Jo.

With the two dignitaries balanced precariously on the bar of the blow-up jousting construction, a local was heard to remark: “Maybe the vicar was placing his job on the line?!”

The sport was described as ‘hilarious’ with blows attempted and tumbles ‘elegantly’ executed.