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Brief History of the Parish


The first mention of a place of worship in Ashford is given in a record in the reign of King Edward I, dated 1293, granting a dispensation of taxes during the time of the Crusades. This ancient chapel, dedicated to Saint Michael, was some 50 yards in a direct line from the east window of the present church. From Saxon times until the middle of the 19th century St. Michael's Chapel was a 'daughter church' - along with Laleham - of the Parish Church of Saint Mary's, Staines.


By the end of the 18th century the population of Ashford had risen to about 400 and the chapel became too small for the needs of the parish. In 1795 a report stated that the structure was "in a ruinous state". One William Walker of Chertsey made a survey, reporting that it would cost £1,000 to take down and rebuild the old chapel. A committee met at The King's Head public house in July 1796 and appointed James Pope, Master Bricklayer of Feltham to commence work. Ashfordians were as generous in those days as they are now, and twelve parishioners readily agreed to bear the cost. A new chapel was built of plain brick with a small steeple. It lasted only sixty years, in sharp contrast to the 700 years of its predecessor.


The coming of the London and South Western Railway to Ashford Halt in 1848 led to further growth in population; During the Bishop's Visitation in 1850 he was informed that there were only 32 'free' seats for the Poor, and as a consequence "many are being driven into Dissent". The report led to the building of a new church. William Butterfield, an architect of considerable fame, was appointed, and the foundation stone was laid by Colonel J.S. Brownrigg on 11th July 1857. The Church of St. Matthew was consecrated on 26th June 1858.


 In 1958 the daughter Church of St. Hilda became a Conventional District under a priest-in-charge, and 16 years later in 1974 St. Hilda's became a Parish in its own right.


Fr. Stuart King SSC was Licensed as Priest in Charge on 3rd February 2014.


Original research and document Vernon Gosling.                   For a more detailed history click here.