All Saints Church serves the people of Highbrook and is home to a small but committed and faithful congregation. Although located within the civil parish of West Hoathly, it remains a separate ecclesiastical parish with its own Parochial Church Council, churchwardens, and administration. It borders the neighbouring ecclesiastical parishes of West Hoathly, Horsted Keynes and Ardingly and shares the ministry of a Vicar with the parish of St. Margaret's, West Hoathly. Together the two parishes form a Benefice which is part of the local Deanery of Cuckfield and is within the Diocese of Chichester.
The Church was founded in 1884 as the result of the efforts of two sisters, Frances Sarah Kirby (wife of John Blake Kirby) and Caroline Ilsemann Weguelin. The family was from Kensington, although their father had been a rector at South Stoke. They carried Austro / Swiss / Germanic references in the names but the family was very much part of the British establishment. Their brother, Thomas, had recently retired as Governor of the Bank of England and was an MP.
The design is Early Decorated and the main construction is of sandstone from Stepenson Clarke's quarry at Hook Farm. The architects were Messrs Carpenter & Ingelow of London and the builder was George Box of Ardingly.
Frances laid the foundation stone in the presence of Dr Durnford, Bishop of Chichester, and the completed church was opened by Dr Durnford on Thursday 15 October 1885.
During the 20th Century, the Clarke family made it substantially their family church and were responsible for much of its funding and day to day running. Evidence of this is given by the large group of Clarke graves and memorials to the south of the church and by the memorial plaques on the north wall of the choir.
There have been nine incumbents, the first being Henry Harris (1884 -1904) and the present being The Venerable Lionel Whatley (Tel. 01342 810757) since 2011.
The All Saints church tower clock was installed in 1887 when the church was built. It was made by Gillett & Johnson of Croydon.
As well as chiming and striking the hour and quarter hours, at 12am, 3pm and 6pm it also triggers the carillon which plays complete tunes on the bells.
The carillon has two sets of tunes on separate "barrels" and each barrel plays seven different tunes changing every 24 hours.
The carillon and clock mechanisms were restored to mark the millennium and have now been automated so that no-one need climb the tower each day to wind it as they used to!
Heart and Soul
There is now a book - Heart and Soul by M. L. Hodgson - which tells the history of the church from 1884 to 2000.
The book runs to 198 pages, with plans, maps and several coloured illustrations. It is case bound in dark green cloth and has a dust jacket bearing four coloured photographs of the church building and churchyard and a fifth photograph of the chancel and altar.
The book took more than three years to produce and is based substantially on the archive of All Saints church; considerable additional research has been carried out as the basis for several sections of the book.
Many of the illustrations are facsimiles of documents originating with the Diocese of Chichester. Of particular significance is a map of the graveyard, completed before the ravages of time erase more of the historical record borne by the graves and memorials.
The official launch of the book took place at the Highbrook Christmas Market in the Village hall on 1st December 2001.