This information appeared in the Guildford Dragon and was written by David Rose. I came across it whilst looking up some information on Bellfields.
Julia ‘Fanny’ Paynter was married to the Rev’d Francis Payner, who was a rector of St John’s Church in Stoke Road for many years during the second half of the 19th century.
They lived at Stoke Hill House and owned much of the land that today is Bellfields and Stoke Hill. She acquired the name Fanny from the practice of calling a wife by her husband’s first name.
They did many good things for Guildford including the building of several Guildford churches, including Christ Church, St Saviour’s and Emmanuel Stoughton.
Stoke Hill House Estate was purchased in 1944 and developed with houses and shops into Bellfields. The first council houses in Bellfields were in Paynter’s Close, off Stoughton Road. However, when the rest of Bellfields was built, several years after, the roads were given names of trees and therefore Payner’s Close was renamed Cypress Road.
But the Paynters are a family that should be more well known. The family grave plot is in the churchyard in Stoke Road. Fanny Paynter outlived her husband by some 30 years. She died aged 99 in 1939.
She was buried in a cane-covered coffin – with, it is reputed, a key and a candle inside – so as to help her on her way in the afterlife.
Her funeral was attended by a number of local schoolchildren whom she had always been very kind to.
As her wicker casket was brought into the church for the funeral service and then laid down, it creaked a bit. Some of the children became scared, wondering whether she was really dead and had not yet gone to Heaven!