Part of Open House Festival 2023
Drop In Details
Saturday 9 September
- 10.30 – 15.00 Drop in: Open day with guided tours of church and bell tower
Sunday 10 September
- 10.00 – 11.30 Drop in: Service of worship sung by Croydon Minster choir
- 11.30 – 15.00 Drop in: Open day with guided tours of church
There has been a church on this site since Saxon times, positioned on the banks of the River Wandle. Now the river flows underground and comes to the surface in nearby Wandle Park.
In its medieval form, the church was mainly a Perpendicular structure, and because it was sited next to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Palace, the building was made impressive through the money and influence of Archbishops Chichele and Courtney.
The church was severely damaged by fire in 1867, following which only the tower, south porch and outer walls remained. It was rebuilt, incorporating the existing remains and essentially to the same design as the old church, under the direction of Sir George Gilbert Scott, and was re-consecrated in 1870. There is a brass plaque just inside the entrance which lists the vicars through the years, the earliest being Elfsie in 960 AD.
Tombs and Memorials
Six Archbishops of Canterbury are buried here; Grindal, Whitgift, Sheldon, Wake, Herring and Potter. Whitgift’s and Sheldon’s tombs have been reconstructed to their original appearance. Both are magnificent in their design. Jasper Latham, the sculptor who worked with Christopher Wren on rebuilding St Paul’s cathedral designed and created the Sheldon tomb.
Two memorials reveal Croydon’s link with the American War of Independence. In the Lady Chapel there is a brass to Thomas Hutchinson, the last Colonial Governor of Massachusetts. John Singleton Copley, one of America’s greatest portrait painters is also buried here and has a stone memorial on the North Wall.
There are several military memorials from the Boer War and the Two World Wars. On entering the Minster you pass through the Queen’s Shrine which is a memorial to the local 2nd/4th Battalion The Queen’s Regiment from WWI. Two carved soldiers stand on eternal duty on either side: one a private, the other an officer. Above them, on the top of the wooden screen stand the four patron saints for each country in the United Kingdom.
On the wall in the chancel is a brass to Gabriel Sylvester, Master of Clare College 1496.
There are many outstanding examples of Victorian stained glass. The magnificent East window is a Clayton and Bell design completed in the rebuild thanks to public subscription.
The West facing windows, dedicated to the Rev Braithwaite, are made by O A Hemmings.
The Memorial window for the Royal Navy service in World War I
on the South Wall is by Margaret Chilton.
The brass lectern standing at the front of the church was saved from the fire. It is 15th Century Flemish in origin. The tongue in still visible in the eagle’s beak. A coin placed on here would fall into the body of the bird. This money was called “Peter’s pence.”
The carvings on the ends of the wooden pews in the chancel are fine examples of Ruskin-like designs, incorporating flora and fauna of all kinds, real and imagined.
The octagonal font, carved from alabaster, is Victorian and contains scenes from biblical baptism stories.