Croydon Minster

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Coordinates: 51°22′22″N 0°06′22″W / 51.3727°N 0.1061°W / 51.3727; -0.1061

Croydon Minster
The Minster Church of St John Baptist at Croydon
Croydon Parish Church - North East.jpg
Croydon Minster from the North East
LocationOld Town, Croydon
CountryUnited Kingdom
DenominationChurch of England
ChurchmanshipLiberal Catholic
DedicationJohn the Baptist
StyleEnglish Gothic
DeaneryCroydon Central deanery
ArchdeaconryCroydon archdeaconry
Episcopal areaCroydon area
DioceseDiocese of Southwark
Vicar(s)Andrew Bishop (Priest-in-Charge)
Curate(s)[position vacant]
Chaplain(s)John Ackland, Alan Bayes (assistant priests)
Director of musicDr Ronny Krippner
Organist(s)Martin How
Churchwarden(s)Arlene Esdaile, Pamela Hall

Croydon Minster is the parish and civic church of the London Borough of Croydon. There are currently more than 35 churches in the borough, with Croydon Minster being the most prominent.[1] It is Grade I listed.[2]

Six Archbishops of Canterbury are buried in the church: Edmund Grindal (d.1583), John Whitgift (d.1604), Gilbert Sheldon (d.1677), William Wake (d.1737), John Potter (d.1747), and Thomas Herring (d.1757).


Medieval church[edit]

The church was established in the middle Saxon period, and is believed to have been a minster church: one which served as a base for a group of clergy living a communal life, who may have taken some pastoral responsibility for the population of the surrounding district. A charter issued by King Coenwulf of Mercia refers to a council which had taken place close to what is called the monasterium (meaning minster) of Croydon.[3] An Anglo-Saxon will made in about 960 is witnessed by Elfsies, priest of Croydon; and the church is also mentioned in Domesday Book (1086).

The earliest clear record of the church's dedication to St John the Baptist is found in the will of John de Croydon, fishmonger, dated 6 December 1347, which includes a bequest to "the church of S. John de Croydon".[4]

In its final medieval form, the church was mainly a Perpendicular-style structure of late 14th and early 15th-century date. It still bears the arms of archbishops Courtenay and Chichele, believed to have been its benefactors.

Destruction and rebuilding[edit]

The ruins of the church, following its destruction in 1867: the north chancel aisle looking east

The medieval building underwent some restoration in 1851 and 1857–9, under the direction of George Gilbert Scott. However, on the night of 5 January 1867, a fire broke out – possibly caused by overheating of the poorly positioned flues of recently installed Gurney stoves – which eventually gutted the entire building.[5] It was rebuilt to Scott's designs between 1867 and 1869, incorporating some of the medieval remains (notably the west tower and south porch), and essentially following the medieval plan, while enlarging the building by extending its footprint further east. During the period of rebuilding, services were held in a temporary "iron church", with seating for 700, erected in April 1868 in Scarbrook Road.[6]

The church's reconsecration by Archbishop Archibald Tait took place on 5 January 1870. The church still contains several important monuments and fittings saved from the old building.[7]

Present day[edit]

The church was elevated to the status of Croydon Minster (the modern honorific title) on 29 May 2011, the first such change in the diocese of Southwark.

Croydon has strong religious links, Croydon Palace having been a residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury from at least the beginning of the 13th century to the beginning of the 19th. The Bishop of Croydon is a position as an area bishop in the Anglican Diocese of Southwark. The current area bishop is Jonathan Clark, who was consecrated on 21 March 2012. Until recently (mid 2016) the vicar was Colin J. Luke Boswell, Vicar of Croydon and Chaplain to the Whitgift Foundation.

Croydon Minster today de facto serves as Whitgift School's chapel.[8] It is also linked to The Minster Schools.

The Minster stands in the inclusive liberal catholic tradition of the Church of England.[9]


The church has a large four-manual pipe organ, much of which is by William Hill & Sons and dates from 1869.[10] There is also a small organ in the St Nicholas Chapel which was obtained from St Mary the Virgin, Preston Candover in 1997.[11]

Organists and Masters of Choristers[edit]

Before the fire of 1867 records are incomplete, but include:

After the fire of 1867:

  • John Rhodes 1857–1868
  • Frederick Cambridge 1868–1911
  • F. Rowland Tims 1911–1918
  • H. Leslie Smith 1918–1948
  • Edward Shakespeare 1948–1952
  • J. A. Rogans (Hon) 1952–1953
  • B. Aldersea 1952–1957
  • J. A. Rogans (Hon) 1957–1958
  • Derek Holman 1958–1965
  • Roy Massey 1965–1968
  • Michael Fleming 1968–1978[12]
  • David Brookshaw 1978–1980
  • Simon Lole 1980–1985
  • Carl Jackson 1986–1990
  • David Swinson 1990–1992
  • Peter Nardone 1993–2000
  • Nigel McClintock 2000–2007
  • Andrew Cantrill 2008–2012
  • Tom Little (Acting) 2012–2013
  • Dr Ronny Krippner 2013–

Organists Laureate

Organists Emeritus


The tower houses a ring of 12 bells cast by the Croydon firm of Gillett & Johnston in 1936, replacing an earlier ring of eight. The eight original bells were recast and hung with new fittings in a new frame with four additional trebles. The new ring of 12 was dedicated by the Bishop of Croydon on 12 December 1936 and the first peal on the new 12 was rung for the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1937.

The tower and ringers are affiliated to the Surrey Association of Church Bell Ringers.

St. Johns Memorial Garden[edit]

St Johns Memorial Garden; November 2020

To the south of the Minster is St. Johns Memorial Garden, an area of 2 acres (0.81 ha). Up until 1957 it was a traditional cemetery which was no longer used and had become neglected. Earlier gravestones and tombs were relocated or used for walling or paving and a War Memorial was also repositioned.[13]



  1. ^ "Croydon Churches". Eden/National Church Database. 2003. Archived from the original on 2008-01-01. Retrieved 2007-10-16.
  2. ^ Historic England. "Parish Church of St John the Baptist (Grade I) (1079319)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  3. ^ Harris, Oliver (2005). The Archbishops' Town: the making of medieval Croydon. Croydon: Croydon Natural History and Scientific Society. p. 250. ISBN 0-906047-20-X.
  4. ^ Sharpe, Reginald R., ed. (1889). Calendar of Wills proved and enrolled in the court of Husting, London, AD 1258–AD 1688. 1. London. pp. 501–2.
  5. ^ Lancaster, Brian (2016). Consumed by Fire: the destruction of Croydon Parish Church in 1867 and its rebuild. Croydon: Croydon Natural History and Scientific Society. ISBN 978-0-906047-31-6.
  6. ^ Lancaster 2016, p. 496, and illustration on p. 505.
  7. ^ "History of Croydon Minster". Croydon Minster. 2011. Archived from the original on 2012-03-24. Retrieved 2011-05-30.
  8. ^ Green, Adrian (2018-05-01). "Croydon Minster Choir of Whitgift School". Convivium Records. Retrieved 2018-12-04.
  9. ^ "Parish Profile: Parish of St John the Baptist with St George Croydon" (pdf). Croydon Minster. Diocese of Southwark. July 2016. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  10. ^ "NPOR [N13479]". National Pipe Organ Register. British Institute of Organ Studies. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  11. ^ "NPOR [R01396]". National Pipe Organ Register. British Institute of Organ Studies. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  12. ^ "Michael Fleming". The Independent. London. 2006-02-27. Archived from the original on April 9, 2011. Retrieved 2010-04-30.
  13. ^ Winterman, M.A. (1988). Croydon's Parks: An illustrated history. London Borough of Croydon, Parks and Recreation Department. p. 82. ISBN 0951348108.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]