History of St Georges
History of the Church.
The Church of St George the Martyr is located in Shirley, Croydon, in the county of Surrey, although Croydon is a London Borough. The area around Shirley has a history dating back hundreds of years. The name “Shirley” is thought to be derived from two Anglo-Saxon words – “Scyr” meaning “boundary” and “leaz” meaning district or woody pasture. Bronze Age tools have been found in the area dating back to about 800BC.
The area until the early twentieth century was a heavily wooded area, used mainly for agriculture. The road names of the area bear this out – The Glade, Orchard Avenue, Aldersmead etc.
From 1834 to 1937 the history of worship in Shirley is the history of our Mother Church of St John the Evangelist, Shirley, built in 1856.
In August 1937 the first St Georges church was completed. The building is now the church hall, and was dedicated on October 14th, 1937 by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The first Priest in charge was the Rev. Harold Willis, who was the assistant priest at St. Johns. St Georges was not a parish in its own right at this time. It was instead a new conventional district. At this time the Scout group was also formed.
In 1939 we were promised £10,800 from the sale of the demolished church of All Hallows in Lombard St, London, to build a new church to replace the current temporary one. However World War 2 started soon after this, and the plans were shelved.
After the war, Rev. Willis laboured long and hard to raise the money for the new church, but it wasn’t until 1951 that the contracts were finally signed. At this time Rev. Willis left St Georges for St Oswald’s, Norbury. On November 24th 1951, the first turf was cut by the Archdeacon of Croydon and work began. It was completed in August 1952, with the cross on top of the church being dedicated on August 3rd. On November 15th 1952, the Archbishop dedicated the new church, saying “I have rarely come to a new church to find it at once so full of the spirit and worship.” The total cost of the church (and new vicarage) was £23,000.
The second building phase, which added the Lady Chapel, choir stalls, kitchen and so on, was eventually completed in 1967.
Many thanks to Brian McGinnis for providing this history.