Collection AR69 - Thomas Mathews Address

Identity area

Reference code

AR69

Title

Thomas Mathews Address

Date(s)

  • Sep 1910 (Creation)

Level of description

Collection

Extent and medium

1 doc

Context area

Name of creator

(1870)

Biographical history

The proposal to establish a Unitarian place of worship in Croydon was first made at a meeting of six gentlemen held on 20 May 1870 at the house of Maurice Grant. As a result, a congregation was formed under the title of Croydon Free Christian Church: the word Unitarian was deliberately avoided in order to avoid any suggestion of doctrinal allegiance. RR Suffield was appointed as Minister, and gave his first address on 2 October: he continued to serve until his resignation through ill health in 1877. The government of the church was placed in the hands of a General Purposes Committee, soon known simply as the Committee. Other committees included a Trust Deed Committee, a Finance Committee, and a Music Committee.

The congregation bought the Iron Church (formerly a Baptist Church) in Wellesley Road. It was opened as the Free Christian Church on 11 December 1870. The freehold of the land was bought in 1875. Subsequently, a new, permanent, church was built on the same site: the memorial stone was laid on 20 April 1883, and it was formerly opened on 17 November 1883. The Iron Church had been moved to the rear of the new building: it was renamed the Social Room, and was put to regular use for soirees, dances, childrens parties, etc.

The Church attracted a relatively small, educated, middle class congregation, and its early ministers included several capable intellectuals. However, relations between minister and congregation were sometimes turbulent. EM Geldart, after some years as a popular minister, antagonised many of his congregation when he began to preach a doctrine of Social Democracy: the strain affected his health, and he died in mysterious circumstances soon afterwards. His successor, CJ Street, resigned over differences of opinion with the congregation; WM Weston was criticised for some of his views (notably an address advocating the abolition of the traditional home), and resigned to rejoin the Roman Catholic Church; and WW Chynoweth Pope was asked to resign following a difficult period of declining attendances. Only after the appointment of GC Sharpe in 1921 did relations become more consistently harmonious.

Among the prominent early members of the congregation were Henry Moore and his family. In 1906 his son, H Keatley Moore, paid an official visit during his term of office as Mayor

The Church was badly damaged during World War 2; and, as a result, a new Church and hall were built in Friends Road in 1958. In 1960 the Church was renamed the Unitarian and Free Christian Church.

Archival history

Bought in a junk shop in Caterham for 1632. Purchased from Ms J Cadle, Dec 1994.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Accession Number: A69

Thomas Mathews address

Illuminated address presented to Thomas Mathews (Treasurer and Secretary) by the Free Christian Church, Wellesley Road; with approx 140 signatures.

Item date: September 1910

Accession date: 12/12/1994

Custodial history: Bought in a junk shop in Caterham for 2.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Illuminated address presented to Thomas Mathews (Treasurer and Secretary) by the Free Christian Church, Wellesley Road; with approx 140 signatures. It was presented to record Mathews long service as Treasurer and Secretary to the congregation. The text reads: 'Free Christian Church, Croydon. We gratefully record the long and faithful service of our esteemed Friend Thomas Mathews Esq. Honorary Treasurer of the Congregation for Ten Years; Honorary Secretary of the Congregation for Eleven Years; and a valued Member of the Committee since 1875. Wellesley Road, Croydon. September 1910.

The address consists of a bound volume, containing nine board pages. These comprise one page bearing the text the address, seven pages containing 143 signatures of members of the congregation, and one blank page.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

Accruals

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Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Some of the records in our collections contain sensitive and personal data that we have a legal responsibility to control access to. In these circumstances, staff may search the collection on your behalf, having received consent or proof of death of the individual concerned.

Please contact us at archives@croydon.gov.uk for further information regarding the particular collection you wish to access.

You can make a request for information which may be in a closed record under the Freedom of Information Act, 2000 or the Environmental Information Regulations, 2004. For more information about making a request, see the Croydon Council website (www.croydon.gov.uk). Making a request does not guarantee access to the information you ask for, as there may be a valid exemption from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.

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Records of the Church are held at PR2/2.

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Description control area

Description identifier

GB-352-ar69

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Dates of creation revision deletion

24/06/2015

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Physical location

  • Box: Archive Store/2/F4