In 1884 Rev Lord Victor Seymour became Rector of Carshalton.  Aware of a rapidly growing area of housing in the south of the parish served by a halt on the Sutton and Croydon railway line named Carshalton Beeches, he soon made arrangements for a mission room, staffed by a lay reader to be located in a large house in Stanley Road.  This was followed by a small iron church, which was itself replaced in 1900 by a larger iron building in Stanley Park Road.


Between 1909 and 1912 grants were raised for the purchase of a site for a new church, but any further ambitions at that time were stifled by the intervention of the First World War, and the next positive step did not come until the 1920’s when Bishop Cyril Garbett visited the parish and promised a grant of £2,000 from the twenty-five Churches Fund.   Bishop Garbett directed that the new church should be in a position nearer the centre and so in 1928 a one-acre site in Queen Mary’s Avenue was purchased for the erection of a church and church hall and Martin Travers was engaged as architect for the project.


The new church was consecrated on 8th May 1930.  To keep costs down, direct labour was recruited locally and some voluntary aid provided by members of the congregation.  Surprisingly, the costs proved lower than originally expected, totalling no more than £6,060, with an extra £700 for fixtures and fittings.  Plans to provide a chapel, however, were shelved due to financial constraints.


The church was built with a seating capacity of 380.  The interior plan is essentially a simple rectangle without any structural division between nave and sanctuary.  At the west end, a gallery of steel and concrete was erected for choir and organ.  Martin Travers designed many of the furnishings and fittings including the crucifix and reredos as well as the two stained glass windows, a St. Nicholas window in the north wall and a Madonna window on the south side.  Externally the walls are constructed of yellow stock bricks, heavily buttressed and pierced by plain rectangular iron-framed windows. High above the west front, the gable is crowned with a picturesque belfry, which houses a single bell and contributes much to the ‘Spanish mission chapel’ appearance of the church.


The building has had more than its fair share of misfortune since it was erected.  The Second World War took its toll.  The copper roof was lifted and damaged by bomb blast and the vestries were severely damaged.  In 1952 a large section of the roof was blown off during a gale.  An arson attack in 1967 gutted the vestries, destroying most of its contents and damaging much of Travers work in the sanctuary.   In 1985 the church was found to be suffering from crumbling brickwork and the belfry too was crumbling.  A major restoration, involving the replacement of much of the brickwork and repairs to the leaking roof was undertaken, with the necessary appeal for funds being supported by Sir John Betjeman shortly before he died.  Betjeman had a strong affection for the church; one of his poems referred to ‘the Travers baroque lime-washed in light’, and he whimsically dubbed its characteristics as ‘Essoldo moderne in an Hispano- Italian Baroque style’.


In 1990 the interior of the church was redecorated, the lighting renewed and the area beneath the organ gallery reordered to create a parish room including; a seating area around the font, toilets, kitchen and audio equipment booth.

It was in the millennium year that the present congregation raised £800,000 to complete the original plan to provide a chapel and also to create a new single storey extension on the south side of the church.  The new extension, designed by architects Carden & Godfrey, opened in 2001, and provides a new church entrance, reception area, office, kitchen, WCs, meeting rooms, an internal courtyard as well as a chapel, ‘in commendable harmony with the original structure, in both its design and the use of materials’.This was all paid for by 2004 and the new facilities have promoted church growth and are being extensively used by the local community as well as a conference centre for organisations such as the Local Authority, the Education Department, the Local Primary Care Trust and many others.

At Pentecost in 2005,  Phase 2 of our redevelopement plan began with the aim of enhancing the life of our church and local community. The old Church Hall and separate Scout Hut were demolished and the North side of the Church had its own extension built.  This has provided us with a brand new Church hall, a library and a meeting room as well as a fully-equipped kitchen, WCs  and even a Games Room. This should all be paid for by September 2013 and is now being used extensively by a Montessori Pre School as well as a variety of community activities ranging from Belly Dancing to Weightwatchers with everything in between! The church family at the Good Shepherd is aware that God has been extremely generous to each of us. Jesus said, “to whom much is given, much will be required”, and we believe that He has given us the will, the means and the opportunity to make the sacrifices necessary in this generation that will benefit the church and the community for many generations to come. Now we have the plant, we need to move forward and use it to further God’s Kingdom!

Both because of its location and architecture, it is a landmark building within Carshalton Beeches but it has also become both a spiritual centre for the church family  and a vital resource for the local community which makes extensive use of the facilities now provided. It is adjacent to local bus routes and in easy walking distance from the local station.


Largely taken from;  ‘The ‘Twenty-Five’ Churches of The Southwark Diocese’-  Kenneth Richardson

The Church of The Good Shepherd – A Short History and Guide.  –  Jean Moore, David Parsons & Basil Tuffield

Where the chalk meets the clay – Martin Booth


A History of the Church in Carshalton

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