|St John the Evangelist Churchyard||Croydon|
St John the Evangelist is the old parish church of Coulsdon, a village recorded from Saxon times. The present building is essentially late C13th with a C15th tower. The church is associated with the Byron family, and various family members are buried here. They were major landowners in Coulsdon since 1782 when Thomas Byron purchased Coulsdon Manor and the sub-manor of Hooley. In 1871 Edmund Byron, who had inherited the estate in 1862, provided land to extend the graveyard. It has subsequently been enlarged a number of times, and now has a garden of remembrance but is closed for burials. An ancient yew and a great chestnut tree were once found in the churchyard. The lych-gate dates from 1910.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/12/2008
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The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
East of Grange Park, St John's Church is the old parish church of Coulsdon, a village recorded from Saxon times. There has probably been a church on the present site for at least 1000 years since the Manor of Coulsdon is recorded in the care of Chertsey Abbey of St Peter and St Paul from AD675. The Domesday Book refers to a church here in 1086, and the present church building dates essentially from the later C13th, with a C15th tower. It stands at the east corner of the village green in Old Coulsdon and is built of Reigate stone, flint and some bricks, with slated roof, and consists of a chancel, nave with north and south transepts, and south porch. The C15th west tower has a shingled spire. A large extension was built onto the south transept in 1958 by J S Comper providing an aisled nave and chancel with a gallery at the north end, inserted into the former south transept. The north transept has become the choir vestry, and there is a small modern west porch. A more recent extension designed by John Stammers has been built between the chancel and the new church and extending eastwards to provide a kitchen, toilets and a parish office/clergy vestry.
The Victoria County History refers to an ancient yew and a great chestnut tree at the south end of the churchyard. According to the 1868 Ordnance Survey the churchyard was at that time 1.029 acres. The Church Minutes for 6 April 1922 make reference to the extension of the graveyard, and also record that a portion of the east wall had fallen, disturbed by roots of a tree in the garden of The Grange, with the recommendation that Mr Byron be asked to remove the tree and that the wall be restored at an estimated cost of £5.
The Byron family had been major landowners in Coulsdon since 1782 when Thomas Byron purchased the 385 acre Coulsdon Manor from the Earl of Radnor, also purchasing the sub-manor of Hooley where he lived at Hooley House from 1801 until his death in 1821. Byron and his family reputedly drove to St John's Church every Sunday from Hooley House, with a servant clearing Marlpit Lane of twigs to avoid scratching the coach. By the time Edmund Byron inherited the estate in 1862 it comprised 2000 acres and he remained Lord of Coulsdon Manor for 58 years. As a six-year-old in 1850 he had laid the foundation stone to Coulsdon Court, which became the family home, later the Club House for Coulsdon Golf Club and now Coulsdon Manor Hotel (q.v.). Edmund provided land to extend the graveyard in 1871, which was dedicated in a ceremony at which the Bishop of Winchester presided. Among many other charitable works, Edmund paid for a new church organ and established Coulsdon Almshouses in the village in the 1870s. A grass path between the house and St John's Church was kept clear so that he could walk to Sunday services, and after his death in 1921 his tenant farmers bore his coffin to the church while the bell tolled for each of his 77 years. Various members of the family were buried at St John's, most recently Arthur Byron (d.1984), whose tombstone is inscribed 'Athlete, bonviveur and cognoscente', and his second wife Evelyn Mary Felicity Blundell Hawkes, film actress and painter, buried here in 1995.
By 1934 the churchyard is shown on the OS map as 1.458 acres. It was also extended in the 1950s when the church was extended and has since been renovated; it now has a garden of remembrance but it is closed for burials. The lych-gate dates from 1910.
Cherry B & Pevsner N, The Buildings of England, London 2: South, 1983 (1999 edition); Winterman, M A, Croydon's parks: an illustrated history (LB Croydon, 1988); St John's Church website; Ian Scales (ed), 'Village Histories 5. Coulsdon', The Bourne Society (2000); H E Malden, Victoria History of the County of Surrey, vol.4 pp202-204; Coulsdon Parish Church Council Minute Book 1922; Gwyneth Fookes, 'Churchyard Yew Trees in the Bourne Area', The Bourne Society, pp6-13; LB Croydon, 'Local List of Historic Parks & Gardens', December 2008.
LPGT Volunteer Research by Patricia Birch, 2007