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St John's Churchyard Croydon
   
Summary: Shirley was previously a hamlet of Croydon parish, but became a separate parish in 1846. Prior to the construction of St John's Church in 1854-6 there was a Mission chapel here with a school room, playground, cottages and burial ground, and garden for the poor. From 1879-1912 the vicar of St John's was Revd William Wilkes, an important figure in horticulture, Secretary of the RHS and responsible for developing the Shirley Poppy. The large churchyard has a number of fine mature trees and monuments, including that of John Ruskin's parents, the Preston family tomb in the form of a classical temple, and a memorial to Arthur Lloyd, brother of Frank Lloyd after whom Lloyd Park is named.
Previous / Other name: Shirley Parish Church
Site location: Shirley Church Road, Shirley
Postcode: CR0 5EF > Google Map
Type of site: Churchyard
Date(s): 1854-56
Designer(s): Church: Sir George Gilbert Scott
Listed structures: LBII: St John's Church; Ruskin monument; monument to Preston Family.
Borough: Croydon
Site ownership: Diocese of Southwark
Site management: church
Open to public? Yes
Opening times: unrestricted
Special conditions:
Facilities:
Events: Concerts in church
Public transport: Rail: East Croydon then bus.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/12/2008
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.stjohnsshirley.org.uk

Fuller information:

Shirley was previously a hamlet of Croydon parish, and was made into a separate parish in 1846. Prior to the construction of St John's Church in 1854-6 there was a Mission chapel on the site, built in 1836 by Mr Farrer, son of Lady Eldon of Shirley Park, with a school room, playground, cottages and burial ground. The garden was set aside for the poor. The chapel accommodated 200 people and was soon too small for the growing population. Lord Ashburton donated a plot of land next to the chapel yard for a larger church and funds were then raised through subscription and an appeal by 1854. The new church, in early Gothic style with a spire, was designed by Sir Gilbert Scott on the north side of the village near the entrance gate to Addington Palace (q.v.). A relative of Lord Eldon was the first vicar of St John's Church. The flint and stone church has a bell-turret and spire, and is described by Nikolaus Pevsner as 'deliberately villagey'. It comprises a nave with side aisles, a west tower, chancel, chapel, vestry and south porch. The vestry was extended during the C20th. The chapel is sited on the south side of the chancel and was built in 1955 designed by Caroe & Partners. A detached hall of brick, also designed by Caroe & Partners, is to the north side.

The churchyard has some fine tombs and monuments, including the grave of John Ruskin's parents in the south-east corner, a monument to the Preston family in the form of a classical temple, and a memorial to Arthur Lloyd (1861-1910), the brother of Frank Lloyd after whom Lloyd Park (q.v.) is named. The vicar from 1879-1912 was Revd William Wilks, who lived at the Old Vicarage (q.v.), an important figure in the world of horticulture, long-time Secretary of the RHS and responsible for developing the Shirley Poppy. Among notes dated 21 May 1877 that record the planting of trees in the churchyard, which included 'bay, oak, pine, etc. some grown from seeds', is the following passage: 'Pine near Hawkins James' grave in N.W. Corner of Ch.yard this was grown from a seed brought by him from the Himalayas'.

Today the large churchyard has a number of fine mature trees, including beech, Wellingtonia and cypress, and a lych gate at the entrance on Shirley Church Road.

Sources consulted:

See The Old Vicarage - included in 1985 site form for University of York; B Cherry & N Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England, London 2: South' (1983 reprint 1999; Edward Walford 'Village London, The Story of Greater London Part 3: South East and South', first published 1883/4 and reprinted in 1983 by The Alderman Press. Church records including conveyance for the land, Surrey History Centre ref no 7191; 'The Vicarage Shirley', The Gardeners' Chronicle, 30 August 1890; 'An hour at Shirley', Journal of Horticulture & Cottage Gardener, 18 May 1899; 'Shirley Vicarage near Croydon', Country Life Illustrated, 21 May 1898; 'Shirley Church and its Vicar', Croydon and County Pictorial, August 1904; LB Croydon, 'Local List of Historic Parks & Gardens', December 2008.

LPGT Volunteer Research by Patricia Birch, 2007
Grid ref: TQ358653
Size in hectares:
   
On EH National Register : No
EH grade:
Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
Registered common or village green
on Commons Registration Act 1965:
No
Protected under London Squares
Preservation Act 1931:
No
 
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.
On Local List: Yes
In Conservation Area: No
Conservation Area name:
Tree Preservation Order: No
Nature Conservation Area: No
Green Belt: Yes
Metropolitan Open Land: No
Special Policy Area: No
Other LA designation: Local Open Land
   

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