The modern town of Coulsdon is centred on a valley through the North Downs. The village of Old Coulsdon overlooks it from the East. See “Where to Find Us”. When the present Borough of Croydon was created in 1964, Coulsdon was included. The town of Croydon is about six miles to the north.
A booklet, giving a more extensive history of the church, a video and various other items can be obtained from church. There is a detailed description of the church in 1912 and discussion of the architecture online via the “Contacts” page.
“Coulsdon” is derived from “Cuthraed’s Dene” or “Cuthraed’s Down”. A dene is a place of safety and one possible Cuthraed was a King of Kent in the late sixth century. It may have been founded as a forward staging post for raids into Wessex or Middlesex. Another possibility is that the original inhabitants were evading pressure in Kent to convert to Christianity.
The first record is a charter of about 675 granting the Manor of “Curedesdone” in “Suðergeona” to Chertsey Abbey. This was when the sub-king of Surrey and his son converted to Christianity. There was a community with a church, probably wooden, on the present site. In the Domesday Book (1086) it is “Colesdone”. By then the church was probably stone but only fragments now survive.
The earliest known Rector, John of Medmenham, was installed in 1261. The church was rebuilt in 1269 to 1282 with the encouragement of Henry III. (He was the son and successor of King John who signed the Magna Carta and who was the origin of Prince John in the Robin Hood legend.) The oldest substantial parts of the church are from this rebuilding and the church as then constructed essentially survived to the mid Twentieth Century. The main walls were built using Surrey firestone, also used in the construction of Westminster Abbey. The name “Coulsdon” appears in 1597 and was usual by the first census in 1801.
In those days, the area was much less densely populated and the Parish was much larger. It included Smitham, Hooley, Kenley and Purley. In time, various villages grew and merged to form a single community called Coulsdon. The old village was first called Old Coulsdon when a new Post Office was built at Smitham down in the valley.
The North transept was extensively renovated in Victorian times, when the Manor was held by the family of the poet Byron. In the porch is a map locating all identified graves. The occupants include five with the surname Byron. The church includes numerous Byron memorials.
In the 20th century, the increasing population made the church far too small. The church was extended out of the south side of the building and the new worship area was consecrated in 1959. A further extension was added in 1990 including a kitchen. During digging of the foundations, the lead coffin of Captain William Coombes was found. The meeting room in the extension has been called “The Coombes Room” in his memory, and is now used as the church office.
At ground floor level the demolished South wall was replaced by a sliding screen. This can be closed to allow the Old Church to be used separately. It can be opened to allow the Old Church Nave to be used as an extension to the New Church. Higher, the wall has been rebuilt slightly further North to form the back wall of the New Church Organ Loft, no longer in use. This makes the former South Gallery too small to be used but the balustrade remains.
We would like to be able to welcome you at any time but unfortunately the church can not be left open and unattended. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays when there are no services we usually have guides available from 10 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4 p.m. Please check before coming specially.