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Addiscombe was originally 'Adgecomb" or Adscomb; meaning "Edge of the Coombe". When Elizabeth I reigned in England, Addiscombe was a country estate just a mile from Croydon on the Shirley Road, owned by the Heron family. Sir Nicholas Heron, who died in 1586, was interred in Heron's chapel in Croydon Parish Church. After the death of the last of the Herons, the estate became the residence of successive benefactors.

The Cherry Orchard

In the 15 Century, a large area (280 acres) of Common Land extended from Selhurst to Broad Green (E to W), and Whitehorse to Cherry Orchard Road (N to S) which was used for grazing. The Parish (of Croydon) employed a herdsman and charged rates appropriate to the animal (e.g. a horse: or cow; 1/-2d, Entry to Croydon Heath (or Croydon Common: was controlled by gates. Newgate stood near Spurgeon+s Chapel and the present Wellesley Road was called Newgate Lane, becoming New Lane. Middleheath Gate stood near St James' church, and Cony Lane Gate stood at the junction of Cross Road and Cherry Orchard Road (then called Cony Lane. In later centuries, a large cherry tree orchard covered the southern part of the common and extended north of the line of George Street and when the fruit was ripe, a Cherry Fair was held near where the NLA Tower now stands. Cony Lane was renamed Cherry Orchard Road as a result.

With the advent of the railways in the 1830's, Cherry Orchard Road ceased to be a quiet rural lane and railway workers+ cottages sprang up, many with the still-visible date of 1838.



Towards the end of the 18th Century, the area was still heavily wooded, with pleasant lanes and hedgerows .Between Addiscombe and Cherry Orchard and Lebanon Roads, Captain John Brickwood built his mansion 'well back from the road amongst stately trees which shielded his property from the gaze of the vulgar' (to quote the Parish magazine of 1947). There was a prospect toward Penge and Beckenham over a lake to pleasantly wooded hills. Captain Brickwood was notable for his organisation of a local militia (a forerunner of the Home Guard) in readiness for any Napoleonic invasion. Subsequently, the house was owned by Sir Benjamin Hallowell, one of Nelson's admirals at Trafalgar. (Brickwood grounds can be seen at the left hand side of the 1850 map, on the right).

The estate was eventually sold off in 1907/8 as lots for building development, and the area became traversed by roads, such as Lebanon, Cedar, Blake, and of course, Brickwood Road.

        Addiscombe College & The East India Company 1809 -1861

The Heron mansion house (at the corner of Outram Road and Mulberry Lane) was rebuilt in 1702 by the Draper family, who were well known in high society. In 1809, the then owner, Emelius Henry Radcliffe sold the house to the East India Company and the mansion became surrounded by other college buildings. Pembroke Lodge now stands on the site of the original mansion. The house was leased at one time~ to one of Pitt's ministers. George III and Prime Minister Pitt frequently stayed at the house. The estate can be seen at the centre right of the 1850 map above.


The Mansion: the house was reputedly very finely detailed internally, with intricate plasterwork, fine staircases and fireplaces.

        First Venue for St.Paul's


gymnasium of Addiscombe College now at the lower end of Havelock Road - the first venue for St Paul's.

Other sites locally are connected with the College: Addiscombe House in Mulberry Lane had an underground passage to the mansion. Its garden contained the stump of a Mulberry tree - the first ever imported into England by Peter the Great who stayed here. The tree gave the name to Mulberry Lane.

"The Elms" on Addiscombe Road is a very old cottage and was probably used as a master's residence during the college era.

Havelock Hall was the college gymnasium . It was used as the early meeting place of the breakaway St Paul's congregation; the precursor of St Mary Magdalene. This building was converted into flats in the 1990s.

Key Dates in our History


1880 (February): The Vicarage (at 17 Canning Road) was purchased at a cost of 3070, including alterations. The debt was not paid until 1885.

1884 (June) : The reredos (carved screen in the Eastern apse above the Table) was given by Mr Theodore Lloyd, a Churchwarden.

1885 (December): St Mary's Hall, Oval Road, was opened by the Archbishop of Canterbury, following the laying of the memorial stone by Sir William Muir in July. The hall cost £2500.

1891: The brass Eagle Lectern was presented as a gift by the Sunday School teachers at a cost of 100. Rev Glover brought the rare black and white marble base block back from the Pyrenees. The 42 marble columns surrounding the piers were polished at the cost of 15 shillings each. A new organ by Messrs Beale was installed: its dedication followed by a recital by Dr Bridge from Westminster Abbey.


1904: A memorial window to Mrs Glover was unveiled.

1906 (December): The West end of the church was found to be no longer weatherproof (constructed of slate and render) and was finished in brick and stone at a cost of 1988, to a design in the idiom of Lamb's: a cheaper plain version was rejected.

1907 (March): Ben Oliel died and was buried at Aldrington, Hove, after continuing his ministry in London and Brighton, during which time he was author of a number of theological treatises.

1912/13: Rev Glover delegated pastoral car·e of the east end of the parish to Rev T. Bentham, and a chapel of ease was constructed in Bingham Road at a cost of £2000.

1917 (October): Rev Glover retired after 46 years as vicar. Rev James Wright appointed in December.

1920 (April: An investigation reported that the organ was in very poor condition. The first Annual General Meeting held. Rev Glover died on 16th October and was buried in Shirley churchyard.


1921 (July): The War Memorial was unveiled. In September, a house was purchased at 85 Elgin Road as 'The Glover Memorial Clergy House'. A hall in Bingham Road, called St Mildred's Hall, was opened.

1922 (April) : A Union Jack, carried through the East African Campaign was presented to the church by Miss Flint, a parishioner. The flag was hung above the War Memorial. St Mildred's became a separate parish; its first incumbent was being Rev. Thomas Bentham. A window in memory of Rev Glover and his daughter Florence was unveiled.

1923: The organ, which up to now had never been satisfactory, was rebuilt, enlarged and electrified by Messrs Hill, Norman and Beard, at a cost of £2000.

1924: Roof ' extensively improved ' with a layer of waterproof felt.

1925: Electric lighting was installed.


The Church was built with only the first 10 metres of the tower and it remained like this for 50 years.

The 50th Jubilee and the Tower

1926: Plans begun to celebrate the church's Jubilee. Several options were suggested to improve the fabric: build the tower, abolish pew rents, build a new parish hall behind the church, add a Porch to the West end and improve furnishings or enlarge the Vestries. The raising of the tower obtained more votes than the rest combined, followed by a clear second favorite of abolition of pew rents. The proposals were then put to the parishioners+ meeting and a similar endorsement for the tower was obtained. An architect, Hugh Macintosh, was appointed to report on existing tower base foundations. On receiving a satisfactory report, the Council approved the tower proposal, subject to satisfactory design and cost (It is not known why Lamb's original tower design was adopted). The vicar's son, Capt Theodore Wright, killed flying accident on army manoeuvres.


Hugh Mackintosh's design for completing the tower.

1927/28: Money raised by various efforts to build the 80 foot tower, intended to have bells, at the East Porch to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of the church's consecration: £4000 required. By January 1928, £2300 promised, rising to £3800 by May. However in March, the contractor announced an increase in tender to £4800, which was approved.

On 31 July 1928, The Jubilee Day celebration and ceremony was held, with the memorial stone laid by Miss Tait (daughter of the Archbishop who consecrated the church) and Mrs Mason (wife of the then Vlcar's warden), using the silver trowel that had been used to lay the original foundation stone of the church by Mrs Parnell (wife of the chief contributor of funds, Robert).


The memorial stone laying ceremony, 1928

At the top of Northampton Road, where "Sandy Bank" now stands, used to be Ashburton Lodge, named after the family. Lady Ashburton was associated with Dickens, Ruskin, Carlyle, Moody, Sankey and other public figures of the day. In the grounds of 'Hazelwood' is a wall where cadets of the college inscribed their names in 1857 while enjoying an 'out of bounds' smoke.

There was a small chapel attached to the college and to this, cadets paraded each morning and evening for a service conducted by the chaplain. On Sundays, cadets went down to the Parish Church in Croydon. By 1827, it became clear that Croydon Parish Church was too far away to minister to the college needs and St James' Parish Church was built and consecrated on 31st January 1829. The population of Addiscombe at this time was about 1000.

Following the Indian Mutiny, Sandhurst and Woolwich were considered adequate for future training of cadets so the college closed in 1861.The estate was sold to the British Land Company and broken up. Speculators built houses, naming the streets after famous British leaders in India: Canning, Clyde, Elgin, Havelock, Outram, Grant, Nicholson, Warren and Hastings, although none of these appear to have had any real connection with the College itself.

A New Church

The increase in the local population as the houses were occupied meant that St James' was also too distant and a movement began to found a new church. St Matthews church (on George Street, where Church House now stands, was consecrated in 1866 and the first assistant curate, a Rev Maxwell Ben Oliel, was a brilliant Jewish scholar who had become a rabbi at the age of eighteen and had been converted to Christianity. He was a brilliant theologian and preacher. After his conversion and training, he was ordained by the Bishop of Carlisle and was subsequently Chaplain to the Duchess of Northumberland. Through influence he was appointed to the Croydon Deanery. His preaching attracted great crowds and a number of Addiscombe people conceived the idea of securing him to be curate in charge of a new church. The vicar refused to cooperate although conceding support for the idea of a new church in principle.

Disappointed local people approached Ben Oliel himself with the idea of establishing a new church outside the authority of the Church of England. In August 1866, Ben Oliel left St Matthew's and a new Church began in Havelock Hall, the old College gymnasium, which was converted. The new Church was called St Paul's. It is thought the name was chosen as a reference to the erudition of its Minister, who was compared with the apostle! Services there began in the finished conversion in January 1867. The church grew and flourished.

St.Paul's Canning Road


original design for St Paul's, by "Rogue" Architect Edward Buckton Lamb

Ben Oliel's brother in law, Robert Parnell, was a wealthy man and guaranteed the money for a new church building to be erected in Canning Road. He and Oliel worked together on the design by the architect, Edward Buckton Lamb. Features were introduced by Oliel inspired by Jewish tradition.

Building commenced in June 1867 and the building opened in September 1868. The west end was not finished and a timber structure was substituted for lack of funds. Only the first 30' of the tower at the east entrance was built to Lamb's design. The church was not recognised by the Church of England. However, an Anglican priest agreed to dedicate it; an event which lead the local paper to comment on the 29th September,"the consecration by a deacon in Holy Orders is a circumstance without precedent since the time of St Augustine+. The name of St Paul+s transferred to the new building and Havelock Hall sold.

The Anglican Response

The Church of England were not entirely idle, however. The Archbishop twice refused to license St Paul's and he, together with the vicar of St James, set up a new District and appointed the Rev Morse. The District tried to raise £400 to construct an -Iron Church+ (made with corrugated iron sheeting) which was built at the top of Elgin Road and was called St Mary Magdalene (the reason for the name is unknown). Only £200 was raised and the new Church struggled, especially with such a powerful neighbour. Relations between the two churches were appalling and the press made the most of the situation.


The Iron Church of St Mary Magdalene (C of E)


This Church can be seen in this map of 1870's at bottom right. In December 1870, the curate of St Matthews, the Rev. Henry Glover, was appointed curate in charge of St Mary's.

About Face

In June 1872, Ben Oliel mystified his congregation by announcing that those attending the following Sunday would experience a change in the nature of the service, which had been to date informal and evangelical. A large and duly expectant congregation on 23rd June was horrified to find that henceforth the services would be high Anglo-Catholic and ritualistic. The very evangelical congregation left en-masse for St Mary Magdalene's iron shed, leaving St Paul's virtually deserted. The latter struggled on and despite Ben Oliel's invitations to famous preachers, his former congregation steadfastly refused to return. St Mary's was bursting at the seams with so large a congregation, and Havelock Hall was rehired to take the overspill. St Paul's finally closed in December and stood empty for two years during which bitter controversy raged. Oliel bought out the freehold of the church from his brother-in-law and in 1874, Oliel put the building up for sale, valuing it at £15,000. Negotiations began with the Anglican Church, concluding with the sale of the building for £7000 in June 1874.

The controversy that surrounded the situation was not lost on the local Press. The Advertiser (forerunner of the Croydon Advertiser) stated on 18th July 1874, "It would take an Archangel from to please the entire people of Addiscombe."

Further reading on the Rev. Ben Oliel can be found in an article available on the Croydon Natural History and Scientific Society's website.

St. Mary Magdalene, Canning Road

On 5th August 1874 the church building was opened and dedicated according to Anglican rite. The Archbishop of Canterbury was expected to take the service but did not appear due to an important debate in the House of Lords. His son, Rev Crawford Tait, performed the ceremony and the name of St Mary Magdalene was transferred from the iron church to the stone one. Rev Glover remained curate in charge: living at 2 Shirley Villas, Upper Addiscombe Road. Rev A.W.H. Lefroy was Assistant Curate. The people of Addiscombe raised £4000 towards the cost of the church very quickly. The Archbishop would not consecrate the church until the debt had been cleared, which took a further four years. So, in July 1878, the Archbishop consecrated St Mary Magdalene, Canning Road. Among the congregation were the Bishops of Montreal and Queensland.

In October of that year, Henry Glover was licensed vicar, and a new parish formed in June 1879.

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