Christchurch

The parish of Christchurch was founded as a result of the will of John Marshall dated 1627. John Marshall owned many properties throughout Southwark, including 36 houses in Axe Yard (now Newcomen Street), 20 houses in London Road and many buildings in Blackman Street (now Borough High Street) His will stipulated that should he die without heir, 700 should be spent on "one New Church for the worship of God, and a church-yard convenient for it in such a place as [the Trustees] in their discretion should think fit, but his desire was, that the same might be built in some part of St Saviour's parish." The will stated that the new church was to be called Christ Church and the will also provided for the maintenance of a minister for the church.

John Marshall died without heir in 1631 but, perhaps because of the political and religious uncertainty of the times, nothing happened until 1663 when a Commission into charitable uses discovered that no action had been taken and that the properties left by John Marshall whose income was to endow various charities had fallen into disrepair and rents had fallen into arrears.

The manor ofParish Garden, previously a part of the parish of St Saviour's, was formed into a separate parish by Act of Parliament in 1670 despite objections from St Saviour's. A plot of land for the building of the church was donated by William Angell, the owner of the manor, on the proviso that a vault was built in the chancel of the new church for himself and his heirs. The church was consecrated in 1671.

Christchurch-2

The foundations had been insufficiently drained when the church was built and by 1721 the church was in very decaying condition both inside and out. It was sinking into the marsh and it was reported the ground level was as high as the windows, and that the graves filled with water as soon as they were dug.

A further Act of Parliament enabled the existing church to be pulled down and a new one erected to be paid for by the Marshall Charity. The new church was built between 1738 and 1741 and had a tower that housed eight bells.

After 200 years the church suffered great bomb damage in World War II. Mr F R Neill, who was verger and parish clerk until the destruction wrote "As one stood on Blackfriars Road and looked up at the steeple, one would often wonder at the splendour of it but to one who knew the interior of it, it was one of such a beautiful structure and built in such a fashion that to get eight bells in same was a masterpiece."

Building work started on the current church in 1957 and it was consecrated in 1959. It was paid for and owned by the Marshall Charity, and the interior of the building is more interesting than the exterior. It is small with unusual stained glass windows: some at high level were paid for by the Marshall Charity at the time of building the church and represent various facets of the parish. There is another series by the entrance to the church commissioned and paid for by various organisations and companies in the parish to celebrate the church's 25th aniversary.

Sources:

Henry Hunt, A brief history of the Parish of Christ Church,1830
William Joseph Meymott, An Historical Account of the Paris of Christ Church, Surrey, 1881
Sir Howard Roberts and Walter H Godfrey (eds), Survey of London Vol 22, 1950

LMA:
P92/CTC/543 Notes on the history of Christchurch (anon) and Memories of Christchurch, Southwark by F R Neill.