The Story of Christ Church


The Start of Christ Church New Malden

The story of Christ Church really begins with the building of New Malden station in 1846.  From that point the population of New Malden grew rapidly and by 1855 the need for a church was clear. 

A meeting was held at the Railway Tavern (now the Glasshouse) and the decision taken to raise funds for a church in Poplar Walk (now Poplar Grove). Henry Thomas Dobson (great grandfather of current member of Christ Church, Frank Dobson) was involved in this and an angry exchange with the local MP Henry Drummond, who believed a church to be unnecessary. 

Dear Sir,

I have received your letter of the 14th, as I did the former to which you allude. Some speculators having invested their money in endeavouring to build a little town, and finding that no one will live in so wet and flat a place, first tried the attraction of a Gin Shop, and then of a second; still the speculation would not answer; and now they are to try the effect of a Spiritual Gin Shop, the spirituous not being sufficient. There is no more need of a Church than there is a town; it is a piece of religious canting imposture from beginning to end, of which there have been many specimens all over the land, and they ought to be exposed by being described in their true colours.

I am Sir, Your Obedient Servant
Henry Drummond, MP

The funds were nevertheless raised and 'The Temporary Church of St James' opened on Sunday 8th March 1857, with Henry Dobson (pictured below) as one of the first two Churchwardens.

At first, clergy from other churches took the services but from Easter 1861 a full time curate, the Revd James Marryat, was appointed.  Complaints about Marryat's ministry and an eventual pay off led to him leaving in 1864.

In 1865 the Duke of Cambridge (George, the cousin of Queen Victoria) provided the land for a permament church and a vicarage to be built.  It was at that point that the Reverend Charles Stirling (1827-1921) was announced as the first vicar of the forthcoming Christ Church.

The Ten Vicars of Christ Church  

There have been ten vicars of Christ Church.  Click on the links below to follow the story of Christ Church from their time.

The Reverend Charles Stirling (1865 - 1892)
Canon William Challacombe (1893 -  1920)
The Reverend Alvan Birkett (1921 - 1935)
The Reverend Willoughby Habershon (1935 - 1944)
The Reverend Claude Bartle (1944 - 1958)
Canon Llewellyn Roberts (1958 - 1968)
The Reverend Peter Coombs (1968 - 1975)
Canon John Short (1976 - 1990)
Canon Stewart Downey (1991 - 2006)
The Reverend Stephen Kuhrt (2007 - present)

You can also follow the story of how the church buildings have changed from the building of the original church in 1866 up to the present day.

Or you can read how people and key events have played a part in shaping the history of Christ Church.

In Service of Christ Church

During its history, there have been:

58 Curates of Christ Church and St John's

58 Churchwardens

10 Vergers or Caretakers

5 Administrators of Christ Church and St John's