Holy Trinity Church
A brief history and architectural appreciation.

- Authorisation of church erection on the Trinity Estate. The competition won by Francis Bedford.
1822 - Plans for layout of square commenced.
1823 - Foundation stone laid by Archbishop of Canterbury on 2nd June.
1824 - Church consecrated by Archbishop of Canterbury on 16th December.
1961 - Church disused.
1968 - Pastoral Measures Act. First church to be declared redundant.

The Act of 1820 authorised the erection of a church on the Trinity Estate and trustees were appointed. The site for the church was previously a tenter ground which was an open area where cloth merchants stretched their samples on ‘tenterhooks’ in order to dry them. The land was given by the Trinity Brethren and the trustees opened a public competition for the design. The commission was given to Francis Octavius Bedford, but not before vituperative letters had been written about the attempts of the trustees to favour a relation of one of their number, Mr. Robins.

William Chadwick obtained the contract for the mason’s work and Elizabeth Broomfield for the bricklayer’s work. The church was built for a total cost of £16,295 with the aid of parliamentary grant. The Archbishop of Canterbury laid the foundation stone on 2nd June 1823 and consecrated the church on 16th December 1824.

Bedford had already designed and built several churches in London, Holy Trinity Church closely resembled his ‘Waterloo’ Church at St. Luke’s Norwood, with its Corinthian portico, surmounted by a tower and octagonal lantern above. The exterior is faced with Bath stone and the roofs are covered in copper. The interior of the church was austere, with a roof of unbroken span. The bareness of the walls is relieved by a frieze of honeysuckle ornament and by shallow pilasters, with honeysuckle ornament to the heads, ranging from floor to ceiling. The pilasters support corbels on which rest the panelled beams dividing the plaster ceiling into fifteen coffered bays, each with a ceiling rosette in the centre.

There were galleries to the North, South and West sides borne on Greek Doric columns. Two staircases in the portico gave access to the gallery, muniment room and to two small gallery recesses above with open balustrades and which were intended for charity children. The only crypt entrance was provided by an external staircase on the East side. Lighting was originally provided by oil and later by gas lights, two boilers in the crypt provided heating via large grilles in the nave floor. The organ and casework was installed by Hugh Russell and Sons in 1824. In 1898 the chancel was altered and the galleries cut back under the supervision of Henry Jarvis and Son. Underpinning of the altar was carried out at this time, with a large area of steps and masonry also being added. Wooden reredos and a decorated window surround were added to the East side in 1930 by Martin Travers.

The garden, which extended across the whole of the North-east front of the church, was laid out by William Chadwick. The original stone gate piers and the old stone kerbs still remain but the original fine cast iron railings were removed during the Second World War.

In the centre of the garden stands a statue on a short pedestal and which is shown on an engraving of the church by Whittock, which was published in Allen’s “Complete History of Surrey” in 1830. The statue is referred to in that work as a statue of King Alfred but although the origin of the statue is uncertain, it is said to be one of the oldest statues in London. The back of the statue is quite plain as though it were made to be placed in a niche. The lower part is of natural stone, but the whole of the upper part and most of the sides and back have been restored in Coade stone, an artificial stone made in the late c18 and the early c19 by Coade and Sealy in London, the formula for which has been long since lost.