The Presbyterian Church of Wales, Brockley

Brockley is home to a number of unusual churches, so this is the first in a short series focusing on those who're interested in a religious path less taken.

The Presbyterian Church of Wales is found at 289 Lewisham Way, next to St Johns Church.

Throughout London in the immediate pre and post war period there were over 30 Welsh churches. Now there are only six. One of the Church's late former members Meurig Owen was an authority on the history of the church and some of his work can be found in the Lewisham Local History records

It was established in 1924 and has a service in Welsh every Sunday at 11am. They also have a literary society meeting twice a month from October to March.

The Church Secretary is Mr Gwyndaf Evans, who you can contact on 0208 300 6415 to find out more.

Thanks to reader Jane for bringing it to our attention.

50 comments:

Anonymous said...

When I first moved to Brockley I approached the church as I thought it would be nice to have a welsh connection for myself and my children, but I was not made to feel welcome as I wasn't welsh speaking !

Anonymous said...

This is a change, usually it's people complaining about Churches evangelising.

Anonymous said...

I went to school in North Wales and one of my good friend's granddad was a Welsh speaking Church of Wales Minister.

I remember going to service with her one Sunday and being surreptitiously hidden on the top balcony (away from the others) and kept out of view in case I upset the members. This despite, or maybe indeed because, she went to the same Roman Catholic school as me.

This was Dolgellau (pronounced Dolgethlow) in the mid 80s.

Brockley Nick said...

What I love about the internet and these kinds of online communities in particular is that it doesn't matter what the subject is - scrabble, Welsh churches or ground-source heat pumps, someone always has something interesting to share. Thanks for that.

Anonymous said...

anyone know how a Welsh church came to be on Lewisham way?

Headhunter said...

I worked in 2 Chinese restaurants (as a waiter) and a 4 star hotel as a silver service waiter in both Llandudno and Barmouth (Abermaw) in North Wales when I was a student. Does that count for anything?

Anonymous said...

Worst post ever!

Headhunter said...

I take that as a no?

Anonymous said...

It's more like a 'hell no' lol

Mb said...

Lots of italians in wales due to them staying on after their release from the pow camps located there during WW2. how's that for an almost totally irelevent post?

Jane said...

Thanks for the information about the Welsh church Nick. Do you , or anyone know whether the church also owns the large, grand house beside it which shares the same land ? I have read that the house belonged to the wealthy Lucas family who owned the land on which most of the St Johns area was built.

What really intrigues me about the Welsh church is the fact that I was told to leave immediately when I approached the door by a woman who appeared from nowhere, and also that I have never, in many years, seen anybody outside it or entering it. It is interesting that one of the comments here mentions that he/she was not made welcome at the church. It is like the beginning of an episode of Scooby Doo. Maybe Lord Lucan is hiding out in there. I 'd really like to hear from someone who does actually attend the church.

Anonymous said...

Do bother synagogues too?

Crofton Parker said...

How mysterious! Damnit we need a Welsh speaker to go undercover.

Tressillian James said...

The house was owned by the Lucas family - and if you look closely at it you can see that it is now only 'half' the house it used to be. It was one of the four grand mansions on Lewisham way.

Brockley seems to attract the more unique Christian denominations -Cranfield Road has St Gregorius Indian Orthodox Church. Anyone with an intersting story?

Tamsin said...

Isn't the house the one that is now owned by a wealthy city man who has spent a fortune restoring it - to the standards of but without the help or interference from English Heritage - and which is usually open to the public in the Open London weekend in September? Or am I getting my mansions muddled up.

On Churches I hope you will also feature the Indian Orthodox one in Cranfield Road which I was not really aware of before passint it today.

Anonymous said...

That's stone house - one of the other 'mansions' that sat along Lewisham Way. If I'm correct there was another where Lewisham College is and the last was off Tanner's Hill or thereabouts

Tamsin said...

There was Christianity very early on in Southern India - the legend being that one of the disciples ended up there. Why it has now come to Brockley is possibly even more shrouded in mystery.

Anonymous said...

Nick - how about an interview with the St Gregorius Indian Orthodox Church. The congregation seem a friendly bunch and always smiling as I see them walk past my place on the way to service.

By the way, the building they are in used to be the hall for the Church opposite - St Peters.

Headhunter said...

There was some kind of manor house on or near the site of Manor Ave wasn't there? Hence the name.

Brockley Nick said...

Argh, you're using up all my material for the next feature! ;)

Headhunter said...

An article about local churches and manor houses? Sounds very interesting - genuinely. You've been writing very prolifically recently Nick. I've been busy at work and I can barely keep up with everything you're writing and all the comments. Usually I'm on top of it...

Anonymous said...

The house next to the Welsh church was built as a family home for the local landowning Lucas family. There are remains of another grand house, Brunswick House, fronting Tanners Hill, you'll have to look carefully at the fronts and at the rear. The other smaller terraces were built around it, enclosing it. manor farm was off the site of Wickham Rd., where Joseph Myatt had his rhubarb field, before moving to Camberwell. Myatt was the first farmer to attempt to sell rhubarb as a food rather than as a medecine in the early 1800s. Tack Mews was buit on the remains of the farm. In the 19070s Tack Mews was a (horse) riding school. We kept a horse there.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I meant 1970s!

Brockley Nick said...

So what you're saying is that Brockley played a major role in the history of rhubarb? How did I not know that one!?

Anonymous said...

Nick, did you really not know about the rhubarb? Didn't they have some sort of night trains that brought sewage from other parts of London to fertilise the rhubarb? Thought I'd read that on BC, but maybe not.

PS Can't believe a thread about churches has gone on for so long without the trolls appearing.

Crofton Parker said...

This is brilliant. And according to Wikipedia, it was not just any old rhubarb. Brockley was famous for "enormous" rhubarb. We are famous!

Headhunter said...

Brockley was also famous for highwaymen who used to hang out around the Brockley Jack which, back then was an isolated inn on the way into/out of London. Also I'm sure I read later that there were enormous brick making field where clay was dug up, turned into bricks and dried in the open or something.

Mb said...

And we had a brickfield, presumably for bricks made from London clay?

Headhunter said...

Interesting that Tack Mews was a stables. I wondered why it had the horsey name.

I looked at buying one of the little 1980s houses back there in 2006. They seemed very peaceful with little gardens tucked away from busy Lewisham. However when the developer built them in the 80s they didn't plumb gas in so they are heated by rubbish 80s storage heaters and I heard estate agents say that they get very cold and are inadequately heated in winter. Certainly one of the ones we viewed even had condensation and damp on the windows even in August.

Anonymous said...

Brick making - that would be Hilly Fields. Hence the huge flat area where football and cricket are played.

Anonymous said...

I saw Spartacus in a cinema at a Welsh holiday resort and afterwards we went for an English meal at an Indian restaurant.

Anonymous said...

A Weslyan missionary from Lewisham was out in India 1902/03 filming the Delhi Dubar. There's photo of him hand cranking at the British Libray showing a bag next to him with his Lewisham address on it.

Anonymous said...

A little bit of information on the Lucas Family/Mansion....

http://www.ideal-homes.org.uk/lewisham/main/st-johns-deptford-new-town-case-study.htm

crofton parker said...

Googling idly about your Brockley Jack highwaymen, HH, I note this excellent news that there are also ghosts there. Hurrah!

http://209.85.229.132/search?q=cache:8mcl25gGjdYJ:www.stevemoyle.co.uk/forum/forum_posts.asp%3FTID%3D52+%22brockley+jack%22+highwaymen&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk

mg said...

I once came across a German church in a residential street east of Forest Hill station, seemed a funny location for it, or was SE London once a thriving Little Germany?

Tressilliana said...

Other brickfield related names: Cliffview Road, Overcliff Road, Undercliff Road, Shell Road, Fossil Road, Sandrock Road, Loampit Hill/Vale (OK, all in SE13 but I think the bricks would have built a lot of the houses to the north of Hilly Fields).

http://www.colepotteries.btinternet.co.uk/lewisham-earthworks.htm

Anonymous said...

Surely you all know that some of the garden walls in Cliffview and Montagu and probably elsewhere have slag from the brick kilns in them? Why don't we rename Hilly Fields with its original name, the Brickfield. Fossil, Cliffview, Undercliff et al were bulit surrounding the quarries. Hence Loampit Hill.

Anonymous said...

SE4 gets owned by SE13, I bet SE4 are brickin' it!

Anonymous said...

The German Ambassador had a residence at Crystal Palace, which later became the site of a care home for people with a German connection.

As for the church in Forest Hill...

http://www.ideal-homes.org.uk/lewisham/forest-hill/german-church.htm

Adelaide Avenue, Catford was originally named Berlin Road till 1966 and The World Cup.

Now Then said...

Lewisham is an anagram for 'I am Welsh.' Probably explains it.

Kaiser Billy said...

I think it was Canadian Avenue Catford that was called Berlin Rd before World War I

Anonymous said...

Some depressingly ill-informed comments about the Welsh church in Lewisham. It's been there for a century and at one time was a thriving community. It has always welcomed worshippers regardless of language. Maybe those who felt unwelcome arrived with preconceived notions? The chapel and house are one unit and owned by the London Welsh churches. Oh and as for 'Dolgethlow', word fail me. Such pathetic ignorance.

Anonymous said...

My family all hailed from Wales,and
attended the Welsh Chapel on lewisham Way.I was married there in 1966.The chapel was well attended and drew membership from SE London and out to Bromley,Chislehurst etc.. as it was the only Welsh Chapel in the SE of the city.But there were about 30+ Welsh chapels and churches in London whhen I was a child.The Minister was Arthur Tudno Williams,who had two children,John, who was head Boy at Colfe's when it was in lewisham,& a daughter Mairwho went to Prendergast school.
The house attached to the chapel was the'Chapel House'or'Ty Capel' The Minister had his study there,and there were functions ,plays and concerts held in the big room to the right of the front door,which stretched the full depth of the building.Kitchen in the basement,which saw many cups of tea and welsh cakes over the years.Upstairs was a flat for the caretaker,Mrs A Thomas,and family. They cleaned and looked after the chapel and the large gardens.there was a grass tennis court at the back,and this was used by members. The Minister was athletic and loved tennis!Mrs Thomas was the aunt of Sir Geraint Evans who still attended the chapel when he could,despite being a world famous opera singer.Other 'celebs'I remember were Meredith Edwards TV actor,Petra Davies,TV actress,and a TV weather man whose name I forget!So I have many very happy memories of the chapel and the people there'who were like an extended family! I learnt Welsh, loved singing hymns,and formed a great love of music in this little part of Wales in London!

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous entry 10th September 2011: My family were heavily involved in Lewisham Welsh Chapel up until the early 1970s. Mrs Avarina Thomas the caretaker was my aunt (father`s sister). The weather presenter you refer to was Trevor Davies, and his wife Nansi Davies had a very pleasant soprano voice and sang in the many concerts that took place over the years. I too attended the chapel in 1966 and should know who you are. Can you give me a clue?

Taff said...

 Pronounced Doll-geth-aye. Almost. The "th" is as close as I can get to the Welsh use of "ll". Say "th" while blowing into your cheeks :>

Anonymous said...

Said Headhunter "Interesting that Tack Mews was a stables. I wondered why it had the horsey name."

Surely all mews are stables - that's what mews are!

Headhunter said...

 I made that comment 2 years ago!  I think I meant that it was interesting that it was a commercial stables in recent times as opposed to stables for the large houses on the min street

Sandra Pegi said...

My name is Sandra and Avarina Thomas was my grandmother. They were living above the church during WW2. My mum Pegi, met my dad who was in the services from Alberta Canada. They married in 1945, during one of his leaves out of Europe. My sister was born in 1946, and they came to Canada after the war. My grandmother Avarina died in 1971. Her son Glanville came to Canada then to be with us. Mum always told of great times had in the apartment above the church with all her aunties and uncles singing while she played the piano. Mum also told us of the times Geriant Evans, his brother Allun and she singing together. When mum and dad decided to marry, she looked everywhere for a wedding band. She found one in the pawn shop. To keep it safe until the wedding she went into the basement and hid it up inside the old furnace.
the reason I was on the computer looking up the church at 289, was because I have an old communion decanter from that church. I was hoping to find a picture online. So, the young lady in the above post is my mum's cousin. Have we met?
From Canada:

Sandra said...

Sandra here again. that was wrong of me to assume that I was speaking to a female in the above post. Forgive me, but I am sure we are cousins....
Sandra \p.

Crad said...

Hello Sandra
We are cousins - Auntie Avarina was my father`s sister - my father`s name was Goronwy, the youngest of his family.

Brockley Central Label Cloud