Cranmer Christian Fellowship Croydon
There was a note in the Believer’s Magazine for February 1906 saying that, ‘Christians at Croydon, having acquired Cranmer Hall, met on December 8th for the opening meetings’. And so it was that believers meeting in the Iron Room in Strathmore Road joined with those meeting in the Gymnasium at South Croydon to purchase the Methodist Chapel that stood at the corner of Cranmer Road and Old Town. One of the brethren, Mr. Priestly, had purchased the property and rented it to the assembly for £24 per year with the option to purchase it for £400. Similar terms were in his will and when he died in 1935 the Trustees became the owners of the Hall. The building had roof and walls of corrugated iron lined with dark brown painted woodwork. The seats were long (very hard) wooden pews and the building which had large painted texts on the walls was heated by a couple of pipe stoves.
In the early 1920s a Sunday School was started and there were soon over 100 children to look after. In 1924 the Ladies Meeting commenced with over 30 at the first meeting. The Sunday School children were taken to the seaside for outings (often to Littlehampton) and there were weekend house parties at St. Leonards for Bible study and recreation. These were times of growth and the bapistry was often in use for converts who were then brought into the assembly fellowship. In 1930 a new assembly was started in Purley (Montpelier Hall) and it became even larger in numbers than Cranmer. In all these activities there was a strong desire to preach the word and maintain the faith. During World War II there were many changes but the greatest was when the building was completely destroyed by a German flying bomb in 1944. Without a building as a focal point and many away for the War it was quite difficult to maintain the testimony. When the War ended the site was cleared of rubble and in anticipation of a return there a Tent Mission was held on the cleared ground. An open Bible was displayed in a glass-topped stand placed just inside the front railings and the pages were turned every week. The stand had been provided some years earlier by Mr. and Mrs. Pike who had a Christian bookshop in Station Road. The shop had received a direct hit from a bomb and both were killed so this was a fitting memorial.
In 1960 we moved into the present hall as the local Council needed our site for redevelopment and we were able to buy what was then the Parish Church Hall. Cranmer Hall (now no longer in Cranmer Road) was renamed Cranmer Christian Fellowship. Over the years some of our members have gone overseas as missionaries including Esther Burnett, Muriel Pitts and Mary Miller who all went to India. The Burnham brothers, Bert and Sidney, were evangelists in England. With changing circumstances over the years we now use Dean Hall (originally built behind Cranmer Hall to house the teenage youth groups) mainly as a staging post for Medical Missionary News and the Women’s Missionary Fellowship. The hall is often packed with goods destined for missionaries overseas or at home on furlough. Some of our members are kept very busy handling the constant flow of goods.
The testimony continues to this day and honours the same principles on which the work was founded over 100 years ago. We give God the glory. Please visit our web site at www.cranmerchristianfellowship.org.uk and pray with us for the ongoing work.