All Saints, Carshalton (Anglican)

History

There was a church at the present site when the Domesday Book was compiled (1086) – how long it had been there before that is unknown. The tower of the church is the oldest surviving part, and may be Saxon in origin.The current church contains 12th century work but has been much extended over the centuries; most dramatically in 1891 when a new nave and north aisle were added.

Appearance

The exterior of the church – mostly Victorian flint from the approached north side – does not give many hints of what is within. The interior is richly decorated; the walls are adorned with memorial plaques, paintings, a large monument to a local knight, even a Byzantine-style icon of Mary with Christ.

At the front of the church is a chancel separated from the nave by a rood screen. The chancel contains an ornate altar – I did not get close enough to get a good look at this, but from where I was sitting I could see it decorated with pictures of who I presume were various saints. Above the screen is a large crucifix, one of several dotted around the church, although by far the largest. There is also one above the pulpit, behind the lectern, and on a wall opposite a smaller altar to the left of the pulpit which had some Bibles on top.

There are also a few statues dotted around the church, most notably a large depiction of what I assume is meant to be either God the Father or Christ in Majesty, which is above the main crucifix.

On the opposite end of the church to the chancel is a baptistry with a large ornate font. The baptistry is behind a huge organ gallery, brightly decorated with blue and gold and inscribed with names of feast days (“PENTECOSTES”, “ASSVMPTION”, “CORP XPI” etc) and a royal standard indicating that it was built during the reign of George V.

As well as all the man-made ornaments, nature helped to decorate the church as well – beams of sunlight streamed down through the clouds of insence to create a very beautiful sight.

Clergy

I had been expecting a single vicar, perhaps aided by a few altar servers. There were, in fact, nine people helping to conduct the service. Three people in vestments, two men and a woman, led the prayers and processions, with one of the men having slightly more elaborate vestments than the others. One man in a black cassock gave the sermon, and another in a black cassock played the organ and gave some announcments at the end – both looked like clergy themselves, but their involvement in the service was rather minimal. Three children carried candles during processions, and an older boy swung an incense thurible back and forth during many of the prayers.

Congregation

The congregation was smaller than I had expected, with the church perhaps at about a third of a comfortable capacity at what was just under 40 people. However, there had been an earlier service in the day, and there was an evening service to come, so I presume that many who weren’t at the service I was attending had either already been that day or would do so later.There was a good balance between men and women, and a few ethnic minorities, but I noticed an imbalance in age. Other than the four altar servers, there was nobody who appeared to be younger than their early thirties (or, at best, late twenties) other than two young children who had been brought along with their parents.

Service

I was handed an order of service when I entered the church, which contained the prayers and hymns so that no books were required. After hymns and some prayers, there was a reading from Proverbs (8:1-4, 22-31), more prayers, and then a procession as the lady in the vestments took a Bible to the middle of the main aisle accompanied by the candle-holders and a face-full of incense, after which she gave the Gospel reading from John (16:12-15).

After the Gospel reading came the sermon. It being Trinity Sunday in the Anglican church, the sermon was on the three Persons of the Trinity and their relationship with humanity. The man giving the sermon, intentionally or not, had the rather useful habit of banging his hand on the pulpit every so often to emphasise a point, which probably jolted the eyes back to the pulpit of anyone who had not been paying attention.

There followed the western version of the Nicene Creed, prayers, and a hymn which was paused halfway through for an initial communion prayer. After this came more prayers, the Lord’s Prayer, and then communion. A prayer followed communion, after which notices were announced concerning a church trip and uncollected raffle prizes, and the service finished with a hymn.

Many of the prayers were sung or chanted by the priest and congregation. Several of the congregation crossed themselves during prayers as well, with the times when they should do so marked on the order of service, although less people seemed to do this as the service progressed.

The service lasted roughly an hour and ten minutes.

Afterwards

Teas and coffees were served – free, although there was a bowl for donations to which most gave some loose change – at the back of the church in a corner of the nave, together with cartons of fruit juice and a good range of rather nice biscuits. Most of the congregation left straight after the service, but a reasonable number, mingling with the clergy, stayed behind for these refreshments.

One Response to All Saints, Carshalton (Anglican)

  1. Pingback: All Saints, Hackbridge (Anglican) | slchurchreviews

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: