Tag Archives: Zion Chapel

Alfred Ernest Gardner & Son, House Furnishers, 23-25 Commonside West

Furniture dealer that was at 23-25 Commonside West, near the Windmill pub.

1934 ad which states that the firm was established in 1845

In the 1896 directory, Thomas Gardner is listed as furniture dealer & shopkeeper, Common Side west.

1936 clip from Tom Francis photo of Albert Ernest Gardner’s furniture stores, from Merton Memories phot reference Mit_​2_​10-11 copyright London Borough of Merton.

In the 1912 directory, Alfd. E. Gardner, Common side west, is listed as a manager of the Zion Congregational School. In the 1938 commercial directory the address is given as 25 Commonside West.

1930 : Reburial of bodies from Zion Chapel

From the Norwood News – Friday 11 April 1930, via the British Newspaper Archive.


The Closing of a Mitcham Cemetery.


A somewhat gruesome business has been started upon this week at the burial ground of Zion Congregational Chapel, Western-road, Mitcham.

Owing to the sale of the property, it became necessary to remove the human remains interred in the old burial ground. There are about 86 bodies buried in the graveyard, dating back to a hundred years ago, when the chapel was founded. A licence from the Secretary of State for the Home Department was required for the removal of the remains, and this having been obtained, the work of removing the human remains, monuments, and tombstones from the burial ground commenced on Monday.


Mr. Donald S. Drewett, undertaker, of Upper Green, Mitcham, was given the task, and with an efficient staff of workmen carried out the task very expeditiously and reverently.

Canvas awning is erected around the graves, and the operations of the diggers is hidden from the public gaze. The strictest privacy is maintained, and only the medical officer’s representative and the Mitcham Council’s chief sanitary inspector, along with the minister (Rev. T. King), are allowed in the grounds during the operations.

Liberty was afforded the relatives of any deceased person, whose remains it was proposed to remove, to undertake themselves the removal of such remains, and a few availed themselves of the privilege; but the removal and re-interment are being carried out by the same workmen.


Large shells, or coffins, six feet long, are being utilised for the removal of the remains, and these are being conveyed in the undertaker’s van and re-interred in the Council’s new burial ground, London-road, where the Rev. T. King has conducted a second committal service, the reburial being a very reverent and solemn affair.

A gravedigger told our representative : ” The work is proceeding without much ado, except that we are screened off from the public gaze. Now and again we have met with a spring of water, and this has somewhat interfered with our operations a little. Most of the coffins fall to dust soon after they are exposed to the air. We collect the bones and put them carefully into new shells or coffins. A plan of the burial ground shows the positions of the graves and the monuments, and the names of the buried persons, as far as they can be ascertained, are kept as a record. The monuments and tombstones are being pulled down, and will be re-erected in the new cemetery. Every care is being taken that the remains are reinterred and the monuments re-erected in a manner that will give no offence to anybody.”

Mitcham entry from the Story of Congregationalism in Surrey

The story of Congregationalism in Surrey
by Cleal, Edward E; Crippen, T. G. (Thomas George)

Publication date 1908

Mitcham (1818)

Towards the end of the eighteenth century some ministers associated with George Whitfield preached in a little building that had been prepared for them in this village.

Amongst those who afterwards rendered occasional service were Matthew Wilks, Rowland Hill, Thomas Jackson of Stockwell, and John Sibree of Frome. Other ministers preached more regularly. At first the attendance was encouraging, but later the congregation declined and the chapel was closed.

In 1816 another effort was made to evangelise the village, and on November 27 in that year a little chapel was opened by Revs. Rowland Hill, E. J. Jones, and R. Stodhart.

Shortly afterwards Rev. Thomas Williams, formerly of Trowbridge, accepted an invitation to supply the pulpit for twelve months, during which time the place became so crowded that the necessity was strongly felt for erecting a new chapel.

A good site was procured, and with the strong recommendation of such men as those we have mentioned, with Dr. Collyer, Thomas Lewis of Islington, and indeed all the neighbouring ministers, the case for Mitcham was laid before the public.

On April 28, 1819, a commodious chapel called Zion Chapel was opened. It was built to accommodate 300 persons, but provision was made for a gallery which would seat an additional 200. The opening services were conducted by Revs. G. Mudie, Dr. Collyer,and Thomas Jackson. The Evangelical Magazine tells us that the attendance was numerous and respectable, and the collections liberal, but a debt of over £700 remained.

Mr. Williams did not remain long after the opening of the new chapel. In September, 1820, he accepted an invitation to become co-pastor with Rev. Timothy East at Birmingham.

On January 17, 1821, a church was formed by Rev. Samuel Hackett of London; and Hoxton students ministered to the little fellowship till July, 1823, when one of their number, Rev. John Varty, was ordained pastor.

John Varty was a Londoner, born November 29, 1798. He remained at Mitcham fifteen years, and in 1839 removed to Fareham, where he ministered for twenty-three years. He afterwards held a pastorate at Aston Tirrold, Berks, and after a short residence at Northampton died rather suddenly in London, April 16, 1873.

Thomas Kennerley, of Burton-on-Trent, was the next minister. He, too, was born in the great city, and as a youth attended Surrey Chapel. He studied for the ministry at Newport Pagnell, and on leaving settled at Burton. Soon after his removal to Mitcham a front gallery was erected, and on Sunday, January 12, 1840, the chapel was reopened. Two years later a large room was built for the Sunday school and with a view to establishing a day school.

In 1854 Mr. Thomas Pratt, a deacon of the church, bequeathed £20 per annum for the support of the ministry, and £90 per annum for the support of day schools. A British school was opened on July 20, 1857, in which 200 boys and girls received instruction.

During Mr. Kennerley’s pastorate at Mitcham he was for some years one of the joint secretaries of the Surrey Mission. In 1856 failing health compelled him to resign. For a time he preached at Eltham, but was never again strong. He lived for a while in retirement at Gravesend, and died July 12, 1870.

A few months after Mr. Kennerley’s resignation Rev. George Stewart, of Hastings, accepted the vacant charge. He remained till 1862, when he removed to Newcastle-on-Tyne. He has since held pastorates at Glasgow, Kilburn, Reading, and Bexhill, and now lives retired at Woodford Green.

Mr. Stewart was succeeded by Rev. Thomas Orr. He was born in 1823 at Annandale, near Kilmarnock, and was educated for the law. He was making con- siderable headway in his profession, but removing to Glasgow, under the influence of Dr. Morrison and Dr. Guthrie, he gave up his career to enter the ministry. After a course at Edinburgh University he settled at Ayr in 1852, and then removed to Mitcham, where he was recognised June 23, 1863.

For six years and a half Mr. Orr exercised a faithful and helpful ministry at Mitcham. In 1869 he removed to Poole, and four years later to Windsor, where he laboured for twenty years. He died at Crouch End September 30, 1895, in the seventy-first year of his age.

In 1870 Rev. George William Joyce, a student of Hackney College, accepted the pastorate. He remained two years and removed to Tavistock in Devon.

The next minister was Rev. J.F. Poulter, B.A. Mr. Poulter was educated at Queens’ College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. For twenty-six years he had laboured at Wellingborough. Mr. Poulter’s pastorate at Mitcham extended from June 20, 1872 to December 27, 1874. He has not sought another charge, and is spending the evening of his long life at Wimbledon.

In 1875 Mr. H. W. Mote, of Hackney College, accepted the vacant pulpit. His recognition took place on August 3, but he was not ordained until October, 1876. Mr. Mote only remained another year. He resigned in 1877, and was followed by Rev. W. H. Belchem, whose pastorate was also short, lasting from October, 1877, to June 29, 1879.

In 1880 Rev. Robert Richman accepted an invitation to the vacant charge and commenced his ministry on August 1.

Mr. Richman found a membership of only thirty, but it has since largely increased. The neighbouring population is rapidly growing, and there is every reason to expect for the church a prosperous future. In 1886 the chapel was refurnished and decorated. For some years there had been friction between the church and the day school, but at last the trouble was settled, the church receiving £10 a year for the use of the school-room. Now the school has a reputation for efficiency and good work which is acknowledged by all religious parties.

The tomb of Rev. Ingram Cobbin, M.A., author of a once popular Bible Commentary, who died in 1851, is in the burial ground adjoining the church.

Source : The Internet Archive

George W. Cole

1946 mayor of Mitcham

clip of Merton Memories photo reference Mit_People_38-1 copyright London Borough of Merton

From the South Warder, issued by the South Mitcham Residents Association handbook, volume 1, no. 1, November 1947:

Alderman George Cole was born in London well within the sounds of Bow Bells. He says he is a Cockney and proud of it.

He came to Mitcham to work in 1912, then living away from the district, but moved his home to the area in 1922 in order to be near his business, producing chemicals and fertilisers, etc. Those who have had the pleasure of hearing Alderman Cole lecture on these subjects will realise that he is an authority.

Alderman Cole was a founder member of the S.M.R A. when
the Association used to meet in the old Zion Chapel in Western Road.

He was elected to the Council in 1925 and elevated to the Aldermanic Bench in 1944, during this period was also a member of the Surrey County Council for six years.

In 1946, the Council elected him Mayor of the Borough. During
his year of office he was very active, visiting practically every event
held in the district, invariably ending his remarks with a humorous
story, the teling of which he is a past master.

Unique in the annals of Mitcham history is the record made by
Mrs. Cole, who was Mayoress to her husband in 1946 and to Alderman
Mrs. Watson in 1947, thus being Mayoress to two consecutive Mayors
of widely different political views.

During his spare moments Alderman Cole may be seen trundling the “woods” on the bowling green, and he is also an active supporter of the Darby and Joan Club.

Also on Merton Memories Photos is a photo of Mrs Cole at the
1939 Bowling Club dinner