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Trinity United Reformed/Methodist Church and Hall

A Grade II Listed Building in Sutton, Sutton

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Latitude: 51.3617 / 51°21'41"N

Longitude: -0.1937 / 0°11'37"W

OS Eastings: 525856

OS Northings: 164058

OS Grid: TQ258640

Mapcode National: GBR CK.XHG

Mapcode Global: VHGRQ.L1GH

Plus Code: 9C3X9R64+MG

Entry Name: Trinity United Reformed/Methodist Church and Hall

Listing Date: 1 March 1974

Last Amended: 18 April 2018

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1200708

English Heritage Legacy ID: 206687

Location: Sutton, London, SM1

County: Sutton

Electoral Ward/Division: Sutton Central

Built-Up Area: Sutton

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: Sutton St Nicholas

Church of England Diocese: Southwark

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Methodist church complex, in Gothic style, 1906-7, by Gordon and Gunton.


Methodist church complex, in Gothic style, 1906-7, by Gordon and Gunton.

MATERIALS: Kentish ragstone with Bath stone dressings, and plain tile roofs.

PLAN: the extensive complex is constructed on a sloping site, rising towards the south. The Church is at the south end, oriented north/south, with the tower to the south-west, a polygonal apse at the north end, and with side aisles and transepts. Attached to the north-west end of the church is the polygonal North-West Wing, containing the vestries. The North Wing is set on a west/east axis to the north of the church, containing the two halls and other rooms; this ancillary wing is separated from the southern buildings by a hallway, with linking passages, re-roofed in 1991. The East Range, between the North Wing and the eastern transept, is occupied by offices, including kitchens, on the ground floor, with a passageway between the North Wing and the Church above. To the east of the site stands the Caretaker’s House.


The CHURCH has a tall square south-west tower which is the most striking architectural feature of the building and serves as a landmark. The tower has an elongated two-light opening with Decorated tracery to each side, a pierced parapet and angle buttresses with pinnacles. The short spire is supported by a lantern of curved buttresses with ball flower ornament. The main entrance is on the west face of the tower, with a pointed-arched doorway below an ogival moulding, reached by a flight of steps. The nave has a clerestory of single-light cusped-headed windows with quatrefoils; the aisle windows below are of two lights with curvilinear tracery. The west transept has a large window, three lights high and three lights deep. The tall apse is pierced by two-light windows, set below the eaves. The large three-light west window has Perpendicular ogival tracery. On the east side of the church, the tower is balanced by a south-east porch, now used as a servery. A single-storey stone shed, dating from the later C20, has been built between the porch and the transept, obscuring the lower part of the elevation.

The polygonal NORTH-WEST WING projecting from the north-west end of the church has a pyramidal roof; each facet of the west end is framed by buttresses and in each facet are two tiers of fenestration, each window being of two lights. The wing is approached by a wide external stair with a wrought-iron balustrade, leading to a flat-roofed entrance block. To the north of the North-West Wing is a screen with stone door and window openings, giving access to the hallway between the North Wing and the Church.

Within the NORTH WING to the west is the five-bay Main Hall, each bay to the north elevation having a four-light window with Perpendicular ogival tracery set within a pointed segmental arch with battered reveals, the bays flanked by buttresses. Against the west gable wall is a polygonal apse. At the east end of the wing is a two-storey section; on the ground floor the Minor Hall is lit by three-light cusped square-headed windows below hoodmoulds on the north elevation, and the Parlour above by four linked paired windows of similar form. On the gabled east elevation there is a square-headed window of five ogival lights to the Minor Hall, and a pointed-arched window with Perpendicular tracery to the Parlour. Between the two halls is a projecting gabled entrance bay, with a wide arched doorway, and a mullioned and transomed window above. In both parts of the North Wing the roof is set back behind a parapet; there is a bellcote on the ridge.

The EAST RANGE is relatively plain, with mullioned and transomed windows, and two small doorways, one reached by an external stair.


The CHURCH has a wide nave, separated from the aisles and transepts by arcades of pointed arches on clustered columns. The narrow aisles are semi-barrel-vaulted, with radiators housed within segmental-arched recesses beneath the windows. The church has a hammerbeam timber roof, supported by corbels on shafts which rise from between the arches. The tall pointed chancel arch has an internal order rising from corbelled shafts; to the east of the chancel arch are two pointed openings to the organ chamber. Within the apse, the roof braces rest on shafts at each angle, rising from ball-flower stops. The apse windows are defined by a continuous hood-moulding; the stained glass in the apse is contemporary, or near contemporary, with the church. The church’s west window has its original diamond-paned glass, with painted motifs depicting fig, lily, and rose; smaller panes have fleur-de-lys and Tudor rose motifs, repeated in the aisle windows. The church retains an almost complete set of contemporary fittings, largely of carved timber. These include the altar, enriched with blind tracery in Perpendicular style, together with a reredos bearing the text ‘I am the Bread of Life’. In front is the wrought-iron altar rail, with a timber rail. The choir stalls with panelled ends are connected to the low chancel screen, with its blind quatrefoils. New handrails have been added to the chancel steps. The pews, also with panelled ends, and fittings for sticks, largely remain, though a section to the rear of the church has been removed. To the west of the chancel arch is the polygonal pulpit, its stone base richly carved with roses, passion flower, and vines; the upper part is of timber with blind tracery, and is approached by a stair with a wrought-iron handrail. There is a plainer reading desk to the east of the chancel arch. The organ, in a chamber to the east of the chancel, was installed in 1922, but had been built by Harrison and Harrison for a mansion in Northamptonshire, and was reconstructed to harmonise with the woodwork of the church by Messrs Henry Willis and Sons. The organ was renovated in 1946 and in 1993; the console now stands in the north-west part of the nave. The church’s internal glazed doors are original. At the south end of the church is the war memorial, taking the form of a timber altar with simple blind tracery, with a large brass plaque above commemorating the fallen of the First World War, and a smaller plaque below commemorating those of the Second World War. Additional stone plaques are placed to the west and the east. The original wrought-iron Art Nouveau electric lighting, with floral stems above curled leaves, survives throughout the church.

The NORTH-WEST WING is entered at first-floor level from the west - which is level with the church, owning to the slope – preceded by a square entrance block which gives access to the west transept of the church. To the north, the Minister’s Vestry is entered via an inserted lobby. The room, with its polygonal west end, has a coved ceiling above a moulded cornice. A passage leads to a small WC, and then to the Deacon’s Vestry, which has direct access to the west aisle of the church via a narrow pointed-arched doorway. The room is divided by a wide segmental pointed arch. On the ground floor is the former Sunday School, now the Terrace Room café; this has a new raised area to the east, presumably replacing a similar earlier arrangement.

Within the NORTH WING, the Main Hall has a timber roof of four trusses with arched braces on moulded corbels, the upper part of the trusses, above the tie beams, now being hidden by a false ceiling. There is a woodblock floor. At the west end is a stage; the east entrance is surrounded by later cupboards. The Minor Hall has a plain cornice and skirting, and a woodblock floor. Between the two halls is a wide passage with a terrazzo floor. Above the Minor Hall, accessed by an open-well stair beneath a lantern, is the Parlour, with elaborate leaded glazing to the door. The Parlour has an open timber roof and a fire-surround with a Tudor-arched opening, a two-tier overmantel, and tiled cheeks and hearth. The window’s glass is highlighted with ivy motifs in stained glass. Also on the first floor is the Choir Vestry, which has a simple wooden fire-surround and fitted cupboards. A passage to the south leads to the Church.

The hallway which separates the North Wing from the Church, enclosing the lower part of the apse, has a terrazzo floor, and a 1991 roof with a central lantern and areas of glazing.

The hallway, passages and stairwell all have a high plastered dado with bare red brickwork above. Each of the glazed segmental-arched doors has a room name painted on it.


To the east of the site stands the CARETAKER’S HOUSE. This of the same materials as the other buildings, with stone lintels to the windows; the windows have all been replaced. A tall stone stack rises to the south-east. The house is rectangular on plan, with gable ends to the north and south, and is entered from the west.

A low ragstone BOUNDARY WALL with a chamfered stone capping encloses the site to the west, north and south, being stepped downwards from the north along the western boundary. There are openings in the western section to the south and north, respecting the entrances, and in the northern section in front of the entrance to the North Wing. At the east end of the North wing the wall stops, allowing for the driveway running to the east of the church buildings; to the east of the opening is a pier with a moulded stone cap decorated with quatrefoils.


The manor of Sutton belonged to Chertsey Abbey from before the Norman conquest to the Dissolution when it passed to a succession of mostly non-resident owners. In the C18 the village became a coaching stop on the route to the races in Epsom and then Brighton and by 1800 it was a small village sprawling up the hill from the common (now the Green) to the Cock Cross Roads. The arrival of the Sutton to Epsom railway in 1847, the Epsom Downs line (1865) and the more direct line to London via Mitcham Junction (1868) led to rapid change. Middle class development took place at Benhill and in the area around the railway station, while Newtown, east of the High Street, was more working class. The High Street shops developed quite rapidly, probably largely in the 1870s and 1880s and by 1900 Sutton was a small commuter town in the countryside beyond London. In the 1920s and 1930s the whole area was engulfed by suburban development.

The first Congregational chapel in Sutton was established in Marshall’s Road, just off the High Street, in 1799. It was succeeded by another Congregational church in Benhill Avenue which opened in 1859 and was used through to 1947, although the main church moved in 1883 to a 'temporary' iron building in Sutton Court Road which stood until demolished in 1982. Their main building was constructed facing Carshalton Road, the foundation stone was laid in 1889 and the building opened in 1890. The church became a United Reformed Church in 1972 and continued to use the Carshalton Road building until they joined with the Methodist congregation in the Cheam Road building in 1973.

Sutton’s first Wesleyan church opened in 1867 in Benhill Avenue (now demolished) and was replaced in 1884 by a new church in Carshalton Road – at first a temporary iron building, and then in 1888-90 a stone church. The growth of Methodism in the area – as well as nationally – continued, and in 1901 a committee was formed to find a new site, with the decision to build in Cheam Road being approved in 1902. Resolve was strengthened when in 1906 the church in Carshalton Road was damaged by fire, and its school building destroyed, though the church did continue in use, becoming the United Reformed Church in 1972, and closing in 1973.

In 1906 the foundation stone was laid in Cheam Road, and the church opened as Trinity Wesleyan Church on 2 October the following year. The architects chosen were Messrs Gordon and Gunton, and the builder was W C Brightman of Watford. The cost of the building was £18,743. The Church was renamed Trinity Methodist Church in 1933, following the union of several of the larger Methodist denominations – Wesleyan, Primitive and United Methodists – in 1932. In 1973, when the Carshalton Road church closed, Trinity merged with the Sutton United Reformed Church, becoming Trinity United Reformed/Methodist Church.

Henry Thomas Gordon began practice in London in 1870, joining with Edward J Lowther five years later; Josiah Gunton was articled to the firm and taken into practice in 1885. After Lowther’s death in 1900, the practice continued as Gordon and Gunton; the firm is notable for its facility in a variety of historical styles. Josiah Gunton particularly specialised in nonconformist churches; those for which the firm was responsible include Richmond Methodist Chapel, Penzance (also 1907), the Methodist Church at Coulsdon (1911) and the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Cambridge (1913), all listed at Grade II. Following the First World War, the firm largely worked on commercial buildings.

The tower of Trinity Church has a distinctive lantern or corona, a rare form in English architecture, recalling C15 examples at St Nicholas, Newcastle (now the cathedral) and St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh, as well as Sir Christopher Wren’s 1695-1701 tower for St Dunstan-in-the-East. The church complex, which includes two halls, has remained largely unchanged since the time of construction, one significant modification being the covering of the internal courtyard or passageway in 1991.

Reasons for Listing

Trinity United Reformed/Methodist Church and Hall of 1906-7 by Gordon and Gunton is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* As an impressive Gothic style church and halls, vestries and rooms for other functions, with well-articulated Kentish ragstone elevations, including a landmark tower unusually crowned by a lantern;

* The church retains a complete set of interior fittings of the period in carved wood and stone, iron and stained glass.

Group value:

* One of a group of three adjoining listed ecclesiastical buildings of different denominations in the centre of Sutton.

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