At the beginning of the 19th century when the chapel that was to become ‘The Parish Church of St Mary and St John the Divine, Balham’ was built, the hamlet of Balham consisted of a few cottages clustered around the inn at the site of the present George Inn. At the foot of Balham Hill the Hydaburn stream crossed the road in a water splash. Balham, Clapham, Tooting and Streatham areas were covered with fields, farmland and common-land, with each village or hamlet connected by tracks.
How times have changed the locality.
Over two hundred years, the humble proprietary chapel which opened on 24 April 1808, has also changed and, like its surroundings, is barely recognisable from its early days.
However, throughout that time it has provided an oasis of calm, a place for quiet contemplation, reflection and worship for the growing community of Balham.
On 26th & 27th April 2008 we had a weekend of celebrations in recognition of our 200 year history.
To celebrate this achievement, we went ‘sepia-tone’ on the St Mary’s website whilst the actual church indulged in other appropriate celebrations
Saturday 26 April – 5 May 2008
‘Campaigning Against Slavery 18-20th Century’
We hosted this exhibition in recognition of our links with William Wilberforce, one of the original subscribers that funded the erection of the proprietary chapel and a well known advocate for the Abolition of Slavery.
Saturday 26 April 2008
2:00pm ‘Ringing That Bell’
Our church bell, which chimes the hours from the tower, was originally located on the roof of the original chapel. Children from local schools including ‘our’ church school Trinity St Mary’s rang the historic bell once for each year that it has graced our building.
7:30pm ‘Celebratory Dinner’
To celebrate the achievement of raising the £3,000 required to fund the proprietary chapel the original subscribers dined at the Wheatsheaf Inn. Food has played a great part in the life of the church since then. This celebration was no exception. We hosted a formal dinner in the Narthex which 80 people attended.
Sunday 27 April 2008
10:30 Festal Eucharist
A celebratory Eucharist Service at which our current Bishop, The Rt Rev Dr Tom Butler, Bishop of Southwark presided and preached.
1:00pm ‘Beating the Bounds’
We gathered at the church and then set off walking to revive the ‘ancient’ tradition of the annual walking of the current
parish boundary. This was approximately a 3 mile walk so we rested at appropriate points to have a picnic lunch.
6:30pm Choral Evensong.
We concluded our weekend of celebrations with a traditional Choral Evensong service with The Rev Mandy Hodgson, Rector of St Leonards Streatham preaching, in recognition that the original chapel was located within the Parish of St Leonards Streatham until it became The Parish Church of St Mary Balham in 1855