News Archive: April 2007
St Michael's is in Poplar Walk, at the northern end of the Whitgift Shopping Centre and very close to West Croydon railway station and bus station. 12 minutes walk/tram/bus from East Croydon station. Car parking always available at the Whitgift Centre car parks.
The church is one of J. L. Pearson's most beautiful buildings. The organ is a magnificent 5-division (over 3 manuals and pedals) organ by 'Father' Willis (with additions by Noel Mander) in a superb case by G. F. Bodley.
The church hall (the 'Angel Cafe') servies light meals and refreshments before and after the recitals.
Further details from Christopher Moore on 020 8680 0348 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Church website: www.croydonstmichael.org.uk
Elgar's house, Craeg Lea, is just along the road from this church. The architect of the church is Arthur Troyte Griffith, who was remembered by Elgar in Variation 7 of the Enigma Variations (Troyte). There is evidence to suggest that Elgar composed part of the Enigma Variations in the church, but his offer of the original manuscript of his oratorio The Apostles, as a gift to the church, was refused by the Anglican authorities because Elgar was a Roman Catholic and the oratorio was heavily based in that tradition.
Next to the church is the Wyche School; 'Land of Hope and Glory', set to Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1, was first performed here in the presence of Elgar. In later life Elgar came to dislike the nationalistic overtones which became associated with the setting.
The organ is the work of A H Winfield, a friend of Elgar. It has his characteristic stop tablets and ingenious piston system used by Nicholson's at that time. Apparently, Ralph Downes admired the similar 1909 console that was present at the Birmingham Oratory.
It is an unusual instrument having 9 speaking stops spread over three manuals and pedal with 13 couplers. A further 8 stops were prepared for but have never been put in place. The organ is given a full description by Jim Berrow in BIOS Journal Volume 18 1994.
The church members are now seeking to restore this instrument and publicise the historical nature of the building in this Elgar's 150th anniversary year. On Sunday 3rd June, from 3 to 5pm the church is holding an 'Elgar Experience'. Not only does this include a cream tea, but it will also include demonstrations of the organ.