History of St Francis
Our church celebrated its golden anniversary in 2012, marking 50 years of serving the community of Monks Hill and Ballards. It’s beginning was rather more shaky. When the Monks Hill estate was built in the 1940s, the Diocese of Southwark bought a plot of land to build a church on Selsdon Park Road. For many years nothing happened and it wasn’t until the Ballards estate was built in the 1950s that another plan was hatched. The land was swapped for a piece in between the two estates and, after much fund raising, the church was built on its present site on the corner of Broadcoombe and Tedder Rd. It was consecrated in December 1962, with Leslie Virgo as its first priest-in-charge, as part of the parish of St John Selsdon.
During the intervening years there were many ups and downs, and with several long vacancies there were doubts about St Francis’ viability as a church as it had diminished in size and activities had moved elsewhere. In 2003 when the Bishop was considering St Francis’ future a large neighbouring church, Emmanuel South Croydon, approached the Bishop and said it wished to do a church plant or graft. The upshot was an appointment of a minister to be both senior curate at Emmanuel and minister-in-charge of St Francis and a group of about 13 members from Emmanuel moving to St Francis.
It very soon became clear that being minister-in-charge at St Francis was a full time task and the incumbent for all practical purposes worked full time at St Francis. With time the growing congregation and ex-Emmanuel members at St Francis grew into one congregation and the church started to grow such that when the last minister left St Francis she left an incredibly diverse vibrant church community (with at least 10 nationalities present) and a church that was very much a going concern with an adult congregation that had grown in size, and an abundance of children representing a large growth in numbers overall.
Today the church is thriving much more than ever with a large contingent of children and many activities running. Hopefully the next 50 years will be even more exciting!