Church of England Diocese of Southwark Camberwell St. Giles with St. Matthew

About the church

The Domesday book of 1086 found at Camberwell “22 villagers and 7 small-holders with land for 6 ploughs, … a church, 63 acres of meadow and woodland providing 60 pigs”. Camberwell has obviously changed a lot since 1086. But there has been a church on the same site as the current building for nearly a 1,000 years - and probably for much longer.

The current church building dates from 1844 after the medieval church burnt down in devastating fire in 1841. 

The following is an extract from ‘Old and New London’, 1878:

”A fire broke out on the night of Sunday, the 7th of February, 1841, by which the building was completely destroyed. Funds were at once raised for its re-erection. The first stone of the new church was laid in September, 1842, and in November, 1844, the new building was consecrated by the Bishop of Winchester. It was erected from the designs of Messrs. George Gilbert Scott and W. B. Moffatt, at an expense, including furniture, &c., of about £24,000. It is one of the finest and largest of the new parish churches in the kingdom. The style of architecture is the transition between the Early English and the Decorated, which prevailed at the close of the thirteenth century. The building is of a cruciform plan, with a central tower and spire, the latter rising to the height of about 210 feet. The walls of the church, which are of considerable thickness, are constructed chiefly of Kentish rag, with dressings of Caen stone. Several of the windows are enriched with stained glass.”

St Giles' has remained largely unaltered since its consecration. The church, like many others, was damaged in the Second World War and many of the original stained glass windows were destroyed. But the graceful East window, designed by John Ruskin, survives and the 300-year old crypt is now a popular jazz venue on Friday nights. The spire was restored from 1999-2000 and the church roofs have been recently restored. The former churchyard is now a popular lunch spot and the gardens around the church are maintained for the benefit of all. All are very welcome to come and visit us!