As you walk around the churchyard at St Mary's, you can't help but wonder, "who were all these people", and "how did they live their lives?". Some belong to the many local families whose descendants still live in the area: others came to Caterham during the late Victorian era when, once the railway arrived, it became fashionable to live on the North Downs - much more healthy for you than London! As many of these people were wealthy businessmen, they also helped to support and develop Caterham.
One of these prosperous businessmen was Charles Asprey, the Bond Street Jeweller, who came to Caterham in the 1860's and lived in Stafford Road.
Charles was born in Mitcham in 1813; it was here that his grandfather William had founded the family firm in l781. He married Jessy Davies in 1843, and they had seven children but only three were to survive infancy. Jessy sadly died in 1858 and in 1873 Charles married Rose Bridee. He owned a lot of land in Caterham Valley, and he became a great benefactor to the community. As he had attended the temporary church in Clareville Road, he gave money towards the building of St John's Church, and he became its first churchwarden.
In 1890 he donated the Drinking Fountain which originally stood on what is now the roundabout in Station Avenue. It was removed to White Knobs Sports Ground in 1933 and it now takes pride of place in Church Walk. Charles was also a founding director of the Caterham and Kenley Gas Company, who provided the gas for the original lamp, which was on top of the fountain.
Charles Asprey died in 1892 aged 78 and is buried in the imposing family tomb, which is situated by the Church Hall.
Sources: Duck, Margaret; "Charles Asprey & His Fountain" (Local History Records Vol. 30, 1991)