The ancient church of St. Lawrence is generally believed to date from AD 1095 - although this is partly guesswork based on the Norman window. It fell into disuse when St. Mary's was built, but was renovated and brought back into regular use in the mid-1960's, under the guidance of the rector at the time.
St. Lawrence's plays an integral part in church life today, being used for services, including evensong, on a regular basis. A short Family Service takes place on the third Sunday of every month, at 11:30am, which is specially suited to young families. The portable font enables baptisms to be performed, and weddings can be celebrated if a special licence is granted.
St. Lawrence's church plays an important role in the celebration of Holy Week, especially for the Maundy Thursday service, and the overnight vigil leading into Good Friday, when St. Lawrence's becomes the Garden of Repose. In December, worshippers from many of Caterham's churches join together for the ecumenical carol service , and in August, St. Lawrence Day is celebrated with an ecumenical service.
For some years, the religious group "The Society of Friends" (Quakers) met every Sunday in St. Lawrence's church. As a memento of their association with the church, they presented a tree to be planted in the grounds (view photo in pop-up window). Until recently it was the meeting place for a Romanian Orthodox group who, every Sunday morning, came from all over SE England for their service.
It is indeed a spiritual centre for all.
A long time ago, in the early days of commercial flight, the church was used as a chapel of rest for the victims of an air disaster.
You can see a report here.
Recently, a few memorial trees have been planted in the grounds of St. Lawrence, as described on the following pages.
One of the church's benefactors was James Legrew, rector here in the early 19th century, and his family story is told here.
A plan of the graveyard and its graves can be seen here.
The Guild of Friends of St. Lawrence's Church
The Guild of Friends of St. Lawrence's was formed in 1962. The main objects of the Guild are to assist in the preservation and maintenance of the church and churchyard so that it will remain a centre of spiritual activity for future generations.
The Guild runs several Guided Tours of the church during the summer months - July to September. Tours start at 3pm, and cost £2 (children free): all proceeds go to the upkeep of the church. The dates for Guided Tours in 2014 are:
The ancient church is also open for Afternoon Tea and Coffee with home-made cakes (lactose and gluten free available), from 3pm to 5pm, every Sunday afternoon from the third Sunday in May to the third Sunday in September, and August Bank Holiday Monday.
Guild Membership is open to people of all denominations on payment of an annual minimum subscription of £2. If you would like to become a "Friend", simply fill in an enrolment form which can be found on the table near the entrance to the Church. Send it with your subscription to:
The Guild of Friends of St. Lawrence Church,
c/o St. Paul's Centre (for address, see contacts page).