Croydon Minster is the parish and civic church of the London Borough of Croydon. There are currently more than 35 churches in the borough, with Croydon Minster being the most prominent. It is Grade I listed.
Six Archbishops of Canterbury are buried in the church: Edmund Grindal (d.1583), John Whitgift (d.1604), Gilbert Sheldon (d.1677), William Wake (d.1737), John Potter (d.1747), and Thomas Herring (d.1757).
The church was established in the middle Saxon period, and is believed to have been a minster church: one which served as a base for a group of clergy living a communal life, who may have taken some pastoral responsibility for the population of the surrounding district. A charter issued by King Coenwulf of Mercia refers to a council which had taken place close to what is called the monasterium (meaning minster) of Croydon. An Anglo-Saxon will made in about 960 is witnessed by Elfsies, priest of Croydon; and the church is also mentioned in Domesday Book (1086).
The earliest clear record of the church's dedication to St John the Baptist is found in the will of John de Croydon, fishmonger, dated 6 December 1347, which includes a bequest to "the church of S. John de Croydon".
In its final medieval form, the church was mainly a Perpendicular-style structure of late 14th and early 15th-century date. It still bears the arms of archbishops Courtenay and Chicheley, believed to have been its benefactors.
The medieval building underwent some restoration in 1851 and 1857–9, under the direction of George Gilbert Scott. However, on the night of 5 January 1867, a fire broke out – possibly caused by overheating from the poor positioning of the flues of recently installed Gurney stoves – which eventually gutted the entire building. It was rebuilt to Scott's designs between 1867 and 1869, incorporating some of the medieval remains (notably the west tower and south porch), and essentially following the medieval plan, while enlarging the building by extending its footprint further east. The church's reconsecration by Archbishop Archibald Tait took place on 5 January 1870. The church still contains several important monuments and fittings saved from the old building.
The church was elevated to the status of Croydon Minster (the modern honorific title) on 29 May 2011, the first such change in the diocese of Southwark.
Croydon has strong religious links, Croydon Palace having been a residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury from at least the beginning of the 13th century to the beginning of the 19th. The Bishop of Croydon is a position as an area bishop in the Anglican Diocese of Southwark. The current area bishop is Jonathan Clark, who was consecrated on 21 March 2012. Until recently (mid 2016) the vicar was Colin J. Luke Boswell, Vicar of Croydon and Chaplain to the Whitgift Foundation.
The church has a large four-manual pipe organ, much of which is by William Hill & Sons and dates from 1869. A specification of the organ is on the National Pipe Organ Register.
There is also a small organ in the St Nicholas Chapel which was obtained from St Mary the Virgin, Preston Candover in 1997. A specification of the chapel organ is on the National Pipe Organ Register.
Before the fire of 1867 records are incomplete, but include:Thomas Attwood Walmisley 1830–1833
John Pyke Hullah 1837–?
After the fire of 1867:John Rhodes 1857–1868
Frederick Cambridge 1868–1911
F. Rowland Tims 1911–1918
H. Leslie Smith 1918–1948
Edward Shakespeare 1948–1952
J. A. Rogans (Hon) 1952–1953
B. Aldersea 1952–1957
J. A. Rogans (Hon) 1957–1958
Derek Holman 1958–1965
Roy Massey 1965–1968
Michael Fleming 1968–1978
David Brookshaw 1978–1980
Simon Lole 1980–1985
Carl Jackson 1986–1990
David Swinson 1990–1992
Peter Nardone 1993–2000
Nigel McClintock 2000–2007
Andrew Cantrill 2008–2012
Tom Little (Acting) 2012–2013
Ronny Krippner 2013–
Organists LaureateMartin How 2011–
Organists EmeritusDerek Holman 2011–
Roy Massey 2011–
The tower houses a ring of 12 bells cast by the Croydon firm of Gillett & Johnston in 1936, replacing an earlier ring of eight. The eight original bells were recast and hung with new fittings in a new frame with four additional trebles. The new ring of 12 was dedicated by the Bishop of Croydon on 12 December 1936 and the first peal on the new 12 was rung for the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1937.
The tower and ringers are affiliated to the Surrey Association of Church Bell Ringers.