History of the Church
The owner, who had his business in London, travelled there each day from Abbey Wood Station. Due to the lack of transport, he had a Coach House and Stables built which was completed around 1862 and employed a groom and his family to look after the horses and stables. This family occupied the rooms above the stables as their living quarters, with the groom driving his master to and from the station and no doubt carrying out other duties about the place.
Due to the demise of several members of the family in fairly quick succession and the death duties amounting to quite a considerable sum, the remaining members of the family decided to dispose of the property and grounds; this was done in 1934/5. Mr T W P Lane, Mr H.H. Aldrich,together with other Trustees, purchased the Coach House and grounds as now seen, from Mr John Joseph Jacques. It was sold on the strict understanding that it was to be used as the Abbey Wood Spiritualist Crusaders Society with the purpose of advancement of Spiritual knowledge, the study of Mysticism, Occultism, and Spiritual Truth, all based on the eight principles of Spiritualism, namely :
1) The Fatherhood of God.
2) The Brotherhood of Man.
3) The Communion of Spirits and the Ministry of Angels.
4) The continuous existence of the human Soul
5) Personal responsibility for all actions taken.
6) Compensation and retribution here or hereafter for all the good and evil deeds done on earth.
7) Eternal progress open to every human soul.
8) Leadership of Jesus Christ.
After the purchase of the premises, it was renovated with the ground floor set out as a Church and services of a Spiritualist nature commenced. The congregation became members of the Church when each paid 6 pence in old money (now 2 ½ pence) per week to purchase a brick. When enough money had been accrued, planning permission was sought and obtained for the church extension, which was built in 1951 at a cost of £1500. The original Church / Coach House then became, as now, the original foyer.
Many alterations and renovations have been carried out since 1934 and in 1993 the upper part of the Coach House (the Groom’s quarters) have been completely redecorated, new windows and floors were installed, fitted carpet laid to all rooms, and new curtains hung to all windows and the whole of the exterior of both Coach House and Church, painted and renovated.
The Committee, consisting of a President, 2
Vice Presidents, Secretary, Treasurer, Mediums Secretary, and six Members hold a meeting approximately every three months to ensure the smooth running of the Church and its activities.
Memories of the Church by Vera Parks.
Vera recalls that when she first attended the Church only half a dozen people came but since then she has seen the attendance grow and on a few occasions extra chairs being placed in the aisle. Vera remembers a medium who did table lifting and they sat around the table with their fingers on the top and it started to lift in the air, she then said in her mind “go higher” and it did.
The original founder members Mr & Mrs Lane lived at 50 Grosvenor Road when she was a child and Vera recalls walking down past the house with her mother and remarked “why does Mrs Lane always have a red light in her window” her mother replied “she believes in ghosts!”. In fact it was a Healing light.
Jean Woods was a medium and one of the early Presidents. On one occasion Vera was having a private reading with her and she clairvoyantly saw Mrs Lane standing by her. Vera later found out that the Lane family originally came from Windsor to Belvedere and they had rooms in the house she is still living in before moving to No. 50 Grosvenor Road. She senses that Mrs Lane looks at her Church through her eyes and feels very satisfied that with its progression since her passing. Different Presidents have left their mark on the Church and she is happy to say all for the best. When Vera first attended the Church a Mr Welch was President and Florrie a lovely lady who came from Woolwich always stood at the Church door on a Sunday and greeted people and handed the hymn books out to them. Bill was someone else I remember who used to buy spiritual books to read and then I would buy them off him to read myself.
We had meetings on a Thursday afternoon in the old church hall (the original church being in the area which is now the foyer) and I used to scribble my messages down and also for my friends. I then found that I could not leave other people out, so I wrote their messages down and continued to do so until recently when my arthritic hands will no longer allow me to now. My fingers often itch to write when I hear mediums giving such good evidence. Some names of mediums who I remember are:- Mrs Hodge, Mrs Fenwick, Mr & Mrs Maggs, Mrs Clark, Mrs Webb, Iris Ingafill, Pam Killick, Peter Bowley, Jack Warner, Olive Giles, Renee Orchard, Gladys Lee, Frank Dene, Barbara Barcock, Betty Bernard, Marjorie Carrolls.
Memories of the Church by Peter Capp
Peter first entered the Church in 1946 at the invitation of the then President Mr Lane. There were three Healers in attendance then, the President, “Big” Bill Woods and Mrs Shuttleworth. Mr Lane usually worked on his own, the other two had helpers. Mrs Shuttleworths’ helper was unfortunately unable to continue and I was asked to take her place, a big step for me being only 21 years old. As time went on I was given my own healing chair. To give us more room for healing, chairs had to be piled at one end of the church. The church at that time was in the foyer, there was no foyer and I cannot remember any toilets and very little heating. No tea making facilities and where the kitchen is now was the rostrum. Our Sunday services were well attended and there were other services such as Psychometry where those attending put personal items on a tray for the medium to choose from. This cost an extra sixpence (21/2 p) per person. I remember one gentleman who read the bumps on your head!.
There was often talk of a new church, one of the ideas of raising money for the new church was to hold bazaars which were quite successful.
Unfortunately, I had to leave the Church in 1953 because of family and work commitments, but I am happy to say I returned 10 years ago.
Memories of the Church by Anne Cook
Anne remembers living with her grandparents and attending the Church as a child with her grandfather Walter who was President during World Warll and her grandmother Gertrude who was a gifted Medium gave her address and clairvoyant messages on many occasions. She recalls wonderful Sunday Services in the original chapel foyer with hymns being played on a tiny organ operated by foot bellows and the smell of chysanthemums in the air. Slim blue hymn books were used for the service. Anne remembers after the War the excitement of attending the Christmas Bazaar and the occasional Saturday evening when a Social was held and some of the members provided entertainment, music was played and refreshments served by the ladies.
Tragically Walter died having sustained severe injuries during a bombing raid in Smithies Road, Abbey Wood, when their house was hit by a V1 doodlebug in 1944 and her grandmother was also badly injured and lost the site of an eye, which she overcame with great courage. When she returned to London after the War she continued with her mediumship and was regularly invited as guest Medium by several local Spiritualist Churches. Anne kept her company when they travelled on trams and buses and even as a child, once the service began, she recalls feeling quite in awe of the reaction Gertrude produced and the welcome reception she received. She was usually pinpoint accurate in the messages conveyed, which she said was a gift and was very modest about what she did, saying she was just the instrument through which the messages were passed.
By 1956 Ann was married and lived in South East London. Around that time Gertrude was invited to speak for the last time at Harvel Crescent Church which Anne attended with her husband. By then the church had been rebuilt and extended and she remembers it looking beautiful. She recalls a ticket funding scheme for people to 'buy a brick' for sixpence to enable the church extension to be built and gradually the funds rose until there was enough to build. Sadly Gertrude passed away the following year aged 79 and Ann will never forget the wonder of special times they spent together and what an amazing grandmother she was.
These days we live in a different world where many 'Physics' are in it for cash they can obtain with an almost show business style of approach to provide an entertaining evening. There have always been the fakes and 'charlatans' as my grandmother used to call them, who are still around and I think it is fair to say the traditional style of Spiritualist service is probably not as popular throughout the country as they once were. In this fast paced modern age the young have no time for peace and reflection away from their busy lives laced with a heavy dose of cynicism about such possibilities, which is disappointing but it is good to know that you have ongoing success at Harvel Crescent and I wish you and your members well, comfort in support of each other and continuing good will in the future.
Memories of the Church by Nita Manning
Nita recalls many times when various spiritual phenomena appeared in the church during special events that took place. One of these was table tipping and the church had to be cleared of chairs when the attending audience were left standing around the inner walls and the physical medium was in the centre of the church alongside a table. The meduim would then place her hands on the table and together with selected members of the audience placing their hands around the table the medium then called upon her spirit guides to move the table. Suddenly, the table would start to move and rock from side to side and then start to rise off the floor!. The audience hands would then slide off leaving only the mediums hands on the table. The table then rose higher above the heads of the audience and the medium directed it to 'walk' up the the side wall and 'hover' in the middle of the church just below the ceiling!. The table remained in this position for several minutes before descending back down to the floor. The audience were mesmerized and could not believe what they were seeing but it was absolutely genuine spiritual phenomena and something that has not been seen since.
Other instances of spiritual phenomena include 'Transfiguration' (when a spirit guide transfigures its appearance on the mediums face). Apports (when an object or document appears in front of the medium and cannot have come from within the church). Nita actually experienced an apport of a glass bowl with 'Healing Hands' inside and spirit orbs dancing around the room which bounced on the floor and made the sound of a ping pong ball!. Manifestation (when a spirit entity manifests itself in front of the medium and is linked to an audience to an audience member). Nita has actually seen spirit form and had a guide come forward and shake her hand!. This can be in part or whole of the body actually forming in front of the medium. 'Voice Control' of the medium, this enables the medium to speak in the voice of the spirit person who is controlling the medium and can include male or female and any English accents or foreign language. Nita has sat with the world renowned physical medium Leslie Flint in London and witnessed his 'little barrow boy' spirit voice take control and talk through his voice box!.
Sadly, it is now the case these spiritual phenomena events with physical mediums is now so rare that it is hardly ever heard of in the present when mediums are only interested in giving messages and are not prepared to train for physical mediumship.