Ninety years in the Stoughton Community

Manor Road Evangelical Church

In March 2022 Manor Road Evangelical Church is celebrating ninety years of service at 132, Manor Road, GU2 9NR.

In the early nineteen hundreds, a group of Christians were meeting in a hired hall in Ward Street. This worked well on Sunday mornings when things were relatively quiet in the town centre. Although for Alexander and Ethel Mersh and their 5 daughters, this entailed a walk of three and a half miles, from Pinks Hill in Wood Street, each Sunday (as there were no buses running on Sundays in those days). At the mid-week prayer meeting the Christians found concentrating difficult, due to the ‘grunts’ and ‘groans’ of the boxing club which was meeting in the adjacent room.

Alexander Mersh was a local builder, who was responsible for overseeing the building of a number of chapels on the west side of Surrey. When he discovered that the Congregational Church were moving out of their Hall in Manor Road to new purpose-built premises in Southway, he purchased these premises from them for the use of the small independent church that he was a part of. This was extremely convenient for many of those who were living in the Stoughton area.

Although a lot of adaptations have taken place in and around our premises we still maintain the vision of those earlier Christians to be a blessing to the Stoughton Community, and beyond.

Doreen, Alexander Mersh’s youngest daughter (who, incidentally, will be 97 on March 2nd) was pleased that the family could now travel the journey of less than 2 miles by pony and trap, which they parked safely at the back of the hall.

Doreen Mersh, who is 97 on March 2nd and who was a 7 year old when her father bought the premises at 132 Manor Road for the use of the church.

Because the Congregational Church (now known as the Westborough United Reformed Church) needed their chairs, the new residents purchased chairs for the princely sum of £25/3/8 (£25.18) and an organ and sundry other items for £6/12/6 (£6.63). But, as a clear demonstration of the unity of all those who are followers of Jesus Christ the former church left the majority of its Sunday school in the capable hands of the new church.

Annual Sunday School outing to Wittering on July 1st 1950. The children and a number of their parents visited the coast in 5 or 6 coaches. The maiden names of three of the girls were: 1st left Shirley Knight (of Percy Road), 2nd left Janet Balcombe (of the Round House in Grange Road). 2nd right is Shirley Blanche who we believe came from somewhere on the Bellfields Estate. In the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s many of the families could not afford annual holidays and this outing was there only opportunity for a day at the coast. The children were paid for by the church. The following 2 photos show what the building looked like from 1906, when it was built, through to the 1960’s when the new front was put on.

Photo taken outside the Manor Road Church hall in October 1943 of the wedding of Mr Mersh’s eldest daughter Eileen (who married George Brown) to her left are her parents Mrs Ethel and Mr Alexander Mersh and to their left are their daughters Ivy and Doreen (who is their youngest daughter).

Photo taken in June 1961 when Margaret Baverstock married David Millidge. Margaret was the granddaughter of Mr William Warren, whose funeral was the first service to be taken by MREC in their newly acquired buildings. To Margaret’s left are her parents Gertrude and Charles Baverstock (Gertrude was Mr Warren’s daughter).

Sadly the first service at the end of March conducted by MREC in their new premises, was the funeral thanksgiving service for the life of William Warren, who died suddenly at the age of just 51. William Warren was a part-time local colporteur, who did door to door visitation work to offer Bibles for sale and to hand out gospel leaflets, as well as being the proprietor of the Newsagents, which was a few doors down from MREC on the opposite side of the road.

Although a lot of adaptations have taken place in and around our premises we still maintain the vision of those earlier Christians to be a blessing to the Stoughton Community, and beyond.

You would be most welcome to join us on Sunday March 20th at 11.00am to be reminded of our service in the community and of God’s blessings to us. Whether you have former ties with the church, or not, you are welcome to join us and travel down memory lane with us.

For more information: Phone:
07498 211384 or 07914 322988

E-mail: or
Manor Road Evangelical Church, 132 Manor Road, Stoughton, Guildford, Surrey GU2 9NR.