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History of Sunfields Church

In the middle of the nineteenth century the expansion of London started to encroach upon the fields adjacent to the Sun in the Sands public house, a travellers’ inn on the London to Dover road just east of Blackheath. This inn, now on Shooters Hill Road, gives its name to the Sun in the Sands Roundabout on the Blackwall Tunnel Southern Approach, and also to the Methodist Church and Streets nearby – Sunfields.

In 1865 a successful businessman by the name of Williamson Lamplough moved into the Blackheath area where  there was already a lively Christian Methodist community in existence, based in Blackheath Village. At his instigation a small brick chapel in Sunfields Place " lately occupied by the Baptists " was hired for use, and organised Methodism began there in about 1869, supported by the Blackheath and other local Methodist churches.

In addition to ordinary services a Sunday School was started, and the whole cause prospered amazingly. The chapel was enlarged in 1876, and extended again "in the direction of the new Banchory Road " in 1887, largely thanks to the generosity of the Lamplough family. In 1902 the opening is recorded of a new church in Banchory Road - the new Sunfields Memorial Church, declared to be built to the Glory of God, and in loving memory of the late Mr and Mrs Williamson Lamplough of Blackheath by their family.

The premises were extended again in 1928, and a new  Hall was built in 1932 to accommodate a Sunday School which at its peak numbered over 1,000 children.

On November 30 1944 a V2 rocket fell on Sunfields Place, killing 19 people and seriously damaging the Church, the School Hall and the ancillary premises. Blackheath Methodist Church, on the site of the Library and car park in Blackheath Grove opposite the Post Office was also destroyed by a V2 on March 8 1945.

It was typical of the resilient spirit of the times that meetings and services were resumed on the Sunfields site in the Church Hall as early as 1946. Eventually the damaged church was rebuilt, albeit on a smaller scale, and reopened in 1956. Finally a new smaller hall opened on 15 February 1964 (with the active involvement of Master Richard Graves, then aged 8).

In 1996 we, the present congregation, decided that the whole range of halls and ancillary spaces that Sunfields had acquired over the years had become too costly to maintain, and that the church was no longer suitable for our requirements. Therefore the plan was mooted to demolish all the buildings, to sell off a part of the land for use as housing ( now six smart new town houses) and by this means to finance the construction, on the corner of Banchory Road and Old Dover Road, of a new church with a hall, sizeable kitchen and other amenities, more suited to our current needs. After a long haul through the planning application processes, including the submission of two designs for the church, and one building company going into liquidation while we were talking to them, it finally proved possible to proceed with Asprey Homes buying part of the site and Farnrise Construction building the church. Demolition took place in 2007, building work started on the church in 2008, we are working towards a completion date of April 2009 for the new church, and an official opening in June 2009.

Since December 2005 the Methodists have met and worshipped with the URC in Bramshot Avenue Charlton. This has been a very positive experience for all concerned, and we hope to continue to work very closely with the URC as we move into our new building.

The main entrance to the new building is in Old Dover Road. As you enter from the street you will be in a light and airy foyer space, with the Church/Worship area to your left, the Hall to your right and the lounge ( with facilities for preparing hot drinks ) straight ahead.

The Worship area will be spacious, well lit and flexible, with easily moveable seating. A series of stained glass window panels have been commissioned from the glass artist Sarah Galloway, depicting the Rising Sun in the centre panel, and in the side panels landscapes, rivers and sky, evoking the beauty of God's creation.

The hall, with a sprung wooden floor and generous storage, will be suitable for all kinds of larger group activities. Adjacent to the hall will be a sizeable, well equipped kitchen, with hatches for serving refreshments both into the hall and into the foyer area.

The lounge will have comfortable seating and French windows leading to a small paved outdoor area suitable for open air refreshments and/or children's play.

We hope to have the building open as much as possible. In addition to Sunday morning and ( occasional ) evening worship, and the Wednesday morning 'Open Door' time of fellowship and devotion, we hope that people will come in and enjoy the beauty and peace of the church/Worship area. There will be devotional books available for people to use, and a ' lending library' of books on spirituality and related topics, for adults and children to borrow and return. We hope to have works of art in the church for people to look at and enjoy and we hope that the hall and foyer areas will be used as an exhibition space, so that local artists and crafts people will be able to share with the local community the works they have made, for the enjoyment of all. We also hope we may be able to offer a 'listening ear' at certain times, and refreshments to those who want to call in.

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