Churchwarden Ledgers

In the early part of the 19th Century, the churchwardens of St Giles’ levied a Church Rate on the Parish. The church rate was a tax formerly levied in each parish in England and Ireland for the benefit of the parish church. Out of these rates were defrayed the expenses of carrying on divine service, repairing the fabric of the church, and paying the salaries of the officials connected with it. In Camberwell, money was also spent providing for parish fire engines!

Consecration of the high alter

Consecration of St Giles’, 1844

Before 1841, the rate was levied at 1d (a penny) in the pound. This rose to 5½d in the pound just after the new Church was built in 1844 to cover construction costs. The rate was collected by four rate collectors each working in one of the four districts of the parish – Camberwell, Peckham, Dulwich and St George’s.

In a ledger dating back to 1832,  the list of Parish servants and employees and their salaries was:

  1. Mr. Wesley, Organist – £15.15.0 per quarter
    (Samuel Sebastian Wesley later became a famous composer)
  2. Miss Curtis, unknown role – Annuity of £20.0.0 per half year
  3. Four Pew Openers – £2.2.0 per quarter each
    (Each box pew had a door)
  4. Robing Room Keeper – £1.5.0 per quarter
  5. Two Vergers – £3.3.0 per quarter each
  6. Mr Spooner, Clerk – £2.12.6 per quarter
  7. Organ Blower – £1.15.6 per quarter
  8. Two Beadles, – £0.10.6 per quarter each

Here are some of the more interesting purchases made by the church:

1 October 1828 Mr Wheels – coach to Kingston £3.15.0 Churchwardens’ annual trip to see Archdeacon.
7 October 1828 Mr Adams – Beadles Coats £27. 7.0 The coats were their pride and glory.
26 January 1830 Subscription to S.P.C.K £ 6.18.6 Overseas Missions.
31 March 1830 Phoenix Gas Company (half year) £11.14.0 This was very early for gas lighting.
18 May 1830 Mr Filley – Repairing Engines £ 7.14.0 St Giles’  was responsible for providing these hand pumps.
17 January 1832 Protector Fire Office (Insurance) £ 8. 1.6 At the fire in 1841 the insurance paid £5,000 but the new church cost over £20,000.
3 July 1833 Mrs Clayton – For washing Supplies £ 3.6.6 Probably surplice washing.
23 July 1833 Expenses of Prosecuting Clayton for embezzlement £ 9.3.1 Costly Legal expenses.
19 June 1837 Mr Edgington – Union Jack Flag £ 2.10.0 Perhaps for the Coronation of Queen Victoria? Famous local firm now gone from the Old Kent Road.
16 Feb. 1841 Messrs Garland & Co -Clearing away after fire and preparing chancel for service £80.15.9 The old church burnt down a week earlier.
11 July 1843 Expenses of taking down old Church £75.5.0 The stone was sold to the Parish Surveyor of Highways.
18 April 1845 To Police Force -attendance at Church on its Consecration £ 2.10.0 It was very crowded!
25 December 1845 Messrs Savory & Co, for cleaning and gilding Church plate £ 9. 6.0 This plate is still in existence but not used on Sundays anymore.
8 October 1855 Bell ringing on the Fall of Sebastapol £ 3. 0.0 Crimean War Victory celebration.