St Thomas Church, Groombridge
St. Thomas, New Groombridge has always been in the forefront of ecclesiastical initiative and embracing the There But Not There project confirms this. They will commemorate the 19 young men named on war memorial through this installation in 2018. Other ground breaking initiatives introduced by the church including the introduction of an 11.00am Choral Eucharist in 1918 replacing the old Morning Prayer. By 1919 Choral Eucharist was every Sunday and Mattins ceased in 1925. Some Anglo-Catholic traditions survive through the years such as a bowl of incense is often kindled on the table behind the altar. The church was had an early uptake of electricity in 1925 and first recorded Midnight Mass was in 1923.
Today the Church offers a wide range of services including Café Eucharists held in the School, informal “Brunch” Services for younger families and runs Youth Services for all Youth Groups in the Deanery. It continues to strengthen its ties with the School by conducting School Eucharist services and other services involving both School staff and governors.
The Church has made good use of IT and in 2004 introduced a Computer projector which is used to display the words to the services and hymns. This has replaced the need for hymn books and the services have no need of the more traditional pew sheets.
The Church was first opened for worship in 1884 and the Parish of ‘New’ Groombridge, as it is officially called, was created in 1886 as a result of the efforts of the Rector of Withyham, the Revd. Thomas Rudston Read. It was designed by the famous architect Norman Shaw who also designed New Scotland Yard and the Piccadilly Hotel in London, as well as several local houses.
To meet the rise in population from the houses being built near Groombridge station on the new East Grinstead to Tunbridge Wells line, the Goldsmith’s Company gave some land to build a room, with a house attached, which might serve as a Mission Church and be used as an Elementary School.
This was opened by the Bishop of Chichester for public worship on June 8th 1872 until 1884, when money raised built a new Church consecrated by the Bishop of Chichester in 1886. The Revd. James Parker was appointed as the first Vicar of the new ecclesiastical parish; Parish of St. Thomas the Apostle, New Groombridge which is still its listing in the Chichester Diocesan Handbook today.