Charles Stirling (1865-1892)

Charles Stirling (1865-1892)

Charles Stirling was the Parish’s first Vicar, arriving in New Malden with his wife Mary on 19th April 1865. It was under him that the original Christ Church was built between June and December 1866.  Charles Stirling remained Vicar of Christ Church for twenty seven years until his resignation in 1892.

The strongly evangelical nature of Christ Church was apparent from its very beginning with its vicar deeply concerned at the nineteenth century Anglo-Catholic revival within the Church of England and the emancipation of Roman Catholics. His comment in a Conservative meeting that W.E. Gladstone’s ‘heart and soul were devoted to the papacy’ led to the resignation of his Choir-Master (and former Churchwarden 1883-1885) Edwin Farley, who wrote to the four times Prime Minister requesting 'authority to deny this absurd and ridiculous statement'.

W.E. Gladstone responded thus:

Dear Sir,

Need I say it is wholly false. It is the fifth denial on which point I have been asked to write today. May I beg to point out that the proper course is to challenge clergyman and others who so rashly make these charges to give their authority, for it really is not right that my time should be thus occupied.

Your faithful servant,
W. E. Gladstone.

The publication of Farley's letter and Gladstone's reply in the Surrey Comet prompted a response from Stirling that revealed the depth of his anger with not only the Liberal government of Gladstone, but also Tory/Conservative governments of Wellington, Peel and Salisbury, for giving too many rights to Catholics.

I am accused of having in my arguments introduced religion into politics. I meet this with a denial, and for the simple reason religion was there already. When we review our country’s history from the Reformation to the Revolution we find it to be one continuous struggle against the supremacy and machinations of Rome. In 1688 complete victory was won for the Protestant cause and legislation, careful and elaborate, was carried through for preserving the precious jewel of the Protestant religion, with which our forefathers had become fully aware that the liberties of England were inseparably bound up. The Sovereign was pledged by oath to maintain ‘to the utmost of his power’, the true profession of the Gospel, and the Protestant religion as by law established’…

Home Building CCNM 1866-92 William Challacombe