A Traveller's Trip to Spurgeon Country
If you are going to England, here is some information which might be of some use. Bob L Ross had the privilege of spending two weeks in England in 1996, most of which was devoted to visiting sites and areas related to the life and ministry of C. H. Spurgeon. The following information is for the benefit of others who are planning a similar trip.
A Traveller's Trip to "Spurgeon Country"
(written in 1996)
If you are going to England, here is some information which might be of some use.
I had the privilege of spending two weeks in England in 1996, most of which was devoted to visiting sites and areas related to the life and ministry of C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892). The following information is for the benefit of others who are planning a similar trip.
Buy a "Big LONDON MAP A-Z" or its equivalent. Also get "AA ROAD ATLAS OF GREAT BRITAIN," which includes a good small map of London. These are available in London book shops which cater to tourists.
Another invaluable aid for a trip to England is Eric W. Hayden's booklet, A Traveller's Guide to Spurgeon County (available from Pilgrim for $4 plus $2 shipping). Hayden focuses on all the Spurgeon locations, with maps, road numbers, directions, numerous photos and other informative comments about these places. There have been a few street-name changes since Mr. Hayden compiled this booklet (1973) — read his Introduction further below.
Another very colorful publication entitled Travel with C. H. Spurgeon (by Clive Anderson) was published a few years ago - $15.
See the English publisher's US website for details —
This excellent Travel Guide is more expensive than Hayden's, yet it is more up-to-date and by far the very best available (and includes numerous pictures of high quality). We suggest you obtain this publication as well as our Traveller's Guide by Eric Hayden.
The Day One Travel with C. H. Spurgeon guide is available from Pilgrim Publications for $15 plus $2 shipping (or thru the link above).
...Continuing with "Traveller's Trip"
(1) Spurgeon's METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, at the Elephant & Castle traffic circle.
"The Tab" is accessible by the "Underground" rail system. Get the "All Day" ticket, which is also useable on the street Buses. The Tabernacle Book Shop is at the back of the Tabernacle. You will not be able to enter thru the front door of the Tab; go to the rear to the Book Shop. Ask for assistance and advice at the Book Shop about the possibility of seeing inside the Tabernacle. If they have time, you may be taken inside the Tabernacle to see the portraits of the former pastors and Spurgeon's pulpit.
Tabernacle website — www.metropolitantabernacle.org
(2) Spurgeon's TOMB at West Norwood Cemetery, south of the Tabernacle a few miles, may be reached via Bus #68-A. If you are driving, take A215 ["A" means a "main" road]. The Tomb is located near the center of the Cemetery, on a hill very near the entrance to the Funeral Chapel. A small Office at the entrance to the Cemetery will furnish you a map with a list of names of significant people buried there. It has an interesting remark about CHS.
(3) Spurgeon's COLLEGE is reached by continuing south from the Cemetery on A215 (which is Beulah Hill - South Norwood Hill). By Bus request the Wharncliffe Gardens bustop, almost opposite the College. The main building sits off the road and is not very noticeable from the street. Ask to speak with Mrs. Judy Powles, the Librarian. You may say that Bob Ross of Pilgrim Publications encouraged your visit to the College and referred you to Mrs. Powles for assistance. At the Heritage Room they have all manner of Spurgeon memorabilia and artifacts, including the Pulpit from the Colchester chapel where young Spurgeon was converted.
Spurgeon College website — www.spurgeons.ac.uk
(4) In this area of London, you could also see —
Crystal Palace (ruins), not far south from the College. They have a Museum near the ruins which is quite interesting. In 1857 Spurgeon preached to 23,654 in this remarkable glass structure. It was very quickly leveled by a fire in 1936. The only remains of the original building is the concrete foundation, although there is a sports stadium nearby which is now called Crystal Palace.
Spurgeon's second residence, the large Helensburgh House, on Nightingale Lane [Road B229], is still existing and is now known as "Queen Elizabeth House." [See Hayden's booklet for photos, pages 10, 11].
(5) North of the Tabernacle and over the Thames River, in ISLINGTON on Road A1 [Upper Street], there is the BUSINESS DESIGN CENTRE, which used to be the ROYAL AGRICULTURAL HALL where Spurgeon preached weekly to over 20,000 for a few months in 1867 when the Tabernacle was being renovated. The sign shown on page 7 of Hayden's booklet is now inside of the new building. If you go around to the back side of the Business Design Centre, the old front of the Agricultural Hall is still there, just as in Spurgeon's time.
NORTH OF LONDON
I hope you can go to KELVEDON, Essex — Spurgeon's birthplace; post cards with a picture of the Spurgeon house were on sale at some shops when I was there. The house has the standard round BLUE DISC over the door, which is the way England marks historical places. And these blue discs are everywhere! The people who have a vegetable shop across the street can give you some printed information about the house.
COLCHESTER — the Chapel where young Charles Haddon Spurgeon was converted is located on Artillery Street; people at the house next door have a key to church building, the Spurgeon Memorial Evangelical Church. For information about the town, go to the Visitor Information building on East Hill Street at Queen Street. They can direct you to Artillery Street which is a small street off of Barrack Street. There are several historical sites to see in Colchester, England's oldest town.
Church website — www.spurgeon-church.org.uk
STAMBOURNE — Take A604 westward from Colchester to this little village where Spurgeon's grandfather James Spurgeon pastored the Congregational church and is buried there. Mr. George Boughtwood and wife were church caretakers when I was there, and they live nearby. He and I cleaned off the flat stone grave-marker so as to read James' name. I told him to keep it clean for future tourists, and he said that he would see that it was kept "proper." (Pilgrim Publications also has available the paperback book Memories of Stambourne by C. H. Spurgeon - $5).
TEVERSHAM, just east of Cambridge, is the small village where Spurgeon preached his first sermon. A street is called "Spurgeon Close," on which I think the house where he preached was located. A house somewhere in the area has the BLUE disc marker, but we did not know it at the time and did not see it.
CAMBRIDGE — Go on to Cambridge and visit the St. Andrews Street Baptist Church where Spurgeon was a member when he was a teenager and an assistant at a school in the city. The pastor in 1996 was Lance Birks, a graduate of Criswell Baptist Institute in Dallas, TX. This is where the famous Robert Hall was once pastor.
WATERBEACH, a few miles north of Cambridge, is where Spurgeon first pastored. The original church is not there, but there is a church on the square and Spurgeon laid the foundation stone. You can see his name and the date in the front right cornerstone.
Church website — www.waterbeach-baptist.co.uk/index.htm
ISLEHAM is a small village north of Waterbeach. Consult your map for roads to Isleham. In Isleham, go to #2 Houghton's Lane where Mrs. Nellie Beckett lives. She owns the land where Spurgeon was baptized in the River Lark. She will direct you where to go, just a couple of miles from her house. There is a stone marker on the side of the river which commemorates the baptism. I have visited Mrs. Beckett and had some correspondence with her. She is a nice Christian lady, and a Baptist.
In the west midlands of England near Wales is Hay-on-Wye, a town made up primarily of about 50 used book stores. I wish we could have spent more time there. It is an old book lover's paradise.
If you get close to Bedford, you would enjoy visiting the John Bunyan sites in that city.
A Baptist preacher in London is David Smith (American), who pastors a church there, and his e-mail is: email@example.com
He is a "collector" of Christian artifacts and memorabilia and I understand he has a museum. You might like to contact him and get directions to his church. His father is Jewell Smith, of Orlando, Florida, who owns a vast collection of old Bibles and does speaking tours in the USA, lecturing on Bible history, etc.
Hope this is of some use to you. If you have any questions, let me know.
NOTES OF INTEREST
A Traveller's Guide to "Spurgeon Country"
by Eric W. Hayden
Note: A Traveller's Guide to "Spurgeon Country"
is available from Pilgrim for $4 + $2 shipping
When Pastor of Spurgeon's Metropolitan Tabernacle, London (from 1956 to 1961), I did something that I had waited many years to do — I took my father and my family on a 'grand tour' of Spurgeon country. Colour slides and black-and-white photographs are not the only thing that remain of that itinerary; it made a lasting impression on my heart and mind and I would advocate that all ministers of the gospel (and every lover of Spurgeon, his works and institutions) take a "sabbatical" once in a lifetime and visit the scenes of the great preacher's boyhood and youth, and his later mighty ministry.
It is an urgent matter to visit the landmarks as soon as possible. In the twelve years since I left the Tabernacle pastorate, there have been changes due to demolition and rebuilding and some of the places of fragrant memory have gone. In some cases the London Country Council or other interested bodies have marked the spot with a memorial plaque, but in some cases there is nothing to say that 'Spurgeon was here'.
Three days are necessary, at least, to do the tour of "Spurgeon country" properly, for the maps that appear in this booklet [Traveller's Guide...] reveal that journeys in a fan-like pattern have to be taken from a central point — first from the Metropolitan Tabernacle itself (one day); then from London in two directions: Colchester and Cambridge (one day), and then Birchington in Kent (another day).
As the face of London is continually changing, so bus and train times are none too fixed to list in this triple itinerary. Travellers are advised to consult the yellow pages of the London telephone directory and contact British Rail and London Transport direct. In some cases there is no bus or train available and a taxi will be suggested at that point, unless the intending traveller and sightseer has his own means of transport. Rental Car firms are also listed in the yellow pages.
As a young boy and lay preacher I was greatly influenced by a then popular paperback — The Traveller's Guide From Death to Life. It has recently been reprinted in England for the use of evangelical ministers and evangelists who wish to use it as 'counselling material'. Compiled by Mrs. Stephen Menzies it is a kind of anthology of anecdotes designed to help the seeker after eternal salvation.
It is my hope that this Traveller's Guide to "Spurgeon Country" will lead many to discover Spurgeon, some for the first time, others to find him afresh. May it lead many to a renewed interest in his sermons and writings, all currently being reprinted by Pilgrim Publications of America. That could then lead to others finding the Saviour and the way from death to life.