Minster tours that offer a journey back in American history

One of Anglo-American Copley's famous heroic works, The Death of Major Pierson

One of Anglo-American Copley’s famous heroic works, The Death of Major Pierson

John Singleton Copley, arguably the greatest Colonial American portrait painter, who died in 1815, is buried in Croydon Minster churchyard. His son, who became Lord Lyndhurst, was a successful British politician becoming Chancellor of the Exchequer three times.

This, and other Croydon local history links with War of Independence period America, are among some of the discoveries possible in  talks being given at Croydon Minster this week as part of the Croydon Heritage Festival.

“For those people who glance at the church building by the side of Roman Way as they pass in the car or for those folk on the tram who hear that they have reached the stop for Croydon Minster, the Festival Week gives them opportunities to be curious and discover something they never knew before,” the Minster’s education officer, David Morgan, said.

John Singleton Copley's self-portrait

John Singleton Copley’s self-portrait

“Unknown to many today, Croydon had significant links with North America back in the second half of the 18th century. The Minster helps us to understand these ties further, as buried here are two significant Americans. One is the leading portrait painter of colonial America and the other is the last crown-appointed Governor of Massachusetts.

“Add into the mix the Croydon vicar born in Boston, the wife of a rich and influential colonial family living in South Carolina who died on a visit to London, together with the story of a future Lord Mayor of London whose near fatal accident was the subject of a painting by the artist buried here, and you can begin to realise the depth and range of our American connections in this historical period.

“All the characters mentioned here lived through the difficult times leading up to, during, or just after the War of Independence. What made them come to Croydon?”

If you want to discover more, there are two guided tours of the Minster on offer this week: at 12.30pm on Monday, June 20;

or at 7pm on Wednesday, June 22.

Both cost £2. Places are limited and booking is required – click on the link for the tour you wish to book.

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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