The Crystal Palace (#6)
by Debra Conley
Heading across the Thames River by Underground and bus to the south side of London, our first stop is the burial site of Charles and Susannah Spurgeon. Located in the quiet West Norwood Cemetery is a large tomb and monument to the great preacher. Numerous records state that thousands attended the funeral there, crowds overflowing into the neighboring streets. A few blocks beyond is the site of the Crystal Palace. Although the huge glass and steel structure burned in 1936 and was not rebuilt, the original foundation can still be seen and frames the 900+ yard long building. Here Spurgeon preached to a crowd of 23, 654 without a microphone! We have sometimes taken a sack lunch and enjoyed eating while imagining Spurgeon preaching in the immense space. There is a small museum with history of the Palace, but it is only open on weekends and contains no information about Spurgeon.
A short bus ride or a pleasant lingering walk (depending on weather) will bring us to Spurgeon College. The school is alive with students preparing for the ministry and housed within are the archives of Spurgeon’s ministry. In the Heritage Room one can view meticulous notes Spurgeon made from every sermon and browse historical pictures of Spurgeon, his churches, and the college. The College building, originally a grand estate, was donated to Spurgeon by a local family and is in the Westwood area.
In the south Clapham neighborhood is Helensburg House on Nightingale Lane, once a home to the Spurgeons. The nearby park called Commons is the location of Spurgeon’s famous commemorative funeral sermon for a man struck by lightning. Ten thousand people attended just to hear the great preacher. Both sites are marked with historical blue plaques, famous all over London as points of interest.
The Archbishop of Canterbury was a personal friend of Spurgeon’s and often sought to borrow the preacher’s famous horses for his own carriage. It has been rumored that Bishops from the Church of England consulted Spurgeon for advice on many occasions. The famous American pastor, Dwight L. Moody, while preaching in England and Scotland, also took time to hear Spurgeon preach.