Roger Merritt's Home Page

London 1990-1994

Warminster Road, South Norwood Our flat in South Norwood, London. I believe the house dates back to at least 1868, but I'm not sure when it was built. It had eight flats on four-levels, and we lived on the third-level, on the right-side. Shops, post office, bank, public library, and train station were just a few minutes away by foot. Linda and I lived there for the first two years we were married, 1992-94. When I close my eyes and think about it, I can remember everything about this house from the bricks and mortar, to the pebbles in the driveway, just as if I were there yesterday. That's our car parked in front. >>See map I | map II

Tressillian Crescent, Brockley I lived in this detached house in Brockley, London, from Sept. 1990 till April 1992, at the home of Sister Cherrie. I'm not sure when it was built (1860s perhaps), but it had four-levels. Cherrie's flat consisted of the basement and ground-floor, plus the front and back gardens. Cherrie was a member of the church, and a very special older friend. Brockley is an architectural conservation area in SE London, where you will find typical, but attractive house designs. I felt very at-home there, and Linda and I continued to visit Cherrie quite regularly after we were married. We often spent weekends there, from 1992-1994. >>See map

In 1990, I decided to go back to London to work with the church. Actually, I decided sometime in early 1989, but it took over a year to work out the support, and get everything ready. Why did I do this? I wanted to do something different with my life, and to serve God in a way that my talents could be used. "Why not be different?" I thought. There was no doubt that I loved my experience in London the first time, so why not go back and see what kind of challenges the Lord might have in store for me to do?

So, I quit my job at the Tennessee State Library in August 1990, gave all my furniture to charity, and gave my car to my Dad. I was not going to look back, and I didn't. My Mom, Dad, sister, and an old friend named Philip went to see me off at the airport in Indianapolis, where my emotional state was a little somber, but optimistic. I was looking forward to going back, but naturally, a few self-doubts were involved.

I flew to London in late September 1990, to continue the work that I had done before, but this time I was on my own without Gene and Randall. The only person there to pick me up was Ronald Coleman, a middle-aged, American minister at the church. "Welcome to the land of close," Ronald intoned, as we drove to south London from Heathrow Airport in his car. It was a little bit scary, but I had plenty of confidence that I would enjoy being back in London, and that I would be able to integrate myself into the life of the church. This proved to be true; I got back into it as though I had never been gone for two years. It was a tremendous joy to be back in London, and among people that I loved.

I moved into a modest room in a flat, in the Southeast London community of Brockley, where I lived for about a year and a half. The flat belonged to sister Cherrie, who was very generous to let me stay initially, and the two of us sort of clicked and got along well. Cherrie, originally from Jamaica, was retired after working 25 years for London Transport as a bus conductor, and was not in the best of health. She had no other physical family living in England, so I endeavored to pull my weight and be as useful around the house as possible. You can visit the Brockley website to find out more about this section of London. My only major purchase at this time was a used car. I decided to buy a 1977 Austin Mini, which, for some reason, tickled my fancy at the time. It was a very small, but fun car. I also drove one of the church vans for church activities; a large, blue, Ford van, with standard shift transmission. The van had trouble starting, and after about a year it totally gave out. The church bought a newer van to replace it, but for some reason the insurance company decided to amend their policies, making it much more expensive for foreign drivers to be insured, so I was taken off the insurance and did not drive the vans anymore. Thereafter, I just used my car to pick people up for church and things worked out fine.

A whole lot happened in the first year of my return to London:

  • The church moved from its location of 11 years in South Bermondsey, to its new location in New Cross. There had been talk of merging with a Free Evangelical church in Hatcham, New Cross, but that did not materialize.
  • I participated in a regular weekly food distribution to the homeless in the Waterloo Station area of south London.
  • The winter of 1991 brought a fairly good snow, for London, which covered everything in several inches of snow for a few days.
  • The Gulf War was quite a big stir to people in the UK, and everyone hoped for a speedy end to it.
  • Just after the conflict was over, I made a memorable trip to Malta in March, with a young American missionary I'd met in Northampton named Robert Black.
  • Five college students from Nashville came to work with us for the summer of 1991.
  • In early August, I traveled to Prague, Czechoslovakia for a big, European-wide, fellowship that only happens every four years. Prague was an absolute jewel of a city. I'll never forget it.
  • And, late that summer, I began to date my future wife, Linda Ghouralal, who was a nursing student from Trinidad...

This is just a brief summary of the first year of my second big adventure living in London. Time and space do not permit me to go into much more detail, but I lived in London this time for 3.5 years (in Brockley and South Norwood). Linda and I married in London in April 1992, without any physical family members present. We were content to be with a large gathering of friends and church family that were there to encourage us on our wedding day. We spent our honeymoon in Devon, and then settled into a flat in South Norwood for two years, while Linda finished-out her nursing degree and I worked for the church in New Cross.

Of course a lot happened in those two years--a whole lot of experiences, travels, visitors, etc.--and my reflections are overwhelmingly positive, despite some difficulties and hardships. For instance, my Austin Mini was stolen, and a thief (that I suspect lived in the house) stole a number of items in our flat, notably my Canon AE-1 camera that I had owned for nine years; from which, I had taken many of the photos that are featured on my home page. But on the whole, I had a wonderful experience, and would have gladly stayed longer, much longer perhaps, but life has a way of changing with every milestone. Linda's degree completed, I philosophically accepted the idea that we should make a move to the states; do the "adult thing," and try to settle down. Nobody ever promised that life was fair, and we do what we have to do. I believe people can benefit immeasurably from travel and living in another culture from their natural one. Try it! You'll be one of the many who affirm what I am saying.

"I can never understand why Londoners fail to see that they live in the most wonderful city in the world. It is far more beautiful and interesting than Paris, if you ask me, and more lively than anywhere but New York--and even New York can't touch it in lots of important ways. It has more history, finer parks, a livelier and more varied press, better theatres, more numerous orchestras and museums, leafier squares, safer streets, and more courteous inhabitants than any other large city in the world." --Bill Bryson, Notes From a Small Island

"(London) Is the biggest aggregation of human life--the most complete compendium of the world." --Henry James

"I know not how many times I have walked to Nowhere in London, but this I do know, that every time I have done so some new revelation of the great city-county has come to me." --Holbrook Jackson

"The great city spreads her dusky mantle over innumerable races and creeds...London is indeed an epitome of the round world, and just as it is a commonplace to say that there is nothing one can't 'get' there, so it is equally true that there is nothing one may not study at first hand" --Henry James

"Come, we will walk. I pray you, let us satisfy our eyes with the memorials and things of fame that do renown this city." --Shakespeare - Click on "Brockley Views" for photos of Brockley
The Cutty Sark
Greenwood's Map of London 1827
London Voices - Local area websites
London Place Names - A site with place name meanings and dates
Lordship Lane - East Dulwich website
Streetmap - A comprehensive map of London
Virtual Norwood - Photos of shops in Norwood, London

Click here for South Norwood map I | map II
Brockley map