When St Thomas' was built, it was intended to accommodate the Greshambury Institute and was not built as a church.
The Greshambury Institute was a social and educational facility for workers at the Unwin's Gresham Paper Mills. It was established by 1880 on the mills' site. A teacher from Guildford was employed who ran classes in electricity, agriculture, science and art. Lessons cost cost 3 shillings a term; two subjects cost 5 shillings. A variety of entertainment was offered at the Greshambury Institute included readings, singing and instrumental evenings.
The Greshambury Institute’s committee members were influential local figures including George and Edward Unwin, William Seth Smith, Chandler Roberts (known later as Sir William Roberts Austin, patron and founder of St Martin’s Blackheath) and J T Renton, who owned Bradstone Brook.
Apparently to house the Institute, in 1895, George and Edward Unwin bought a strip of land on the Albury to Shalford road and built the Arts & Crafts building that we know today as St Thomas'. The building was finished in 1896. For reasons we don't know, the building did not house the Institute and in the same year the new building was sold to the Parish of Shalford and became St Thomas’s Church.