St Johnís Buildings
Built: 1843 - 1895
Architects: J L Pearson, retaining aisles by Ford & Hesketh
Listed grade II*
The first church here was built, on a prominent site on a spur of the North Downs, to designs by J T Knowles (Senior) in 1843. To this aisles were added to designs by Ford & Hesketh 1867. The great change came in 1889, when J L Pearson was called on to remodel the church. He replaced the original building with a new nave and chancel, retaining the 1867 aisles, and in 1895 he added a new south-west steeple. The Pearson work is faced externally with stock brick with stone dressings, contrasting with the flint facings of the aisles.
Pearson's building is typical of his major churches, and shares characteristic features with such buildings as St Stephen, Bournemouth, All Saints, Hove, St Augustine, Kilburn and St John, Upper Norwood. The nave has five bays with arcades and clerestory. The west entrance is under a stone vaulted gallery and the timber roof is supported on stone transverse arches carried on shafts attached to the older arcade pillars. The three-bay chancel is narrower, the space being occupied by passage aisles for the western two bays, separating the chancel from a chapel on the south and organ chamber on the north. The south-west steeple rises to 185ft. The tower has shallow set-back buttresses and a short octagonal spire with corner spirelets and single lucarnes.
The eight bells, tenor 13cwt, are by Mears & Stainbank, 1895, rehung in 1972 by Whitechapel.
The interior is entirely faced with stone. The windows contain an almost complete series of stained glass installed by Clayton & Bell under Pearson's direction. The handsome triptych reredos, designed by Pearson, 1898, shows small panel paintings in an elaborate gilded frame. There is a fine iron chancel screen of 1910, and the organ is by Willis, 1897, rebuilt by Hill, Norman & Beard in 1968. The marble pulpit and the font, in the form of a kneeling angel, date from 1882. The churchyard wall, of knapped flints, was built in 1867.
It is understood that the vestry was erected by F L Pearson after his father's death, but probably following his plans. It stands alongside the organ chamber, which forms an eastward extension of the North aisle, with a three-light window with Geometrical traces, in the east gable.
The vestry consists of a western section forming the choir vestry, gabled at right-angles to the aisle. with a three-light window in the north gable, and entered by a doorway in the west wall, and a clergy vestry to the east with a flat roof concealed by a straight moulded parapet with an east window of four small equal arched lights. To the west of the vestry is a small extension housing a boiler room.
The church has been equipped with permanent flood lighting, with donations and a contribution from the Churches Floodlighting Trust.
The lower portion of the tower has been glazed internally to form a crèche.
Taken from report prepared by the Council for the Care of Churches in 1997.
You can read the 2011 Quinquennial Inspection Report here, if you like. You will need to know the password and it may take quite a while (a couple of minutes) to download.
Our parish hall, Meadvale Hall, in Somerset Road has a long history of association with St John’s.
Read our Information Pack to find out more.
It has recently been much improved is now being used every day in term time by High Trees Nursery, which offers places to local children. They have built cupboards in the Hall for their toys and have decorated the walls with colourful posters and childrenís art work so that it looks vibrant and cheerful. The courtyard in front of the hall is now an outdoor play area with astroturf and opportunities for sand and water games. A ramp has recently been added to improve disabled access.
The wooden floor was sanded and resealed in 2015, which has restored it to its former glory. What looked like dull pine floorboards were revealed to be a beautiful maple wood and the grain is now showing again.
The kitchen has been repainted and facilities have been improved with a new floor, cooker and cupboards.
Regular users of the Hall are the Brownies, Guides and rehabilitation groups; martial arts classes and yoga sessions taking place every week, too. We also host St John’s Messy Church events.
The Hall is available for casual letting and is becoming more widely known in the area as an attractive and convenient venue for birthday and anniversary parties. It can accommodate about 40-50 people, and trestle tables and folding wooden chairs are stored on the stage for anyone to use for their various activities.
If you would like to book the Hall for a special occasion, please get in touch !