St John’s Church – Old and New
The old church in the Green was built 1837 – 38, but actually founded in 1827. It was formed by Bishop’s Instrument taking over a portion of the Parish of St Mary’s Norwood Green, and was enlarged by the inclusion of a further portion in 1880. The Church News of 1980 states that its area now is between the canals, the River Brent and the railway, excluding Glade Lane, but extended in 1975 to include Wentworth Road and Convent Way Estate.
The Benefactor was Mr. Henry Dodds who had a great deal of business interest in the village. He paid for the Church, St John’s School and Vicarage to be built. It was consecrated in 1838 by the Bishop of London. The first Vicar was Rev. F. Hewson from 1838 to 1845, followed by Rev. J. Bush, 1845-47: Rev W.F. Lanfear, 1848-79. The living was then a Vicarage and a net value of £430, and is the gift of the Church Patronage Trust. The Registers date from: Births, 1851: Marriages, 1853: Burials, 1860.
The Church Yard was consecrated in 1860. The Rev. J. Jackson came in 1879, he died 1895 when the Rev. F. Roberts took over. He was Vicar from 1896 to 1926. He played a great part in local affairs. His son, Captain Adjutant F.C. Roberts, was awarded the D.S.O. for conspicuous bravery on January 3rd 1915.
The site for the new church on the grounds of Elmfield House was purchased for £700 from the Bishop of London’s Fund. It was built in 1909-10 by Messrs. Steven Bastow and Co., Bristol: the Architect, C.J. Miller, at a cost of £8,000.
It was consecrated by the Bishop of London on 26th October 1910. The new Vicarage next to the church in Church Avenue was completed in September 1929. What a relief for the Rev. F. Hurd who took over from Rev. F. Roberts and found the old Vicarage in such a bad state of repair – he had constantly to place recepticles to catch the water coming through the roof.
The old St John’s School had up to 153 pupils – Miss G. Taylor Headmistress in 1890: Mrs. E. E. Thompson in 1892: followed by Miss Nightingale from 1892 to 1901. The School Caretaker was paid 6/6d ( 32 ½p ) per week. The old school closed with the opening of Featherstone Road School and became St John’s Mens’ Club. Toc H met there and Self Help Society contributions were paid there.
In July 1930, the Council offered £2,600 for the school and site. Also in 1930, the Council wanted a 4 ft. strip of the site to widen Western Road. Mr. Flexman made application to purchase the site in 1931. It gradually fell into a bad condition and all pulled down in 1954. The Council eventually bought the site and let part to Mr. Flexman.
The old Vicarage was pulled down in 1930 and the site purchased by Mr. Hartley and seven shops were built to match those already existing. St John’s Hall in King Street, built in 1892, was sold in 1973 and nobody could have forseen that by 1979 it would have over the door “The Hindu Temple”.
A new Parish Centre opened next to the Church in Church Avenue in 1969. For a good many years, a small meeting hall at the end of Western Road in connection with St John’s was consecrated by the Archdeacon, Saturday 4th January 1933, but this has gone the way of several other halls in the district and is now a Ravidas Temple.
In 1931, the number of parishioners was 15,791 – now, 1980, it is estimated at over 30,000.