Heritage Category:
Listed Building
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Date first listed:
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Greater London Authority
Enfield (London Borough)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 31294 93350




II* 1903-4 E end including E part of the nave; completed 1907-8. Architect: John Oldrid Scott.

MATERIALS: Faced with a striking mixture of red brick and knapped flint with limestone dressings. Clay tile roofs.

PLAN: Nave, chancel, tower over choir, N and S aisles, N and S transepts, SE vestry with porch, N chapel, N and NE porch. (The church is oriented to the SE so all directions here are liturgical.)

EXTERIOR: The church is prominently sited at a junction of two main roads and forms an imposing, brightly-coloured landmark. The E end faces the junction and is made distinctive by the round turrets at the corners of the chancel and the massive tower over the choir. The turrets are of brick up to the level of the springing of the E window, after which they have brick and limestone bands and are topped with chequerwork parapets behind which a slender copper-clad spirelets. The E window is of seven lights with rich flamboyant tracery. Over the window there is flint, brick and limestone polychromy. The tower also has a mixing of brick, flint and stone and has large angle buttresses of brick. The lowest stage is also largely of brick. This is followed by a flint stage after which comes the belfry stage which has flint and brick diapering. The belfry windows are of three lights and are square-headed with free Decorated tracery. The tower is crowned by an embattled parapet with chequerwork decoration. On the S side the transept has, in the centre of its S face, a polygonal brick stair-turret terminating with slit windows and an embattled parapet. The aisles are brick below the sills of the windows, followed by a frieze of flint, then a narrower frieze of flint and brick diapering above which comes a stone and flint parapet with chequerwork. The aisles are lean-tos and their windows are square-headed, are of three lights and have free Decorated tracery. The five-bay nave has two-light clerestory windows also with Decorated tracery. At the NE there is a chapel under its own gable; it has a three-light flamboyant E window and a square-headed window with free Decorated tracery on the N. The SE vestry also has its own, but low, gable and has a small S porch.

INTERIOR: The spacious interior has walls of exposed red brick. The five-bay arcades have brick arches with triple chamfering, and round piers with moulded capitals bearing unusually detailed knots of foliage. The chancel arch is nearly half as wide as the nave and has above it a series of plain, graded, blind arches which follow the profile of the arch-braces of the roof supports above. The central arch has a painting of the risen Christ executed in 1924 by Professor E W Tristram: the side arches bear shields. The E ends of the aisles terminate in a pair of narrow arches placed under a super-arch and with an octagonal pier between them: there is an ornamented roundel in the spandrel between the two arches. At the E end of the chapel there is a single arch beyond which is a short projection housing the altar. The aisle windows, while are under straight-heads externally, have segmental heads internally. The sanctuary has been partitioned off and the reredos brought forward, The nave roof has large tie-beams.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: Edwardian church furnishings are restrained in comparison to ones from the mid-Victorian years and this is true of those at St John's. The most striking item is the five-panel reredos of Christ flanked by Apostles and painted in 1925 in quattrocento style by Professor Tristram. The nave benches are square-headed and have sunk panels: the benches have been removed from the aisles. The stalls have been moved out of the chancel and have been relocated at the E end of the S aisle. In the late 20th century a dias has been created and a forward altar installed at the E end of the nave. The font is an attractive piece with a circular bowl decorated with flowing foliage: it is mounted on an octagonal stem and moulded base. There is a good octagonal font cover, capped by a spirelet. The pulpit is of timber, is polygonal in shape and has openings on each face: it stands on a ribbed, stone base which splays out upwards. There is a particularly fine E window of 1924 by J H Dearle of Morris and Co: it commemorates the founders of the church and depicts Christ in Glory above eastern and western cities. There is much other early 20th-century glass by Morris and Co. The N aisle (Patmos) window (date of death 1918) is by Frank Salisbury.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: Linked to the SE vestry porch by a timber arch is a choir vestry standing separately from the church and which was added in 1939: its use of materials puts it in complete sympathy with the main building.

HISTORY: St John's was built to meet the needs of this expanding Edwardian suburb. In the application for a grant to the Incorporated Church Building Society in 1903 it was stated that 967 houses were about to be built in the area where the working population was said to be City clerks and warehousemen. It was part of the parish of Southgate where the Revd John Beardall was vicar and who set about the task of finding a site for a new church. This was given by Vyell E Walker of Arnos Grove, who owned it, and he also gave £1,000 towards the building and was to leave £500 in his will for the work (he died in 1906). The other great benefactor was Walker's sister, Mrs Anna Maria Baird, who had married a former vicar of Southgate. She donated £5,000 on condition that the chancel and tower be built first (which they were along with the E part of the nave). The foundation stone was laid on 17 October 1903 and the first part was consecrated on 12 November 1904 by the bishop of London. St John's was made a parish on 12 January 1906. The completed church was consecrated on 5 April 1908 by the Bishop of Islington.

The architect, John Oldrid Scott (1841-1913), was the son of the great Victorian architect Sir George Gilbert Scott, and younger brother of George Gilbert Scott junior. He began practice in 1863 in London and specialised in church work. By the time the second phase of the church was built he was in partnership with his son, Charles Marriot Oldrid (1880-1852) who had assisted his father in 1902-3 and G F Bodley in 1903-4.

As at mid-2009 a new parish centre is to be added to the church at the SW.

SOURCES: Incorporated Church Building Society papers, Lambeth Palace Library, file 10419. Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner. The Buildings of England: London 4: North, 1999, p 455. Barry D. Walker and Roger Gardner, In Living Memory; the Priests and People of St John's Church, Palmer's Green, 1998.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The church of St John the Evangelist, Palmers Green, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * It is of high interest as an ambitious Edwardian suburban church, built on a large scale and making use of varied materials to create a vibrant polychrome effect. The use of circular turrets at the E end and the massive crossing tower create a powerful building on a prominent corner site. * It is one of the late works by a well-known architect of the late Gothic Revival, John Oldrid Scott. * It has a fine spacious interior with bare brick walls and, apart from the reordering at the E end and the loss of the seating in the aisles, it is seen very much as it would have been after it was built. * The E window by J H Dearle of Morris and Co is of especially good quality.


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This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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Date: 01 Sep 2001
Reference: IOE01/02958/18
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Mark Berry. Source Historic England Archive
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