WIMBORNE ROAD (South west side)
Church of St John
Nave, south aisle and tower base by G.E Street, 1873-74. Chancel, organ chamber, vestry, and south-east chapel by A.W Blomfield, 1886-87. Porch and upper tower by Sidney Tugwell, 1923.
MATERIALS: squared coursed stone with golden limestone dressings. Clay tiled roofs. Leaded spire.
PLAN: (orientations given are 'ritual', west end actually faces south). Five-bay nave, four-bay south aisle with tower and attached porch at its west end, chancel, three-bay south chapel, transeptal organ chamber (north), north-east vestries.
EXTERIOR: Early English style, the outlines severe and unrelieved. The west gable has a very big wheel window, perhaps the best feature of the church. The wall beneath has three stubby buttresses, that at the north-west corner an angle buttress. In the north wall are six uncusped lancets. The sheer unbuttressed upper tower and south-west porch are of 1923, by S.C Tugwell. The tower has clasping buttresses at the angles, plain paired bell openings with louvres, and a short cap spire behind flat parapets. The south aisle has four windows, each of two lights with a quatrefoiled circle in plate tracery. The south chapel has smaller and less severely detailed windows, and unusually a secondary porch at its west end. The chancel has a five-light east window, and one of three lights to the south chapel; both have Geometric tracery. The north-east vestries have two gables facing east; the part behind the northern gable was added in 1915, probably by F.A Ling of Bournemouth.
INTERIOR: the interior is plastered and painted white. The four-bay south arcade has simple chamfered arches on circular piers with moulded capitals. A tall arch with continuous mouldings opens from Street's tower base into the aisle. The nave roof has collar beams with semi-circular arch braces framing the big wheel window with concentric curves. In the apex of the roof are post-and-beam braces standing on the collars. The aisle has canted rafters. Chancel arch on angel corbels. The south side of the sanctuary has built-in sedilia and piscina. The chancel roof is boarded and painted, between pointed arched trusses. The south chapel is of similar form, but the roof is canted at four angles in section. The floors in the nave are of wood blocks with carpeted walkways.
PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: the chancel stalls are of oak with fleur-de-lys finials, and pierced Gothic friezes on the stall fronts. The font is by Street: a circular bowl with medallions on marble colonnettes and circular steps. The font cover is of pitch pine and other timbers, a spire form on plain circular columns, with gabled trefoil arches and gilded pinnacles. It was added in 1890, rather effete against the font. The pulpit is of stone with marble shafts at the angles, its arched panels subsequently filled with figural paintings of Saints (poorly executed, of 1919). Italian Baroque sanctuary lamp. Wrought-iron screens of 1919, to the south chapel, and 1929 across the chancel. The stained glass in the east window depicts the Crucifixion, by Clayton and Bell, 1889. They reportedly also made the south window of the chancel, one in the south chapel, and a window in the north wall of the nave. The south chapel east is by Mary Lowndes, 1911. In the north wall of the nave are two possibly by W.F Dixon, c.1875. The church also has two lights in the Arts and Crafts style by Margaret E. Rope (tower base, probably c. 1923), and one by Morris and Co., 1937. The seating was replaced before 2004 with upholstered chairs.
HISTORY: a schoolroom which was also licensed for services was built c.1853-54 near the site of St John. This became commercial premises after 1874 and survives in Old St John's Mews, further north on Wimborne Road. The permanent church of St John the Baptist, Moordown, was the third daughter church of St Peter, Bournemouth, part of a zealous campaign by the Rev. Alexander Morden Bennett begun c.1855. By c.1900, his chain of High Anglican foundations including at least nineteen churches in Bournemouth. Street was engaged for the rebuilding of St Peter, and for the first three daughter churches (St James Pokesdown, 1858, St Michael, 1866, and St John). The upper tower as originally designed by Street was taller and more elaborate, with a steep saddleback roof, straddled by a big pinnacle. This was never executed. The original design relied for its impact on an adventurous upper tower intended by Street but not built; the overall effect is further watered down by the additions of Blomfield and Tugwell.
George Edmund Street (1824-81) is one of the greatest figures in Victorian architecture. Although born and educated in London he was articled to the Winchester architect Owen Carter from 1841. He then spent time in the office of George Gilbert Scott from 1844 before commencing practice in Wantage in 1848. Growing success led to a move to London in 1856 and a career which saw him become one of the leaders of the Gothic Revival. Much of his work is characterised by a strong, muscular quality which was much admired from the 1850s. He was also an early pioneer of the use of polychromy. His most ambitious work is the Royal Courts of Justice in London for which he gained the commission in 1868. He was diocesan architect for Oxford, York Winchester and Ripon. He was awarded the RIBA Royal Gold Medal in 1874. His fame and status is reflected in the fact that, like his former master, Scott, he is buried in Westminster Abbey.
Illustration of Street's design; Building News, August 29, (1873)
N. Pevsner and D. Lloyd, Buildings of England; Hampshire, (1967), 123.
Incorporated Church Building Society (ICBS) archive; files 07517 (c. 1873) and 11308 (1915).
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
The Church of St John, Wimborne Road is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* A suburban church in the Early English style by G.E. Street, one of the greatest exponents of the Victorian Gothic Revival.
* Fine west gable with a very big wheel window, composed well with the tower to its right.
* Some modest fittings by Street including the font and pulpit.
* Good Victorian stained glass including four by Clayton & Bell, and some early 20th century Art glass.