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
Bromley (London Borough)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 41954 58937

Reasons for Designation

Parish church of 1957-9 by Richard Gilbert Scott, incorporating fabric from the 1860s All Saints, Surrey Square. The synthesis of Victorian and modern Gothic is both architecturally assured and historically interesting.


785/0/10106 MAIN ROAD 16-NOV-07 St Mark's Church

II Parish church. 1957-9 to the designs of Richard Gilbert Scott of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, Son and Partner, but incorporating fabric from the bomb-damaged All Saints, Surrey Square, Newington, of 1964-5 by R Parris and S Field. Narrow yellow/brown brick exterior with stone dressings; interior with concrete to aisle piers, and red brick, Bath stone corbels and timber roof all salvaged from All Saints; low, steep-pitched plain tile roofs. Long low church under single roof, though separated internally by chancel arch into distinct sanctuary and nave, the latter with narrow aisles internally. Slightly tapered campanile attached at north-west corner. West end with full-height window from central door to apex, set with stonework mainly by Gilbert Scott in his lively late Gothic style. Foundation stone commemorating 'the Moving Church' relaid by Father Vivian Symons 9 November 1957. Similar tracery in windows to north and south aisles, with plate glass set behind traceried windows treated like screens. The East end is solid brickwork.

INTERIOR: Seven-bay nave, the western end blind, and with narrow passage aisles. Present choir area with organ, and sanctuary raised on three steps. Open truss roof to nave and present choir; boarded roof to sanctuary. Reredos by Gilbert Scott inspired by his father's work at Liverpool Cathedral,intended as a foil to the brickwork and incorporating mural of Christ in Majesty by Roland Pym incorporating images of the old and new church, and angels carved locally. The altar front of carved wood assembled from All Saints. The pews and organ case designed by Richard Gilbert Scott. The font is from the old mission church, dedicated to Emma Ella Frances Hart, died 1928. The west window, given by Arthur Tremain, first vicar's warden, and Sarah R Tremain, incorporates images of the old St Mark's, a tin tabernacle of 1904, and All Saints, Surrey Square. The windows are Belgian rose plate glass, and Father Symons etched the 51 windows with designs copied from the woodcuttings of the "Biblia Pauperum" of 1420 depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments. The dentist's drills used by Father Symons to create these works, and photographs of the old church being demolished and rebuilt, are exhibited at the rear of the church. There is also a memorial on the chancel arch to Father Symons (1913-76), Perpetual Curate and first Vicar of St Mark, Biggin Hill 1951-66.

HISTORY: A mission church was built at Biggin Hill in 1904, but plans for a permanent church were curtailed by the Second World War. Biggin Hill's fame at the heart of the Battle of Britain, and the growing civilian population in the village, prompted the new incumbent, Father Vivian Symons, to look for a way of building a new church with no money and at a time when building was restricted by licences. He was himself an ex-serviceman, and described as the 'Dan Dare of Biggin Hill' for his vitality. He determined to take an old church, demolish it and rebuild it, and in August 1952 he was granted a faculty to take down the bomb-damaged All Saints, Surrey Square, North Peckham. He was aided by the schoolboys of Harrow School, who had a charity for underfunded projects, one of whom brought in his neighbour, Sir Giles Scott, who declined the commission in favour of his son Richard. It was among Richard Gilbert Scott's very first works. Very many members of the parish contributed to the taking down and rebuilding of the church, led by Father Symons, the men involved in the taking down and transporting of the old material, while the bricks were cleaned and stacked by the ladies of the parish, who were responsible also for needlework and decoration in the new church. The rebuilt church is a tribute to a vast collaborative effort. 125,000 bricks, 200 tons of stonework and all the roof timbers were salvaged. Generous donations saw the church finally built, at a cost of £5,300, in 1957-9. The number of bricks from the old church were within a few hundred of the number needed for the new, that the old stonework was just adequate and all the old timbers fitted together perfectly. Father Symons thanked The Lord for his 'wonderful sense of planning, timing and quantities', but much is also due to the architect's ingenuity in using exactly what was available, and in blending old and new. Richard Gilbert Scott sought to make a design that humanised Gothic to the level of a village church, and it somewhat resembles a Kentish barn in its overall form. The church is still known as 'the Moving Church' today.

The story of the Moving Church was recorded by Father Symons in a book, The Moving Church, and in many radio and television interviews at the time, which reached a wide audience.

Church hall to rear not of special interest.

Sources: The Builder, vol.188, no.5855, 6 May 1955, p.749 The National Builder, vol.38, no.10, p.332 Basil Clarke, The Parish Churches of London, London, Batsford, 1966, p.254. The Moving Church, History and Guide to St Mark's, Biggin Hill Information from Richard Gilbert Scott


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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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