Church of St John, Belmont
Heritage Category: Listed Building
List Entry Number: 1458604
Date first listed: 05-Sep-2018
Statutory Address: St John's Church, Northdown Road, Belmont, Sutton, Surrey, SM2 6DY
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Statutory Address: St John's Church, Northdown Road, Belmont, Sutton, Surrey, SM2 6DY
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
County: Greater London Authority
District: Sutton (London Borough)
Parish: Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference: TQ2526162097
The church was designed in 1913 by the firm of Greenaway and Newberry in a C14 Gothic style 'treated in a modern manner' and constructed in 1914-15. Most of the furnishings were installed by 1924 to the original designs. The western bay of the nave was built in 1967, in keeping with the original design. The attached meeting room of 1967 and the community hall of 2002 west of the church are not included.
Reasons for Designation
The Church of St John, Belmont, designed in 1913 by Greenaway and Newberry, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
Architectural interest: * as an impressive, well-built and well-proportioned late-Gothic-Revival church with good interior spatial sense; * for its almost complete set of original furnishings designed by Greenaway and Newberry; * as a good example of the work of Greenaway and Newberry, a church architectural partnership of significance and distinction; * for its good quality fixtures and fittings including stained glass by Lawrence Lee and Nathaniel Westlake, and the C18 font.
Group value: * with a listed free-standing war memorial opposite the church.
Belmont developed during the 1870s in north-east Surrey on the rural fringes of the ancient parishes of Cheam and Sutton. A railway station had opened there in 1865 and a demand for local housing first arose when a large institution, the Middlesex County Asylum, opened nearby in 1877, with staff needing accommodation.
St John's began as a mission room in a rented house in the 1880s, established by a new church, Christ Church, Sutton, a mile or so to the north. In 1889 the Mission erected an iron church at Belmont and in 1907, when the local population was between 1000 and 1500, residents appointed a building committee to plan a permanent church. After a slow start a site was bought from the local landowner, the Belmont Estate Company, in 1910. In 1912 the building committee considered seven architects and in early 1913 appointed the partnership of Greenaway and Newberry, who produced a handsome design for a church seating 500. Plans for the upper part of its tower and for the western part of the nave were postponed for want of funds, but the church was otherwise completed to a high standard. The foundation stone was laid on July 18th 1914 and, in spite of the outbreak of the First World War soon after, the building was finished and consecrated in 1915.
The completion of the furnishings resumed at the end of the First World War and the church was fully fitted by 1924 but the tower was never completed. Its temporary west wall was replaced in 1967, when the architect David Nye provided a permanent western bay, which incorporated a large west window from the Church of St Paul, St Leonards-on-Sea, an 1868 church by John Norton which was being demolished. A single-storey, flat-roofed meeting room and kitchen were part of the scheme. A western gallery, entrance lobbies and rooms above, with a small dormer for each in the roof, were added internally in 1987, designed by Denis Crandon-Gill, at the time when the church was developing sharing arrangements with the Belmont Methodist Church (St John's is now a joint Anglican-Methodist church). A community hall of 2002, designed by Deirdre Waddington, was added to the west of the meeting room. The meeting room and hall are excluded from the listing.
The Church of St John, designed in 1913 by the firm of Greenaway and Newberry in a C14 Gothic style 'treated in a modern manner' and constructed in 1914-15. Most of the furnishings were installed by 1924 to the original designs. The western bay of the nave was built in 1967, in keeping with the original design.
MATERIALS: the exterior walls are of Bargate stone in irregular courses with Ketton stone dressings and tracery and a tiled roof. The interior walls are of brick, except for the Lady Chapel, with ashlar walls, and the chancel, ashlar below and plastered above. The dressings are of Bath stone and the roofs of Oregon pine. The windows in the aisles, transepts and elsewhere have their original rolled glass and leading designed by the architects, some with simple leaf or flame patterns. Many of the fittings are of oak.
PLAN: the building comprises a three-bay nave, north and south aisles and transepts, a three-bay chancel, three-bay Lady Chapel to the south-east, north-east vestries, passage aisle and organ loft north of the chancel, partly in the base of the uncompleted tower. At the west end of the nave is the 1987 gallery between two inner entrance lobbies, with rooms above.
EXTERIOR: the main tiled roof has a single ridge from end to end and sweeps down over the nave and aisles.
The west end has end buttresses and a large Decorated Gothic style traceried window of 1868 installed in 1967, but originally from the Church of St Paul, St Leonards-on-Sea, now demolished.
The north and south aisles have arched entrances with double plank doors at the west end, gabled dormers above and a triple and a double pointed arched window. The gabled transepts have large pointed arched traceried windows. At the north-east end is the unfinished tower of two stages with square buttresses, small round-headed upper windows and a four-light mullion and transom window under a relieving arch on the north side. At its east side is a gabled, single-storey vestry with a canted bay window and segmental-headed entrance with a half-glazed door with ornamental hinges.
The side walls of the chancel have three, paired arched windows. The chancel east end has a gable end with a cross-shaped saddlestone. Immediately below is a skeleton iron dial clock commemorating Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee, by the long-established clock manufacturers Gillett and Johnston of Croydon. Below the east window is the foundation stone laid by the wife of the local lord of the manor, with the inscription: 'THIS STONE WAS LAID BY FLORENCE E NORTHEY AD MAJOREM DEI GLORIAM JULY XVIII AD MCMXIV HUBERT LORD BISHOP OF SOUTHWARK ALFRED E TONKIN CURATE IN CHARGE'
The south-east Lady Chapel has a gabled east end and three, small, double-arched windows.
INTERIOR: the lower part of the walls are of purple-brown Crowborough brick and the upper parts are of yellow-cream stocks, with some banding to make the transition. The exceptions are the Lady Chapel, with ashlar walls, and the chancel, which is ashlar below and smooth-plastered above. The pillars, arches, window surrounds and other dressings are of Bath stone, and the bold and solid pitched roofs are of Oregon pine. The nave has three-bay arcades separating it from the aisles and transepts, the arch mouldings dying smoothly into the octagonal pillars, and the stone dressings are flush with the adjoining brickwork.
The chancel has original chequerboard stone paving. The sedilia each have their own moulded pointed arch. The roof is ribbed and panelled. The arcade separating the chancel and Lady Chapel is of richer design than other parts of the church, with clustered columns, capitals and ball-flower ornament in the arch mouldings.
The Lady Chapel has ashlar walls, chequerboard paving and a panelled roof, painted and picked out in colours and gilding in 1978, the part over the altar with blank tracery ornament.
FITTINGS AND FURNISHINGS: nearly all the fittings and furnishings for the church were provided for the 1915 opening or within the next ten years, and almost all were designed by the church's architects and remain in position today. Furnishings and fittings of significance include the following:
The font is the oldest item in the church, early C18, possibly 1706, a handsome alabaster bowl on a stem made for the Church of All Saints in the High Street in Oxford, moved to another Oxford church in 1896, and then given to St John's in 1915, and moved to its present position in the south transept in 1967. There is a complete set of oak fittings. The nave pews are oak of open-bench type, of 1915, by Greenaway and Newberry, of simple Arts and Crafts design and proportion. The pulpit is of oak by Greenaway and Newberry, in Arts and Crafts Gothic, with a splayed profile, and fine elaborate carving which includes a grape and vine leaf frieze, linenfold patterning, openwork tracery and more. Carved around it are the words 'This pulpit was given by the congregation as a thank offering for victory vouchsafed in the Great War AD MCMXIV MCMXVIII'. The lectern is of oak, probably in place in 1915 and possibly by Greenaway and Newberry. An inscription records that it commemorates the Reverend H E M Siddall, a man active in promoting the development of the church who had died prematurely in 1907. The altar is of oak by Greenaway and Newberry and, like the pulpit, with rich carving, Gothic in inspiration, and similar friezes and panels. The construction is traditional, with massive uprights and pegged joints. A later central panel, inserted in 1934, is carved with a design of the Lamb of God. The choir stalls are of oak by Greenaway and Newberry, the design less based on historic precedent, but in the Arts and Crafts tradition of good and honest workmanship, the bench ends carved with attractive small roundels, each one different. The organ loft is also in matching style. The vestries retain built-in wooden cupboards. The electric light fittings are Arts and Crafts style metal wall and pillar brackets of elegant branching designs, which appear to be the original ones from 1915, but with later glass shades.
A war memorial in the north transept consists of a bronze tablet of 1920 listing 42 Belmont men who died in the First World War. Families and friends proposed it and paid for the cost of £160. It was made by the Birmingham Guild, and was described at the time as 'an excellent example of the high-class work produced by this firm. The modelling of the wreath, in particular, is very fine'. A metal plate added below it in 1967 commemorates all the Belmont men and women who died during the Second World War.
STAINED GLASS: the east window is of 1971 by Lawrence Lee (1909-2011), the major C20 stained glass designer responsible for the nave windows of Coventry Cathedral, whose studio had been based locally in the 1950s. It has rich colouring, the subject being the baptism of Christ, with three main figures, Christ, St Mary and St John the Baptist, movingly drawn and painted, and contrasting with the complexity and mystery of all around them. Lawrence Lee drew inspiration from the Book of Revelation, incorporating its images of 'the river of the water of life, sparkling like crystal', the city of the New Jerusalem, the trees of life, their leaves serving 'for the healing of nations', together with symbols of the Holy Spirit: tongues of fire, lightning, doves and the mighty rushing wind. Lee wrote that there is 'a water and earth and air theme in the texture of the window - a sparkle of sunlight on water if you like and a feeling of growth and life. My hope is that the window will speak for itself and that people will find things old and new in it as they live with it'.
The west window is of 1888 by the firm of Lavers, Barraud and Westlake, designed by one of the partners, Nathaniel Westlake (1833-1921), and it was installed at St John's in 1967 from the demolished Church of St Paul's, St Leonards-on-Sea. The subject is the Communion of Saints and the design skilfully marshals 60 or so individual figures. Across the foot of the seven main lights runs a frieze of saints, above is a row of kings and princes, and above that are archangels. Above all these are three large roundels or rose windows, one with the group of followers watching at the Crucifixion, another with four saints and in the top central roundel, the climax to the design, is Christ in Majesty, surrounded by angels with censers and the symbols of the four gospel writers.
Books and journals
Nairn, I, Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Surrey, (1987), .474
Stuart Gray, A, Edwardian Architecture, (1985), 206
Woolfenden Tony 'A Church for Belmont, its History and a Guide' 2015
This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.
The listed building(s) is/are shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building but not coloured blue on the map, are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act. However, any works to these structures which have the potential to affect the character of the listed building as a building of special architectural or historic interest may still require Listed Building Consent (LBC) and this is a matter for the Local Planning Authority (LPA) to determine.
End of official listing