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Church of St John the Evangelist

A Grade II* Listed Building in Redhill, Surrey

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Latitude: 51.2294 / 51°13'45"N

Longitude: -0.1764 / 0°10'35"W

OS Eastings: 527422

OS Northings: 149383

OS Grid: TQ274493

Mapcode National: GBR JJ1.XXV

Mapcode Global: VHGS9.WCLC

Entry Name: Church of St John the Evangelist

Listing Date: 19 October 1951

Last Amended: 19 October 1961

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1029141

English Heritage Legacy ID: 289290

Location: Reigate and Banstead, Surrey, RH1

County: Surrey

District: Reigate and Banstead

Electoral Ward/Division: Meadvale and St John's

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Redhill

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Surrey

Church of England Parish: Redhill St John

Church of England Diocese: Southwark

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Listing Text


CHURCH ROAD (West side)



New church built 1842-3 by James T Knowles. Aisles added 1860 by Robert Hesketh and reused by John Loughborough Pearson when he rebuilt the nave and chancel in 1889-91. He added the steeple in 1895.

MATERIALS: The pre-Pearson church is faced with knapped flint and has limestone dressings. Pearson's work is of stock brick with limestone dressings and has a stone spire to the tower. Slate roofs

PLAN: Nave, chancel, N and S nave and chancel aisles, tower and spire at W end of S aisle, N vestries and organ chamber.

EXTERIOR: The church stands prominently on a rise and clearly shows how it developed in two main phases after the building of the original church in the 1840s. The aisles, under their own gabled roofs, are low in relation to the rest of the building and have two-light windows in the style of c.1300 with quatrefoils in the heads. Pearson's chancel is very lofty and has large Geometrical windows: the E window is a grand design of six lights with multiple cusped circles in its head. The chancel has large stepped and gabled angle buttresses at each corner with octagonal stone pinnacles rising from the top of each. The tower is tall and has three stages and angle buttresses with many offsets which create a strongly tapering effect. It has a richly moulded S doorway under a triangular gabled head and immediately above this come two pairs of two-light windows. The belfry windows have pairs of two-light openings under an embracing frame with Y-tracery. The ribbed spire is relatively short in relation to the tower and has large octagonal corner pinnacles with spirelet cappings. There is also an elongated, two-light lucarne on the cardinal faces.

INTERIOR: The character of the interior is very largely due to Pearson's work. The chancel is vaulted in stone with quadripartite bays and is a little lower and narrower than the nave. The nave roof is wooden, of king-post construction, and rests on stone transverse arches carried on shafts attached to Hesketh's arcade and carried down to the ground. The arcade has finely moulded arches and rich foliage capitals to the short circular piers. The transverse arches provide a series of frames for the chancel as seen from the W entrance. The roofs in the aisles have curved braces to a collar which carries two inclined struts. There is a stone gallery with canted ends at the W end, resting on five arches. There is a clerestory with two-light windows. The nave is floored with red, buff and black tiles. The interior still retains its bare stonework and rendered surfaces as originally intended by the architects.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The body of the church has seating with poppy-headed ends, quite an unusual choice of design in the mid- and late- Victorian periods and which contribute considerably to the character of the interior. The font of 1882 by J. Whitehead consists of a large shell held by a kneeling angel, a design based on Bertel Thorwaldsen's early C19 font in Copenhagen Cathedral which was copied for a number of English churches in the late-C19/early-C20. The fine gilded, painted reredos is a triptych designed by Pearson and given in 1898: the central panel depicts the Crucifixion flanked by the Agony in the Garden and the Entombment. There are hinged side panels with the Nativity, Resurrection and other scenes: above are depictions of the Doctors of the Church, Christ, Moses, Elijah and angels. The stone pulpit with pierced sides and a carved panel with the Raising of Lazarus dates from 1882. The fine, elaborate wrought-iron chancel screen on a low stone wall was erected in 1910 and the wrought-iron screen between the chancel and Lady Chapel dates from the following year. The stalls have poppy heads and traceried frontals. There is a good collection of stained glass, some of it was designed by Pearson, including the E window of 1889. This and the side windows of the chancel were made by Clayton and Bell; the W window is also theirs and dates from 1904. More modern work is represented by a Goddard and Gibbs window in the N aisle. The Father Willis organ was built in 1897.

HISTORY: The church, and Redhill itself, are the product of the arrival of the London to Brighton railway in 1841. As the population grew the decision was taken in 1840 to build a church on Knobb's Hill and the lease was granted by Earl Somers, who as lord of the manor of Reigate, was empowered by custom to grant away waste land with the consent of the copyholder tenants. Lord Somers thus 'gave' land for the building of a church and school and headed the subscription list with a donation of £1,000. The designer of the new church, James Thomas Knowles (1806-84), a London man, recycled an unused design for a church at Williton in Somerset. He showed it at the Royal Academy in 1844 but the influential journal The Ecclesiologist which had reviewed the building the previous year found little to praise: `The details', it said, `appear to be very meagre' and it did not like the open ground floor of the tower. The church was consecrated on 30 September 1843 and a new parish was formed the following year. The next campaign, the aisles, was the work of a local architect, Robert Hesketh from Earlswood Mount. The inspiration behind the late-Victorian remodelling was the Rev. JM Gordon and the architect called in was John Loughborough Pearson (1817-97), one of the greatest of all C19 church architects. He began practice in 1843 having trained in the offices of Ignatius Bonomi in Durham and Anthony Salvin and then Philip Hardwick in London. He was awarded the RIBA Royal Gold Medal in 1880 and is remembered for a series of exceptionally fine churches. These often display strong French influence: the spire at St John's has close similarities to, say, the spires at St Etienne in Caen. Other Pearson characteristics at St John's are the stone-vaulted chancel and the transverse arches across the nave. Pearson's most famous building is Truro Cathedral, begun in 1880 and the first English cathedral to be built on a new site since Salisbury in the early C13.

The Ecclesiologist, 2 (1843), 95
Metcalf, P., 'James Knowles; Victorian Editor and Architect' (1980), 27-9
Quiney, A., 'John Loughborough Pearson' (1979), 163, 270
Nairn, I and Pevsner, N (rev. Bridget Cherry)., The Buildings of England: Surrey, Harmondsworth (1971), 421-2
Thomas, R et al., The History of the Parish Church of St John the Evangelist Redhill (1994, reprinted c.2000)

The church of St John the Evangelist, Redhill, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* It is a fine example of a large Victorian town church with work of two phases, the latter of which is impressive work by one of the leading architects of the C19
* It has a good collection of C19 fittings and stained glass

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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