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St John the Evangelist Church, Bexley Bexley
Summary: St John the Evangelist Church Bexley was originally established as a daughter church to the Bexley parish church of St Mary when the local population was growing, and became a parish church in its own right in 1936. It was consecrated in 1882, built on a site provided by the University of Oxford. Its tall tower and spire were added in 1890. The churchyard was originally surrounded by wooden fencing, with a wooden gate, replaced by a wall in 1949 and iron gates in 1952.
St John's Church, Bexley, showing the original perimeter fence, postcard. Courtesy Bexley Local Studies & Archive Centre
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Previous / Other name:
Site location: Parkhill Road, Bexley
Postcode: DA5 1HX > Google Map
Type of site: Churchyard
Date(s): 1878-82
Listed structures: LBII: St John the Evangelist
Borough: Bexley
Site ownership: Church, Diocese of Rochester
Site management: Church
Open to public? Yes
Opening times: unrestricted
Special conditions:
Public transport: Rail: Bexley
St John's Church, Bexley, showing the original perimeter fence, postcard. Courtesy Bexley Local Studies & Archive Centre
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The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/12/2011
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Fuller information:

The parish of Bexley originally included the rural hamlets of Blendon, Bridgen, Upton and Hurst, but by the 1860s St Mary's Church was becoming too small to accommodate the growing congregation and it was decided to build a new church at the western end of the village near Bexley Station. The arrival of the railway in 1866 had led to the agricultural community being transformed into a new residential suburb. The first middle-class houses built in Parkhill Road date from the late 1860s with the area around Parkhurst following in the 1870s and '80s. The site for the new church was given by the University of Oxford, together with £2,000, and the committee responsible for the project was able to raise £2,055 9s plus further contributions came in when the foundation stone was laid. Oxford University's connection with Bexley dates from 1622 when the then Lord of Bexley Manor, William Camden, an antiquary and historian, conveyed £140 annually to the University in order to provide the stipend of a History Lecturer, a post that remains as the Camden Professorship of Ancient History. The University made another gift of adjacent land in 1931 for the vicarage, which was completed in 1932.

The cost of St John's Church, excluding its tower and spire but including fees for the architect and clerk of works and for surrounding fencing, came to £5,200. Designed by architect George Low, it was built by Naylor and Son, whose original estimate for the tower and spire of c.£1,600 was exceeded in 1886. As a result it was initially without the spire that later became a landmark, which was completed in 1890 and the clock also installed. The foundation stone was laid on 23 March 1881 by Mrs Arbuthnot of Bridgen Place, and on 23 June 1882 the Archbishop of Canterbury consecrated St John’s Church. Both St Mary's and St John's were in the Diocese of Canterbury until 1905, now in the Diocese of Rochester. The land below St John’s, now known as 'The Golden Acre' but originally called Fair Field, was once used for market gardening and hops were grown locally, the last local oast houses not demolished at Penfold Lane until 1950.

During WWII the church and its surrounding area suffered from enemy bombing and on 12 October 1940 the church roof was damaged. In July 1944 the windows in the Children’s Corner were blown out and other damage sustained to the fabric of the building, as a result of which the church was closed, not re-opening until 1946. The spire was also found to be out of alignment and this was eventually repaired in 2001, following the discovering in 1997 that there were serious structural problems. In 1949 the churchyard's perimeter fence was replaced by a wall more in keeping with the church, enabled through a donation of £150 from Colonel Hamilton, churchwarden throughout WWII. In 1952, the wooden gates were replaced by iron gates. A Memorial Garden between the church porch and the base of the tower was laid out in 1985 and dedicated by the Bishop of Rochester in the same year.

At a little distance from the church, the War Memorial at the junction of Hurst Road and Parkhill Road on the corner of Golden Acre was the venue for the Remembrance Day Service until in 1965, a practice that has only recently recommenced.

Sources consulted:

Rob Soar, Church History on church website
Grid ref: TQ490736
Size in hectares:
On EH National Register : No
EH grade:
Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
Registered common or village green
on Commons Registration Act 1965:
Protected under London Squares
Preservation Act 1931:
The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
On Local List:
In Conservation Area: Yes
Conservation Area name: Old Bexley
Tree Preservation Order: To be checked
Nature Conservation Area: No
Green Belt: No
Metropolitan Open Land: No
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:

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