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Church of St John the Evangelist, Bournemouth

Description: Church of St John the Evangelist

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 27 February 1976
English Heritage Building ID: 101723

OS Grid Reference: SZ1105591713
OS Grid Coordinates: 411055, 91713
Latitude/Longitude: 50.7249, -1.8447

Location: Christchurch Road, Bournemouth BH1 3NS

Locality: Bournemouth
County: Bournemouth
Country: England
Postcode: BH1 3NS

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Listing Text

768/22/239 CHRISTCHURCH ROAD
27-FEB-76 (South side)
CHURCH OF ST JOHN THE EVANGELIST

II*
1893-5 by J. Oldrid Scott and C.T. Miles (of Bournemouth). North-west porch-tower of 1919-20, possibly also by Scott and Miles. West end reordered internally in 1989-90.

MATERIALS: Flint with banding of Castle Cary stone, and Bath stone dressings. Red tiled roofs.

PLAN: Five-bay nave with full length aisles, two-bay chancel, short transepts north and south. The east end of the south aisle broadens to form a chapel. Vestries in the south transept and a low range beyond. Along the south side is a church hall and day centre, 1990s, which is not of special interest.

EXTERIOR: In a rich Decorated style, with a shingled fleche on the ridge. The six-light west window has inventive tracery, and is set in a large relieving arch between two coped buttresses. There is a traceried oculus in the west gable, and a shallow projecting porch below with a blind trefoil in the gable. North-west porch of 1919-20 (costing £4,896), on the site of an intended tower. The porch is oddly detailed, the complex roof lines with raised corners fronted by pinnacles, then a gabled attic tier above. A narrow square bell-turret rises in the re-entrant angle to the west; rectangular belfry lights with wayward tracery, and a pyramid roof. The aisles have buttresses and a solid parapet with flint and stone chequerwork and gabled copings. The north aisle has two-light windows, the south side has windows of four lights in the aisle and of three lights in the chapel, with varied Dec tracery. The chequerwork parapet of the aisle continues around the chapel. The south transept is largely hidden by the gabled vestry which sits in front of it, parallel with the chancel. The east end has an impressive five-light Geometric window with the mullions continued below to form a band of blind panelling. There are prominent coped gables around the east end, and several gables, including the chancel, with chequerwork in the apex. The windows in the north and south walls of the chancel and in the east end of the vestry have rich curvilinear tracery. The north-east transept has paired windows in its gable, separated by a big buttress. There is an unusual reversal of visual emphasis with the transepts fairly low and shallow, while the south-east vestry and north-west porch are developed as big transept-like volumes.

INTERIOR: An impressive and spacious interior, lined with cream ashlar. Over the chancel arch, in the east and west walls and upper nave are banding and chequerwork of cream, pale grey and darker grey stones, echoing the exterior. The nave arcade, the two-bay south transept and openings off the chancel have quatrefoil columns of pink Dumfries stone banded with Blue Lias. They have foliage capitals. The arcades have moulded arches rising from stilted vertical sections over the capitals. In the bottom of the spandrels between the nave arches are quirky cusped dagger motifs, a motif used later at All Saints, West Southbourne, by the same architects. The roof, raised on wall shafts with foliage corbels, is particularly impressive. In two tiers, of trefoil section with canted rafters rising to collar beams then a second stage forming a tunnel in the roof ridge. The chancel roof is similar, with more prominent arch-braces. Inner arches on colonnettes between the north aisle windows. The transept at the east end of the north aisle is arranged as a World War II memorial chapel, with a double arch opening into the chancel. The transeptal organ chamber at the south has a very high arcaded opening. At the chancel arch there is no screen, only a very low and short breast wall either side of semicircular steps opening out towards the nave; these features express Low Church liturgical ideals. The west end of the nave was divided off by Maurice Taylor, 1989-90; a free-standing structure was inserted, with concrete columns and unostentatious timber and glass partitions, to form foyer and offices. It avoids any disruption to the aisle windows etc.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The east wall is entirely covered by the reredos. The base has linenfold panels, the centre above is raised higher, with a gilded and painted frame and ornate cresting. The centre panel is a fabric panel, i.e. a Low Church design which avoids figurative carving or religious symbolism. The outer panels have painted and gilded texts (Creed, Commandments, etc.), beneath a traceried frieze. Simple altar rails with wrought-iron standards. Twelve-sided oak pulpit made by the firm of Harry Hems, Exeter, with pierced Gothic panels and elaborate carving. The base is ribbed in the manner of a fountain vault, on a clustered shaft of grey marble. Octagonal font of white stone, with quatrefoil panels in the bowl and a thick moulded stem with panels of cusped arches. The chancel and sanctuary floors are of black and white marble chequerwork with figured marble steps. The vividly coloured east window is by Percy Bacon, 1902. Also his, several in the chancel and south aisle c. 1910-25, the west window, the rose above, and the porch, more muted in tone. In the north aisle are two windows by Hugh Powell, 1961, and one reportedly by Caroline Townshend, 1934. Upholstered chairs replaced the original seating, c. 1990.

HISTORY: St John is set in the busy centre of Boscombe among the Late Victorian and Edwardian shops of Christchurch Road. Lavish hotels, shopping arcades and a theatre were all built nearby c. 1890-5. The growth of Boscombe from the 1870s offered fertile ground for new church building. Bournemouth in the late 19th century was dominated in religious terms by the High Anglican churches stemming from the work of the Rev. Alexander Morden Bennett of St Peter. The Low or Evangelical wing of the Church of England replied first with Holy Trinity (1868, demolished), then with the daughter churches of St Andrew Malmesbury Park and St John Boscombe in the 1890s. The contractors were Jenkins & Sons of Christchurch, the cost £16,172. A parish of St. John was formed in 1890 from St. Clement. The present church was preceded by a temporary building opened in 1891.

The working partnership (never a full business partnership) of John Oldrid Scott with the local architect Charles Thomas Miles began at St John. They also designed St Andrew, Florence Road, Boscombe, 1907-8, and All Saints, Southbourne, 1913-14. After Miles¿s death, his son assisted C.M.O. Scott in the design of St Christopher, Southbourne (1932-4). J.O. Scott (1841-1913) was the son of the great Victorian architect Sir George Gilbert Scott, and younger brother of George Gilbert Scott junior. He began practice in 1863 in London and specialised in church work. C.T. Miles (1852-1930) was the son of a Bournemouth builder. He was articled to the architect Dugald McPhail of Shaftesbury 1864-7, worked in the offices of Parken & Creeke 1867-9, then with his father, 1869-72. He became an assistant to A.H. Parken in 1872, and set up on his own in 1875. He became a Fellow of the R.I.B.A in 1895, and worked in partnership with his son S.C. Miles (b. 1877) from 1909.

SOURCES
RIBA Directory of British Architects 1834-1914, 2001.
Victoria County Histories, A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 5 (1912), 133-137.
N. Pevsner and D. Lloyd, Buildings of England, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight (1967), 124.
C.J. Martin, A Century of Worship and Mission: the Parish Church of St John the Evangelist, Boscombe, (1993).

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
The Church of St John is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* A big and quite rich Late Victorian town church by J. Oldrid Scott and the local architect C.T. Miles, drawing on High Medieval sources in an inventive manner.
* Well-detailed and contrasted materials and patterning, both outside and within, displaying masonry of a high order.
* The internal arrangements reflect Low church liturgy, but showing the compromises with High Anglican principles which had become more common by the 1890s, such as the six steps up to the altar
* Good fittings including a pulpit by Harry Hems and stained glass by Percy Bacon and Caroline Townshend
* A highly unusual and idiosyncratic porch and turret (a First World War Memorial, 1919-20), in the place of Scott's planned tower.

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.