St John the Evangelist, Palmers Green is the daughter church of Christ Church, Southgate, which is in its turn the daughter church of All Saints, Edmonton, the ancient parish of this area when all was fields and farms.
It was at the beginning of the century that they began to think of building a church in Palmers Green.
We owe our building very largely to three people – the Revd John Beardall (Vicar of Southgate of that time), Mrs Anna Maria Baird, who had been born in Palmers Green and had married a former Vicar of Southgate, and Mr Vyell Edward Walker of Arnos Grove, Mrs Baird’s brother, one of a well-known cricketing family and the owner of the land on which the church was built. Mrs Baird and Mr Walker are jointly commemorated in our East Window.
The foundation stone (outside the east end of the church) was laid by Mr V.E. Walker on October 17th 1903, and the first part of the building was dedicated on November 12th 1904. They built the east end, the tower and the first two bays of the nave, not completing the rest until 1908 – ‘the year in which the last haymaking was done in Fox Lane’. You can still see the ‘seam’ between the two parts.
The architect of the church was Mr J. Oldrid Scott, who rebuilt the west front of Hereford Cathedral. His father, Gilbert Scott, had designed Christ Church, Southgate, and the architect of Liverpool Cathedral was his nephew, Giles Gilbert Scott. When he designed St John’s, it was almost as if Oldrid Scott wanted to win a competition for using the greatest number of different materials!
Take a walk round the outside and you will see stone, brick, flint, copper, iron, lead, tiles, glass and wood. And consider the work that went into making the elaborate surface patterns! If your eyesight is good, you may be able to see the date ‘1904’ on the weather vane at the top of the tower, 102 feet up.
The ridge of the nave is 60 feet above the ground, and the building is 149 feet long. The chancel had to be underpinned between the years 1949 and 1951, and the tower was re-roofed in 1953.