In 1875 The Rev’d J. Baird, Vicar of Christ Church, purchased what was known as the Iron Chapel on the Southgate Chase and erected it on a site, which he also gave, in Old Farm Avenue. From this small beginning developed St Andrew’s Southgate.
In 1903 the building of our present Church was begun; designed with Narthex and three nave bays in the Perpendicular Gothic Revival style with elements of Arts and Crafts by Arthur Rowland Barker who had been a pupil and then assistant to the well-known church architect, Ewan Christian. He became diocesan surveyor for Winchester and designed several other local buildings including and the St Paul’s Institute, Palmers Green town hall and Southgate Club in Chase Side.
The Foundation Stone of St Andrew’s was laid (apparently in inclement weather) by Mrs F.S. Bevan of Trent Park in 1903. Building must have continued quickly because the first phrase was completed for dedication by the Bishop of Islington on 26th May 1904. The site and a generous donation to the building fund had been given by Mr. V. Walker (of the then well known local brewing and cricketing family). Fund raising, including a grand floral bazaar, continued in 1904 to meet the building cost of £3,450.
A public meeting called in July 1908 in the Village Hall considered the completion of the Church by the addition of the chancel and altar. Originally the villagers had wanted a tower and steeple but as the Great War developed, the Bishop of London, the Rt. Rev’d Arthur Foley Winnington Ingram, decided that steeples were an extravagance during a time of great hardship. Enough money was raised for the completed Church (minus steeple) to be dedicated by him on 11th May 1916, designed by Barker (junior) and Kirk. From across Chase Side one can still make out, to the left of the centre porch, the architectural remnant of the intended tower.
St Andrew’s is red brick with limestone window tracery with a baptistery at the centre of the narthex within a canted bay and an ambulatory at the east end. There are double north and south transepts and externally the aisle bays are divided by brick buttresses which then turn into flying buttresses to the clerestory. The interior walls are of buff stock brick with details picked out in red brick and stone for the piers and window surrounds. The arches have a large hollow chamfer and a soffit of red brick. Red brick wall-shafts rise from the valleys to the stone corbels that carry the springing of the roof. This is of hammerbeam construction and has an arch-braced collar, the reason for St Andrew’s becoming a Grade II listed building in 1980.
St Andrew’s was completed in 1915 and is situated on one of the highest ridges west of the plains of Europe. In March 1928 St Andrew’s received parish status. The then priest-in-charge, the Rev’d William H.I. Simpson became the first vicar of the parish.
The Sagrott stone font was placed in the church in December 1907 at a cost of £21. It is of a common octagonal design. In the ancient world the circle was the symbol of heaven, eternal and perfect, the square was the symbol of earth, jagged and imperfect. The octagon is therefore halfway between the two, a meeting place of heaven and earth.
The stained class windows in the chancel, Lady chapel and baptistery were largely designed by Cakebread Robey and Co a firm that used to supply materials to the building trade, founded in 1882 but also relatively well-known for its glass products. Many of their etched, engraved or embossed glass and mirrors as well as their stained glass windows can still be found around the country in pubs, hotels and churches. The only other church where their glass is extensively found is at St Andrew’s Whitehall Park in Holloway. The central window in the baptistery was replaced in 1988 following a break-in. The design by Michael Coles was also used as the basis for the Christmas card by Robert Runcie, formerly Archbishop of Canterbury. It shows a lovely pattern of Mary the mother, holding Christ the Son who is wedded to the Church we he holds in turn.
The Rood Screen
Our open screen at the entrance to the chancel with wide, plain divisions and attractive swirling wrought ironwork includes the Star of David and the branches ending in leaves and grapes showing the earthly family tree of Christ culminating in Christ the true vine. Above the screen are the sacred figures, beautiful examples of Italian carving, representing the Blessed Virgin Mary and John the Beloved Disciple at the foot of the cross. In other words, the family in Christ begun at the moment of his death as he asks John and Mary to become family and an example to the world. The screen was dedicated in 1920 in memory of parishioners who died in the First World War. The sacred monograms in gold read (IHS) “Jesus” (XPI) “Christ” (A) “the beginning” (Ω) “and the end”.
The organ was originally built by the famous “Father Willis” in 1867 for the second Duke of Wellington and stood for nearly a hundred years in the church on his estate, Stratfield Saye, in Berkshire. After being removed to Christ Church, Albany Street (sadly made redundant in 1989) the organ was offered to St Andrew’s and installed here. It is a two manual organ and although a intended as a house organ, fills the church and has a wonderful tone.
The Lady Chapel
The murals above the altar depicting angels with censors was restored in 1997. Incense symbolises prayers rising to heaven with its sweet smell signals something pleasing being offered to God. The smoke also creates a shroud around the sacred mysteries and the unseen God. The reredos triptych behind the altar was restored in 2008 and echoes the figures above the screen with Jesus in the centre and Mary and John on either side. The (INRI) above Jesus on the cross stands for “Jesus Christ, King of the Jews.”. In the windows above the altar are the Greek letters (MP OY) which stand for Mater Theos “Mother of God” or better translated as “The God Bearer”. The windows on the North side show, the Annunciation, the Nativity, the Presentation of Christ in the Temple and Jesus teaching as a boy in the synagogue.
The kneelers in the Chapel were worked as one project by ladies of the church and friends of St Andrew’s who chose their own designs within the colour scheme of blue and gold. Behind the High Altar you will also see St Peter depicted with the keys to heaven and St Andrew with the x shaped cross on which he was martyred.
With thanks to Pam and Tony Dean for their research.