St.Johns URC New Barnet - A Brief History
The development of New Barnet began following the building of the Great Northern Railway through the area and the opening of a station originally called ‘Barnet’ in 1850. The name was soon changed to ’New Barnet’ as it stood one and a half miles from the old town of Chipping Barnet.
To serve the spiritual needs of the growing community a number of new churches were built, among them was New Barnet Congregational Church which was constituted in 1870 with its first minister Rev. George Twentyman M.A B.D. The new church building was designed by John Sulman ARIBA and built on a site at the junction of Plantagenet Road and Station Road, it opened in April 1880.
As a result of a petition to the London Presbytery of the United Presbyterian Church in March 1870 another church was started only a few hundred yards away up the hill at the junction of Mowbray Road and Somerset Road called St Augustine’s Presbyterian Church, its first minister was Rev. George Drysdale and it opened in 1875.
After the second World War the two congregations started to grow closer with joint services being held at certain times of the year. In 1962 the Congregational Church formally proposed a union with St Augustine’s Presbyterian Church, which after much discussion and prayer was agreed. A service of union was held on 26th April 1963 when St Johns Congregational/Presbyterian Church was born, with its first minister Rev. Peter Chesney, it became part of the United Reformed Church in 1972.
Soon after amalgamation it was decided to build a new ‘modern design’ church, a building committee was formed and a new plan was proposed by Mr Jon Finlayson ARIBA who was a member of St Johns Church, but raising the funds to begin proved difficult and caused a long delay in starting the work. The final service at the old Congregational Church was held on Easter Sunday 1967 after which the site was sold for a housing development. Along with gifts and loans from the congregation this sale helped to raise enough money to re-develop the St Augustine’s Church site. The new St Johns Church building opened on 3rd May 1969 led by its minister Rev. Philip Eastman. The following year the building received a Civic Trust award for good design.
Since then further improvements have been carried out with a new entrance vestibule, kitchen and toilets serving the downstairs halls being built in 1991. Today St Johns is an active church under the guidance of our minister Rev. Julian Templeton, and with its facilities well used by the local community.
More than 70 people including the Deputy Mayor of Barnet attended a special rededication service at St John’s United Reformed Church, Somerset Road, New Barnet on the morning of Sunday 3rd December. Julian led the Service with a contribution from the Deputy Mayor of Barnet, Councillor Val Duschinsky. The Moderator, Reverend Dr Andrew Prasad, presided at the Lord’s Supper and commended the church for being “a strong and vibrant community, looking outwardly to serve God by serving the community, irrespective of faith or colour.”
The sanctuary was closed for 4 months while the new refreshment-serving area, fully accessible toilet, audio-visual system, improved lighting and reordered seating were completed. During this time the congregation worshipped every Sunday in the Church Hall. Atkinson-Roe Architects designed and oversaw the cantilevered extension and improvements, carried out by Michael P Doyle Contractors and Creative Audio-Visual Solutions. The architect of the innovative 1969 building, Jon Finlayson, provided invaluable assistance.
Revd Julian Templeton, Cllr Val Dushinsky and Revd Dr Andrew Prasad at the rededication service
Sunday Worship at 11:00am