John the Evangelist has been a parish church and witness to the
Community of the southern part of Kenilworth for 150 years. The
foundation stone was laid in August of 1851 and the church was
consecrated in 1854. It was built as a "church plant"
by some far-sighted or visionary people, as the "paupers"
church, on a green field site on the outskirts of old Kenilworth.
It was built for the princely sum of £5,000 to cater for
a growing class of artisans, who may not have been overly welcome
first vicar of St.John's was Rev. Robert Kite, who was originally
Curate at St Nicholas, Kenilworth. Pictures of all previous thirteen
vicars are on display in the church.
1997 and 2000 a banner has been produced, showing some events
of the life of the church and the town over the past 150 years.
Pictures of the banner can be seen if you follow
the Royal Leamington Spa Courier and Warwick Standard
Newspaper date: August 1851
Laying of the Foundation Stone
the 19th instant the village of Kenilworth presented an unusually
animated appearance, on the occasion of laying the foundation-stone
of this new Church. The clergy of the neighbouring districts,
many of the inhabitants, and several well-dressed visitors, assembled
in the old parish church, at eleven o'clock, when a sermon was
preached by the Venerable J. Sandford, B.D., Archdeacon of Coventry.
Upon the termination of the service, a procession to the site
of the new Church was formed. The Abbey street and the whole line
of road to the site of the new Church, at the end of the village,
towards Warwick, was more or less adorned with banners, dowers
and evergreens. The entrance to the site was also adorned with
banners and flowers; and a raised platform for the visitors, the
school children & c., was graced at the back with a banner,
on which the crown was emblazoned, with a loyal motto. Stretched
out over the front of this platform, and near the foundation-stone,
was a white streamer, with the words "Mine eyes shall be
open, and mine ears attend to the prayer that is made in this
place." About half-past one o'clock, the procession reached
the ground. The service commenced with the singing of a hymn,
"Great is the Lord our God." The officiating minister,
the Rev. E. E. Wilmot, then read selections from the Scriptures,
appropriate to the occasion. After the minister had recited two
collects, the auditory and children sang the 117th Psalm with
good effect. The leaden box, containing the scroll of parchment,
was then deposited in a cavity beneath the stone, and the silver
trowel being presented to Lord Leigh by C. J. Wheeler, Esq., his
Lordship layed the stone, saying: " In the faith of Jesus
Christ, and in the memory of St. John the Evangelist, we place
this stone in the name of Jehovah, God the Father, God the Son,
and God the Holy Ghost." The Rev. G. S. Bull, of Birmingham,
then ascended the stone, and delivered an extemporaneous address,
characterised by much feeling and eloquence.
the conclusion of the reverend gentleman's address, the assembly
sang a hymn - " Lord, in this dark and stormy day."
Rev. E. E. Wilmot then repeated some prayers, after which the
National Anthem was sung by those assembled.
Boddington, surgeon, then mounted the stone, and asked for three
cheers for Lord Leigh, which were given heartily. His Lordship
briefly returned thanks, assuring the assembly how gladly he assisted,
in his humble way, in promoting the work laudably set on foot
by the Rev. Mr. Wilmot, to whose zeal and industry the parish
was in the main indebted for the new edifice they were about to
raise. His Lordship then concluded by calling for three cheers
for their worth vicar. These being given, Mr. Wilmot returned
thanks, and the procession again formed, and proceeded to the
King's Arms, opposite to which it stopped, and after singing a
hymn, separated. Some old people were regaled with tea and cake
on the ground, and the school children were similarly entertained
on the grounds adjoining the residence of the vicar.
site of the new Church abuts on the Leamington Railway on one
side, and faces the Warwick coach-road on the other. It is about
an acre in extent, and affords space for a parsonage, which is
to be built on one side of the Church, and a school, which is
to be erected on the other. The cost of the land is £350.
The Church is to be built in the early English style, with a tower
and spire, at a cost of £2500, exclusive of the site and
the architect's percentage. It is to contain seats for 600, of
which 400 are to be free. A collection was made on the ground,
which amounted to £96.
date: 29th April 1854
of the Church of St. John the Evangelist
church was consecrated by the Lord Bishop of Worcester on the
21st instant. An admirable sermon was preached upon the occasion
by the Rev. Dr. Goulbourn from Exodus Chap iii verse 2, and the
collection, including a few contributions afterwards sent, amounted
to £142. 17s. 2d. Many of the clergy and others afterwards
lunched with the Bishop at the King's Arms Hotel; and in the evening
195 of the poor of the parish drank tea together at the National
School. The church was commenced in 1851 and has been used for
Divine service under a License of the Bishop since October 1852.
An Ecclesiastical District will be immediately assigned; and the
Rev. F.R. Kite, assistant curate of the parish, will be the first
incumbent. The total sum raised has exceeded £5100; of which
sum our kind and generous neighbour Lord Leigh, has contributed
upwards of £300.
History of the Church of St. John the Evangelist, Kenilworth
first mention of Kenilworth is in the ninth century when it was
the site of the stronghold of a Mercian king called Kenelph. In
the Domesday Book it is a small village, with a population of
only ninety, in a clearing in the Forest of Arden. In 1115, King
Henry I gave the manor of Kenelphsworth (giving Kenilworth its
present name) to Geoffry de Clinton, who founded the Castle. The
Castle was strengthened and enlarged by kings and nobles in the
following years and in the Middle Ages the Castle and Abbey would
have been very impressive and housed many people. The rest of
the village of Kenilworth would then have grown around the Castle
because of the protection that it offered. King Henry VIII dissolved
the Abbey but the Castle still remained until the Civil War, when
it was largely destroyed and the lake surrounding it drained.
1801 Kenilworth's population was 1,968; by 1841 it had increased
to 3,149. This increase was big enough to justify a railway station,
and more importantly, another church. The southern part of the
town, known as Castle End, was where the poorer residents of Kenilworth
lived. The registers of the 1850's show that most of the inhabitants
of this part of the town had occupations such as "agricultural
or builders' labourers, domestic service, cobblers and so forth".
The wealthier residents of Kenilworth went to St. Nicholas' Church
but "those sunk in iniquity and vice" had nowhere to
worship. So a fund was launched and between three and four thousand
pounds were raised to build the church.
surprisingly the low cost of the church meant that it was poorly
built. The "Gothic Stone Walls" consisted of two stone
walls filled with rubbish and the spire walls were only four and
a half inches thick. Plans of the building, designed by Ewan Christian,
show three aisles and a seating capacity of six hundred; the church
has only two aisles, for the money ran out. Despite these setbacks,
the Church of St. John the Evangelist was eventually finished
and the first vicar, Rev. Frank Robert Kite, was appointed in
vicar, the Rev. Frederick Robert Kite who served until 1864,
vicar, the Rev. Hoden Donald Hill who served until 1872, is
vicar, the Rev. Alfred Jones who served until 1896, is appointed.
vicar, the Rev. William George Vernon who served until 1899,
vicar, the Rev. Harrington Clareless who served until 1907
before becoming an archbishop, is appointed.
Christmas time and the New Year, 200 poor families in the
St. John and St. Nicholas parishes receive bread from the
Duchess of Dudley's charity. There are also forty-five blankets
and thirty pairs of boots to be distributed.
vicar, the Rev. Frank Johnson Taylor who served until 1909,
vicar, the Rev. Walter Clements who served until 1936, is
John's hall, along with the Parochial Hall and the Wesleyan
Schoolroom are opened for the use of the five hundred Army
Service Corps personnel billeted on the town.
John's and St. Nicholas' Rifle Clubs join to form the volunteer
John's parish population is 1,894.
John's Church of England School is taken over by the Education
John's parish population is 2,535.
vicar, the Rev. Ronald Alfred Bevis who served until 1944,
platoon of the C Company is based at St. John's.
vicar, the Rev. Frederick John Archer who served until 1953,
vicar, the Rev. James Hansen who served until 1957, is appointed.
vicar, the Rev. Desmond D. Gritten who served until 1987,
John's parish population is 7,160.
John's Parochial Council bans yoga classes in the church hall
as the practising of an Eastern philosophy in Christian premises
is regarded as inappropriate.
John's allotment holders purchase their allotments from the
charity set up for the restoration of Stonleigh Estate.
vicar, the Rev. Roger Turner who served until 2004, is appointed.
Meadow Community Church" founded.
exchange visit to Dresden by members of St. John's Church
and other churches of Kenilworth Deanery.
Briffa appointed Associate Lay Minister, with responsibility
for Knights' Meadow Community Church
video is distributed to parts of St. John's Parish
Priest-in-Charge, the Rev Dan Connolly who served until 2008,