History of the Church

St John’s was built in 1896 as a daughter church to St Margaret’s in Crossgate, and was known as ‘the church in the fields,’ as part of the parish of St Margaret’s. It originally consisted of the Nave only, and the entrance was by the Audio Visual (AV) desk and diagonally opposite in the corner facing the scout hut. In the wall at the back of the church there was a large arch window which was built in expectation of the church being extended, a vision realised a hundred years later.

When the Church was extended to build a Chancel, it included an organ, built by Harrison and Harrison, a world renown organ building company based in Durham, and oak choir stalls and screenbuilt by Robert (Mousey) Thompson of Kilburn.

In the 1990s it became part of the Joint Benefice of St Margaret’s and St John’s with a parish of its own.

The Church Centre extension was built in 1996 and included kitchen facilities, toilets, the Upper Room and an office. Fulfilling the vision of the past, the large arch window was removed and the arched stone work is now included in the wall of the Upper Room. A new entrance was added facing the road and the entrance door at the back of the church was creatively re-designed to become a window using some of the glass work from the large arched window.

The choir stalls were removed in the re-organisation in 2005 whilst the screen was moved to cover the entire back wall of the church to be incorporated into the foyer. Mousey Thompson’s trade mark were little mice randomly added to his engraving at the end of the pews and along the base of the screen.

During the re-organisation the church entered its nomadic period and services were held in local school halls, the hospice and the working men’s club across the road, now re-designed as student accommodation.

Over time the church has moved from the OHP’s (overhead projectors) of the 1990s to adopting modern technology of screens and projectors, which is in the process of being up-graded again. The Church Centre is used for children and youth groups on Sunday mornings, a vast improvement from the days when these groups were held in the church hall on the opposite side of the road. During the week it is also a venue for church groups, groups run by the church for the community and also hired out to local organisations or individuals, eg the Twins Group, educational groups, and for children’s parties.

Instead of being the ‘Church in the fields’ the Church is now surrounded by modern residential homes and buildings and plays an active part in the local community as a focal point for environmental issues at our annual Ecofest, a collection point for the Food Bank, host to the Community Choir and co-editorship of the ‘Cross Quarterly’ news sheet.

Everyone is welcome, come and join us.

The war memorial in the church yard was unveiled in 1921. A list of the names inscribed on it can be found inside the church. Please click here for an article written by a parishioner bringing together the research he did into the local men who died in the Great War. Read more