A Short History of St. Andrew's

Kingswood was in existence before the Norman Conquest and is mentioned in the Domesday Book. It was granted by Henry II, together with Selwood (both as portions of the Manor of Ewell), to the Prior and canons of Merton Priory.

We know that there was a chapel in the hamlet of Kingswood well before the middle of the 15th century because such a chapel is specifically mentioned in the deed of endowment of the Vicarage of Ewell in 1458, when it was described as 'being of long standing'. It was stipulated that the Vicar of Ewell should be under no obligation to celebrate mass or go to the hamlet of Kingswood, but that the Prior of Newark, who held the rectory, should provide a priest to do duty as chaplain. It was further ordained by this deed that if an inhabitant of Kingswood died and his corpse was taken to Ewell for interment the vicar should meet the funeral procession at Provost's Cross, on the south side of Ewell. This it was alleged 'had been a custom from ancient time'. Where this chapel stood and for how long it had been in existence is not known. No more is heard of it after the dissolution of Merton Priory in 1539 when the Manor of Kingswood reverted to the crown and was annexed to the Honour of Hampton Court, Henry VIII's huge hunting domain.

From then on the inhabitants of Kingswood had to walk some 5 miles to Ewell (and back!) to worship at the Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin.

This was still very much the situation when Thomas Alcock purchased the Kingswood Warren estate in 1835. One of the first tasks the new Lord of the Manor set himself was to provide the inhabitants of Kingswood with their own place of worship. Thanks to the generosity of the Alcock family and a number of other subscribers a small rectangular church, described as being 'in the Norman style', and substantially built of brick and flint with a slated roof, was erected along the Brighton Road. It was dedicated to St. Andrew and was consecrated on 14th January 1836. The new church contained 152 sittings, all of which were said to be 'free and unappropriated for ever'.

Kingswood still remained a part of Ewell Parish as it had been for centuries, but finally, by an Order in Council dated 11th September 1838, a new ecclesiastical district, which included an adjoining section of the Parish of Banstead, was created. The new district was to be known as the Consolidated Chapelry of St. Andrew, Kingswood with a population of 561 inhabitants.

It soon became apparent that the building put up in 1835 was too small to accommodate the number of worshippers in Kingswood and Thomas Alcock decided to build a new, larger church entirely at his own expense.

In younger years Thomas Alcock had been a frequent house guest of the Vansittart family at Shottesbrooke Park, in Berkshire. During his visits there he worshipped at the 14th century Church of St. John the Baptist, situated on the Shottesbrooke estate, and he was so taken with the building that he decided to have an exact replica built in Kingswood. He asked the architect Benjamin Ferrey to take charge of the project.

Benjamin Ferrey (1810 1880) was eminently qualified to carry out the commission. He had been apprenticed as a draughtsman to the elder Pugin and had accompanied his master on many excursions in England and Normandy to measure and draw medieval buildings. He eventually became one of the best architectural draughstmen of his day. He later entered the office of William Wilkins, where he was employed on the detail drawings of the National Gallery. In 1834 he set himself up as an architect in Great Russell Street and in 1841 he was appointed hon. diocesan architect of Bath and Wells. In 1842 he superintended the restoration of the nave, transepts and Lady Chapel of Wells Cathedral. In 1843 he designed the Church of St. James in Morpeth and in 1845 he designed the Church of St. Stephen in Rochester Row, Westminster. This building in particular won him the support of the all powerful Ecclesiologists, who saw the revival of Gothic architecture as a means of reviving the Anglican Church.

Building on the new St. Andrew's Church, on a site some 100 yards to the north of the 1836 chapel, started in 1848 and was superintended by a Mr. Sargent, using all local labour. It was finished in 1852 and cost between £8,000 and £10.000.

The spire was only added some two years later, although it is not quite clear why this was left out originally. From the speeches made at the time of the Consecration it would appear that the reasons for the omission were other than financial.

A ring of six bells, bearing the name of the master founders Charles and George Mears, with the date of 1852, was cast by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. Even today, these bells are acknowledged to be one of the best peals in Surrey.

The Consecration of the new church took place on 23rd September 1852. The Bishop of Winchester, Charles Richard Sumner, officiated and the ceremony was attended by neighbouring clergy, as well as local dignitaries and gentry. (It is worth noting that Kingswood started off in the Diocese of Winchester, was then transferred to the Diocese of Rochester in 1877 and finally became part of the newly created Diocese of Southwark in 1905.)

A local paper of the time reported that after the service 'a substantial dinner was served up in one of Mr. Edgington's large and elegant tents, to which all Mr. Alcock's tenancy, labourers and inhabitants of the district were invited. Altogether there could not have been less than 400 who partook of Mr. Alcock's hospitality, exclusive of a large party who dined at the hon. gentleman's residence'.

The old chapel down the road continued to be used as a day and Sunday school and as a parish room. When the Tadworth Board School was opened on the Common opposite the Old Vicarage in 1876 the old church was still used as a church hall for some time before finally falling into disrepair. The plot with what remained of the building was finally sold in 1930 and the proceeds of the sale, the sum of £105 went towards the building of a parish hall in Tadworth (which, it must be remembered, was still part of the Parish of Kingswood at the time). The ruins of the old Kingswood church were still visible as late as the 1950s and were often mistaken for the remnants of a much older building. A bungalow was finally built on the site in the 1960s.


The church follows a traditional cruciform plan. It is constructed of brickwork with knapped flint facing and sandstone dressing. It has slate roofs and the well balanced tower is surmounted by an octogonal spire.

The clock, which was added when the spire was built, is by John Moore and Sons, of Clerkenwell, London, and bears a date of 1854. It used to be wound manually every week, but in 1974 it was electrified.

There are simple moulded arches to the west and south doors and access to the latter is through a gabled porch.

A vestry was added to the north east chancel wall in 1950 51 and a parish room was built above it in 1965.


Some aspects of the interior of St. Andrew's may be faithfully copied from its 14th c. model, but its overall style is unashamedly Victorian, without, however, displaying any of the excesses of the genre.
The roof timbers, in particular, impressive as they are, bear little resemblance to their medieval counterpart and are akin to the design used by Ferrey for some of his other churches.

The elaborate window traceries, on the other hand, remain very much inspired by those at Shottesbrooke.

The Nave
The limestone font situated just to the left of the doorway is an almost exact copy of the font at Shottesbrooke, but the oak cover, surmounted by a figure of the Christ Child with arms outstretched, was specially created for St. Andrew's and dedicated on All Saints Day 1934.

The circular plaque in the Italian Renaissance style on the north wall of the nave was modelled by the sculptor Nathaniel Hitch and painted by a parishioner in the 1930s. The Virgin Mary is seen holding the infant Jesus on her lap while the infant John the Baptist, carrying a cross, is turned towards Jesus. The older female figure is believed to be either Anne, the Mother of the Virgin, or Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. The man in the background could possibly be Joseph.

It is a sad reflection upon our times that for different reasons two precious artefacts are no longer to be found at St. Andrew's. An exquisitely painted parish chest, dating back to the 16th or 17th century, used to stand near the lectern in the crossing, but sadly it was stolen during a break in in 1979. A magnificent silver gilt Communion cup and paten cover, bearing the London hallmarks of 1675 and engraved with the coat of arms of the Stephens family of Epsom, has been handed over to the Victoria and Albert Museum, where it can safely be displayed.

The Crossing
The oak pulpit dates from 1852 and forms part of Ferrey's original design.

The brass lectern in the shape of an eagle with outstretched wings dates from the early part of the 20th c. Above it a brass memorial plaque is dedicated to the men of the parish killed during the Great War.

The four projecting limestone heads at the junction of the arches are again a replica of similar heads at Shottesbrooke, but Ferrey has gone much further at St. Andrew's by adding similar heads as corbels in the chancel and on either side of the East Window.

The pipe organ, by Bevington & Son of London, originally stood in the URC Church in Redhill, where it was installed in 1901. When the church became redundant in 1989 the organ was purchased by Kingswood PCC and re erected in its present position.

The Chancel
Two memorials of particular interest, both dedicated to uncles of the founder Thomas Alcock, can be found in this part of the church.

One is to John Alcock, who died in 1814 and is the first member of his family to have lived in Kingswood (who knows, it might well be thanks to him that his nephew chose to purchase the Kingswood Warren estate some 20 years later).

The other memorial, on the north wall of the chancel, is dedicated to Lieut. Col. Thomas Alcock, who at an advanced age was asked by his nephew to lay the first stone of St. Andrew's in 1848 and was still there to celebrate its consecration 4 years later. Note at the bottom of the memorial the impaled arms of Alcock and St Leger.

The Sanctuary
The reredos was designed by architects Frederick Bligh Bond, Thomas Falconer and Harold Baker of Bristol and Amberley, Gloucestershire and was installed in the early 1920s. Three low relief oak panels, representing from left to right the Road to Emmaus, Christ appearing to his Disciples on the evening of Easter Day and the Discovery of the Empty Tomb by Simon Peter and John, are set into an intricately carved limewood surround. There are four figures in niches: to the left of the central panel is St. George and to the right the winged figure of St. Michael. The identity of the two other figures is not clear.

The oak linenfold panelling on either side of the reredos bears the inscription: 'In loving memory of Percival Hambro 2nd Lieut. King's Royal Rifles who fell at Equancourt near Bapaume France on March 21st 1918 aged 19.

New altar rails were installed in 1932 as part of a refurbishment of the Sanctuary and Chancel financed by Lady Bonsor in memory of her husband, Sir Henry Cosmo Bonsor. The Sanctuary floor contains various memorial slabs to the Bonsor family.


It has long been fashionable to denigrate Victorian stained glass, but in recent years the work of many of the designers and studios of the period has been re appraised and is finally receiving the recognition it deserves. St. Andrew's Church has an interesting collection of such stained glass, which traces the evolution of style during the course of the 19th century.

The earliest window is the West Window, which was made by James Powell & Sons. This firm, situated on the site of the former Whitefriars monastery, between the Thames and Fleet Street, was producing mainly flint glass when it was bought in 1834 by James Powell, a London wine merchant. On his death the firm passed to his three sons Arthur, Nathaniel and James Cotton Powell, who in 1844 established a stained glass department. The latter benefitted from the scientific researches of Charles Winston, a lawyer by profession, who had dedicated himself to the study of medieval stained glass. It had made him aware of the shortcomings of the glass available to contemporary artists, this being often thin and garish in colour. In 1847 he encouraged experiments aimed at rediscovering the chemical components of medieval glass and persuaded the firm of James Powell & Sons to produce 'antique' glass to his recipes. It was mainly due to this collaboration that the firm was to become one of the most important studios and glass manufacturers of the Victorian period.

Benjamin Ferrey is one of the early Gothic revivalist architects who appear in Powells' archives in the 1840s. It is no doubt upon his recommendation that on 27th February 1851 Thomas Alcock ordered a 'three light window and tracery for the west end of church with No 1 Norbury patterned blue line in geometrical forms and stains, three flower York border on red background'. The cost of the order was £26 12s.

Most stained glass studios of the time offered a number of such geometrical designs, glazed in strong leads, with a variety of coloured borders. Grisaille glass was used as a background and was either left clear or painted, as in this case, with foliage or a geometric pattern.

Non figurative glass showing patterns of interlaced circles was first used in Cistercian monasteries in the 13th century, because the leaders of this, the most austere of all monastic orders, thought that imagery would distract the monks from their meditation. The considerations which determined the choice of such a geometric pattern for St. Andrew's were no doubt of a much more prosaic nature. Not only was it a relatively inexpensive, yet decorative way of glazing this large West Window, but it also allowed plenty of light to come through.

The first window on the south wall of the chancel dates from the late 1850s and was executed as a private commission by Henry Hughes (1822 83), a partner of Ward & Hughes. The scene on the left shows the Raising of Lazarus and on the right the Presentation in the Temple, in which Simeon is seen holding Jesus in his arms. The opening words of the Nunc dimittis are quoted at the bottom of the light.

The window is dedicated to the memory of Lieut. Col. Thomas Alcock, the uncle of the founder, and his coat of arms appears in the quatrefoil at the top of the tracery (the same coat of arms can be seen at the bottom of the memorial to Lieut. Col. Alcock on the opposite wall).

This is a good example of an early Gothic Revival window, in which the colourful biblical scenes are surrounded by a generous amount of painted grisaille glass. The decorative design above and below the panels is still rather Georgian in character. It is of particular interest that in the Raising of Lazarus the artist has used some of the blue pot metal glass developed by Charles Winston (see above) to depict the sky. Note the contrast between the rather bland piece of blue glass used to restore the window and the depth of colour of the original material.

The middle window on the south wall of the chancel is another attractive example of an early Gothic Revival window and is attributed to the firm of A. & W.H. O'Connor because of stylistic similarities with the East Window. It dates from c. 1864 67 and represents on the left Jesus the Good Shepherd and on the right the Appearance of the Angels to the Women at the Tomb. The quatrefoil at the top contains an Agnus Dei with Banner of Victory.

This, like the East Window, shows Pre Raphaelite influences, not least in the botanical accuracy with which the flowers are represented.

The inscription at the bottom of the right hand light makes particularly poignant reading:

Elisabeth Cooper died Easter Day 1864
Also infant of above Evan Stuart Astley aged 2 days

Next in chronological order comes that great showpiece of mid Victorian stained glass making, the East Window.

A major artistic influence on the stained glass of that period was the work of the Pre Raphaelite painters such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Ford Madox Brown, who not only produced stained glass themselves, but inspired many of the artists working in other studios. The Pre Raphaelite influence is particularly noticeable in the St. Andrew's East Window in scenes such as the Crucifixion and the Deposition, which combine dramatic composition with particularly fine painting. Some of the female faces and their flowing loose hair, even Christ's auburn locks, could all come straight out of a Millais or Rossetti painting. Clumps of naturalistic flowers, shown growing in the grass in many of the scenes are strongly reminiscent of French medieval tapestries, which were being rediscovered at around that time by the likes of William Morris.

The palette of vibrant colours, the cobalt greens, the umber, the violet, even the reds and the blues are very typical of this high Victorian period and would, by the 1870s, have been considered as garish. Windows of this type are known to have been removed in later years and replaced by something considered to be 'less vulgar'! The St. Andrew's window fortunately escaped that fate.

Michael O'Connor was born in Dublin in 1801. He came to London, where he was a pupil of Thomas Willement, one of the earliest exponents of the Gothic Revival movement. From 1842 45 O'Connor worked in Bristol before returning to London, where he set up his own workshop in 1848. Michael O'Connor was commissioned on several occasions by A.W.N. Pugin to make some of the windows for his churches. In 1851 O'Connor was joined by his son Arthur and in 1860 by his other son William Henry. Michael O'Connor died in 1867. When Arthur died in 1873, William Henry took George Taylor into partnership. The firm ultimately became Taylor & Clifton in 1880 and closed early in the 20th century. At the time when the East Window for St. Andrew's was produced in 1866 67, the firm would have been trading as A. & W.H. O'Connor.

The curvilinear tracery in mid 14th c. style is again an almost exact replica of that found at Shottesbrooke.

The top quatrefoil contains a dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit, with a three rayed nimbus representing the Trinity. Underneath two angels mirroring each other hold a banner in two parts which reads: 'AND THEY WERE ALL FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST' (Acts2:4). The next tracery lights represent the twelve Apostles with Pentecostal tongues of fire on their foreheads to show that they have been filled with the Holy Spirit. They are seated singly or in pairs and they carry attributes by which they can be identified. So, for example, St. Andrew is easily recognizable with his saltire cross and, facing him, is St. Peter holding a key.

The scenes represented in the five main lights, from left to right and starting at the top of each light, are:

Christ calling the two fishermen disciples Peter and Andrew.
Teaching the multitude.
The Raising of Lazarus.

Group of six disciples turned towards the Risen Christ.
The Garden of Gethsemane: note the heads of the 3 sleeping disciples at the bottom on the right (unfortunately hidden by the reredos).

The Risen Christ.
The Crucifixion, both contained in mandorlas of white passion flowers and green foliage
Five disciples turned towards the Risen Christ.
The Deposition.

The Good Shepherd.
Doubting Thomas.
The women meet the angels at the Tomb.

The East Window is dedicated to the memory of Thomas Alcock, the founder of the church, who died on 22nd August 1866.

The last of the Victorian windows, the third window in the chancel, next to the altar, is of a much later date and illustrates further stylistic developments. Its creator was Herbert William Bryans (1856 1925). The son of a vicar, he first went to India for some ten years to work as a tea grower. On his way back, he bought a vineyard in France and spent another two years making wine. When he finally returned to England he decided to become a stained glass artist. From about 1889 he worked for C.E. Kempe, who was profoundly to influence his style. Kempe's main source of inspiration was 15th c. stained glass. His work was characterised by his use of blue, green and ruby glass and large areas of silver staining combined with the delicate and detailed painting of the figures. Bryans was to adopt a very similar technique himself and his work is often indistinguishable from that of his master. He left Kempe in March 1897 to set up his own studio in London. His chief designer from 1902 to about 1923 was Ernest Heasman. In that same year, Bryans was joined by his son James, who worked for the studio for several years.

Gone have the vivid colours used by earlier Victorian stained glass artists. By the time this window was made, the palette had become much more sombre. In this 'Adoration of the Shepherds', Bryans remains completely faithful to his master's style, so much so that this window was thought for a long time to be by Kempe. A proper attribution could finally be made when Bryans's logo of a running dog was spotted on the scroll held by the last angel on the right some two or three years ago. The painting of the faces is particularly fine and is probably at its best in the representation of the Virgin and Child. As a homage to his master, Bryans even inserted two peacock feathers, arguably Kempe's most recognizable trademark, into the hat of one of the shepherds.

The next series of windows, situated in the nave, take us right up to the middle of the 20th century. Commissioned to mark the Centenary of St. Andrew's, they are the work of Francis Stephens.

Francis William Stephens (1921 2002) studied at the Royal College of Art and after the war decided to specialize in stained glass. In 1950 he became chief designer and managing director of the firm Faith Craft, which produced ecclesiastical work of high quality. An artist of deep religious faith and of High Anglican persuasion, he came on the scene at a time when not only many churches had been damaged or destroyed in the Second World War, but also when the Church of England was going through a period of deep liturgical renewal. He worked for 18 years for Faith Craft, which had been set up in 1921 by the stained glass artist Wilfred Lawson and had its showroom in Tufton Street, near Westminster Abbey. In mid life, however, Stephens decided to train for the priesthood and he was ordained in 1971. During his ministry at St. Mary's, Primrose Hill, from where he retired in 1992, he carried on his creative work, especially as a stained glass artist. He left a large body of work throughout the country, and to a lesser extent abroad.

A series of windows, with the theme of martyrs and missionaries of the Church of England, was commissioned from Francis Stephens in 1952 to mark the centenary of St. Andrew's.

The first window on the north wall of the nave was dedicated on 31st January 1954 and represents on the left King Charles I, who was included as a Martyr in the English Prayer Book from 1662 1859, and on the right Bishop Thomas Ken (1637 1711). He was one of six bishops who, together with the archbishop of Canterbury, were committed to the the Tower for protesting against James II's Declaration of Indulgence. Although Bishop Ken was acquitted and did not suffer martyrdom, he made a courageous stand to defend his church and may therefore be termed a confessor.

The next window on the north wall was dedicated on 4th December 1955 and features on the left George Keith. He was born in 1638 and was educated at Aberdeen University. He became a Quaker and went to Pennsylvania, but then joined the Church of England and was ordained priest in 1700 in London. In 1702 he was sent by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel as its first missionary to New England, where he died in 1716. The right hand side light represents Allen Francis Gardiner, Captain R.N. He worked in South Africa, but is chiefly remembered for his missionary activities in South America. Amidst local hostility and without adequate support he and his party lost their lives in Terra del Fuego in 1851, having founded the South American Missionary Society.

The next window, on the opposite south wall, dedicated on 15th May 1955, shows on the left John Coleridge Patterson, born in London on 1st April 1827. From 1855 he spent 16 years as a missionary in the New Hebrides, Banks, Solomon and Loyalty Islands. In 1861 he was consecrated first Bishop of Melanesia. He was killed by natives of the Santa Cruz Islands on 20th September 1871. The subject of Florence Nightingale for the other half of this window seems at first to be out of keeping with the theme of the series, but it was expressly chosen by parishioners to commemorate the death of Stephanie Freda Dunn, the daughter of the Rev. Alexander Dunn, Vicar of Kingswood from 1931 1947. Florence Nightingale had, among others, founded a nursing school at St Thomas's Hospital, where Stephanie Dunn was killed with some fellow nurses during a bombing raid at the height of the 'Blitz' in September 1940.

The last in this series of windows is situated on the south wall, by the font. It was dedicated on 24th February 1957 and depicts on the left the Boy Martyrs of Uganda, who, rather than deny their Lord, chose to die by fire in 1885. The right hand side light depicts Vivian Redlich, a missionary priest in New Guinea, who stayed with his people during the Japanese invasion in 1942. He is seen celebrating his last Eucharist in the bush before his martyrdom.

The final and most recent window to be installed can be found on the east wall of the south transept. It is the work of the artist Sherif Amin and was dedicated on 7th February 1999.

Sherif Amin studied at the Chelsea School of Art and the Architectural Association. He free lanced for a number of reputable interior design firms before deciding to specialize in stained glass making. He trained in Spain with stained glass artist Rudy Bellemans. His commissions have included both secular and ecclesiastical work.

The meaning of this window may be interpreted in a number of ways. For the artist, the figure at the top with outstretched arms represents Rosemary Latimer, the parishioner who commissioned the window in memory of her husband. The three smaller figures resembling angels are her children and the main figure in the window is Donald Latimer pursuing his favourite hobby, D.I.Y. The sun, according to Sherif Amin, represents energy, as well as a light of hope and warmth in the form of kindness and the comfort one derives from it. To the Christian, the design incorporates the themes of light (Christ the Light of the World) and work (Christ the Worker).


The tower contains a ring of six bells, cast in 1852 by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, whose master founders at the time were Charles and George Mears. The bells were rehung in 1927.

A winding stone staircase leads from a door outside the church up to the Ringing Chamber, then up to the bell tower and from there out onto a parapet. A bell cord, connected to the tenor bell and extending from the tower down into the church, can be seen by the lectern.

The bells are:
Original recorded weight (in cwt.)

Tenor E 17.2.10
5 F sharp 11.3.12
4 G sharp 9.3.25
3 A 8.1.9
2 B 7.1.18
Treble C sharp 6.3.10

The church still has an active team of bell-ringers, who ring before Sunday services and for festivals and weddings.