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A brief history of Saint John the Evangelist, Eton


In the middle years of the 19th century there was a revival of church life generally. The foundation stone of the present building was laid on October 21st 1852 by Prince Albert. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert gave £100 towards its cost. The original church was large: it being 156ft long, the nave (now the college sanatorium) being 103ft long; the roof was 66ft high; and the tower and the spire (now demolished) was 160ft high. The architect was Mr Benjamin Ferry and the building was built to accommodate 1100 people.

In 1954 the spire was demolished and rebuilt as a tower. A number of pews were removed from the west end of the old church and the space obtained used to build new vestries. The church attendance suffered a serious decline at that time and the fabric needed a great deal of attention. The cumulative result was that the church was closed for public worship in 1981 and the building was offered for alternative use.

Various schemes were considered but the problem of access was a severe limitation. Demolition was a distinct possibility. Eton college then came forward with a most imaginative proposal, which resulted in the form we see today. The nave completely modified to provide a sanatorium for the school, along with flats for masters and other college employees. The tower was converted to create accommodation for nursing staff. The original sanctuary and chancel have been split horizontally.

On the ground floor is the medical centre for the town and on the first floor is the present church. This was re-dedicated for public worship on 13th September 1991 by the Bishop of Buckingham, the Rt Revd Simon Burrows


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