Church Trust Fund
Kingston Episcopal Area
Details of the Church
St Barnabas’ Church is a familiar landmark on the South Circular, dominating the north west corner of Clapham Common. It was constructed to a design by William Bassett-Smith (1830-1901). The Grade 2 listed building in the Decorated Gothic style is thought to be the last of some twenty he designed. The church is a fine example of the work of the more conservative architects of the Period. It is a competent and serious exercise in Middle Pointed style, attractive outside and dignified inside. The walls are built of brick, left exposed inside the church and faced externally with Kentish ragstone and Bath stone dressings. The roofs are covered with slates.
The church was built in the grounds of a neo-classical house, The Shrubbery dating at core from 1796. Latterly this was used as parish halls before being sold in 1986 and converted into flats. The reordering of the church was funded by the Parish Hall Trustees from the proceeds of this sale.
One of the objects of the reordering was to replace the hall facilities provided by The Shrubbery by adapting part of the church building to provide for the needs of the congregation and the local community. Both community halls and place of worship would be combined under one roof and this integration was seen as vital to the revival of St Barnabas’ and its continued growth.
Another object of the brief was to improve the down-at-heel appearance and dim lighting of the cavernous interior of the church which was not particularly inviting to the visitor. The interior had changed little since 1898 when it was built to seat 800. Over the years the number of worshippers and style of worship had changed and it was felt that the size and style of the worship area needed to take this into account.
The completed scheme offers community facilities at the west end of the church. These comprise kitchen, hall and toilet accommodation on the ground floor, and two meeting rooms, hall and store room on a new mezzanine floor. The introduction of the upper hall adjacent to the west window permits visitors to view at close quarters the fine stained glass Ascension.
One of the key features of the scheme is the introduction of a new dividing wall at the rear of the worship area. This partially-glazed brick wall divides the community area from the worship area whilst allowing a direct visual link between each. Suitable bricks were found to match the originals – which were washed clean along with the whole existing interior.
The main focus of the worship area is a platform which forms an apron stage with removable communion rails. The introduction of loose seating on all three sides of the platform ensures that worshippers can be aware of each other and not cut off from those who are leading the service. Two small glazed meeting rooms have been introduced to the north and south transepts.
A new gas-fired heating system was installed, with fan assisted perimeter heating units in the worship area. A new lighting system, mostly using high level spotlights and halogen fittings was also installed.
The organ, built by Vowles of Bristol c.1900, was restored in 1997 with a new movable console in the south aisle and electronic action.
The original church railings were removed, apart from the ornamental gates, during the last war. A generous conservation grant from Wandsworth Borough allowed new railings and stone piers to be erected in 1998.