St Mark's in 1908, from what was to become The Meadway.
A POTTED HISTORY OF ST. MARK’S CHURCH, BARNET VALE.
During inclement weather the Victorians living in Barnet Vale found it a long trek up the meadow footpath to worship at High Barnet - it was often muddy or dusty, and the track would not be made up as Meadway until the 1930s. Eventually in 1884 it was decided that if land could be found a church would be erected. An iron Mission Hall on the corner of Woodville Road was the first St Mark’s. It was dedicated in 1885 and served for nearly 15 years until the permanent church could be built.
The eminent Victorian architect of Truro Cathedral, John Loughborough Pearson, was hired and he designed a fine church to seat 600, with transepts, bell gable and a long chancel. The Foundation Stone was laid on 9.10.1897, with flags, bunting and high hopes, but due to the costly style money was running low when only the nave had been completed. This was consecrated on 4.2.1899. The first incumbent, Rev. Lane, drew up sketches for a simple box-shaped brick chancel and vestries to serve for, say, ten years until money would be forthcoming to continue with Pearson’s design. These were added in 1899.
The first step to completion was John Loughborough Pearson’s stone porch,dedicated in 1909. Frank Pearson had taken over on his father’s death and two years later, he submitted his plans for finishing the church - these included a tall tower. Completion at this time would have cost £7,000! Frank Pearson died soon afterwards. In 1912 it was decided to raise money for the first completion stage, the Transepts. The central portion would be able to serve as an elegant temporary chancel until money could be found to build Pearson’s chancel. A Transept Fund was started... then a Vicarage had to be built!
By 1924 the old iron mission building, used as a hall since 1899, was leaking and money had to be raised for a new brick hall.This was built in 1930 and paid for three years later. In 1934 another architect was asked for a more modest completion scheme. By 1939 roof repairs had been paid for and then WW2 intervened, during which the boilers burst and a fund was started for an organ.
Hopes were dashed again in 1951 when subsidence and cracking occurred, necessitating another appeal. In 1960 there was another attempt at completion, a new architect producing a scheme in concrete. This, too, fell by the wayside and in 1976 the Completion Fund was used to build kitchen, W.C.s, complete the lower vestry and re-site the stairs. In 1984 there was a big appeal to restore the crumbling west end.
In 1986 new plans for a self financing scheme of sheltered housing on the Hall site were proposed and passed in Dec. 1988 but the housing slump halted this. New roofing was needed in 1990. Later, new plans were submitted and went to three appeals. Permission was granted in Nov. 2001 and Fr. Colin Gay delayed his retirement, hoping to see the project through. Things moved too slowly, and when he left in 2003 St Mark’s joined the Chipping Barnet Team, now sharing the Team Vicar with St. Peter’s, Arkley, and this new parish was inaugurated on 11th January 2004 during the last service in Rev. Lane’s ‘temporary’ chancel before its arch was boarded up during the building work, the Lady arch likewise.
Builders started on-site in December 2003. The Foundation Stone for the new hall was blessed on Whit Sunday 2004 and was laid at foundation level on 9.9.2004, behind the St. Mark’s Parish Hall stone, which is now at the entrance to the new Halls. Laid with the foundation stone was a new Time Capsule (which incorporated the one retrieved from the old brick hall). The new halls were built underneath the chancel and are of yellowish brick to blend with the honey-stone coloured rendering of the new church east end which covers the original red brick walls saved from the 1899 “temporary” brick chancel.
The old chancel roof was raised by many brick courses to accommodate the new 8-foot diameter rose window, and a new curved brick arch leads to a smaller Lady Chapel with sacristy behind it.
The keys to the new buildings were handed over on 12th April 2005, leaving very little time to clean, move furniture and prepare for the great day, when the Chancel was hallowed by the Bishop of St. Albans on St. Mark’s Day, 25th April 2005. So at long last the red brick east end annexe, an “eye-sore” for so long, has gone. St. Mark’s is complete, and we still have the walls of Rev. Lane’s “temporary” chancel incorporated in the new extension!
St. Mark’s’ congregation is delighted with the finished church in which old and new blend well. In fact strangers now come up to say, “What a beautiful Church”.
Juliet Gass, Church Archivist for St Mark’s – Article dated June 2005