John Edwards St. John the Evangelist was described at its Consecration in 1887 as “the most beautiful parish church of modern days”. Designed in 1881, the church is one of the most famous buildings by John Loughborough Pearson who was probably the greatest ecclesiastical architect of the Nineteenth century gothic revival. He was also responsible for Truro Cathedral and Brisbane Cathedral.
His wonderfully vaulted roof and soaring gothic spaces provide a matchless setting both visually and acoustically for an organ quite stunning in its splendour. The combination of Lewis’s genius as a voicer and Pearson’s acoustic ambience result in a cathedral-like sound of superlative beauty. The organ is the largest in London in a parish church and survives as an outstanding example of Lewis’s work.
Throughout the century and a quarter of its existence, St. John the Evangelist has stood firmly in the catholic “high church” tradition within the Church of England. Music has always been a feature of the regular worship from the time of the first organist A J Eyre, who was also official organist to the newly completed Crystal Palace on the top of the nearby Sydenham Hill. In recent years this fine building, with its cathedral-like acoustic and superb organ has become a popular venue for concerts, recordings, television and radio broadcastsThe organ at St John’s was designed by Thomas Christopher Lewis in conjunction with the first organist of St John’s, Alfred James Eyre (who was also organist to the nearby Crystal Palace). The first part of the organ was in place for the dedication of the chancel in 1882, although it was not completed for 45 years.