We are situated in the heart of The Grove Conservation area on the banks of The Hogsmill river, a globally rare chalk river. St John's School opened in 1871 on part of the present site in Portland Road, on the initiative of the Rev. Arnold Letchworth, the first Vicar of St John the Evangelist and under the auspices of the National Society.
The School started with eighty-five children being taught in a temporary galvanised iron building by Mrs Hammond, a local woman, assisted by one pupil teacher. The school grew rapidly – by January 1872 a hundred and forty five pupils attended a Christmas party – and by the end of 1875 the first permanent building, the Girls' School, was opened, to be followed over the next few years and further fund-raising, first by the Boys' School then by the Infants' School. The first master was W H Legg, who was to remain in post for the next forty-five years. The school buildings were improved in later years, for example by the installation of new toilets and electric lighting in 1929, and the filling in of a stagnant backwater of the Hogsmill around the same time made the whole Portland Road area much healthier.
In more recent times, 1970s plans for replacing both church and school with a linked building on the school site were abandoned, but in the 1990s, a new hall, two new classrooms and a nursery unit were added, and since then, further improvements have enhanced the school.
Thank you to Isobel Robinson, author of, "Spring Grove 1865-1880, Birth of a Community" for help in compiling this page.
Curate of St John's 1870 -73 and Vicar 1873 - 1915, who founded our school.
150 years ago
150 years ago England the most powerful nation on earth both in military might and economic wealth it was a time of Inventions, Inventions, Inventions.
The English Queen, Victoria, was ruling over the biggest empire that has ever existed over a quarter of the world. London was the biggest city in the world and England was the biggest trading nation in the world. England had the largest navy in the world and produced more steel than the rest of the world put together. Cars had not been invented, the main form of transport was still the horse although steam engine driven trains running on steel rails (invented in England) were rapidly taking over long distance travel.
In 1871, the year St John’s was founded, a bye-law was passed in London which made school attendance mandatory for children aged 5-13, though it was largely unenforceable until attendance was made compulsory in 1880 and was not free until 1891