History of St Andrew’s

St Andrew’s has, like so many churches, been through a series of changes since its construction in 1873. 


The main stages in the journey of the building have been:


The history of the life of the church though its vicars has been written by Morgan Philips and can be read here: The History of St Andrew's Church

A brief description of the church, which is available for visitors can be read here: St Andrew's description with pictures

See also design and art at St Andrew's for more information on the artworks and stained glass in the church.

Photo - Fulham Past by Barbara Denny. Historical Publications LTD

The architectural history of the church


Externally of yellow stock brick banded with red and Box stone dressings, the church has a nave of six bays with pairs of round thick-traceried windows in the low clerestory, lean-to aisles, north and south transepts, and separate, lower chancel. Originally the roof was in Bangor Countess slates in two colours with red pottery ridge tiles. The foundation stone was laid on 14 June 1873 by the Bishop of London and the church was consecrated on 2S July 1874. It cost £5000 including the tower and spire; the builders were Dove Brothers.

Early on, Newman and Billing described the church as being in the ‘early Decorated’ style, and their presentation drawing of St Andrew’s (preserved in the Hammersmith and Fulham Local History Centre) shows a more genteel building than the one which was built. While the plans conform, the design had changed to a ‘tough, big-boned French Gothic, rather Teulonesque’ (Cherry and Pevsner). The tower, for example, is sturdier and the use of brick and stone dressings for its roof instead of two colours of slate as originally intended heightens this impression. The decoration is chunkier too, such as the wide bands of toothed courses, and the caning over the doorway.


St Andrew’s has one of the oldest bells in London. It came from the now demolished Wren church of St Martin Outwich in the City, and it is said to be the only London church bell to survive the Great Fire. The bell is still rung in St Andrew’s today.

The interior was painted white in 1972. The paint was removed in 2011.


Beneath the paint, the walls are in yellow stock brick, and a strip of tiles with a geometric pattern runs between courses of red brick about six feet up (these are still visible in the north vestry). The undersides of the nave arches were stencilled with geometric decoration featuring stylised flowers set in roundels. The cylindrical piers are in stone from the Box quarries, near Corsham, Wiltshire, but only the first two on each side of the nave have richly-carved foliate capitals; the rest were left boasted and remained unfinished in later decoration of the church. The smaller shafts throughout were in blue Bath stone. The clerestory continues unbroken over the last bay of the nave with the lights into the transepts left unglazed; an arrangement which Webb and Bell used later in the design of St Alban’s.


By 1894, St Andrew’s was far too small for its parish of 14000– it could seat only 700, and on Sundays parishioners were regularly turned away from its doors. Alterations began in August 1894 to provide 300 additional sittings at a cost of about £3000. 

New vestries for clergy and choir were built to the west of the tower, allowing the former choir vestry to be converted to seating, and the clergy vestry became a side chapel by a small addition forming a sanctuary. The organ was relocated to a loft above the north choir aisle. The west wall was moved back by one bay, which accounts for the present position of the tower, and a new door to St Andrew’s Road was added (now. used as a boiler room). The baptistry, which had previously been at the west end of the centre aisle was re-erected in the south aisle near the entrance. 

The architects were Aston Webb and Ingress Bell and the builders were Messrs Corey of Brentford. In the westward extension and the rebuilding of the baptistry, Webb and Bell continued Newman and Billing”s work exactly; although the style at that time would have been unfashionable, but their much smaller extensions are in a late Gothic style which looks very delicate by comparison: The vestry is of buff brick with stone dressings; it has mullioned and transomed windows and an embattled flat roof. The side chapel is in a similar style and its window has a hood mould decorated with heads, at the ends. The extensions were dedicated by the Bishop of London on 26 February 1897.


A faculty was granted on 26 August 1897 permitting various alterations to the chancel. A chancel screen, reredos, dwarf chancel wall, and screens to the morning and organ chapels were allowed for.

Rood and beam (1897)

Designed by Aston Webb, the rood was erected to celebrate the 60th jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. It is made of Californian sequoia and features the crucified Christ flanked by St John and Mary above the orders of the ninefold celestial hierarchy. The beam is supported at the base by two stone angel corbels bearing shields, one with the keys of St Peter, and the other with St Andrew’s cross.

Reredos and altar (1900)

In the 1897 parish magazine, the vicar suggested that ‘our beautiful and unique memorial screen makes our Altar and its surroundings impossible’ and so a campaign began to raise funds to provide a new altar and to decorate the sanctuary. Erection began on 18 April 1900 and these were dedicated on Ascension Day, 24 May 1900 by the Bishop of Stepney. The Builder credited the design to Aston Webb, but I doubt he had much to do with it; there was little need once it was in the hands of such a competent and prolific artworker as Harry Hems. A manuscript document once in the church records states that Greville C Hems designed the work in consultation with the vicar and H Turner Hems, and the whole was carried out under the supervision of Harry Hems Senior. Together the altar and reredos took 17 months to complete.


The reredos of Caen stone and lapis lazuli mosaic stretches the whole width of the east wall. The central figure of Christ was to have been carved from a single block of colourless alabaster, but it proving impossible to find a sufficiently large block, Caen stone was substituted. The carving of Christ’s robe was supervised for correctness by Rev S W E Bird, Rector of St Sidwell, Exeter. The figures are supported by a squat ogee arch resting on angel corbels, with crockets decorated with emblems of the Passion. Below, carved stone angels flank the altar – St Michael representing the aggressive and St Gabriel the devotional side of practical Christianity. The chain armour on St Michael was copied from an ancient piece of armour in Hems’s collection and took two sculptors six weeks to carve. The sword (now missing) and chain are of solid beaten copper. A memorial tablet records the reredos as a ‘thank-offering for our spiritual blessings in this parish.


The altar was the gift of William H Gibbs as a memorial to his daughter Rosa Adeline (1874-97), a communicant of St Andrew’s. It is of Derbyshire alabaster, with a Sicilian marble slab top, and base and jambs of solid Devonshire marble. The front features an arcade of five bays on clustered columns cusped with winged cherubim, and spandrels decorated appropriately with roses. The mosaic decoration in the arcade appears to have been added later.

Sanctuary walls, sedilia, credence tables and altar rails (1901)

The parish chose at a public meeting to mark the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 with further embellishment of the chancel. This work was also carried out by Harry Hems and Sons. 

The carved Caen stone and blue mosaic of the reredos was carried round the side walls to incorporate a Bishop’s chair and seat for his chaplain on the north, and seats for assistant clergy on the south. Two alabaster credence tables, one on each wall, were needed due to the number and size of the altar vessels. The low alabaster altar rails, decorated with the Maltese, St George and St Andrew’s crosses in blue and gold mosaic, were also installed at this time. This work was dedicated by the Bishop of London on St Andrew’s Day, 1901. I have found nothing to associate Aston Webb with this or subsequent decorations in the church. 

On the north sanctuary wall the Bishop’s chair is a memorial to William Walsham How (1823-97) Bishop Suffragan of Bedford (East London) 1879-88 and First Bishop of Wakefield 1888-1897. He was called `the model Bishop of our time,’ according to the inscription, and published many sermons, prayers and hymns. The vicar, Rev Ernest Hilliard, contributed proceeds from two lectures he gave about bishop How to help fund the memorial. 

Above the chair is a painted and gilded stone reproduction of the Diocesan mitre which Alex C Forrester, then Honorary Architect to St Andrew’s, obtained special permission to photograph for this purpose; the Diocesan coat of arms appears in the mosaic below. Forrester was a sidesman from Easter 1901 and, later, vicar’s churchwarden. He consulted on the installation of electric light in the church in June 1901 and acted as honorary architect until he left the parish to live in Hampstead in 1909. Although he assisted Harry Hems and Sons with the photograph of the mitre, I expect he had little to do with the overall design. 

Light coming through the east window was thought to hinder the view of the reredos and rood, and so in 1901 the glazing was temporarily blocked out with gold paint. This was probably replaced with mosaic when the rest of the wall was decorated in 1902.

Pulpit and choir stalls ( 1902)

Dry rot in the chancel floor and seats made their replacement necessary in 1902. In the by now established tradition of associating major events with improvements in the church, the new oak seats for the clergy and choir were to commemorate the coronation of Edward VII, and were installed in November 1902. The following year a new pulpit and sounding board in oak, carved to harmonise with the chancel seats, was installed, placed rather incongruously on the existing stone base. It was a memorial to the London Episcopates of Archbishop Temple (1821-1902; Bishop 1885-96) and Bishop Creighton (1843-1901; Bishop 1897-1901). All this woodwork was designed by Forrester and made by Harry Hems and Sons.

Mosaic decoration on east wall (1902)

The reredos decoration was continued upwards in new work designed by Forrester and executed by Messrs Powell at the same time as new chancel furniture was ordered in 1902. The parish magazine described the `scroll work’ as opus sectile, ‘that is, in larger sections of mosaic put together in a large puzzle’; these look like irregular painted ceramic tiles. The rest of the wall is covered in green, red and gold mosaic, with inscriptions which continue the theme of intercession.


There are two signed windows both by Lovers and Westlake of London: in the north aisle, to the west of the present St Andrew’s Road entrance, a memorial window to Joseph and Eliza Calkin, 1901; in the south aisle next to the transept, a window dated 1899. The attractive window in the side chapel is a memorial to a Mrs Wright by her children; it was the work Paul Woodroffe and was dedicated on Christmas day 1902. ‘Restrained original Arts and Crafts work’ (Cherry and Pevsner).

For more information about the church's stained glass, see design and art in St Andrew's.

The war memorial (1922)

Lych porch (1909)

Designed by Forrester and built by Higgs and Hill in 1909 at a total cost of f215. It was built as a memorial to ‘the Faithful Departed.’

War memorial (1922)

The north transept was dedicated as St George’s Chapel in 1917 (since dismantled). The war memorial, a bronze tablet mounted on oak panelling, was designed by Scott Cockrill in 1922; he also decorated the walls and ceiling.

Later alterations (1972–3)

The internal church hall at the west end of the nave was designed 1972-3 by J Antony Lewis and Maxwell New Haile & Holland. It is incomplete, and no doubt its appearance would be improved by being finished in panels of textured plaster as originally intended. It replaced a 1893 building around the corner on Vereker Road, designed by P & J E K Cutts, which was sold in 1973 and demolished. The present entrance to St Andrew’s Road was formed at this time.

Image credits: Crowther Associates Architects, used with permission

Reordering (2009–11)

A desire to create the potential for increased community activities inspired the reordering of the available spaces within the church building. 

The former western extension was partially demolished to accommodate a four storey church community centre and a five storey building containing ten flats. The community space was separated from the main body of the church using a full height glazed screen with sliding doors to allow for circulation between the two. New facilities included a lift in the bell tower, a kitchen with a server for the ground floor cafeteria and a mezzanine office floor. The new structure for the centre consisted of composite concrete and steel deck flooring supported on a steel fame and piles. The interior of the church was improved with new flooring and movable seating to allow for much greater flexibility of use. The wall paint was removed to reveal the existing brickwork and traces of original decoration.  

The alterations and additions were designed by Gary Thompson of Crowther Associates and the builders were Farnrise Construction. Additional features included a new font designed by Anna Sikorska, the Kite by Guido de Constanzo, commissioned by Spencer Cooper, which hangs from the glass screen, and the glazed doors in the Greyhound Road entrance which were sponsored by Marc Maitland. The new Star Centre was opened on 22nd March 2012 by Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury.

St John the Baptist, Kidmore End, Oxfordshire (1851-52), designed by Arthur Billing


Newman and Billing

Arthur Shean Newman (1828-73) and Arthur Billing (1824-96) worked in partnership from about 1858-60 until Newman’s death in 1873. Their office was at 185 Tooley Street, Southwark. 

Newman was the son of the architect and antiquary John Newman FSA (1786-1859), and succeeded his father in practice in 1849. For many years he was surveyor to Guy’s Hospital and the St Olave’s District Board of Works. 

Billing was educated at Reading Grammar, and moved to London in 1847 to work in the offices of Benjamin Ferrey and Philip Hardwick. On Newman’s death he took over his appointments as Surveyor to Guy’s Hospital and to St Olave’s District Board of Works. He built another church in Fulham: St Peter, Reporton Road (1882-3, damaged 1940 and west porch rebuilt). His obituary list of work included, in addition to churches, various wharves and warehouses, additions to Guy’s Hospital, the Westbourne Hall and Bayswater Athenaeum (1861, 26 Westbourne Grove), a swimming bath for Christ’s College, Finchley, and a new Branch Library on Wandsworth Bridge Road. 

On his death the practice was taken over by his son Arthur Ernest Billing (d.1920), who had become a partner in the firm in 1890. B F L Clarke, Parish Churches of London, records five churches by Newman and Billing: St Luke, Chatham Road, Hackney (1871-2); St Peter, Elgin Avenue, Paddington (1867-70, dem. 1974); St Paul’s, Old Ford (1878); St James, Kidbrooke Park Road, Blackheath (I 866-7) and All Saints, New Cross Road (1869, consecrated 1871). 

A handwritten list of churches built or restored by Newman and Billing on file in the British Architectural Library lists 18 buildings, only one outside London, and mainly for poorer areas – Deptford, Bermondsey, Stepney, Somers Town. There are a number of specification documents for churches and chapels there in the Dove Brothers collection. 

The following illustrations of their work appeared in the Builder: pulpit at Wrotham Church, Kent (1862), 60; residences for medical staff at Guy’s Hospital (1863), 657; pulpit at Christ Church, Dentford (1864), 564 and views of the interior of St James, Kidbrooke Park (1868), 860-1 .

Sir Aston Webb, portrait by Solomon Joseph Solomon, c. 1906

Aston Webb and E Ingress Bell

Aston Webb’s name is more readily associated with large public works such as the Admiralty Arch, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the refacing of Buckingham Palace than with church building. But in the early years of his career he designed or restored a number of churches. 

The first was an unremarkable 120 seat plain red brick church, St John, Kingston Blount, Oxfordshire (1875) described by G E Street as ‘a very cheap little building which has more the character of a Chapel School than of a church’. It is now a private house. Family connections got him commissions to restore or add to a number of churches in Worcestershire: St Helen, Worcester (1879); St Mary Magdalene, Alfrick (1885); St John the Baptist, Claines ( 1886-7); St Andrew, Pershore (1887); and All Saints, Worcester (1888-9). He built the impressive church of St George, Worcester (1893-5), ‘a key work of his early and best period’ according to Pevsner, also in red brick with stone dressings. In Wales he built a couple of churches for smaller parishes: St Thomas, Penycae, Clwyd (1877-8); All Saints, Llanllwchaiarn, Powys (1889-90); and remodelled St Llwchaiarn, Llanmerewig, Powys (1892). Also in the 1890s, he built the charming French Protestant Church in Soho Square, London (1891-3) in red and buff terracotta, a combination of materials he had earlier used at the Victoria Law Courts, Birmingham (1887-91). Externally it looks nothing like a church: the confined site had obliged him to place the parsonage house on the street front, and build the church behind. 

However, his best known ecclesiastical work was the restoration of the church of St Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield, London, which began in 1885 and continued in stages throughout his lifetime. Once again, family connections were of paramount importance in securing this commission; although Webb’s restorations in Worcestershire were well thought of, there were other more experienced architect restorers who might have been chosen. Though the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings objected to his work, the restoration was generally well thought of and excited little controversy.

Webb (1849-1930) trained in the office of Robert Richardson Banks and Charles Barry junior from 1866-71. After a year of travel to France, Italy, Sicily, Athens, Constantinople, Austria and Germany, he set up in practice in 1874. Like many young architects trying to make their way in the profession, he entered a number of competitions, but family commissions more than anything else kept him in business. 

In 1882 Edward Ingress Bell (1836/7-1914) was appointed Consulting Architect to the Crown Agents for the Colonies, and asked Aston Webb to join him. This collaboration led to an informal partnership which lasted until about 1910 when Bell retired due to ill health. 

Bell worked in the War Office as a draughtsman (1859-85) and then as a surveyor (1885-98), and would have had considerable experience in laying out large plans. His private practice to that point had in the main been restricted to domestic architecture, very strongly influenced by Richard Norman Shaw (he was a good friend of W Eden Nesfield). 

He had built the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at Caterham, Surrey (1880-1) and was a member of the Guild of St Gregory and St Luke, ‘a Catholic version of the Cambridge Camden Society’ (according to de l’Hôpital) which included his good friend J F Bentley among its founders. St Andrew and St Alban, Fulham, are the only instances I have found of Webb and Bell collaborating on church work. Usually they worked together on large institutional and commercial commissions, often won in public competition. These include: Victoria Law Courts, Birmingham (1887-91); Royal United SP-vice Institution, Whitehall (1891-5); Christ’s Hospital School, Horsham, Sussex (1894-1904); University of Birmingham (from 1901); Law Courts, Hong Kong (1903-1 I ). Their unsuccessful competition entries include designs for the Admiralty and War Office Competition (1884) and for the Imperial Institute (1887). They also worked together in Cambridge on additions to Gonville and Caius College (1900-3); King’s College (I 905-8) and Magdalene College (I 907).

Ian Dungavell 29 May 1996