The Parish of St Andrew & St Mark, Surbiton
Our Churches: St Andrew's
St Andrew's Church

St Andrew's Church

St Andrew's is one of the finest surviving examples of the work of the Victorian architect Blomfield.

It was the scene of major restoration work in 2009 with the intention of securing this glorious building for future generations. Work involved wholesale upgrading of the building with new lighting, heating and seating, creating better and more space for children, and the provision of toilets and disabled access. Work on the fine organ was also completed.

Recent accomplishments are:

  • The baptistry ceiling has been cleaned and regilded and is looking splendid
  • Motion-sensitive lighting has been installed at the exterior of the Church
  • Landscaping of the churchyard and the installation of gates and railings
  • The heating system will be rectified
  • An experiment is in hand to improve the acoustics of The Glass Room
  • A bike rack is now available behind the Apse, for those who fancy cycling to church
  • An induction loop has been installed for hearing impaired visitors. (The hearing aid must be switched to the 'T' setting)

Built in 1871-72

The building work cost 6,602, and was consecrated in 1872. The architect was Arthur W. Blomfield, later Sir Arthur and Vice-President of the Royal Institute of British Architects. The tower was built at a cost of 1,400: it was completed as a thank-offering for the recovery from illness of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII).

A Grade II listed building

St Andrew's is the only Victorian church in Surbiton which has been left largely untouched. The roof is quite splendid.

Stained glass

The stained glass above the chancel and both in and above the baptistry is original and was designed and produced by Messrs Lavers and Westlake, one of the best known firms at the time. The stained glass windows in other parts of the church were donated later. Brass plates below the windows give more details.

These are the subjects:

  • Porch: Saints John, Barnabas, Nicholas and Alban
  • Baptistry: Baptism
  • West window: Adam and Eve being driven from Paradise; Abel, Noah, Abraham and Melchisedek
  • North aisle: Women from the Bible - from Sarah to Mary
  • South aisle: Men from the New Testament
  • East window: The passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ
  • Lady Chapel: Christ the Good Shepherd; Mary and Martha

The Baptistry and Font

St Andrew's font

The baptistry has a finely designed colour decoration in the roof depicting the story of the Ark, done by Mr Lavers of Lavers and Westlake. The font was given in 1872.

The Reredos

St Andrew's Reredos

Walking towards the chancel you can admire the reredos (altar piece) behind the Altar, a fine piece of Victorian work with angels, lilies and stars.

The Rood

St Andrew's Rood

The rood, hanging between the chancel and the Lady Chapel, shows the Crucifixion of Our Lord. The anchor is a symbol of St Andrew the fisherman. The original position of the rood was above the chancel, but structural difficulties made it necessary to remove it. It was put in its present position in 1981.

The Organ

The excellent organ was originally a Bishop organ which had been entirely rebuilt by A. Hunter and Sons for the church of Holy Trinity, Stroud Green in 1927. It was removed and re-assembled at St Andrew's in 1959, after Holy Trinity had to be demolished because of war damage.

The Altar frontals

The church has some beautiful Victorian vestments and altar frontals, some becoming fragile with use. The Lady Chapel furnishings were added in 1924-26 (designed by G.H. Fellows Pryne). The icon is a copy of the San Damiano Cross from Assisi. The sacrament is reserved in the Chapel: it is for private prayer.

The Lady Chapel Icon

St Andrew's Lady Chapel Icon

The cross in the Lady Chapel at St Andrew's is a copy of a crucifix now in the Basilica of Santa Chiara, Assisi. In his youth St Francis of Assisi had set off to war in hopes of a military career, but he twice heard the voice of God calling him back to Assisi. One day he was praying before a crucifix in the derelict wayside chapel of San Damiano outside the city, when he heard a voice saying "Go, Francis, and repair my house, which you see is falling into ruin". Taking this literally, he sold some of his father's merchandise and gave the money to the priest of San Damiano, who prudently refused it. After further struggles against his father, Francis interpreted the message as a call to the religious life.

The cross was believed to have been made by a Syrian group of monks who were living near Assisi in the 10th century. The figure of Christ is triumphant: standing upright not nailed, his hands outstretched, and wearing a loincloth with gold ties. This clothing is both the symbol of High Priest and victim. He dominates the cross and reminds us "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12). The figure is before the empty tomb.

St Francis is supposed to have prayed:

"Most High, glorious God, enlighten the shadows of my heart, and grant unto me a right faith, a certain hope and perfect charity, sense and understanding, Lord, so that I may accomplish thy holy and true command."

Mostly taken from the leaflet "A simple guide to St Andrew's Church Surbiton", by Anna Meuss and Celia O'Neill, 1992.