This is a potted history for which there is a more extensive history inside the church. The selected photographs cannot do justice to all things nor can they beat seeing at first hand. You are most welcome- come and see !
Bourne End , Herts. was originally part of a separated parish of Northchurch ( which is to the west of Berkhamsted). In the 1850’s the Rector of Northchurch felt that this separated parish should have their own place of worship and approached Thomas Halsey, of Berkhamsted Hall, to fund it.
In turn George Gilbert Scott (the later designer of the Albert Memorial and St.Pancras station and hotel) was approached to design the building, a Chapel of Ease, as it was known then. This is one of his first church designs. Work began in 1853 on a plain but architecturally striking building with cross beamed roof, and was completed in 1855. The stained glass windows by Alfred Bell were noted as particularly fine. The church was dedicated to St. John The Evangelist.
In 1889-1891 the chancel area of the church was altered considerably through Edward Curtis, of Berkhamsted Hall. This was in memory of his wife, Elca Rose, who tragically died after 9 months of marriage, and is buried in the churchyard together with Edward Curtis when he died.
The alterations consist of a magnificent semi-dome fresco painting with its subject of Dante’s vision of Heaven, with an image of Elca Rose within it. The walls of the chancel are decorated as are the roof panels above. On the walls are panels of the four Archangels, and figures of saints whose initials spell the name of Elca Rose. Finally there are different marble steps (which have meaning) , a richly carved altar with depicting panels, and a wooden reredos reaching to the base of the dome. The reredos is richly pinnacled, rocketed, and traceried with the Resurrection as its subject. The fresco was painted by David Bell.
The church is in its own setting at the western edge of Bourne End, with a country churchyard full of interest, overlooking the River Bulbourne and Grand Union canal. In 1915 it became a separate parish with a vicar living in the Old Vicarage in Bourne End. In 1955 it became part of a joint benefice with the parish of St Michael, Sunnyside which adjoins to the east.
Faced with possible closure in the 1990’s due to dwindling numbers, through God’s grace and the help of a number of people the congregation is thriving by comparison. In 2005 a project was launched to provide a ‘ parish room’ together with toilet and kitchen facilities, and a new church entrance at the west end. Financed almost entirely by subscription this has been built in different style but sympathetic to the church. It is linked to the church by a glazed link and has an iconic west window with three crosses – particularly striking when approaching from the west.