Church History

St Andrew’s parish comprises the greater part of the St German’s or, as it’s better known, the Corbett Estate, developed by Archibald Cameron Corbett (later Lord Rowallan) in the late 19th century as a predominantly residential suburban area. A Scottish Presbyterian, Corbett favoured teetolism, consequently, there are no pubs in the parish!

At the heart of the Corbett Estate, standing 60 feet high, 160 feet long and 40 feet wide between arcades, St Andrew’s occupies a prominent corner site at the junction of Sandhurst and Torridon RoadsGrade II* listed, the large cruciform red-brick Gothic Revival church building, consecrated in October 1904, was designed by Philip A Robson FRIBA and encloses an Arts and Crafts interior, admired by John Betjeman. The architect believed the atmospheric conditions prevailing at the time meant that much external ornamentation was a waste, so he gave it a certain reticent dignity and reserved his best decoration for the interior. The style, Robson said, is ‘an adaptation of fourteenth century English Gothic’, known as ‘decorated’, but the symbolism attached to this style has been treated in a manner more suited to the period of its construction. Boasting one of the widest Gothic naves in England, the National Heritage listing notes, ‘It’s an excellent example of the eclectic Gothic that was current at the end of the 19th century and in the Edwardian period’.

Inside, St Andrew’s features exceptional stained-glass windows designed largely by the renowned Martin Travers, marble flooring, ornate ironwork, rich wood carvings, an Alfred Hunter and Sons organ, Assyrian gargoyles, architecturally inventive use of flying buttresses – and, b. The church contains two chapels: the Lady Chapel and a smaller Child Jesus Chapel. Notably, the Greenwich Meridian passes through St Andrew’s from transept to transept in front of the chancel steps – getting marries in two hemispheres simultaneously has been a claim to fame for many couples!

The former mission church is now in use as a busy church Hall. Completely refurbished in 2016, this well-equipped Hall is used by the church and local community, including uniformed organisations, a local authority care service, OAP groups, family parties, dog training, fairs, celebrations and local events like the Catford Arts Trail and Corbfest. The garden outside the Hall is in the process of being redeveloped, with the intention to open it to the local community – do let us know if you’d like to help in its redevelopment!

St Andrew’s tradition of worship is broadly liberal catholic, with the main focus on our 10am Sunday Choral Eucharist, celebrated using Common Worship. In the past, weekday services have been celebrated, including three Eucharist celebration and daily Morning Prayer. Since the vacancy (our vicar retired in February 2023), however, our regular services have been the sung Sunday Eucharist and the Thursday morning Eucharist at 9:30am, alternating with Morning Prayer.

Music plays an important and much-valued part in our worship. At the moment, hymns are largely traditional, using the latest iteration of the Ancient & Modern hymn book. They are accompanied by our well-maintained pipe organ or (occasionally) piano. A sung service setting, suitable for congregation singing, is used at the Eucharist. We are exploring how to expand our offering, including a wider variety of musical worship in the context of a greater number and range of services – looking beyond traditional sacred music, encouraging participation from both children, young people and adults. Watch this space!

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