|Crowborough and District Historical Society||
|The Church of St John the Evangelist published 1994|
|original publication by West Crowborough Society|
St John's Church was built by the De La Warr family and consecrated on July 31st, 1839. It was at first called 'Crowborough Chapel', since it served the population of Crowborough Town, the original township of foresters' cottages which nestled in the valley, and which is still occasionally referred to as Crowborough Town by the dwindling number of older residents, and, untill recently, by the Ordnance Survey. The consecration day was a great event; the ceremony was performed by the then Bishop of Chichester, Dr. William Otter, to the booming of cannon from the battery at Buckhurst.
The building remained the chapel-of-ease to St. Michael's Parish Church at Withyham until 1870. In that year a chancel was added to the Nave of St John's - the gift of Elizabeth, Countess De La Warr. On December 21st, 1871, St John's was formed into a district parish and the Curate, the Rev. Edward Otway Herbert was appointed the first Vicar. The gallery at the west end was erected in 1888, and between the years 1895 and 1902 some of the windows were replaced by stained glass designed by Charles Eamer Kempe whose rebus, a little sheaf of corn, can be seen tucked away unobtrusively in some part of each window. Mr Kempe also designed the rerdos which was carved by Joespeh Meyer, who for many years was the 'Christos' in the Passion Play at Oberammergau. This was a gift in memory of her husband, of the widow of Mr. James Ramsbotham, a well-known resident of Crowborough Warren.. Kempe's window (1898), in the South side of the nave is in memory of Mrs Ramsbotham.
There is a fascinating tradition that the original site of St John's was to be further to the West, on Church Hill near Friar's Gate. This happened to be a spot close to an exit from the Forest much used by the 'owlers' of the day, who no doubt viewed the propsed edifice with some disquiet. For some reason the stones and other materials which had been deposited at the spot mysteriously disappeared during the night, to re-appear where the present church stands!