The Parish Church of St Andrew the Apostle is unique…. in that it was the first building ever to be designed by Sir Raymond Unwin, working as an architect, and the first building to be completed in partnership with Barry Parker. The building is highly regarded, nationally, as being of major architectural significance and as an irreplaceable part of the country’s cultural heritage…. and it is here, in Barrow Hill!
The church has 5 stained glass windows by Shrigley and Hunt and another by William Morris and Co as well as a magnificent, fully restored Holt pipe organ which was built for the original Church in the school in 1856. It also contains the bell which once “tolled mournfully” for Richard Barrow, after whom the village is named.
Dr Hugh Ellis, Chief Planner, Town and Country Planning Association, says that….
“TCPA regard St Andrews as one of the real symbols of the birth of the Garden City movement representing as it does the first key collaboration between two of three most significant figures in the early movement (Howard being the other). It’s not simply about what they designed but the fact that they were pivotal in establishing the town planning movement and campaigning for decent housing conditions for working people. Unwin became the nations first chief planner. All this was shaped by their experience in Chesterfield which framed their commitment to high quality design and social justice.
Barrow Hill and St Andrews have good claim to be the moral birthplace of an international movement. Taken together we can think of no more influential pair on planning and design in the 20th century. The architecture of St Andrews was designed to be Modest but its quality and significance makes it a vital piece of our national story.”
The following article has been adapted from the “History of the Parish Church of Saint Andrew” which is available from the church.
Richard Barrow built a combined Church of England Mission and National School on the summit of the hill in 1856 and appointed a Church of England lay reader, Thomas De Vine, to teach the Sunday schools and conduct the church services.
In 1888, the Staveley Coal and Iron Company agreed that the Barrow Hill Mission could become part of the Parish of Staveley. The first baptisms took place in the schoolroom in March 1888 and the first Communion Service was held on Easter Sunday in April 1888.
In August 1888 Rev. W.L.Coleman was appointed as the curate for Barrow Hill and Handley where he became the driving force behind the building of the new church.
Staveley Coal & Iron Company Staff 1894: Raymond Unwin is standing on the far right
The Duke of Devonshire donated the land in 1892, and in late 1893, Raymond Unwin was asked to design the church.
The church was already half built when the 8th Duke and Duchess of Devonshire visited the village to formally lay the foundation stone on 22nd September 1894. This was a festive occasion for the village with flags, bunting and decorations displayed.
The church was built of red brick, roofed with tiles, and could accommodate 300 people. It was fitted with low pressure water pipes and lighted by gas. Local materials were used both internally and externally and local skills were employed to reflect the work culture of the area. Unwins brother-in-law, Barry Parker, designed the fixtures and fittings, many of which can still be seen in the church.
The stained glass clerestory windows at the east end of the church represent the feeding of the multitude and were bestowed by George Bond (General Manager, Staveley Works) of Brimington Hall in memory of his late wife. The window cost £160 and is a fine example of stained glass by Shrigley and Hunt, a firm that “ranked among the leading designers of the late Victorian period.
Two smaller windows, also by Shrigley and Hunt, contain figures of St Peter and St Andrew and were erected to the memory of William and Joseph Knighton respectively. Another window, by William Morris & Co, Westminster, was installed in memory of Isaac Samuel in 1928.
The Holt organ and the bell were transferred to the new church from the school building.
The new church was dedicated to St Andrew the Apostle and was consecrated on 29th November 1895, the eve of St Andrew.
After the First World War, the government had promised “homes fit for heroes” and the same Raymond Unwin, who had designed and built St Andrew’s church, was by now a major influence on those government policies which led to the 1919 Housing Act. Government funds were made available for the Staveley Company to build 2000 new dwellings on Hollingwood Common during the early 1920s. Unwin’s strongly held belief in Arts and Crafts principles was incorporated into the building and design of the new Hollingwood Model Village which was built on a Garden City plan.
With such a large increase in the local population, in a relatively short space of time, a new Parish of Barrow Hill with Hollingwood was created in 1928, with Rev. R.C. Norfar as the first Vicar of the new Parish.
Funds were raised to build a church hall which opened in 1936.The rooms were used every day by some church organisation – Cubs, Scouts, Guides, Brownies, The Guild of Our Lady, Mothers Union and Sunday School – and for teas, dances and wedding receptions. Photographs of entire families on the hall steps feature in many family albums.
The “Baby Boom” of the early 1950s saw the new hall leased to the Derbyshire Education Committee for use as a school until 1960. Later leased to the council as a community centre, the hall was demolished in 1999 and the land later used for the building of Avonside Close.
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© Ann Lucas