We are in the process of creating a detailed history line. Over the coming months, this page will expand considerably.
Thank you for your patience as we undertake this work.
For at least 900 years, possibly longer, there has been Christian worship on the site that is now St. Andrew’s, Enfield. Robinson, a historian of Enfield, suggested in 1823 that over 10,000 people have been buried in our churchyard.
We are proud of our heritage and history. But St. Andrew’s is not a museum. It is a living, vibrant community of faith that seeks to serve the local community as faithfully now as it did all those hundreds of years ago.
But we can learn from our history; celebrating all that has been good and learning from the mistakes of the past too. Our strapline is “Church at the heart of Enfield.” Our Mission Statement is: “Building community together on the values of Jesus.” Our sense is that, whilst these are newly adopted phrases, both have been true of St. Andrew’s Church since the first pioneer priest stepped foot into what is now the parish boundaries…
Origins – 11th-and 12th-centuries
In the Domesday Book of 1086, a priest is first mentioned as holding land in Enfield. In 1136, Geoffrey de Mandeville founded the Monastery of Walden (in what is now Saffron Walden), and that monastery was endowed with the tithes and revenues of Enfield (as well as other churches, of course). From this point onwards, the monks would have been responsible for providing pastoral care in Enfield.
The first Vicar of Enfield was Robertus de Enefelde, appointed in 1190. Thereafter, the monastery appointed all the Vicars of Enfield until Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1536.
The parish was very large at the time – probably in excess of 15,000 acres. Given the fact that it was called St. Andrew’s (a church name usually associated with the early phase of Christianity in Britain), it was likely to have been a Minster, serving the needs of the Royal Estate.
Following the plagues and famines of the 14th-century, the 15th-century was an age in which people were obsessed with their own mortality and preparing for the afterlife.
As if to remind the community of their eternal fate, this large painting on wood hung above their heads in the main body of the church. It shows those who are saved entering heaven, whilst the souls of the lost are driven by demons into hell. A very graphic image that would no doubt have sharpened the minds of those who came to worship!
No surprise, then, that by the 15th-century, there were 8 altars in St. Andrew’s, where prayers could be made for family members who had died. There were also two side chapels in the church; one dedicated to Our Blessed Lady (in the North aisle) and one dedicated to St. James (in the South aisle).
In 1539, the dissolution of the monasteries was completed through an Act of Parliament. As a result, St. Andrew’s left the ownership of Walden Abbey and was granted instead to Thomas Lord Audley of Walden (pictured right). When he died in 1544, the patronage of our church reverted to the Crown. King Henry VIII then passed the patronage on to Trinity College, Cambridge (who remain our patrons to this day and still appoint the Vicars, alongside the Bishop of Edmonton).
At the beginning of the Civil War in 1642, Dr William Roberts, who had been Vicar since 1616, was ejected from the living. He was succeeded in 1646 by Dr Walter Bridges.
Bridges was clearly a good preacher. He was also fairly wealthy, earning money as he did from two acres of land that he owned, as well as from the income he received from tithes, weddings, baptisms and funerals.
During the time of Oliver Cromwell (pictured here), many citizens were opposed to paying tithes to the Vicar. Dr Bridges was just one of many Vicars who was having trouble collecting the money owed to him. In 1658, when Dr Bridges left the parish, he submitted formal complaints against many parishioners who had refused to pay their tithes; some for 11 years or more.
After Bridges left, the next Vicar was appointed (a year later): Danniel Manning, in March 1659. Like his predecessor, Manning also had problems with collecting his tithes. This was not a problem for too long, however, since he was deprived of the living following the Restoration of Charles II in 1660. Manning remained in Enfield and was buried at St. Andrew’s in 1665.
Under the guidance of Dr Robert Uvedale (pictured right), appointed Vicar in the 1720s, St. Andrew’s underwent some major structural changes to the building.
The five bells had deteriorated, so they were recast in 1724, with an extra hundredweight of metal, and a sixth was added.
In the same year, the old gallery was extended and eight new pews were added. The front four pews were sold to parishioners for £15 and the remainder were sold for £8.
From 1728-1730, glaziers worked on lead and windows of the church, at a cost of £102.
In May 1751, Mrs Mary Nicholls bequeathed the church an astonishing sum of £900 in her will. The money was used to purchase a new organ for use in worship, and thereafter to pay an organist. An organ builder, Mr Thomas Griffin, undertook the building work at a cost of £450. The first organist put on the payroll, under the authority of the latest Vicar, Rev James Whitehall, was Mr Philip Markham. However, his appointment was not to everypne’s liking and, two months later, an election was held for a new organist. Disgusted by this action, Phineas Patteshall (one of the churchwardens) refused to hand over the keys to the organ. Another warden, Mr Howell, threatened him over these actions and, to the relief of all, Patteshall eventually delivered the key to the Vicar.
By the early 19th-century, the church had fallen into a terrible state of disrepair. It was proposed in March 1805 to spend the sum of £175 on general repairs. That proposal was rejected; more money would be needed – and a greater of scope of work would need to be undertaken – to preserve the building for future use. It was therefore proposed to remove perished plaster from the outside and use that to fill the cracks where water was leaking in. More work on the fabric of the church would follow…
The bells were re-hung in 1808, and two more treble bells were added. In 1809, the ‘Cumberland Youths’ rang a celebratory peal of 5,084 changes in three hours and eight minutes.
In 1819, £560 was raised to build a gallery in the North aisle. At the same time, alterations were made to the North aisle windows and the pulpit.
Vandalism had been a problem at St. Andrew’s for many decades. It was no different during this period. In May 1809, a reward of £10 was offered for information concerning who was smashing the headstones. In 1817, a reward of £5 was offered for information concerning the breaking of church windows.
It was not just vandalism that was a problem. In this period, there seemed to be general disrespect for the sacred space of church and churchyard. In 1821, the community was warned that hanging out clothes to dry in the churchyard would be punishable by prosecution. In January 1822, the railings at the front of the church, demarcating the churchyard from the Market Place as a means of protecting sacred space, were erected. The cost of the work was approximately £75. You can find a record of this here. In January 1824, a notice was put up, forbidding children to play in the churchyard.
In May 1824, work was undertaken by Mr Lochner to raise the South walls to the same height as the North walls, and for a gallery to be installed in the South side, matching the one in the North. Tenders were taken from Enfield tradesmen only, and £1,200 was raised to undertake this work.
The momentous nature of structural change in the first half of the 19th-century was breathtaking, considering the state of disrepair that had existed just three decades previously. In 1834, the church was cleaned and repainted. The screen at the East end was removed and replaced by a new, Gothic screen.
In 1853, the box pews were removed from St. Andrew’s being replaced by the pews we have today. This was done in scandalous fashion by the Vicar John Moore Heath – against the wishes of the community, without any permission from Vestry or Diocese. You can read the sorry tale of the installation of the pews here.
You can find other stories concerning Rev John Moore Heath elsewhere on this site. Suffice it to say here that he really was the most detested Vicar, argumentative and confrontational. There was hardly anyone in the church, community or Diocese willing to support him. A sigh of relief went through the community when he finally left in December 1864, handing over the reigns to Rev W.D. MacLagan as Curate-in-charge. Heath retired to Milland, near Haslemere. However, he technically remained Vicar of St. Andrew’s until 1870, when he was replaced by George Hodson. Heath died in 1882 and was buried in St. Andrew’s next to Rev Daniel Cresswell.
Under MacLagan, further fabric changes were made to the church building in 1866-67. At a cost of £4,000, the roofs of the nave, chancel and aisles were replaced. New floors were laid throughout the church – floors that lasted only 7 years as a result of dry rot. The galleries were replaced. A stone pulpit was built, financed by Colonel Somerset of Enfield Court – much to the chagrin of F.G. Widdowes, the church architect, who distanced himself from such a poor design. Colonel Somerset also donated the rather ostentatious brass eagle lectern. The arched monument, built for Isabel Lady Lovell in 1530, was restored; financed by the Duke of Rutland, with restoration work undertaken by Messrs. Earp and Mr Pulling.
But still the fabric changes were not complete. A vote in the January 1880 Vestry Meeting approved the installation of a new organ in the church. However, such was the opposition in the community to the destruction of the old organ, it was hastily agreed to change the plans. Instead, the old organ casing was regilded and positioned at the West end of the church, whilst the organ console was repositioned to the St. James’ Chapel in the South aisle.
It was not just the interior of the church building that was causing concern during this period. The churchyard surrounding the building had become full to capacity and was proving a health and safety concern. Originally one acre in size, but extended to two acres in 1846, there was no further room for burials. (By the mid-1850s, St. Andrew’s was conducting over 100 burials per year). In 1857, the Headmaster of the Grammar School complained that, “the earth is completely saturated, no grave can be opened without disturbing human remains, [and] the water in the Grammar School well is impure and not fit for the boys to drink.” Part of the problem was that few people were willing to have family members buried in the new acre. Instead, they wanted their loved ones to continue being buried in, or near, existing family graves; numbering 257 family graves and 178 family vaults. In 1857, it was decided to discontinue burials in the old graveyard as well as inside the church itself.
By 1908, the church building was in need of further repairs. Architect J. Oldrid Scott undertook the work, which cost £1,800. Seating was reduced by 178, mainly from the galleries which were also shortened. Interior plaster was removed from the walls near the chancel arch. The East window was raised by 3 feet, the organ was moved from the East end of the South aisle, being replaced by an oak screen. A new clock was installed in the Tower.
By 1930, the marked decrease in church attendance had become notable. Alongside that was a sharp decrease in financial giving. Within two years, it had been decided that the galleries were no longer required, and a legacy from Miss Chambers was used to remove them.
At the same time as the removal of the galleries, some other minor works were undertaken in the building. The Francis Evington monument was moved from the South gallery to its current position in the St. James’ chapel. The brass for John and Jane Smith was lifted from the floor of that chapel and placed on the wall. The oak board of donors, which was originally hung in 1772, was found behind the organ case in the West gallery. This was rehung in the North aisle. The door jambs to ‘the littell dore to St Jamys chapel’ (so mentioned in the will of Rev Edward Causton, Vicar of Enfield from 1466-1491) were uncovered. In 1932, Colonel Sir Henry Bowles gave permission for his great-grandfather’s memorial to move from the North to the South aisle.