St. John’s Church Spitalgate, was built in 1841. It was designed by Anthony Salvin, who was also the architect of Harlaxton Manor.
Built of Ancaster stone in the Early English Lancet Style, it had a chancel, transepts and a nave of five bays.
For the previous 300 years, inhabitants had no local church, and worshipped at St. Wulframs. Pews in the south aisle there were known as the Spitalgate pews. However, it was decided in 1839 that a new church should be built, capable of containing from seven to eight hundred people. The foundation stone was laid by Countess Brownlow in 1840 and the building was consecrated the following year.
The population in the area increased greatly and in 1883 the church had to be widened to accommodate 1000 people. Two transepts were added and the chancel rebuilt and lengthened. In 1911, the church was closed for 6 weeks for repairs. While these were being done, Services were held in the Oxford Street Hall.
In 1940 St. John’s was shaken to its foundations when high explosive bombs were dropped nearby and in the following year the church again had a narrow escape.
There is often dispute over the spelling of the official title of St. John’s. The church Commissioners use – St. John the Evangelist in Spittlegate, Grantham, but some people maintain that it should be Spitalgate, after the hospital for lepers believed to have been in the area in the 15thCentury.
As you enter by the West door today, you pass under the tower and into the back of the church. The nave is supported by pointed and moulded arches. If you proceed down the south (right-hand) aisle, you will see the Sunday-school room, the choir vestry and the St. Faith or Lady Chapel. These rooms have been made by blocking off part of the widened building.
The Font is positioned where the south aisle widens out. Today baptisms are sometimes performed from a portable font in the chancel.
The War Memorial Chapel, or St. George’s Chapel, in the south transept was dedicated in 1920. The roll of honour contains names of men from the parish who served in World War One and a list of Fallen in both wars is inscribed on the panelling beside the Altar. The windows in the chapel are copied from some in Chartres Cathedral.
The Eagle Lectern is made from gold lacquered brass and is very life-like. It was given by parishioners in memory of the Rev. Norman Nash, Vicar from 1909-1916.
The present oak pulpit was erected at the same time as the choir screen in 1918 and the suspended Rood, consisting of a carved figure of Christ on the cross flanked by the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. John, was dedicated in 1950 as a memorial to members of the forces and civilians from the parish who died in the 1939-1945 war.
Since 1976 the choir stalls had been behind the Altar, facing the congregation, but in 1994 they were moved back to their previous and more conventional position on either side of the chancel.
The East Window above the Altar portrays the four Evangelists and is given by the sister of the Rev. Frederick Jesson, vicar between 1842-1879. Miss Jesson also donated the Chartres copies.
The small meeting room is now dedicated to Rev. Jesson and named after him.
The Organ was built in 1871, overhauled in 1919, restored and renovated in 1938, and again in 1994. During the late 20th Century, St. John’s Choir became very well known for its high standard of musicianship and for its preponderance of outstanding girls voices.
On the north side of the church a meeting room, kitchen and amenities have been constructed by dividing part of the widened area.
There is also a Loop System within the church.