OUR CHURCH HISTORY
There are a number of indications that the site of the Church is very old. The Churchyard has a distinct curve to it perhaps following the shape of an underlying moat and ancient meeting-place. Its position is at the junction of the routes to London and Barnet (originally a cross roads but now a T-junction) and we know that such places had a sacred significance in pagan times. An ancient Yew tree reckoned to be between 1,000 and 2,000 years old also stands in the churchyard. Its girth in August 2000 was 25 ft 10 ins. The Yew with its evergreen leaves was a symbol of immortality. In 1999 the Yew was accepted onto the register of the “Great Trees of London.” An old story records the discovery in 1722 of a foundling beneath “the great Yew” who was brought up by the parish. He was apprenticed out at the age of nine or ten but we do not learn of his subsequent fate.
Totteridge does not appear in the Doomsday Book although it did exist at the time the information was gathered. It was included with Hatfield in a gift made by the Saxon King, Edgar to the Abbot of Ely. Ely became a bishopric in 1108-9 A.D., and when Totteridge first emerges about a century later as an established place of habitation we read of it as being one of the manors of the Bishop of Ely. In the fourteenth century the Bishop of Ely had a residence which included a private chapel in Totteridge on the site of what is now Totteridge Park.
It seems likely that the present church building stands on the site of the earliest church mentioned in 1250 A.D. in a document which records Totteridge Church as belonging to St. Etheldreda’s, Hatfield from whence it took its dedication. St. Etheldreda was born near Newmarket about the year 630 and was the daughter of Christian king of East Anglia. She married twice and was given the isle of Ely as part of her dowry. She retired to a convent there from which eventually developed the diocese of Ely and the Cathedral with its famous octagonal tower.
At Totteridge in time the dedication shortened to St. Audrey’s and wills from the time of the Reformation refer to the Church by both names. Then at some time between the Reformation and the late 17th century the dedication changed to St. Andrew possibly when only biblical saints were in favour and when the written word “Audrey” might well be transcribed as “Andrew” without any objection.
In 1650 the Commonwealth Commissioners recommended that Totteridge Church should be detached from Hatfield and made a separate parish but it required the lapse of nearly two and half centuries and the intervention of an unhappy feud, in which the second Marquis of Salisbury (as patron), the Bishop of Rochester and the Rector of Hatfield faced the uncompromising parishioners of Totteridge (in angry support of a succession of bewildered curates) to give effect to that recommendation. So, in 1892, by Order in Council, Totteridge became a separate parish with a Vicar appointed to care for the souls of the 785 inhabitants.
The Parish of Totteridge lay within the Diocese of Lincoln until 1837 and then the Diocese of Rochester before finally coming under the jurisdiction of the newly formed Diocese of St. Albans in 1877.
The Churchwardens’ Accounts and Vestry Minutes begin in 1613 and record work done on the Church - a wooden gallery was built, a bell recast, stairs, windows, pews added and so on.
A number of severe storms had their effect on the building. In 1703 a gale of varying strength blew for about a week at the end of November. It swept away the first Eddystone lighthouse, demolished some 400 windmills and wrecked the spires and roofs of many churches. The outlay of various sums of money over the ensuing years indicate that Totteridge Church too suffered damage. Work on the spire seems to have included the Weathervane which bears the date 1706 and the initials R.B. (for Richard Burdett the churchwarden.)
At the turn of 1778 another great storm caused general devastation in the counties bordering the east coast. In Totteridge it wrecked a house and no doubt also hastened the end of the Church. In 1790 the complete rebuilding and enlarging of the church was undertaken. One of the most active members of the vestry was William Manning, Governor of the bank of England and father of Henry Manning who gravitated to Rome and a cardinal’s hat. Despite the rebuilding several outbreaks of dry rot had to be dealt with.
In 1863 hot water pipes were installed to heat the Church and in 1869 the eastern wall was taken down and the apsidal chancel built beyond with vestry and organ chambers on the north and south sides. The high backed pews were removed and low seats put in their place and the spire, which had long overhung the roof in a dangerous condition was removed. In 1897 a new vestry was built and the 30 gas burners in the chancel replaced by 6 incandescent burners with 4 more in the nave. Gas continued in use until 1930 when replaced by electricity.
In 1908 the church was panelled with oak. In 1952 the tower was rebuilt and 2 piers were introduced at the West end of the Church to support the weight. The galleries and associated woodwork there were removed.
The Lych gate to the Churchyard dates from 1930; it was designed by Sir Charles Nicholson and erected in memory of Lady Barrett of Totteridge Park.
Memorials in the Church and gravestones in the Churchyard and cemetery bear witness to a number of people famous in their time: T.E. Collcutt, architect (1840 - 1924); Harry Vardon and Dai Rees, golfers; members of the Pepys family descended from the great-uncle of the diarist Samuel Pepys; Sir Charles Nicholson, architect, whose first commission was the Vicarage of 1893 which he designed in Queen Anne revival style in the late Victorian fashion. The Sarah Long memorial stone lies in the middle of the nave. The head of the stone carries the customary arms and crest the latter having been granted by Henry VIII to Sir Henry Long for gallantry at the siege of Therouenne in 1513
The first three windows in the South wall date from the close of the 19th century. The third is by C.E. Kempe and depicts St. Christopher and St. Elizabeth with John the Baptist. The third window in the North wall is also by Kempe and is a memorial for Lt. Col Puget. It depicts St. Alban, patron saint of the diocese and St. Andrew to whom the Church is now dedicated. In both of these, Kempe’s angels are represented with peacocks’ feathers.
The fourth window in the South wall is a memorial to the Earl of Cottenham and dates from 1869 but in 1947 the coloured background was replaced by clear glass as it was also in the window opposite.
The westernmost window in the North wall was designed by Archibald Nicholson in memory of his father Sir Charles who lived at The Grange Totteridge for many years. Bottle glass surrounds the heads of figures representing Wisdom and Courage. Sir Charles was born in 1808 and went to Australia in 1834. Three times Speaker of the legislative Council of New South Wales, he was knighted in 1852 and created a baronet in 1859. His eldest son, the second Sir Charles was consulting architect to Lincoln, Wells and Lichfield Cathedrals and to the Dioceses of Wakefield and Chelmsford. A third son, Sydney Hugo, was Director of the School of English Church Music and organist of Westminster Abbey from 1918 to 1927. He frequently played the organ at Totteridge before becoming organist at Barnet Parish Church.
In the chancel there are three small windows by Clayton and Bell. The windows represent the Burial; the Crucifixion with Mary and St. John beside the cross; and the Resurrection with two Roman soldiers by the tomb. Beneath the window runs an inscription in memory of John Terry, citizen and goldsmith of London who was buried in the church in 1637. The inscription was thus recorded on behalf of an American descendant and related to the colouring then applied to the wall of the sanctuary.
There were three bells in the old church but one of them was removed without the fact being recorded so that there were just two bells for many years. The earlier was 41¼ inches in diameter and weighed 13 cwt. It bore the inscription “Richard Burdett Churchwarden Samuel Newton fecit 1707.” The other bell was 21½ inches in diameter and weighed 2 cwt. It was inscribed “Mr. Joseph Da Costa Churchwarden John Waylett London Made Me 1727.” Da Costa had become a Christian though in origin was a member of the well-known family of Portuguese Jews. The bells were recast in 1954 the bell of 1707 having become badly cracked while the other was described as of poor tone. The work was done in memory of Mrs. F.E.Vaughan of Farmleigh and the bells were dedicated by her nephew, the Bishop of Sheffield.
The processional cross is thought to be 13th century Italian work or possibly 14th or 15th century Spanish - the experts disagree. It has medallions of the symbols of the 4 evangelists on one side and on the reverse of St. John, the Virgin Mary, a pelican and the recording angel.
The Altar was presented in 1936 in memory of Sir William Peat and his wife while the sanctuary lamp, specially designed to harmonise with it, was presented in 1950 as a memorial to one who died in World War II. The pulpit is of early seventeenth century work and was brought here from Hatfield Church when that building was restored in 1871
1821 brings the first record of an organ at the Church. An entry in the accounts records the expenditure of 2/2 on “Pens Ink and Paper for William Hill to learn to write as a reward for blowing the Organ Bellows.” A new organ was installed in 1881. By 1949 its tracker action had become past repair and it was then reconstructed. The present Walker organ was installed in 1970 with the pipes sited at the West beneath the tower.
ST. ANDREW'S TODAY
There is much more to a Church than its history and architecture. It is a place which has had, and continues to have, great significance for the many people who come to it for occasions both happy and sad. It celebrates marriages and baptisms as signs of new life and brings consolation to those who mourn the loss of loved ones. Sunday by Sunday the Christian community in Totteridge comes to worship God; to pray for those in distress both near and far and to proclaim the message of God’s love to all who will accept it.
YOU ARE MOST WELCOME TO COME AND SIT AND ENJOY THE PEACE OF THIS ANCIENT CHURCH