St Andrew’s Church was founded in 1900, as part of the church expansion project, responding to the growth of population in the leafy London suburbs. A committee of members of St John’s Wood Presbyterian Church bought the site on the corner of Finchley Road and Frognal Lane for St Andrew’s. The hall was built immediately and opened for public worship on 29th April 1900. The foundation stone for the church was laid on 21st June 1902.
The impressive building, with its imposing tower and spire and splendid wooden reredos, was completed in 1903 (when its first minister was appointed) and was soon a familiar part of the Hampstead landscape. It rapidly became one of the leading congregations in the Presbyterian Church of England and, from its prominent position on the Finchley Road, with notable preaching and music, it developed a local and national ministry.
The organ was dedicated in 1904 and the earliest stained glass given in 1906. The unusual communion chair for the minister and two elders, joined into one, was dedicated in 1909, a gift of the architect.
Two world wars caused tragic losses to many church families. Those who died from St Andrew’s (and churches who later joined with St Andrew’s) are still commemorated by name on Remembrance Sundays.
The first Sunday School was in the form of afternoon education classes in the early 1930s. Previously children could come to services provided they were quiet, dressed in their best clothes and were very still. Something closer to our current Children’s Church began in the 1940s when a rota of volunteers led classes for children at the same time as the morning service.
It was soon after the war that St Andrew’s appointed its first two lady elders, who were among the first appointed anywhere within the Presbyterian Church.
St Andrew’s has been enriched from time to time by an influx of members from nearby churches that, owing to changing populations or decaying buildings, became no longer viable. Trinity Church, Hampstead, joined with St Andrew’s in 1971 on the appointment of their minister to us; their membership already included some from Oxendon Presbyterian Church, Haverstock Hill, who had earlier combined with Trinity.
Soon after that the Congregational Church in Lyndhurst Road (now, along with St Andrew’s, part of the United Reformed Church denomination) had to close and several surviving members joined St Andrew’s. Finally, we were joined in 1994 by members from St John’s Wood Presbyterian Church at Marlborough Place, the church of our original founders.
In 2003 St Andrew’s celebrated its centenary. For over 100 years Christians of a Reformed tradition, from near and far, have been drawn together to hear the good news of God’s love revealed in Jesus Christ, proclaimed from the pulpit, celebrated in musical praise, and demonstrated in the lives of the congregation.