St John’s serves one of the most diverse and vibrant communities in England, the Coldharbour ward of Brixton in Lambeth, south London. The area east of Brixton is diverse in every way, bursting with the new energy of incoming residents and businesses from a dizzying variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, as well as new Pentecostal and Evangelical Churches. St. Johns Church has stood proudly for over 160 years, not just for ourselves but for the community around us. Indeed, the area and church was developed to accommodate those moving from north of the river Thames, and Brixton and Angell town remains a place of welcome for incomers. During the 1960s, Brixton welcomed migrants from the Caribbean, and St. John’s church was renowned for its welcome to these new members of the community.
Angell Town Estate takes its name from the landowner John Angell, who died in 1784. Angell Town was built up in the early 19th century as a desirable estate for the new middle classes. After the heyday of the 1880’s the area sunk into decline. Most of the old town was replaced in the 1970s by a council estate that combined 1960s- style blocks with the newer concept of overhead walkways and linking bridges. A bridge was supposed to cross Brixton Road to the social facilities on the Stockwell Park estate, but it was never built. Once again, Angell Town soon gained a reputation for neglect and decline and became stigmatised as a sink estate. In a scheme notable for the high degree of residents’ participation in the consultative process, the estate was radically redeveloped from the mid- 1990s. The design of the low rise new homes was environmentally friendly, opening into wide streets and squares. There are now a number of shops on the estate but sadly there is still no community hall.
A major development for the area came in September 2015, with the London Evening Standard’s feature on the estate and their campaign to bring about changes to the lives of people on estates throughout London. Through the work of David Cohen, the lead editor, and the Dispossessed Fund, grants have been channelled into a number of projects in Angell Town to help bring about community development and encourage community cohesion. The Vicar and the church have been at the heart of the community campaign, appearing in many of the articles and the Vicar being used as the cover for the evening Standard Christmas Card.
Planting for the future
One of the major features of the Evening Standard Dispossessed Fund campaign was the gift of a Chelsea Garden to the estate in 2016.
The garden was planted in the Little Angells Garden and play area on the Estate and was opened by the London Mayor Sadiq Khan, and the event was closed by our Vicar, Canon Rosemarie. To learn more about this project please click here.
The church school will assist in maintaining the garden.