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The church of St. John the Evangelist, Lancaster, was begun in 1754, at a time of relative prosperity in the town. The port on the River Lune was thriving, and the church was required to meet the needs of the growing population. The Corporation of Lancaster, Queen Anne's Bounty, and local residents provided finance and the church began its life as a chapel of ease of the Priory.

The original building was a rectangular structure measuring 77 feet by 49 feet, with an apse at the East End. This forms the body of the present church. It was consecrated in 1755. In 1784 the west tower, designed by Thomas Harrison, was added. The church then remained unchanged until the 1870s when the south porch was built. This was clearly designed to match the building, which it does very well. In the 1920s a North chapel and South vestry were added, and they complete the building we see today. These additions are sensitively done, and contribute to the general appearance of an urbane, distinguished church.

St. John's is built of finely cut sandstone, which, as with many of Lancaster's buildings, probably came from quarries in what is now Williamson Park. The nave is of five bays, each with a tall round-headed window with a prominent keystone and impost blocks, and original glazing bars. On the east aisle walls and the apse are similar windows. The exterior of the building is very flat, the windows being flush with the outer surface. Above the walls is a slightly projecting parapet. At the corners of the building are rusticated quoins.

Harrison's tower is a distinctive and successful tour de force, combining many of the motifs of Georgian architecture. The base has three square stages, one on top of the other. The bottom stage has a plain west door, and square and semi-circular windows. Above the door is a tablet noting the contribution that Thomas Bowes made to finance the construction of the tower. A plain cornice separates the bottom stage from the middle stage, which has clocks on three faces. The top square stage is separated by a cornice with dentil ornament, and has tall rectangular bell louvres framed by pilasters and topped by triangular pediments. On top of this stage is a rotunda with eight rectangular openings on which are Tuscan or un-fluted Doric demi-columns. Above is an entablature with triglyphs and metopes, on which rests a shallow dome. Rising from the centre of the dome is the only Gothic feature of the architecture - a short, fluted spire.

The interior of the church is a large open space with galleries on three sides. To the north and south these are supported by square pillars, above which, in the gallery, are un-fluted Ionic columns. Fluted columns support the west gallery. Above the nave is a coved ceiling that curves down to meet a dentilled cornice supported by the gallery columns. The nave itself is filled with oak box pews. Each has its door with fielded panels and a number plate. The line of the box pews along the central aisle curves outwards as the chancel is approached. A three-decker pulpit would have filled the space produced. Today a wrought iron Victorian pulpit stands incongruously to one side.

The communion table, which stood where the present altar stands, is now in the north chapel. It is made of mahogany, and has a shell pattern on the front and legs with ball and claw feet. The original communion rails, with closely spaced balusters, remain. On the east wall are painted texts. The two east windows have mid-Victorian stained glass, each with three large roundels depicting scenes from the life of Christ. In the north chapel are two interesting Victorian windows, which appear to be by the same artist/designer. One is filled by large, boldly drawn and strongly coloured figures showing the Good Samaritan. The other depicts three figures framed by a classical arch, with distant figures and columns. Around are fruits, leaves, balusters, etc. The windows are tentatively attributed to Shrigley & Hunt, the Lancaster stained glass firm. One would expect them to have received a commission for this church, and they may be their work, but they are quite unlike their usual pieces, in colour, drawing, and subject.

An organ of 1785 fills the west gallery. In the tower is a treble bell of 1747 by Rudhall of Gloucester and a tenor bell by Mears of Whitechapel dated 1846. Both came from the parish church.

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