St.John’s Arts and Recreation Centre was formerly the Parish Church of St. John The Baptist. The church was built by subscription in 1839-
The church is built in a pale yellow stock brick in Flemish bond. It is in the Early English style with lancet windows. The west tower has a taller stair turret attached to it and both have battlemented walls around the top. All stained glass in the east windows is original and the building is now listed grade II.
The Church became redundant in 1979 and in the following year a suggestion was made by Harlow Chorus that the building would make a good base. At the time Old Harlow did not have a community centre, the Diocese therefore granted a lease with covenants to restrict its use to serving the social and recreational needs of the area. A community association, known as the St. John’s Arts and Recreation Association, was set up; they now have the lease and manage the Centre.
Restoration work started on the building in 1983. With help from Harlow District Council and the Department of the Environment; the roof was repaired, a new floor laid and a damp proof course provided. New electrics and heating were installed.
Over the next few years money was raised through fundraising events, donations and grants and St. John’s Arts and Recreation Centre was officially opened in 1986. Fundraising continued, so that an extension could be built to provide a Refectory, Kitchen and Toilets. A second extension provided a larger Vestry Room and Office.
If you are interested in the history of St. John’s ARC, our booklet “Discover the ARC" is full of photographs, information and anecdotes. It is available from the Office for only £3 plus postage.
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