St John the Evangelist Parish Church, Spittal

St John’s Church is located on Main Street in the heart of the old village and is a literal stone’s throw from the promenade and the beach. The parish was established and the church built in response to the request of Spittalers during an exceptional period of growth of people coming to know Jesus. The church members continue to pray for and work to serve the local community and holiday visitors. 

With its light airy space and rooms and wonderful gardens, St John’s has become the benefice hub for all our activities with families and young people.

The gardens are always open and everyone is welcome to come through the gates and enjoy the (mostly) quiet space where there are seats for you be able to reflect and pray and enjoy our space for nature. The gardens are used for our family activities and other events.

There is a bus stop just outside the church used by local services from Berwick only. Parking is on the street or there are also car parks at Spittal Point and the end of the promenade. Please check for signs indicating residents only parking.

Access & Facilities

There is a short flight of steps to the front door of the church, but a portable metal ramp is available on request for wheelchair users.

Most of the building inside is on the same level, but there are small changes in floor level at the front of the church. Therefore, if you wish to receive communion in a service, please mention any mobility difficulties to the person who greets you, and they will ensure that you are served where you sit. There is open space at the back of the church although most of the seating is traditional pews.

A hearing loop is installed.

There is a kitchen and a toilet on the premises. There is also a meeting room, known as the Mercers’ room, which is used for meetings.

St John’s Church Gardens

Our gardens at St John’s are always open for anyone to come in and enjoy the planting and quiet areas. Behind the church you can find a labyrinth, a nature garden with a bug hotel and other wildlife friendly features and benches to sit and enjoy your surroundings. Mostly the gardens are quiet but they do get used by the local school and young people’s activities and open air services.

Who was St John the Evangelist?

John was one of the disciples, the men who left their jobs to follow Jesus. Like Peter, he was originally a fisherman. It is believed that he wrote the Gospel (a word which means Good News) of John which is one of four accounts in the Bible which tell the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. John’s book does tell us about many of the things that Jesus did but particularly focuses on what he taught the people around him.
This picture of St John is from the Lindisfarne Gospels, created on Holy Island around the year 700AD with thanks to the British Library for making the image available.

The History

As we noted above St John’s is not a very old church, Spittal only became a parish in 1873 although the church building was completed just a few years earlier. Before that the area was part of Tweedmouth parish and there was a hospital dedicated to St Bartholomew for the care of people with leprosy in medieval times. The dedication of Tweedmouth to St Bartholomew is a memorial to that and Spittalers as the name for residents almost certainly comes from that time. Before the current building was commissioned people met for worship in Spittal in a stable loft – with a lot of distraction from noise and smells coming from below. We know that most of the congregation was made up of local working people, coal miners, farm workers, fishermen and lodging-house keepers. At the time the church was built many lived in poor quality housing adjacent to factories, of which the one remaining chimney is a visual reminder. Between the factories were occasional fields for livestock, very different to the Spittal of today.

The original church was much larger as this old image from 1922 shows, when the church still had gas lit chandeliers. The transformation of the building with a kitchen, meeting room and toilet took place in 2000.