St John’s is an Anglican church dating from the 13th century and is the oldest building in the town centre. Founded in 1250, it was a daughter church to a church in Slaugham, a village several miles south of Crawley. Only the south wall remains of this early building along with the turret at the east end, later reconstructed as a small vestry
The first additions to the church came in the 15th century, when a tall tower was added at the western end, the windows in the nave were enlarged and a rood screen was installed between the chancel and the nave. The nave roof was also rebuilt at this time, and the earliest surviving memorial carvings and stones in the church are also 15th century. The pulpit was built in 1627 during the reign of King Charles I and just behind it is a small 15th century door which gave access to a short flight of stairs which led up to the rood screen, then situated over the chancel arch. Opposite the pulpit is the brass Lectern. Installed in 1880, it is the traditional eagle which is a symbol of St John the Evangelist.
Major changes took place in the 19th century which included the tower being partially rebuilt and heightened using the original stone. Some of the greatest changes happened in 1879 and 1880. During this time a new north aisle was added, a porch was built on the north side, the chancel was completely rebuilt and reordered, an organ chamber was built, and the bells were replaced by a new ring of eight bells, hung for change ringing, cast by Gillett, Bland & Company of Croydon. They each have the name of a Victorian virtue - Glory, Praise, Joy, Thanksgiving, Prayer, Brotherly Love, Worship and Honour. The Organ was made by Henry Willis & Sons Ltd - one of the finest organ makers, and it was installed in 1885. It is known as a ‘Father Willis’ and is an electrically powered two-manual organ. In 1901 to tower clock was installed to commemorate “Queen Victoria’s glorious reign”.
Though the church is built of Sussex limestone and the 14th century font is made from Sussex marble, the main roof of the church is covered with Horsham stone. During the latest restoration of the church, started in 1998, all of this stone was removed so that the roof could be renovated and made sound for at least another hundred years. On the south side of the graveyard two new trees were planted in 2012 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II – one by the Parishioners, and one by The Crawley Festival Committee, who’s first Crawley Festival was held at St John’s in 1986.
In the heart of Crawley, people have gathered for centuries to faithfully worship, pray and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In September 2017 a team led by Steve and Liz Burston from St Peter’s Brighton came to partner with the faithful Christian community at St John’s to begin a new phase in its life. Where we all honour the past, we all navigate the present, and we all build for the future, by Loving Jesus, Loving Church, Loving People and Loving Crawley.