The Story of Biggin Hill: a plotlands development and post-war exurb in Greater London


The first church, St. Mark’s was built as early as 1904, a small iron tabernacle, ideally suited to the village of the time. By 1951, however, when Rev. Vivian Symons arrived from the Midlands to take up the post of Perpetual Curate of Biggin Hill, St Mark's was totally inadequate. Two years earlier Biggin Hill had become a Peal District, making it administratively independent of Cudham parish for the first time. Rev. Symons was determined to build a church of which the residents would be proud, but enquiries quickly revealed a complete lack of funds for such a project.

Symons, however, had a highly original idea. While Biggin Hill had no proper church, the inner cities where the population had declined had a surplus. Why not take one of the churches no longer needed and transport it to Biggin Hill?

Gaining the support of the local diocese, he traveled about South London until he found what he was looking for, All Saints in North Peckham, a church due to be demolished as it was in the path of the rapidly expanding North Peckham estate. Symonds embarked on an incredible project. Needing the bricks, stone, wood and tiles intact for reuse, the usual demolition methods could not be used and having no funds he had to rely on volunteer labour and gifts of the necessary equipment. Over the next three years he spent every spare moment on the project, one which modern heath and safety considerations and insurance requirements would have made impossible. Many professional builders believed it couldn’t be done and much of the manual labour he carried out himself, often working alone.

The original intention was to rebuild the church much as the original but the plans could not be found, so it was easier to come up with a new design. The result looked more like a typical product of the time than the original Victorian structure, but it has now served the community successfully for more than 40 years.

Biggin Hill also has a Roman Catholic Church, a Baptist Chapel and the Biggin Hill Memorial Chapel at the airport.