St John’s School was founded in 1845, a few years after the Church was built, when the area was known as Little London, but once the Church had been consecrated as St John the Evangelist, the area we now know as St John’s was born.
Historic records have enabled local historian Alan Moore to piece together most of the school history, and to rediscover what had become of the Air Raid shelters. When Alan was researching his book he heard many stories of the boys, under the instruction of the Art Master Mr Allan, using the shelter walls as canvases during their art lessons.
So it was in Spring 2003 he re-entered the shelter to find the paintings remarkably well preserved, the colours as bright as the day they were done. The pictures tell well known stories such as Gulliver’s Travels, Robin Hood and Robinson Crusoe.
And so the project began:
In Spring of 2005 funding was secured from the Local Heritage Initiative, and a grant from Surrey History Centre to explore and communicate the history of the shelters.
To date the project has:
- Published Alan Moore’s book – The School on the Common
- Had a Dissertation submitted for MA Archaeology of Buildings – Defending the Future: School Air Raid Shelters of World War II 1939 –1945, by Sue Morecroft.
- Produced a DVD entitled – St John’s School at War
- Had over 2000 visitors to the shelters during our School Fayres and Heritage Open Days
Supported and funded by the Local Heritage Initiative
The Local Heritage Initiative is a national grant scheme that helps local groups to investigate, explain and care for their local landscape, landmarks, traditions and culture. The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) provides the grant but the scheme is a partnership, administered by the Countryside Agency with additional funding from Nationwide Building Society.