St Mark’s Church was built in 1824 at the corner of Kennington Common near to a place used for public executions which had ceased some 25 years earlier in 1799. It is one of four churches known as the ‘Waterloo’ churches built following Napoleon’s defeat and named after the four gospels. The other three churches were: St Matthew's, Brixton, St Luke's, Norwood and St John's, Waterloo. Back in 1824, St Mark’s Church cost £16,093 4s 3d to build. In 2010, the cost of improving the grounds is likely to approach £1m
During World War II, St Mark’s suffered serious bomb damage. The only parts to survive were the Grecian facade and pillars, topped by the small cupola and cross. After seven years of dereliction, the church won a reprieve with support from a neighbour-the Archbishop of Canterbury based in Lambeth Palace.In the 1960s, the church was restored and opened.
Some of the vicars of St Mark’s have made their mark over the years.
On the Kennington Park side of the Church there are wall mounted panels describing local history and offering a spiritual perspective. They state ....
“Before St. Mark’s was built, this site was all part of Kennington Common. For six months in the year this was grazing ground for hundreds of cattle and sheep. Until 1799 this was also the site of a public gallows. In 1746 twenty one members of the Jacobite Rebellion captured at Culloden Moor were executed here.
Many famous preachers came here. The evangelist George Whitefield was here twice in 1739. In the same year John Wesley preached on the common to an estimated 50,000 people.
Fifty years later one of the first ‘black’ preachers, the radical Robert Wedderburn born to a West African salve woman in Jamaica, spoke on this site.
This tradition of preaching on Kennington Common was continued in the 1840’s by a young pawnbroker’s assistant on Kennington Park Road. William Booth. He and his wife Catherine went on to found the Salvation Army.”
“St. Mark’s church stands at the junction of two old Roman roads - one to Newhaven and the other (Stane Street) to Chichester. The Common was a favourite place for chariot racing and cricket. Cricket was moved from Kennington Park to the Oval, an old market garden, in 1851. The Brit Oval cricket ground ad the Oval House theatre bring in visitors for sport and drama. The church is surrounded by a diverse range of industry. People who live and work here come from all over the world. Cafes and restaurants bring in the spices of India or Ethiopia. Christian churches are growing in South London. Much of this vigour comes from the presence of Christians from Africa and the Caribbean. St. Mark’s Church is home to several African congregations. It’s own Anglican congregation hosts members from many different countries. “
This Church being faithful to the call of Jesus Christ is committed to worship God, to love people and to reach the world.”