On his arrival as Rector in 1882, Prebendary Frederick Hall recognized that the construction of Friern Hospital and the arrival of the railway had encouraged significant growth on the southern half of the parish of Friern Barnet.
The Rector believed that a second Christian focus was needed. St James’, the Parish Church had been enlarged in the 1850s but was deemed too small and too distant from the new housing development. He built a Rectory, (now demolished), on the southern part of the church site and the Grammar School, (now Woodside Park International School), on the opposite side of Friern Barnet Road.
Rector Hall had been curate at St. Augustine’s, Kilburn, a magnificent example of J L Pearson’s ecclesiastical architectural work, and he commissioned Pearson to design St. John’s. He requested that the east end should be reminiscent of the ruined Cistercian Abbey he had visited at Heisterbach in Germany. The foundation stone was laid on the 10th October 1890; see the stained glass window in the clerestory on the south side of the choir.