St. Andrew's Church in Moscow is a community of Christians who seek to
History of St Andrew's
The story of the English Church in Moscow, Part 2. People often ask about the history of St. Andrew's. Jean Coussmaker tells us some more of the background to the chaplaincy.
Part one ended with the consecration of the new Church of St. Andrew, which replaced the smaller British Chapel on the same site. Completed in 1884 the building "exclusive of stained glass and other presentations" cost 213 616 roubles. The Russia Company contributed 25 000 roubles, and the rest was raised by the congregation. The records show how proud they were of their new church: "besides the Church, which has 300 sittings, a Cloakroom is provided under the organ and the choir gallery, and a wing is built out on the south side, three storeys in height, for Library, Committee Room, Vestry, Organist's Rooms, Lavatories, etc, under the church are the hot water heating apparatus and rooms for the church servants, and under the chancel a mortuary has been made." Bishop Bury, recorded in his book "Russian Life Today" (1915) that St. Andrew's looked like a typical English Parish Church, "almost startlingly like, it seems in that ancient capital, to a bit of a London suburb."
The tower is of particular interest. There was no belfry, as only Orthodox churches at that time were allowed bells, but in the tower was a Strong Room containing strong boxes and drawers, which could be hired by members of the congregation who wished to deposit valuables or securities. Six roubles a year was charged for a large drawer, 3 roubles for a small one, and there was an additional "opening fee" of 50 or 25 kopecks respectively every time a drawer was opened. When the church was taken over by the Bolsheviks in 1918, they removed 126 strong boxes from the tower. Probably no-one will ever know what became of their contents. The tower rooms today contain the Melodiya archives. [Note: The Melodiya archives were removed by members of the congregation in 2001, and the tower now houses the Anglican-Orthodox Education Centre.]
The church also housed a library which had its own librarian and committee, and a set of strict rules. Those who lived outside Moscow were required to provide a "suitable box for the safe conveyance of the books to and fro," The Library Committee reports have also survived and make fascinating reading. In 1915 there was a major reorganisation of the library, which included opening the "Forbidden Cupboard" to discover what it contained. Apart from back copies of The Economist, they found a number of theological works dating from the 17th & 18th centuries, but nothing to shock the searchers!
Few photographs remain of St. Andrew's before it was confiscated in 1919, but the meticulous record keeping by the church clerk help to give us an idea of what it must have looked like. A list of "presentations" indicates that almost all the church windows were filled with stained glass, mostly depicting episodes in the life of Christ, and donated by families in memory of those who had died. The chancel window of the Ascension was erected by the congregation in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Jubilee. One wonders if their choice of subject was influenced by the street name, or by the dedication of the little Church of the Ascension on the corner of the street?