The building of St John's started in 1816 on the site of what had previously been a council-owned market garden. It cost £18,000, and the finished church was consecrated on Maundy Thursday, 19 March 1818. St John's was designed by the eminent architect, William Burn, in the perpendicular Gothic style. During construction the size of the church was increased from seven bays to eight. In January 1818 a storm blew down the open lantern that originally sat atop the tower of the still uncompleted church, which was not replaced.