Between 1854 and St John the Evangelist, Mansfield, was built with funds donated by Henry Gally Knight, who left £6,000 to the church in his will.
Gally Knight also left the whole of his Firbeck property to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners on condition that they built the church and, elsewhere, parsonages where needed. Income was also to be used to augment small livings. As part of his donation, Knight made it a condition that there should be at least 500 free seats in the church.
Alongside the money left by Knight, the parishioners raised £1,000 towards the cost of building the church and on 6 January 1855 the foundation stone was laid by the Bishop of Lincoln. Nottinghamshire was in the Diocese of Lincoln at that time.
The church, designed by H. I. Stevens, is in the Early Decorated style, with a nave, chancel, two side aisles, and an 80 foot embattled tower with a 100 foot spire, all set within a large grassy churchyard.
It is built with stone obtained from the neighbourhood, while stone inside the church is from Ancaster.
The nave spans 92 feet 6 inches and the width is 59 feet 6 inches, including the aisles.
Internally it was fitted out with open benches made from stained deal, with accommodation for 1,000 people, with half the seats free in accordance with Gally Knight’s instructions.
The font is made from Mansfield stone and was presented to the church by Mr Charles Lindley of Westfield house.
Pevsner (1979) thought the detail of the church to be good, with a variety of tracery patterns, especially the broad flowing tracery in the east window.
On 29 July 1856 the church was consecrated by the Bishop of Lincoln and in the same year the register for births and marriages began.
There was a scandal in September 1866 when the first incumbent, the Rev John Thomas Brameld, a married man with four children, eloped with Catharine ‘Kate’ Paulson, the daughter of a local surgeon. According to the Sheffield Daily Telegraph she 'had been a very zealous member of the rev. gentleman’s congregation for the last six or seven years, and for some time a close intimacy has been noted between them, but nothing has ever taken place to justify any suspicion of an elopement.' At the time it was thought they had emigrated to Australia but, in fact, the couple had moved to Scotland. They changed their names to Grey, had a child in 1875 and married in 1888 after Brameld's wife died.
A gas explosion damaged the church during a service on 8 Februrary 1871. A gas leak had been detected a few days earlier and the clerk, Jeremiah Pool, unwisely decided to examine the floor at the west end of the nave with a lighted wax taper. A sudden explosion shook the church, destroyed several pews, sent part of an arcade pier through the roof and severely damaged several stained glass windows. Pool was badly cut about the face and sustained burns on his body; other members of the congregation were also injured.
In 1888 a carved oak pulpit was given to the church by Miss Savage in memory of the late Mrs Savage. An oak lectern was given in 1909.
By 1900 the area to the north-west of the church was developing rapidly to house the increasing number of miners needed to work in the local collieries. The decision was taken by St John's to establish a mission hall on Broomhill Lane to serve the growing population here and on 30 November 1908 Lady Victoria Cavendish Bentinck laid the foundation stone of St Andrew's Mission Room. The red brick building was dedicated by the Bishop of Southwell on 24 January 1909.
Between 1911 and 1915 Hoskyns visited the church and noted that the net annual value of the benefice was £335 and the population in 1911 was 13,106 which had grown significantly since 1901 when it was 7,124. There were 453 attending day school at St John and 767 attending Sunday School. In the year ending 30 September 1912, the church had 224 baptisms and 49 confirmations.
In 1921 a Holy Table was dedicated in memory of those who lost their lives in the First World War. Their names are recorded on a metal tablet fixed to the south wall near the font.
In 1926 the Lilley Memorial Chapel was dedicated in memory of the Rev. William Lilley, vicar 1909-17.
In 1973 the church was threatened with closure because of what was perceived to be too great a concentration of churches located in the centre of Mansfield, but it remained open in 2018.
In 1976 the interior stone work in the church was cleaned.
In 2016 the church was awarded £207,400 by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The money was to fund the repair of 'the timber, stonework, guttering, plaster and decoration as well as re-slating the nave and aisles roofs ... and also provide interpretation on the church and its place within the town with a focus on the key individuals that enabled the church to be built.'