The story of the Church is closely linked to that of The Shrubbery next door (the church was basically built in its front garden!) One of the grand houses on the edge of Clapham Common, The Shrubbery was built in the 1790s and enlarged in the 1840s. As London expanded it became part of the built-up area and, in 1885, was sold to the Vicar of Battersea and used as a school.

The parish was formed in 1895. There was already a building in Rush Hill Road (St Matthew's, opened in 1877 and not finally abandoned until 1941) but it was felt that something more substantial was needed. St Barnabas' was built in the grounds of The Shrubbery and opened in 1898. It is one of some twenty churches built by William Bassett-Smith (1830-1901) and is in the fourteenth-century Decorated Gothic style. The reredos of the Last Supper was carved in Caen stone by a local sculptor, Thomas Rudge, and is contemporary with the Church.

The Shrubbery served as parish halls until it was sold in 1986. The money raised by the sale paid for the Church to be completely refurbished in 1994. The organ was restored in 1997.

In the 1950s and 60s, St Barnabas became home to many from the Windrush Generation and we were proud to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush and the positive way it changed our church in June 2018.