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20 September 2009

Christ Church Spitalfields

Christ Church Spitalfields, on Commercial Street close to Brick Lane and Spitalfields Market, was designed by Hawksmoor and built between 1714 and 1729.

In 1711, an Act of Parliament was passed which required the building of fifty new churches to serve new populations on what were then the fringes of London, and this church was one of the results. Christ Church served the East End for many years, but by 1957 it was basically derelict. It was saved from demolition by the Hawksmoor Committee, and by 1966 funds had been raised for the roof to be rebuilt, partially through money raised by the sale of St John’s Smith Square.

In 1976, the Friends of Christ Church Spitalfields was formed to restore the church, and services resumed in 1987. The portico at the west end was repaired and cleaned in 1986, and the tower and spire were restored by 1997. The south façade was cleaned in 1999, revealing the whiteness of the Portland stone. The north and east façades were repaired and cleaned in 1999–2000, and the interior was restored by 2004. So now, it's all back in working order.

It's a beautiful church, with a lot of character, and has attracted many admirers. In fact, your author once heard a lovely tale about a scruffy looking artist type approaching church staff to ask if they could organise a special tour her friend Dave, as he was a big Hawksmoor fan. Rumour has it that the artist in question was local resident Tracey Emin and her friend Dave was none other than David Bowie.

For more information, see the Friends of Christ Church Spitalfields website at http://www.christchurchspitalfields.org.

^Picture by Mike Roberts NYC^

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