Thursday 10 April 2008

Come on St Stephen's...

At the top of Haverstock Hill, on Rosslyn Hill, at the bottom of Hampstead High Street, at the top of Pond Street, opposite the bottom of Lyndhurst Road sits St. Stephen's Church - you will gather that it's quite well placed on a key junction.

It is without a doubt one of the more intimidating architectural features in the local landscape.

It is both heralded by those who love it and openly damned by those who loathe it - I'm ambivalent in terms of preference for it, but am genuinely impressed by the dark, heavy and looming demeanour of it. I'm told it's early French Gothic style...

Designed by Samuel Sanders Teulon it is considered to be his masterpiece, even his magnum opus, but he died soon after it's 1869-1871 construction and so didn't see the full splendour in use by worshippers - one church census has 1,372 present in 1886.

As part of the restoration fundraising I went on a tour on one of the open days - organised and co-ordinated by Stephen Taylor it has become a work of love. The building inside is stunning (a great staging of Shakespearean plays is relatively frequent) and the tiling, the carving and painting is just breath taking as well as the much survived stained glass.

I'm sure it needs a full photographic and architectural study and this no doubt will follow with the opening which I think is in the near future.

The church became redundant in 1977 and has now been taken over by the St Stephen's renovation trust - they are converting back into use as a community type centre with rooms and space for markets, bazaars and the like as well as performances as well as digging in a basement for the next door school.

It is this basement that you can see in two of these pictures taken from the side (from the Hampstead Green side).

Not unsurprisingly really the building is a grade 1 listed building and when you pause and see the carved angels on the exterior you realise why...

I don't give naked plugs on this site but the restoration of this building to it's glory is a benefit to all and a massive enhancement of this part of the area:
Mr Michael Taylor, St Stephens, Pond Street, London, NW3 2PP
Phone: 020-7433 1272
Fax: 020-7433 1272

If you can help or donate etc then please do get in touch - it's taken a long time to get to this stage but it's so so worthwhile. And what's the alternative? - a better view of the Royal Free Hospital - I don't think so!

If you're interested in this sort of restoration then have a peek at the buildings at risk register:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, yes....but why is it taking so long? This saga has been running for nearly twenty years now.
Get a bleedin' move on!

ps. let's hope it doesn't end up like the Hampstead Town Hall!