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Christ Church Hampstead

Christ Church is the Church of England parish church for an area lying to the immediate north east of Hampstead village; it is a few minutes walk from the Heath and incorporates the eighteenth century development of New End. The population of the parish is c 3,000. The church is in the North Camden Deanery (Edmonton Area) of the Diocese of London.

Its traditions and history link the church closely with the Heath, much of which is within its parish. On Ascension Day the children from Christ Church Primary School are led by the vicar on a Heath walk, beating the bounds of the parish.

Today’s congregation is drawn from a wide area and includes a number of young families from all kinds of different backgrounds and a variety of nationalities.

History

Christ Church in 1860
Christ Church in 1860 (courtesy of hampsteadheath.net)

 

Christ Church 1980
Christ Church interior in 1941, photograph Victor Inman
©Victor Inman, reproduced courtesy of Burgh House & Hampstead Museum

The present church was erected between 1850 and 1852 to designs by the architect Samuel Daukes in the Early English Gothic style. In 1860 a timber gallery was erected by Sir Gilbert Scott (this was dismantled in the 1960s). In 1881–82 the north porch and aisle were added to designs by Ewan Christian. The church is constructed of Kentish ragstone with Portland stone dressings and slate roofs.

In 1855 the church built a primary school adjacent, originally for infants. By the post-World War II period the school catered to kindergarten (ages 3 – 5) and primary (ages 5 – 11) mixed gender pupils, organized as one class per year. This was one of many such church-associated schools in the area.

The grand restoration

The Grand Restoration
Nave and Chancel
during restoration in 2017

Since the church's construction in 1852, no major restoration work had taken place for more than 150 years and the ravages of time became all too evident. This is why in 2015, major renovation works commenced to lovingly restore the building with its lofty spire back to its former glory.

Crumbling stonework, broken and darkened with centuries of grime, received sympathetic cleaning and repairs, revealing its naturally mellow stone colour. The roof which had miraculously survived 150 years of high winds and torrential rainstorms, was thoroughly examined and strengthened and re-slated with a mix of new and re-used Welsh slates.and re-slated with a mix of new and re-used Welsh slates.

The large West Window, made up of 24 beautiful stained glass shields, was in danger of collapse and had its shields painstakingly repaired and restored by Lincolnshire Stained Glass Studio. Fading and flaking paintwork throughout the Nave was re-decorated and made beautiful again.

The west window
Evening Service in Christ Church, 9 August 1935, photograph Victor Inman ©Victor Inman, reproduced courtesy of Burgh House & Hampstead Museum

The West Window dates from the original building (1850-1852) as do the patterned windows in the Vestry and behind the organ. The East Window was installed later during renovation in the 1880’s when the roof dormer windows were added to increase the natural light. The three stained glass windows in the South Aisle date from 1895-1900. Two were given by families. The Middle Window was given by the Church school in memory of a headteacher. There is a project to add more stained glass to the Church as examples of the ‘Gothic Revival’ design heritage of the building.

Fundraising is currently ongoing to raise money for the last phase of the Grand Restoration, when the old, defective timber flooring is scheduled to be replaced and the raised Chancel will finally have a permanent floor and will be re-tiled using 19th Century French limestone and slate tiles sourced from the former historic Palais de Justice in Nantes and Poitiers.

The Grand Restoration has been made possible by the very generous gifts and contributions that the church received from many philanthropic sponsors and contributors, for which we are extremely grateful.

Should you wish to support this project, please visit the donations page. Your support is immensely valued and much appreciated.

Future projects being contemplated include further renovation and acquisition of stained glass, reconstruction of the lost west gallery by Gilbert Scott, and a new organ.