Roots Down, Branches Out

A short history of Christ Church

Built on a site given by John Dawes, a local landlord and benefactor, Christ Church was completed and consecrated in 1848 to the design of the architect Thomas Allom.  It was originally built as a preaching church in a cruciform shape with short chancel, transepts and nave.  There is a framed invitation to the opening ceremony in the Fellowship Room at the back of the church which shows the shorter nave and the original west entrance as seen from Highbury Fields.

In 1872 the west front was demolished and the building extended by two bays exactly matching the style of the original to the design of Williams and Crouch with side entrance vestibules and stairs leading to further seating in a balcony above.

At about the same time a site for the vicarage and garden was enclosed which removed the fine vista and approach to the main west doors from the Fields leaving only a narrow path for access.

In the 1980s following the amalgamation of the parishes of Christ Church, St John’s and St Saviour’s, an extensive programme of repair and re-ordering was begun.  The top of the spire was rebuilt and the roofs and stonework were repaired.  A wall was built across the nave so that the worship area reverted to the original cruciform shape.  The extension was converted into two storeys of rooms for church and community use.  Below is the Fellowship Room with the Angel Room above.

The worship area was simplified and the pews removed and replaced with chairs to allow flexibility.  The pipe organs were repositioned to where the choir had been in the chancel allowing more room for the congregation.  The timber vestries and other clutter were removed simplifying the shape.

The pine timber roof above the central octagon is particularly impressive and there are fine stained glass windows in the chancel and north and south transepts by Francis Spear.  These date from 1955 and replace the original glass destroyed during the Second World War