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/ 21 October 2014

Open church: St John the Evangelist, Notting Hill

A Grade II-listed church of 1844-5, St John’s resembles a miniature cathedral with its cruciform plan and 150 foot-high central tower and spire. It was built to serve the Ladbroke Estate and the surrounding area is still primarily residential, although Notting Hill Gate and Portobello Market are only a short walk away.

The church is open daily from 10.00am to 1pm for worship and visitors – the hours coincide with that of the parish office, which is located at first floor level in the angle of the chancel and north transept. Windows opening into the church make this a good vantage point for surveying the interior.

Although it’s not always accessible to casual visitors, the church is often open outside the publicised hours – it’s usually open all day on Saturday – as it is used regularly for a range of activities, including rehearsals and concerts. For instance, a local opera society usually performs there.

Following daily prayers at 5pm there are various fixtures organised by local community groups and there are also annual events held in the church such as the Notting Hill Mayfest music festival.

Jamie Singleton, the parish administrator, says that being open to visitors has helped to broaden the range of activities that happen in the building. For example, a chance visit led to St John’s becoming a concert venue for the Hammersmith and Fulham Choral Society, whose performances bring in several hundred-strong audiences.

The church is also used for exhibitions: some of the displays relate to a successful bid to the HLF for grant aid for the rebuild of the church’s historic organ, completed last year, but there is also a changing programme based in the south transept, which is a dedicated exhibition space.

Opening times and the extensive range of events in the church are publicised on its website.

This was written by Edmund Harris, formerly of the Parish Property Support Team.

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