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/ 22 July 2015

St Martin’s Gospel Oak nominated for heritage award

St Martin's Gospel Oak with a sunburst over the tower

St Martin’s church in Gospel Oak has been shortlisted in the Best Rescue of a Historic Place of Worship category in the 2015 Historic England Angel Awards. The public is able to vote on the Historic England Heritage Angels website until midnight on 16 August to recognise the ambitious project that saw St Martin’s iconic tower restored to its former glory. St Martin’s is the only London nomination in the category.

One month to vote for Grade I listed church at the heart of the Bacton Estate in Gospel Oak

St Martin’s is an iconic building at the heart of the Bacton Estate in Gospel Oak, and is included in the Simon Jenkins list of 1,000 best churches. Built in 1865, it was described by historian of architecture Sir Nikolaus Pevsner as the ‘craziest’ of London’s Victorian churches. The original design of the tower included four pinnacles and turret that have seen the church compared to a fairytale castle. These were removed following the Second World War due to damage but have been reinstated as part of the restoration.

St Martin’s had been on the Heritage at Risk Register due to the dangerous deterioration of the stonework to the tower and the effect of inappropriate cement repairs. Working with architect Jon Bolter and Pierra Restoration Ltd, the church undertook repairs and restoration including replacement to the ragstone walling and Bath stone dressings along with the reinstatement of the tower’s four ‘fairy tale’ pinnacles and turret. Work was completed in March this year, fittingly the 150th anniversary year of the church’s consecration.

The Revd Chris Brice, Vicar of St Martin with St Andrew Gospel Oak, commented:

“We are delighted that St Martin’s has been shortlisted for this prestigious award and hope that as a result of the publicity many people will be drawn to admire this wonderful church and be attracted to explore this place of worship, prayer, peace and community. Edward Buckton Lamb’s Fairy Tale Gothic Pinnacles and Turret, lost for over 70 years, once again grace the London skyline reminding us all of the timeless truths of the Christian Faith and re-assuring us of the abiding presence of God in the midst of our busy and often difficult lives.”

The £350,000 restoration project received funding from a legacy of £50,000 by a recently deceased church member and £15,000 from the church’s own fundraising efforts as well as support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Diocese of London and the Heritage of London Trust.

St Martin’s is a community hub as well as visible presence on the Bacton Estates, which are themselves undergoing extensive regeneration. The church supports a number of community organisations and houses the office of local homeless charity, The Simon Community, with whom the church also runs an annual emergency winter night shelter. The church also currently works with the charity PRAXIS to offer temporary accommodation to destitute asylum seekers in part of the vicarage. In addition, St Martin’s provides a regular rehearsal and concert venue for a variety of musical organisations and individuals.

Historic England Angel Awards

The project receiving the most votes from the public will be presented with an award at the Historic England Angel Awards ceremony in London on 7 September 2015. The voting deadline is midnight 16 August 2015. Please vote for St Martin’s.

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The diocesan communications team provides support to the network of clergy, churches, parishes and other worshipping communities that comprises the Diocese of London, as well as to the staff teams of the London Diocesan Fund.

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