The Church is a unique part of Hackney's heritage. Built in 1563, it's one of the first new Protestant churches in London, and has lovely Tudor brickwork. It was extended in 1828 by Sir Charles Barry, who went on to build the Houses of Parliament. And some prominent anti-slavery campaigners are buried here.
The Church is much valued by local people - we had 500 visitors during an open day last September - but is expensive to run, and we can't afford to open it very often.
So we want to modernise the building and open it up for much wider use, mostly for arts events, by the whole diverse community in Stoke Newington.
We have already hosted popular events, from Early Music to eclectic band Boxcar Aldous Huxley to the Shobana Jayasingh Dance Company.
But the building is cold and uncomfortable with no catering facilities, and only one ancient toilet. We want to make it warm, comfortable, accessible, and welcoming, to host whatever concerts, drama, or exhibitions local people want.
What we'll deliver:
Why it's a great idea:
The church is a terrific building, for its history, its atmosphere, and its acoustic. But it's unused for most of the week, and local people aren't able to appreciate it. It's expensive to maintain, and if nothing is done, the parish might have to take it out of use altogether.
In spite of the cold, and lack of facilities, musicians and actors like performing there, because of the acoustic, and people like coming because of the atmosphere.
We want to open it up as a new arts space for the whole community of Stoke Newington and beyond, open to people of all faiths and none, for concerts, plays, exhibitions, and meetings.
There's already lots of interest from people wanting to put on arts events when we reopen. We also want to showcase the heritage from 450 years of history much better, partly by working with our neighbours at Clissold House.
We've raised the money for the main building work, and now need to buy some nice chairs!
Steps to get it done:
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