Christ Church Spitalfields
Conservation & Restoration Winner 2005
Client/Owner: The Friends of Christ Church, Spitalfields
Architect: Purcell Miller Tritton
Structural Engineer: Hockley and Dawson
Main Contractor/Builder: Wallis Special Projects
Joinery: Wallis Joinery
Wood Species: English & European Oak
Black with soot for many decades, Hawksmoor’s Christ Church Spitalfields in East London is gleaming white once more. It has been restored not only as a place of worship, but as an opera house, concert hall and an example of the briefly flourishing English Baroque.
Inside, Christ Church is the height of Exeter cathedral and its volume is half that of the nave of St Pauls. Little wonder the restoration took more than a quarter of a century to achieve. Sir William Whitfield had run the restoration project since 1977. In 2002 the baton was handed to Purcell Miller Tritton, which completed the remaining works. The interior consisted of a new richly stained oak gallery level, new vestry staircases, timber panelling to the aisle and some elegant curving to the stone columns. This was all manufactured to Hawksmoor’s 1720 design, but with some modern additions such as disabled access and underfloor heating.
The architect says one of the most difficult decisions was establishing the correct finish for the English oak interior. Integration of the old and new was vital to the success of the project. The overall effect is one of grandeur and the patron’s wish to restore Hawksmoor’s spatial intentions has been fulfilled. The judges were impressed by the quality of finish and workmanship. They describe it as ‘…a very high quality piece of work of which all concerned can be proud.’