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291 Gallery (Former St Augustine's Church)

A Grade II Listed Building in Haggerston, London

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Latitude: 51.5316 / 51°31'53"N

Longitude: -0.0681 / 0°4'5"W

OS Eastings: 534097

OS Northings: 183175

OS Grid: TQ340831

Mapcode National: GBR X5.T4

Mapcode Global: VHGQT.RRVR

Entry Name: 291 Gallery (Former St Augustine's Church)

Listing Date: 3 January 1950

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1235559

English Heritage Legacy ID: 426315

Location: Hackney, London, E2

County: London

District: Hackney

Electoral Ward/Division: Haggerston

Built-Up Area: Hackney

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: St Chad Haggerston

Church of England Diocese: London

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Listing Text

03-JAN-50 (East side)

(Formerly listed as:

1866-7 by Henry Woodyer. Extensive repairs and rebuilding work 1994-8 to convert the then-derelict building into an arts centre.

MATERIALS: Stock brick with limestone dressings. Slate roofs.

PLAN: Nave, chancel, N and S aisles.

EXTERIOR: The nave and chancel are under a continuous roof with lean-to aisles running the full length of the building, achieving an impressive, severe effect. The main body of the church is very tall and has clerestory windows grouped in pairs. The E window is set high up in order, originally, to accommodate a tall reredos designed for the church by Woodyer: it has five lights and the tracery is made up of three circles containing multiple trefoils. At the W end there is a large circular window filled with complex tracery based on cinquefoils: below it are three pairs of two-light windows with cusping trefoils and cinquefoils in the heads.

INTERIOR: With the conversion to an arts centre the aisles, nave and chancel have been partitioned off from one another. The nave arcades have double-chamfered arches with octagonal piers and moulded capitals. The clerestory windows have rere-arches with shafts. Shafts rise from corbels in the valleys of the arcades to the arch-braced roof. The chancel arch leads to the two-bay chancel and is high and wide, supported on semi-circular responds. Both chancel aisles originally contained seating with a vestry at the E end on the N and an organ placed at the E end on the S; later the organ was moved and a chapel created at the E end of the S aisle. The chancel is covered by a timber panelled vault.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The fittings and furnishings have been removed.

HISTORY: St Augustine's is one of six churches built under the Haggerston Church Scheme, intended to serve this poor and densely populated area of the East End. A somewhat awkward site, surrounded by other buildings, was purchased for £2,000 and conveyed to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The foundation stone was laid at the end of 1865 and the consecration took place on 12 April 1867. The builder was Futcher of Salisbury. The final cost was over £9,000, to which the Bishop of London's Fund contributed £750 and the Incorporated Church Building Society promised £200, although this was reduced to £150 since the church was only partially furnished with benches, the remaining seats being chairs.

The architect was Henry Woodyer (1815-96) and this is his only London church. Having considerable private means, he was a `gentleman-architect' who based himself at Grafham, Surrey. He was pupil of the great church architect William Butterfield and established a strong reputation himself for his church work. The greatest concentration of his work is in Surrey and the adjacent counties. His masterpiece is often considered to be Dorking parish church.

St Augustine's, like various other churches in poor districts of inner London, was an important centre of advanced churchmanship in the mid-Victorian period. In 1889 there was daily celebration of communion, altar lights, vestments and the use of incense. An illustration in The Graphic (5 March 1881) shows full ritualist ceremonial taking place in the chancel.

The church suffered bomb and fire damage in the Second World War which was repaired in the 1950s. However, by then its future was uncertain and certainly no services were held after the 1960s. Then a long period of decline and decay set in with redundancy finally being declared in 1983. Over the next ten years it became derelict and came to feature on the English Heritage Buildings at Risk Register. It was sold in 1993 and very extensive work took place to convert it into a gallery/arts centre, the 291 Gallery, which opened in 1998. The work involved, among other things, renewal of the internal plaster, new leaded windows, copings, flooring, new roofs on the N and S aisles, repairs to window surrounds using real and reconstituted stone, much reslating of the nave roof. An entrance was cut through the E end of the N aisle. The work was undertaken to a high standard and matched to the original as far as possible. Internally the original character has, inevitably, been radically changed but this has enabled the building to remain in beneficial use.

John Elliott and John Pritchard (eds), Henry Woodyer, Gentleman Architect, 2002, pp 196-7.
Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 4: North, 1999, pp 513, 516.
Photographs in the National Monuments Record, Swindon, AA 77/2960-2968, AA014086-92.

The 291 Gallery (formerly the church of St Augustine) is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* It is of special interest as a handsome mid-Victorian Gothic Revival church by one of the leading church architects of its time, Henry Woodyer, whose only London church this is.
* The continuous roofline over the nave and chancel and the consistent architectural detailing of these two parts give it a harmonious quality.

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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