History in Structure

Former Congregational Church (Azhar Academy Girl's School)

A Grade II Listed Building in Forest Gate South, London

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Latitude: 51.546 / 51°32'45"N

Longitude: 0.0201 / 0°1'12"E

OS Eastings: 540174

OS Northings: 184947

OS Grid: TQ401849

Mapcode National: GBR LR.9RJ

Mapcode Global: VHHNB.9DHP

Plus Code: 9F32G2WC+C2

Entry Name: Former Congregational Church (Azhar Academy Girl's School)

Listing Date: 25 October 1984

Last Amended: 11 August 2008

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1293483

English Heritage Legacy ID: 204955

ID on this website: 101293483

Location: Forest Gate, Newham, London, E7

County: London

District: Newham

Electoral Ward/Division: Forest Gate South

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Newham

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: Forest Gate Emmanuel with Upton Cross St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford

Tagged with: Architectural structure

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(North side)
Former Congregational Church (Azhar Ac
ademy Girl's School)

(Formerly listed as:
(Formerly listed as:

Former Congregational Church of 1880 by T Lewis Banks with church hall of 1883. Later known as United Reformed Church. Converted in 2002-3 to a school, the Azhar Academy Girl's School.

MATERIALS: Knapped flint with red stone and red brick dressings, tiled roof.

EXTERIOR: Early English Gothic style. Externally the former church is largely as constructed, having an nave with lean-to aisles, south-eastern vestry and 3-stage buttressed and pinnacled tower with short spire to the south-west; the former church hall abuts the church's east end. The tower has triple arcading to top stage with a gabled centre panel of louvres and blind arcading below. To Romford Road, the west end has two gabled, porched entrances with arcades between on the ground floor above which are three lancets with brick mullions flanked by trefoil arches and single lancets; the uppermost portion of the gable has triple lancets, flanked by blind single lancets, and a decorative cross set into panel of red stone at the apex, the pinnacle of which is missing. To the right of the entrance is a projecting vestry, which resembles a short tower at the lower levels with arcading to ground floor and buttresses to corners, triple mullioned windows to first floor, and parapet above. It is surmounted by a steeply pitched, curved-hipped, tiled structure, almost semi-circular, with continuous timber mullioned glazing with leaded lights. Twin gabled transepts project to either side of the nave with round-arched, stepped lancet windows, moulded brick mullions and stone pilasters. The two-storey, gabled former church hall to the rear of the building has gabled porches facing west. The lancet windows to the west and north have all been infilled with breezeblocks. The single bay joining the former church to the hall has been converted into a stair and heightened with glazed clerestory and a modern roof. A two-storey former clergy house with gables to north and south abuts the rear of the hall to the east. It is of flint with brick quoins, chimney stacks and window dressings, and the gable to the north is rendered. The window to ground floor has been blocked which is adjacent to a small brick porch with pitched roof.

INTERIOR: None of the original fixtures and fittings remain. Classrooms and offices have been inserted into the former nave, arranged across two mezzanines, fronted with glass to the central hall areas. The upper floors are reached by a stair and lift in the tower and the stair at the rear between the school and old hall. The nave arcading - large sandstone pillars - and aisle and clerestory window mouldings remain exposed and the contrast between modern and historic materials means the old arrangement is roughly readable, assisted by the use of glass partitions. The windows have red brick and red stone arched dressings with red stone pilasters and moulded motifs, some have stained glass in the upper sections. At first floor the timber wall posts, hammer beams and arched braces on stone corbels are visible in the modern classrooms. A floor inserted at the impost level of the roof vault has created a large prayer hall in the roof space where the impressive original hammerbeam roof is visible. A second prayer hall is accommodated in the former church hall to the rear; a suspended ceiling has been inserted here but window openings and wall posts to the roof structure are visible. The former clergy house is used for utilites.

HISTORY: The building was constructed in 1883 to designs by T Lewis Banks for the Congregational Church. The foundation stone was laid by Henry Wright Esq JP, and the builder was Charles Sharpe. It abutted a church hall, built by the same congregation and architect, dating from 1880 which survives to the rear of the former church. The building became known as the United Reformed Church in the second half of the C20 and in 2002, having become redundant as a church, was granted listed building consent for conversion to a school. The Azhar Academy Girl's School opened in 2003.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The former Congregational Church is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* it is a landmark on Romford Road, in particular its impressive tower with pinnacled buttresses and short spire;
* good composition and detailing in the Early English style;
* the use of materials is good, including knapped flint, sandstone and red brick dressings (the former untypical in this area);
* an interesting ensemble of buildings, as was common in non-conformist churches, including a slightly earlier church hall of 1880 and a clergy house.

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