HRH The Duke of Gloucester visits National Churches Trust funded east London churches

HRH The Duke of Gloucester KG GCVO has visited three east London churches which have been awarded significant grants by the National Churches Trust. The visits to St John on Bethnal Green, St John of Jerusalem, Hackney and Memorial Community Church, Plaistow took place on Wednesday 24 April as part of the National Churches Trust’s 60th anniversary year celebrations.

HRH The Duke of Gloucester KG GCVO and The Revd Andrew Wilson, Rector of St John of Jerusalem, Hackney, London

HRH The Duke of Gloucester KG GCVO and The Revd Andrew Wilson, Rector of St John of Jerusalem, Hackney, London

HRH The Duke of Gloucester, who read architecture at Magdalene College, Cambridge, and who was formerly a partner in a firm of London architects, is Vice Patron of the National Churches Trust.
A selection of photos of the visit can be downloaded on our flickr site

The three churches visited by HRH The Duke of Gloucester were:

St John on Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, which since 2005 has received funding of £54,000 from the National Churches Trust for roof and tower repairs and re-wiring. St John on Bethnal Green, listed Grade I, is by the great Georgian architect, Sir John Soane, and was consecrated in 1828. It occupies a commanding position at the head of Bethnal Green Road and is a landmark for the whole area.

The church seeks to combine dignified traditional worship with a commitment to social justice and an engagement with contemporary arts. St John’s has been listed in The Guardian newspaper as one of the top five cultural highlights of the East End because of its mixture of spirituality and art.

HRH the Duke of Gloucester was shown around St John on Bethnal Green by Rector Alan Green, who is also Tower Hamlets Borough Chaplain and the Bishop of Stepney’s Inter Faith Adviser.

St John of Jerusalem, Hackney, which since 2007 has received funding of £65,000 from the National Churches Trust for roof and stone repairs. St John of Jerusalem is a grade II* church by Hakewill. Neo-gothic in style, it was built of sandy limestone that has been crumbling ever since it was consecrated in 1848.The church helps to provide a winter night shelter for homeless people and hosts concerts and a wide range of other events.

HRH The Duke of Gloucester was shown around St John of Jerusalem by the Revd Andrew Wilson, who has been Rector since January 2009. (Richard Gloucester is Grand Prior of the world-wide Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem, the Anglican ‘equivalent’ of the Order of Malta of which the Queen is Sovereign.

Memorial Community Church, Plaistow, Newham which since 2007 has received funding of £60,000 from the National Churches Trust for the installation of toilets and improved access and for repairs to brickwork, rainwater goods and windows.

The Memorial Baptist Church building was opened in 1922 to house the church and its welfare work. The architect was William Hayne. In the East tower there is a unique chime of ten pealing bells cast by Gillett and Johnston of Croydon in 1925. The names of 169 men from the church and local community who were killed in the First World War of 1914-1918 are cast on the bells.The church works extensively with the local community through projects such as Bridges and youth work, and links with other groups such as Alternatives’ We Are Family Project and Transform Newham’s group of four churches in Plaistow.HRH The Duke of Gloucester was shown around Memorial Community Church, by Rev Mark Janes.

Claire Walker, Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust said: “For 60 years we have been helping churches, chapels and meeting houses stay open. Since 1953 we have given over 12,000 grants and loans, worth £85 million at today’s prices., to fund urgent repairs and modernisation of places of worship throughout the United Kingdom.. We were honoured by the visit of HRH The Duke of Gloucester KG GCVO to three east London churches we have funded and were able to show him how our support is helping to secure their future.”

Also taking part in the visit were: Lt Col Alastair Todd, Private Secretary and Comptroller to TRH The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Luke March DL, Chairman National Churches Trust, Claire Walker, Chief Executive National Churches Trust, Jennie Page CBE, Trustee National Churches Trust, John Maudslay, The Mercers’ Company Church Committee ,Georgina Nayler, Director The Pilgrim Trust and Michael Elks, Partner RadcliffesLeBrasseur.

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