Back in the early 90s St. Stephen’s was a closed, redundant and near derelict church. Under the leadership of Revd Tom Guillam, a team came from Holy Trinity, Brompton to refurbish and re-open the church. This took enormous faith, generosity, dedication and hard work, but with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Diocese of London, the City of Westminster and local residents the seemingly impossible was achieved and St. Stephen’s was re-opened.
However – worryingly – in 2004 one the columns in the church appeared to subside and significant cracks appeared in the structure. Over time, despite careful monitoring and many remedial repairs executed at great cost, the problem only seemed to be getting worse. More and more significant cracks were appearing in the building. Historic England inspected the building and placed this Grade II heritage church in ‘Category A ‘ on their ‘at-risk’ register for listed buildings. Monitoring and short term repairs were no longer enough. A long term solution was required.
After years of careful examination and thorough investigation, it became more apparent where and why the building was moving. Under the expert guidance of our architect, Colin Kerr, and our structural engineer, Sinclair Johnston, a proposal for extensive structural repairs was developed. The plan has been carefully considered, approved and supported by the Diocese of London and Historic England.
The overall project seeks to address the structural issues, preserve this historic building for generations to come, promote the important heritage of this church, enable it to continue as a place of vibrant Christian worship and discipleship, and remain a centre for significant levels of community activity.
All this has been made possible through the energy and commitment of the Parochial Church Council given over many years and the fantastic support of the wider congregation.
St. Stephen’s are enormously grateful for the financial support of the Heritage Lottery Fund who have awarded the project a grant of £181,700 which constitutes 57% of the overall cost. In raising further funds, the congregation themselves have been the major donors, with further support from grants from the Diocese of London and kind donations from neighbours and friends of the church.
And so now the work has begun with our contractor, Universal Stone, getting things underway with a flurry of activity since early January. It is anticipated the structural repairs will be completed later this summer.
In the meantime worship continues in a restricted space in the church each Sunday, and all the usual community activities are able to continue throughout the rest of the week.
If you would like to see first hand the work in the church and learn more about the repairs being carried out, the PCC invites you to an Open Evening on Monday, 19th March anytime between 6-9pm. All are welcome.