An illustration of Christ Church Spitalfields from its front facade, showing a semi-circular pediment and a large porch, leading the eye upwards to the clock and the spire. The church is situated in Shoreditch, East London Click the image to enlarge

And your Church in the Spittle-Fields, is it near complete?

— Peter Ackroyd, Hawksmoor

Learn more about Christ Church Spitalfields below...

History

Christ Church was one of the new churches built in London as part of the Commission for Building Fifty New Churches in 1711; results from a report showed that with the growth of the population within the city and its surrounding areas, many people did not have access to a nearby church.

The building was designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, who also worked on six of the other churches under the Commission of which only 12 were built. The construction process began in 1714 but was not completed until 1729 due to funding problems, and there were more than a few years in between where no work was being carried out on the church at all.

Since its beginnings, the building has been through at least two large alterations — in 1866 and the 1960s. The first alteration by Ewan Christian changed the appearance of the interior and exterior, and the most recent saw a multi-million restoration of the church back to its original form, which was only completed in 2004.

Did you know?

The original organ built in 1735 was the largest in England at the time with over two thousand pipes, and remained so for the next 100 years. In 2014, the newly restored organ was installed after falling into disrepair and disuse from about the 1960s onwards.

Images of the organ

The architecture

The church is built on a west-east axis, with the entrance of the church facing onto Commercial Street. Steps lead up to the portico with six Tuscan columns holding up a semi-circular arch, laid out in a Palladian form with two rectangular openings on either side. As you look up, you can see the 62m spire towering above you.

It is built on a rectangular plan in stone and brick, measuring just over 28.5m in length. On the east side of the church is a Venetian window echoing the arched pediment of the west side and contains a Victorian stained glass window, hinting at the lunette windows seen around the building.

Inside, the nave is flanked by aisles with elliptical barrel-vaulted ceilings supported by Composite order columns, with the ceilings of both the aisles and the nave elaborately decorated in foliage designs. Oak is widely used as part of the church's interior architecture and decor, with wooden columns supporting the organ gallery and a beautiful organ case in Baroque style.

With its simplistically elegant form, Christ Church has become known as one of Nicholas Hawksmoor’s finest buildings.

See images of Christ Church Spitalfields