The Old Church in Stoke Newington: The Epitome of Resilience
The Old Church is an exquisite, not-for-profit art venue housed in a grade II listed building on Stoke Newington Church Street, North of Hackney. As the name implies, it was once a place of worship.
So, how did it go from a small old abandoned church to the cornerstone of Stoke Newington’s artistic community? Read on to find out.
A Walk Down Memory Lane: The Old Church in the Beginning
Although it was built in the 15th century, the site where the Old Church of St Mary sits today has been a place of Christian worship since the 10th century.
The first-ever rector was appointed in the 13th century when the Church became a peculiar of the St. Paul Cathedral.
The current Old Church of Stoke Newington was built between the 1560s and the 16th century by the then Lord of the Manor, Sir William Patten.
It was severely damaged during the Second World War but restored to include better structural features such as a vestry, Victorian pew boxes, a nave roof, and aspire. Thanks to the then rector’s influential and crowd-pulling sermons, the Old Church shot into the limelight in the 19th century.
The Transition into a Community Art Center
The Old Church Stoke remained just that “an old church” until a decade ago when a group of congregants from the St. Mary Church of Stoke Newington decided to take action. The group, dubbed The Old Church Organisation, worked together to identify new and better ways to utilize the space. By the end of 2013, had initiated and completed renovation projects that transformed the Church into a Communal Artspace.
The Old Church of Stoke Newington Today
The Old Church of Stoke Newington was renovated again in 2017 through a Listed Places of Worship Repair Fund grant. It was awarded another grant in 2020 for Tower window repairs.
It’s today one of the most popular spots on Stoke Newington Church Street. Although it’s still a consecrated building, The Old Church runs independently under the partnership between The Old Church Organization and Stoke Newington’s St. Mary Church.
Since its a non-profit organization, the Church hosts Art, musical, theatre, comedy, and other performance-based events to workshops hosted by volunteers as a form of fundraising. The Old Church hosts at least two events every week and family workshops on weekends. Locals are also welcome to reserve the Church for private events.
As an art center housed in a former church at the heart of Stoke Newington’s burgeoning art community, The Old Church is an excellent opportunity for religious centers to participate and give back to society.
Interesting Facts You Didn’t Know about the Old Church.
- It’s the only surviving Elizabethan Church in London
- It was restored within two months after damage in the Blitz
- The Old Church was Anglican and has never been a Roman Catholic place of worship
Why Visit the Old Church
While Stoke Newington has an abundance of notable places, a visit to this North London village is never complete without a stop at the Old Church. Visit to experience what it was like to worship during the Elizabethan period and meet local artists while at it. If you schedule your visit smartly enough, you might be in time for the Stoke Newington Early Music Festival held here annually.