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Church squatters host film screenings and yoga classes as they’re given two weeks to leave

'Spiritual squatters' took over the Rochester Square church almost three weeks ago. Picture: Paul Wright 'Spiritual squatters' took over the Rochester Square church almost three weeks ago. Picture: Paul Wright

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
5:30 PM

A congregation left without a home ­after worshippers broke into their church and made it their own “spiritual sanctuary” has won its battle to remove them from the premises.

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Parishioners of the Rochester Square Spiritualist Church in Rochester Square, Camden Town, discovered their home of almost 90 years had been transformed into a new base for the squatters almost three weeks ago.

The half-a-dozen or so members of the Rainbow Family of Living Light said they ­entered believing it to be abandoned.

Inviting the previous congregation to come to “spiritual workshops and yoga classes”, they turned the church into a home, with sleeping and cooking areas.

But after a hearing at Central London County Court last week, the groups came to a “friendly agreement” with the squatters agreeing to leave by next Wednesday.

Graham Hewitt, assistant general secretary of The Spiritualist National Union, said: “Our congregation has been there since 1926 when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle [Sherlock Holmes author] laid down the church’s foundations. The church was only temporarily closed for repairs. It’s all been a bit disturbing.”

Donny, one of the squatters, said the judge had been “very reasonable” to both groups.

The group say they will be putting on a series of free events at the church before they have to leave on March 19, including film screenings and yoga classes.

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