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

17:30 12 March 2014

'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

Archant

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.

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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