Thank heavens: St Pancras Church wins prestigious locally-named award
PUBLISHED: 12:56 16 June 2017 | UPDATED: 12:26 19 June 2017
Repairs to St Pancras Church portico have been recognised through award named after Highgate poet John Betjeman
St Pancras Church has won a prestigious architectural conservation award. The John Betjeman Award is granted by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), founded by William Morris in 1877, and was given on a account of the repairs carried out to the Ionic portico of the Regency Era Greek Revival church.
The award is given in aid of a project that has completed repairs to places of worship in memory of local poet Sir John Betjeman.
Betjeman was baptised at St Anne’s Church on Highgate West Hill and grew up in Lissenden Gardens in Gospel Oak. The family then moved to West Hill, Highgate in 1909 where the young poet attended Highgate School under the watchful eye of T.S. Eliot. The award is fitting given that Sir John Betjeman was instrumental in the saving of St Pancras Station, where a statue of the campaigner now stands.
St Pancras Church is famed for its huge columns on the front façade and the cayatids which sit opposite the Euston Road. It was completed in 1822 to the design of William and Henry Inwood for the purpose of catering to the ‘New Road’ estate in Bloomsbury.
Funded in two-thirds by the Heritage Lottery Fund, with the rest given by individuals and Church organisations, extensive repairs were carried out to the roof, parapet and terracotta by a conservation team led by Alan Chandler and Marcus Chantrey. The judges praised the time and effort given to the project, as well as the in-depth understanding and concentration on its foibles and idiosyncrasies.
Judge Rachel Morley said: “We were especially pleased with the team’s forward-looking approach – not only developing a recipe for this rare form of terracotta to inform future repairs, but also supporting the craftspeople that possess these skills.”
Architect Alan Chandler said: “The Portico project was a collaboration in a true sense - between two architects, Arts Lettres Techniques and b2 architects, between us and our craftspeople, notably leadworkers MS Lock and our terracotta manufacturer Darwen, and between the parish and the local community – particularly the children who learned about the fabric of the building and lovingly drew the caryatids while half the church was inelegantly encased in a cage of scaffolding and corrugated metal.”
St Pancras Church received a commemorative scroll adorned with a John Piper church print in recognition of the award in York on June 10th.
The Revd. Anne Stevens, vicar of St Pancras Church, commented: “In an area blighted by poor development, the classical elegance of the building continues to lift the heart, and to remind people of the timeless values of faith, hope and love in our busy world.”
See next week’s Ham & High Heritage page for the history of St Pancras Church.