Christ Church Spitalfields - porch
E1, Commercial Street, Christ Church Spitalfields - porch
Church, erected 1714 - 29, by Hawksmoor. Church website. The church has a history of selecting nominatively-determined architects: Ewan Christian and Samuel William Iron (see Isambard Brunel for more.)
These 3 plaques are inside the porch: 'fire' and 'alterations' on the back wall, with 'western entrance' on the left side wall.
This 1890 map is useful.
The rest of the text here comes from a modern information board in the garden to the south of the church:
Christ Church Gardens - Purchased by the church commissioners from the Heath distillery family for £600 in 1711, they stretched from Brick Lane in the east to the back of the houses in Red Lyon Street in the west. By 1732 the engine house occupied the south west corner with Christ Church School standing in the north west corner of the gardens.
An 1838 parliamentary report described Spitalfields as one of the poorest, most overcrowded and most crime-ridden districts in London: harbouring “an extremely immoral population”. During 1843-45 Red Lyon Street and its slums were cleared to make way for the new Commercial Street which now runs alongside the church gardens. In June 1859 the churchyard was closed to burials and dedicated as a ‘lawn or ornamental ground’ with a new school building at the east end on Brick Lane opening in 1873.
In 1888 trams began running along Commercial Street, and in 1891 the local authority undertook the garden maintenance, however by 1903 the gardens were widely known as Itchy park; a notorious rendezvous for homeless men seeking casual work in the fruit market.
During the 1900’s the gardens housed a small park, an adventure playgound and a youth club. Entered through the gardens, the church crypt was used as an air raid shelter during the war. Today the gardens still provide space for rest and renewal in the lee of what many believe to the architect Nicholas Hawksmoor’s finest church building.