Thursday, 12 January 2017

'St Peter's: A Unique Forest Church' project launch!...

St Peter’s: A Unique Forest Church wins National Lottery support
The church of St Peter-in-the-Forest, Walthamstow has received initial support* from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the project, ‘St Peter’s: A Unique Forest Church’, it was announced today. The project aims to restore and remodel parts of this uniquely-sited church to open up the building and its heritage to the whole community.  HLF has awarded initial development funding of £117,500 to help the church to progress their plans to apply for a full grant from them, at a later date.
St Peter-in-the-Forest is an historic, Victorian-built church located in the protected ancient Epping Forest, a short journey away from the Olympic Park and the new communities of East London. The Grade II Listed church is on the Heritage-at-Risk Register and needs urgent restoration. Thanks to National Lottery players, the project will look to correct serious damage caused by the 1950s extension and replace it with a new glazed welcome space to reconnect the church with the surrounding Forest.  New facilities and a remodelled interior will create flexible community and gallery spaces, open up the historic bell tower and make the building more environmentally-friendly. There will also be some works externally to the church, which will include new lighting, new boundary treatments and work to the existing trees in the churchyard. 
The church building has always evolved and adapted to the need of its users and the local congregation.  In 1859, the patronage of the church was transferred to Edward Warner of Highams (whose descendants were responsible for the Warner Estate) after he donated £1,000 towards the building of a Vicarage;  in 1887, the building was extended to accommodate the needs of a growing population in the parish; and, in 1951, there was further, extensive remodelling to the building in making repairs following wartime damage from a V2 rocket.  A fire in 1973 also provided an opportunity to rethink the church interior, creating the open and flexible space it offers today. Looking to the future, restoring the building’s structural integrity and opening up its heritage will enable more people to access and enjoy the church.
The heritage of the building is more than just historic: it has natural, aesthetic, and community values as well, which is why church members want to share its importance with as many people as possible. The building is unique amongst London churches, combining urban access and protected natural, ancient heritage.  Through this project, those passionate about the church building wish to rediscover the heritage of both the church and the forest and make it known to the public.

Father Paul Trathen, Vicar of the parish said: “We’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support. The church building will be transformed and will hopefully become the centre of life for the arts, education & heritage which this community deserves, alongside its life as a vibrant parish church, full of worship.”


Notes to editors

About the church of St Peter-in-the-Forest
St Peter’s was first built as a Chapel-of-Ease to St Mary’s Walthamstow, and in 1844 became the church of the newly appointed parish. The original church was built in 1840 in early Victorian Italianate style, on a plot of wasteland within the Forest. Since then there have been two main alterations and extensions. In 1887 the nave was extended west to accommodate a growing population in the area. During WW2, in 1945, a V2 rocket that landed near the building damaged the whole north elevation. This saw the rebuilding in 1951, where an entrance lobby and vestries at the west end were also added.  A fire in 1973 saw further repair works to the church, and the replacing of the original fixtures and fittings.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Heritage Grants* applications are assessed in two rounds.  A first-round pass is given when HLF has endorsed outline proposals and earmarked funding. A first-round pass may also include an immediate award to fund the development of the project. Detailed proposals are then considered by HLF at second-round and as long as plans have progressed satisfactorily and according to the original proposal, an award for the project is confirmed.
Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #HLFsupported.


For further information, images and interviews, please contact:

Fr Paul Trathen, Vicar: 07871584997 or

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