Building » Hackney – St John the Baptist

Hackney – St John the Baptist

King Edward’s Road, Hackney, London E9

A 1950s church, its interior defined by great transverse arch bay divisions. The church is built on the site of Wardell’s bomb-damaged church of 1847-48. The nineteenth-century school (now the hall) survives behind the church. The east tower makes a modest contribution to the Mare Street Conservation Area.

In 1842, there was a temporary chapel in London Lane but the mission at Hackney was founded only in July 1843. In 1845, the current site was purchased for £760. Construction of a permanent church, designed in the Early English style by W.W. Wardell, started in 1847. It was opened on 7 February 1848. In 1861-62, a south aisle was added by T.J. Willson and S.J. Nicholl. The church was consecrated in 1899.

Following severe war damage in the Second World War, the church was demolished and replaced by the current building by Archard & Partners. The foundation stone was laid on 14 May 1955 by Cardinal Griffin. It was opened by Bishop Craven in 1956.

Archard & Partners also undertook the post-Vatican II reordering in 1972, which included a new high altar and the creation of a Blessed Sacrament chapel. The church and high altar were consecrated by Cardinal Heenan in June 1972. Additional furnishings and coloured glass were installed in 1988.


The church is built using brown brick laid in English bond, with a pantile roof. The plan is rectangular. The west elevation has a large vertical stained glass window (the Crucifixion by John Hall & Sons, 1956) above the doorway. Directly above the window, in the gable hangs a small bell. The south elevation displays a variety of roof treatments and window forms: the pitched nave roof contrasts with the flat roofs of the south aisle, sacristies and the east tower. The tower has a vertical window below a small relief panel of St John the Baptist; the south aisle and sacristies have square windows, the clerestory windows are oblong, as are the porch windows.

The narthex below the organ gallery (with an organ by Henry Willis & Sons, 1956) has three modern panel paintings of the Annunciation, Visitation and Adoration. This leads into the nave, in which the five bays are marked by transverse arches, rising from the ground and dividing the nave from the narrow aisles. The metal clerestory windows have schematic coloured glass pattern by John Lawson of Goddard & Gibbs (1988). The north aisle has a Sacred Heart statue, built-in confessionals, and the timber font. The Lady Chapel at the northeast is lit by a circular skylight. It has a modern icon and a statue of the Virgin Mary (early twentieth century, Anton Dapre). To the left of the sanctuary is the foundation stone.

The tall sanctuary is lit by two vertical side windows with yellow glass high up in the tower. The lower parts of the walls are panelled in marble; above hangs the original timber crucifix. The marble tabernacle stand is directly below. The timber altar is carved with loaves and fishes. To the right of the chancel arch are statues of the Risen Christ and St Martin de Porres. The former Blessed Sacrament Chapel at the southeast, now the repository, has a coloured glass window by Goddard & Gibbs. The south aisle widens to the west of the south porch, and one of its eight square windows is filled with coloured glass by Michael Kelly. The original benches have been replaced by modern chairs. The Stations of 1938 are by Anton Dapre.

Heritage Details

Architect: Archard & Partners

Original Date: 1956

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed