Built for Presbyterians in 1858, with a timber frame covered by corrugated iron, the roughly painted building is now home to a tiny number of members of the Sight of Eternal Life Church, an evangelical sect and registered charity believed to have bought the freehold in 1971.
Four years later the church was given a Grade II listing. Architectural historians have lately speculated that it may be the oldest surviving “tin tabernacle” in England. They may not be aware that the corrugated-iron roof was replaced, tragically, with asbestos. Disposal of this lethal material would be costly.
The church and the large hall at its rear stand on a block in Shrubland Road of 600 sq m (visualise it as a square, 24.5m x 24.5m). Estate agents describe the hall as an “ideal development opportunity (subject to planning consent)”. Apart from Gothic-style windows and a 15m spire, the church has few period features.
Hackneyites will be hoping or perhaps even praying that the church does not suffer the kind of nocturnal fire that often destroys attractive buildings on valuable sites.
Hamish Scott 060212
* The Sight of Eternal Life Church is at 76 Shrubland Road, London E8 4NH. A charming psycho-geographical essay on it can be read here. A superbly researched article can be found in Corrugated iron: building on the frontier, by Adam Mornement and Simon Holloway (Frances Lincoln, London, 2007).
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