Crumbling church puts its faith in a crowdfunder

Here's the view from the Heath Street Baptist Church

Friday, 15th April — By Harry Taylor

campics140422 Image 2022-04-14 at 9.53.32 PM (27)

Minister Ewan King at the top of Heath Street Baptist Church 

AHEAD of Easter this weekend, centred on the biblical resurrection of Christ, a Hampstead church is hoping that a crowdfunder can breathe similar new life into its historic facade.

Heath Street Baptist Church has had stonemasons working away since February when scaffolding went up. T

hey are working to repair, patch up and restore its detailing, spires and other external stone work after concerns were raised about its condition.

On a tour in which the New Journal was led to the top of the 25-metre-tall north spire which looks down on Hampstead and London below, minister Ewan King pointed out signs of erosion on fleur-de-lys, gables and even dragons at the top of the church.

“I’ve never seen a dragon on a church before,” said Mr King. “There’s usually gar­goyles, and you do get a dragon in the Bible, but I’ve never seen one like this.”

Workers were using Bath stone to touch up the building, built in 1862, and replace material that has weathered away over the years.

“We had a couple of flakes that had come off the building and I started to think, ‘What is the issue?’ And as soon as we got our surveyors in they suggested that it wasn’t possible to work out without more thorough investigation,” he said.
Scaffolding then went up and was in place during Storm Eunice.


“I’ll admit I said a prayer that day,” said Mr King, 41, reflecting on the danger of having ­towering scaffolding in place during one of the biggest storms in decades.

Once up there, the masons found issues with the metal covering on top of the spire, which now lies redundant a floor down, next to the towers that were once the last known nesting place of the hooded crow in London. “I don’t know if it was a Victorian light­ning rod or decorative, but it will need replacing now,” said Mr King.

As well as its normal services, the church hosts a baby and toddler music group, led by Mr King and Hampstead musician Godfrey Old.

It also has a homelessness support group on a Sunday night, and hosts concerts. They have been told that it will cost £150,000 to complete the works, and have raised £20,000 so far.

“It is different,” said Mr King. “You would like to be preparing for your sermon sometimes and instead you’re climbing up and down ladders and having work explained to you. It’s interesting and it is important to do and a good feeling to think you will be leaving it for future generations.

“If we don’t crowdfund we will drain the bank account, and this isn’t even the only building or maintenance project that needs doing.”

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