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Shakespearean Shoreditch church to celebrate restoration

PUBLISHED: 10:32 14 February 2020 | UPDATED: 11:45 16 February 2020

Steeplejack James Preston 192ft up on St Leonard's Church, Shoreditch. Picture: James Preston

Steeplejack James Preston 192ft up on St Leonard's Church, Shoreditch. Picture: James Preston

James Preston

A church in Shoreditch rich in Shakespearean heritage is to celebrate its completed restoration work.

Dr Nicola Stacey and Flick Parker from Heritage of London Trust inspecting the clock at St Leonard's Church, Shoreditch. Picture: Heritage of London TrustDr Nicola Stacey and Flick Parker from Heritage of London Trust inspecting the clock at St Leonard's Church, Shoreditch. Picture: Heritage of London Trust

St Leonard's Church will host its jubilee event on Saturday (February 22) from 2-5pm, in conjunction with the church's 280th anniversary.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund, with other supporters, provided £350,000 for the renovations.

The church's Georgian façade, bell tower and clock faces required specialist conservation in stonework and leadwork.

Dr Nicola Stacey, director of the Heritage of London Trust, said: "We are thrilled to have supported the restoration of St Leonard's clock - one of the finest in London and now visible again across Shoreditch.

The facade of St Leonard's Church. Picture: Heritage of London TrustThe facade of St Leonard's Church. Picture: Heritage of London Trust

"For centuries church clocks have had an important timekeeping role in public life and the Heritage of London Trust is committed to keeping this tradition alive wherever possible. It's one of the best of human bonds with our buildings."

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St Leonard's, often referred to as Shoreditch Church, was designed and built in 1740 by George Dance the Elder, the architect behind Mansion House.

Stuart McLeod, area director London and South, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, said that thanks to National Lottery players "an important part of Shoreditch's heritage is back up and running".

"[National Lottery] players have raised more than £8billion for the UK's heritage and I'm delighted that this exciting new chapter for St Leonard's and Shoreditch's heritage is part of that incredible story," he said.

A new heritage website and booklet showcasing the church's history will be launched at the event.

St Leonard's is the resting place of a host Shakespeare's original actors and members of the surrounding theatrical community. Those buried in the medieval crypt include the man who built the original Globe Theatre, Cuthbert Burbage, and his brother, Richard - the first to play Macbeth, Hamlet, Richard III, Othello and Romeo.

During 2019 the church hosted a heritage celebration programme which saw artists, academics and theatre companies collaborate with the local community and charities, in commemoration of its unique ties to the stage.

Church member and lay reader Philip Whitehead said: "We're especially pleased that the grant has allowed us to remain open for a programme of engagement events, including some in collaboration with Shakespeare's Globe, inviting the public in to appreciate this sacred and historic landmark.

"We can't wait to welcome the community back to celebrate."

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