Christ Church Rectory

The atmospheric streets around Christ Church Spitalfields are hard to resist.

I’m often leading walking tours in the area and every single time I stroll along Fournier or Princelet Street I feel transported through time.

Christ Church Rectory

So I was delighted when a recent tour coincided with an open day and I had the chance to have a closer look at the gardens of one of the most impressive houses on Fournier Street, the Christ Church Rectory. 

History of Christ Church Rectory

Fournier Street was originally called Church Street and was the last road laid out on the Wood-Michell estate. It was intended to be the grandest street, especially the south side which had larger gardens.

You can see Church Street on the John Rocque map from 1746 below (I’ve circled in yellow the approximate location of the Rectory).

Image Credit: John Rocque 1746 Map

No.2 Fournier Street was built 1726-29 by the Commissioners for Building Fifty New Churches, the same team behind Christ Church Spitalfields. 

Christ Church Rectory

In fact the house was built at the same time as the church and the design was submitted by the same architect as the church, Nicholas Hawksmoor.

The large house has three storeys not including a basement and roof garret.

Inside a wonderful staircase stretching up inside the middle of the house.

Christ Church Rectory

The balusters alternate between plain and a barley twist in design, with the upper storeys getting shorter to aid the perspective effect when looking up.

Later residents clearly felt a little uncomfortable with the low sides and so added an extra railing above the original banisters on the upper two floors.

Christ Church Rectory

You can see another picture of the staircase from 1909 on the London Picture Archives website here.

Christ Church Rectory Garden

As it’s still a private home for the Rector of Christ Church Spitalfields, the open day was mainly for the garden. A surprisingly large space which used to lay right next to the former churchyard.

Christ Church Rectory

You can see the line of the private garden against the former churchyard (which closed in 1859) on the 1945 bomb damage map below.

Image Credit: Bomb Damage 1945 Map

Luckily this end of Fournier Street survived unscathed during The Second World War. You can see that the east end, with the square of black wasn’t so lucky.

From the garden the house appears so much larger, with beautiful bow windows.

Christ Church Rectory

It was a strangely disorientating experience to look at the back of a street that I knew so well and see it from a completely different perspective.

Christ Church Rectory

Today the house is still lived in by the Rector of Christ Church Spitalfields. You can find out more about the church on their website here and read an interview with the current rector here.

Christ Church Rectory
Christ Church Rectory

I offer two walking tours in Spitalfields, the Spirit of Spitalfields about the social history and human stories in the area and the Feminist Jack the Ripper tour which takes a more sympathetic and humanising look at the women murdered in 1888. We delve into their lives rather than their death and examine how 19th century society failed them.

History of Tenter Ground, Spitalfields

A short walk from here is another intriguing building. It’s been a warehouse, studio, home and now a gallery. Read more about it here.

History of Tenter Ground, Spitalfields | Look Up London

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