St. George in the East, London

One of the six fantastically varied Nicholas Hawksmoor churches in London, St. George in the East is the largest and, perhaps, the most unusual.

It has two distinctive “pepper pot” towers and a further massive lantern tower built somewhat in the style of Boston Stump. During his lifetime Hawksmoor was a seriously under-rated architect. He was a pupil of Sir Christopher Wren and was responsible for a lot of work on St. Paul’s Cathedral, but his style soon began to move away from Wren. Then he became associated with Sir John Vanbrugh and did work on both Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard. Sadly, very few purely Hawksmoor buildings have survived beyond his six London churches and each is very different from the others.

In May 1941 Hawksmoor’s church here was hit by a bomb and the interior was destroyed by fire – the architectural details of the exterior survived intact. It was almost 20 years before the interior was reconstructed, and a decision was made to not use the original plans but to update it to a modern interior.

The exterior has become one of the most distinctive structures in Tower Hamlets and was featured extensively in The Long Good Friday in 1980.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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