Restoring a ruined City church to honour London’s citizens in wartime
The Citizens’ Memorial aims to transform the ruined City church of Christ Church, Greyfriars, and give it a new purpose – the creation of a memorial of national significance to commemorate the heroism and sacrifice of the citizens of London during the Second World War and in subsequent bombings.
The proposal was initiated by designer Ian Heron in consultation with City guide-lecturers, historians and architects. You are invited to browse our website and consider whether you would like to see such a proposal realised – it’s at an early stage, and needs your ideas and input.
The main points of the proposal
> The Christ Church site has for too long been an unsightly and unacceptable ruin in the heart of the City which cries out for a meaningful purpose and thoughtful restoration.
> The City lacks a significant memorial to honour the fortitude and sacrifice of the wartime generation of Londoners. They served their country no less than the armed services, but whereas each of these has a national memorial, civilians have no such recognition.
> Restoring the missing walls of the church and the bay adjacent to the east wall, meticulously following Wren’s original design, would create the perfect memorial – dignified, eloquent, and unostentatious.
> Restoring these walls for the Memorial would also exclude much of the present traffic nuisance and transform the garden into an urban sanctuary, and other design improvements would make it more welcoming, comfortable, and enjoyable.
> The Christ Church site offers a unique opportunity because the pavement at King Edward Street is aligned inside the church site itself, adjacent to the east wall. This would become the walkway through the Memorial, so that visitors and pedestrians would have the unique experience of briefly passing through a sacred space as part of an everyday route; alternatively, visitors may choose to turn into the garden for respite or relaxation. The Memorial would take its place as one of the series of thematically linked places of interest on the Heritage Route from St Paul’s and Paternoster Square, via Christ Church and Postman’s Park, to the Museum of London and the Barbican.
The site is owned by the City of London, whose Planning Officer has has described it as sincere and thoughtful, and would give it further consideration provided funding can be obtained from sources other than the City authority itself. Recently the proposal has been enthusiastically received by the senior Member of the local Ward, who has given advice about the next step in seeking the City’s approval of the proposal. The commitment of the City for the use of the site for the Memorial purpose would be a precondition to establishing a charity, so that funds can be sought from benefactors and the public.
A top firm of Quantity Surveyors specialising in historic buildings, Gardiner & Theobald, provided a cost estimate of the current scheme in January 2013. Their estimate compares favourably with the £4 million which the City recently spent on restoring the Monument to the Great Fire of London. A figure in this vicinity would surely not be an unreasonable sum to raise.
The Citizens’ Memorial would be a jewel in the City’s crown – a unique place of interest for both residents and visitors. It can be realised with your support. The City having declared itself open to the proposal, we now invite the support of individuals, businesses and City institutions, and Members the City of London itself.
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