Restored: The 'Secret' Wren Church Spire On A South London Housing Estate

By M@ Last edited 52 months ago
Restored: The 'Secret' Wren Church Spire On A South London Housing Estate
Local children from Holy Trinity School admire the restored steeple.

Christopher Wren's 'travelling spire' sits incongruously in the heart of a Sydenham housing estate. It just got spruced up thanks to the Heritage of London Trust.

The pointy pinnacle once crowned the church of St Antholin in the Square Mile — one of dozens of churches designed by Sir Christopher Wren after the 1666 Great Fire of London. The church was located where today you'll find the hulking Bloomberg building, on Queen Victoria Street.

The top of the spire was badly damaged in a storm of 1829, but was rescued by a church warden called Robert Harrild (also known as a printing pioneer, and immortalised in the Harrild & Sons pub on Farringdon Street). The rest of the church didn't last long — it was pulled down in 1874.

The cedar tree is also a survivor from Harrild's mansion.

Harrild placed the spire in the gardens of his Sydenham Mansion, known as Round Hill. This building has also long vanished, replaced by the 1960s Round Hill estate. But despite the loss of both its original church and its foster home, the enigmatic spire lives on. We've written about this unlikely survival story in more detail here.

Though structurally sound, the relic had become badly weathered, with a corroded weathervane. Now, with money from the Heritage of London Trust and property managers L&Q, Christopher Wren's most southerly London spire is looking fresh once again. Amen.

Images courtesy of the Heritage of London Trust.

Last Updated 09 December 2019