St Peter-in-the-Forest was consecrated in 1840. A significant extension completed in 1887, an interior redesign (1937), and post-war repairs to the North wall (1952) maintained its original architectural quality and beauty. In 2009, 169 years after first opening its doors, St Peter's was awarded Grade-II listing. This was a fantastic recognition of the historic, cultural, and social value of our unique forest church! A Grade-II listing officially marks buildings as of "special interest, warranting every effort to preserve them".
In 2014, St Peter-in-the-Forest found itself onto another of English Heritage's lists—the 'Heritage At Risk Register'. The church building was considered to be in 'very bad' condition, facing "Immediate risk of further rapid deterioration or loss of fabric: no solution agreed". The 'very bad' condition was primarily caused by a 1950's extension to the west end pulling away from the rest of the building. The resulting cracking meant that St Peter's was no longer safe to be in; our church building had to be shut in early 2019. The 2019 'At Risk' listing for St Peter's is the same as the one published in 2014: "Immediate risk of further rapid deterioration or loss of fabric: no solution agreed".
It was absolutely brilliant, therefore, to receive news earlier this week that the 2020 'Heritage At Risk Register' would not feature St Peter-in-the-Forest! It is a massive achievement to have gone from the most serious category of risk to not at risk at all, all in the space of a single year.
"Historic England is the Government’s statutory advisor on all aspects of the historic environment. As part of our work, we undertake assessments of designated heritage assets to identify whether they are at risk from neglect and decay, or are vulnerable as a result of under-use or functional redundancy.
The Heritage at Risk Register includes those grade I and II* listed buildings nationally (grade II listed buildings in London), scheduled monuments, registered parks and gardens, registered battlefields, protected wreck sites and conservation areas which have been assessed and are known to be at risk or vulnerable to becoming so.
I am very pleased to inform you that the Church of St Peter has now been removed from Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register. This follows the successful repair and development of the church to meet contemporary needs.
I would like to thank you and your team for all your hard work over the past few years to secure the future of this important heritage asset.
The 2020 edition of the Heritage at Risk Register will be published on our website
(http://www.historicengland.org.uk) in October.
Ian Harper, Architect to Heritage at Risk Team, London Region"
Although our building works are reaching the 12 month mark, the story of the renovation goes back further. Concerned congregation members—and professional surveyors—had been monitoring the cracking before St Peter's was even awarded its Grade-II listing. After many meetings, the long process of bid writing, and the award of development funding, St Peter's won a large National Lottery Heritage Fund grant that would allow us to protect the building for another 180 years of serving our community. We appointed the Citizens Design Bureau in 2017 as the architects overseeing the exciting work at St Peter's. They spent two years developing their plans through consultation with our congregation and with our wider parish community. In November 2019, our building contractors Rooff fenced off the site and began the renovation process.
Almost a year later we are approaching the end of the repair and restoration of St Peter-in-the-Forest. The photos below show how far we've come and highlight some of the brilliant new features of our building to look forward to. The fantastic results are due to a lot of hard work on the part of many, and everyone involved in our project so far should be thrilled that their efforts will bring enormous benefit to local people. Many will return to a refreshed building with a renewed sense of life and mission. Many more will come to our church for the first time and find fellowship here.
"Huge congratulations on a terrific achievement and I very much look forward to share in the re-dedication service in December." - The Right Reverend Peter Hill, Bishop of Barking & Acting Bishop of Chelmsford
"This is great news and a fitting statement at this stage of the redevelopment project." - The Venerable Elwin Cockett, Archdeacon of West Ham
November 2019 - The church building is cleared and awaits the of beginning of works.
December 2019 - The Mayor of Waltham Forest, Cllr Christopher Robbins CBE, and one of our ward councillors, Richard Sweden, officially mark the opening of the renovation.
January 2020 - The steel frame to make the church structurally sound is installed. It will also support the new walls and floors of our community spaces.
February 2020 - The steel has been treated with a fireproof paint, and the first floor starts to go in.
March 2020 - The porch is dismantled by hand, brick by brick.
April 2020 - The uncovered 1887 façade is cleaned and repaired.
May 2020 - New dividing walls reshape our nave to its original 1840 dimensions.
June 2020 - Work went into repairing the church roof and 'lantern'.
July 2020 - The community café takes form.
August 2020 - The staircase is built and awaits fitting.
September 2020 - The upstairs community room, or Rose Room.
October 2020 - The terrace and paths around the church have been laid.