Response as fireplace destroys St Mark’s Church in St John’s Wooden
Worshippers and neighbours were left in disbelief after a Grade II* listed church was destroyed in a fire.
There was a sense of shock in St John’s Wood this morning (January 27) after St Mark’s Church was up in flames.
Fire crews were called to the building in Hamilton Terrace at 11.19pm last night.
At first the blaze only affected part of the ground floor and roof, but flames spread to the whole building before it was finally put out at 2.22am.
So sad to see this beautiful church on Hamilton Terrace on fire !!! #fire #london #firelondon #firehamiltonterrace pic.twitter.com/Pnrl9SvLVa
— zulfhussain (@testing_testing) January 27, 2023
Maria Garcia, who lives a short distance away, said she could not believe what she was looking at when she stopped by the remains of the church.
She said had spent most of the early morning staring at the smoke from a distance through her window.
Ms Garcia said: “I was inside the house and my bedroom window faces it, so I could see the church.
“I was going to go to bed and I saw something black in the sky and thought it was weird.
“I kept on watching and felt at some point it was going to spread all over because the flames get being bigger and bigger and higher and higher.”
During the fire, she got dressed and ready in case she was instructed to leave the house as she truly feared the fire might spread.
She continued: “It’s very sad. I love this church, I’m not religious but I love the building and I have many pictures of it.
“I come here often and just sit down in the park, it’s a very relaxing place. This is one of the churches that are open all day. They’re very welcoming and very nice.”
The smell of smoke lingered in the area throughout the day, a reminder of the damage caused.
It was hard for Yemisi Wada to come to terms with the sight and the smell.
“I live down the road, this is my church actually – for five years,” she said.
The worhsipper, who regularly prays at the church, explained: “It’s horrible, I can’t believe I’m looking at the shell. I was here yesterday and everything was normal and I woke up this morning and someone sent me the news report so I had to see it myself.”
Ms Wada said the remote church services she attended during lockdown were “never the same” as being there in person.
“So when it opened up it was so lovely, especially during the Christmas period,” she said. “So to have this happen just after getting that feeling back is devastating. It’s like taking it back from us again.
Elizabeth Baguley, who has been a member of the church for nearly eight years, lives in Cornwall and said it was “by chance” she was up here for the week.
She said: “I was at church last Sunday, they have one of the most magnificent choirs in the country. One could say it’s world class.
“It’s so beautiful and so welcoming, I just can’t believe it.”
Her main concern is whether repairs will be made promptly and whether the church will be restored.
She said: “I’m in shock. When I heard about it, I thought it might have been just a part of it. But it’s all of it. It’s a bit like Notre Dame.”
Cllr Amanda Langford, who represents Abbey Road ward, said: “The vicar is totally devastated by this disaster, but the first thing she did this morning was speak to the local school to find a place for people to continue using and to worship in.
“She and her family have done so many fantastic things for our community.”
Rev Kate Harrison stated on Twitter she was “broken” by the fire at the church, where she had been vicar since 2015.
London Fire Brigade says the cause of the fire is under investigation.
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