Restoring St. John’s Church


Lovell Purbeck, a specialist supplier of Purbeck natural stone and British limestones, has recently supplied 650m2 of replacement internal flooring for the significant renovation project at St. John’s Church, Hyde Park. This project marks the first, completed scheme through the company’s new state-of-the-art tile factory at the stoneworks just outside Swanage, Dorset.

The new floor forms part of an extensive six-month project to reorder the nave, chancel and aisles. The church was consecrated in 1832 by the Lord Bishop of London and the Right Reverend and Right Honourable Dr Charles James Blomfield, following a three-year build. The project also includes the restoration of a level floor between the nave and aisles, the installation of new sound and power systems and a reconfiguration of the chancel.

Having specified Purbeck Cliffstone and Purbeck Capstone for the new floor, project architects Molyneux Kerr Architects, needed an experienced contractor who would deliver work of a high standard while being sensitive to the church’s historic fabric. “Main contractors, Cathedral Works Organisation (CWO) recommended employing Lovell Purbeck for the supply of stone flooring materials because they considered them to supply products promptly and to a high standard. CWO arranged a visit to Dorset where we inspected both the quarry and the Lovell Purbeck factory and we were impressed by the workshop equipment and the company’s experience in the processing of natural stone.”

Using the company’s new tile line to produce and finish the floor tiles, Lovell Purbeck supplied the end product within the limited timeframe. It also allowed the tiles to be fully calibrated to a very tight tolerance, within +/- 0.5mm; this was key to achieving the tight joints in between the tiles, essential to the overall aesthetics of the project.

The tiles have a bespoke matt finish achieved using a combination of abrasive pads, applied as part of the tile line process. This not only creates a very fine surface appearance but provides extremely good slip and skid resistance, ideal for areas of high footfall. The blue of the Purbeck Capstone acts as a contrast to the white tones of the Purbeck Cliffstone and has been used to create steps and treads in the Sanctuary area of the church.

Completion of the renovation was celebrated with an elaborate service held on Sunday 18th September, which saw the Reverend Stephen Mason lead a cavalcade of horses and riders to the church in order to celebrate horse riding in the heart of London. Known as Horseman’s Sunday, this is a well-established St John’s tradition that started over 40 years ago to mark the need to maintain stables along the north of Hyde Park, when the stables were threatened with closure. At noon, on the penultimate Sunday in September, the vicar of St John’s Church appears before his congregation on a horse. A blessing of the horses followed the main Sunday service, with entertainment and celebrations continuing into the afternoon.

Commenting on the new floor and the completion of the renovation, Bryan Sollenberger, St John’s, Hyde Park said: “The look of the church is amazing. Having the new stone floor in place will enable us to develop the church as a community resource and use the space more creatively. We now have a warmer, safer, versatile and more environmentally friendly building.”

“We have been impressed by how hard the team worked, which includes Lovell Purbeck. This is one of the better, if not the most impressive, church floors that we have laid,” concluded Richard Molyneux.

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