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Hawksmoor - design stage drawing of of St Alfege Church c. 1712

Discovery of original Hawksmoor drawing during St Alfege Church research

An original drawing by Nicholas Hawksmoor, one of England’s most significant architects, has recently been discovered at Greenwich Heritage Centre by Richard Hill of Richard Griffiths architects. The doscovery was made during research for a National Lottery funded project, St Alfege Church - Heart of  Greenwich, Place and People.

18th Century Drawing by Hawksmoor Discovered

An original drawing by Nicholas Hawksmoor, one of England’s most significant architects, has recently been discovered at Greenwich Heritage Centre during a National Lottery funded research project at St Alfege Church.

The discovery was made by Richard Hill, of Richard Griffiths Architects who is working for St Alfege Church as Conservation Architect for the ‘Heart of Greenwich - Place and People’ project, which has been made possible by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). During a visit to the Royal Greenwich Heritage Centre in February he found the uncatalogued drawing in a box of miscellaneous prints, photos and press cuttings of Greenwich.

Greenwich Heritage Centre, part of Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust, is home to the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s museum and archive collections. The drawing, which shows the north elevation of St Alfege Church, is an original ink and wash drawing by Nicholas Hawksmoor himself. A trace of the plan of the building can also be seen, probably pricked through from another drawing. 

Richard Hill (pictured left with the Rev Chris Moody, Vicar of St Alfege Church) said: “I realised that this was a design stage drawing of St Alfege Church, probably from 1712, and it seemed to be in the hand of Nicholas Hawksmoor. Expert advice was sought and Professor Kerry Downes, confirmed that his expert opinion is ‘that the new discovery is from the master's own hand’.  I also looked at the drawing with John Bold (author of Greenwich: An Architectural History and Julian Watson, former head of the Greenwich Archives). They both agree with Kerry Downes.”   

Commenting on the discovery Vicar Chris Moody said: “We’re delighted with this find which is helping us in the development of our designs for works which both reveal and conserve Hawksmoor’s masterpiece while ensuring accessibility and better integration with the town centre.”

Tracy Stringfellow, Chief Executive Officer, Greenwich Heritage Centre said: “We are thrilled to be able to share this significant drawing with the community as part of this partnership project with St Alfege Church.”
Stuart Hobley, Head of HLF London, said: “What a fantastic find! To have a Hawksmoor design and the building it inspired together for the first time - I’m delighted that money raised by National Lottery players has helped to uncover this never-seen-before drawing by one of England’s most renowned architects. It’s a brilliant start to the ‘Heart of Greenwich’ project, which will see Hawksmoor’s building restored and the heritage of this well-loved church brought to a wider audience.”

The drawing is available for viewing on request at Greenwich Heritage Centre, Artillery Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, London SE18 4DX.
T: 020 8854 2452 E: heritage.centre@rght.org.uk​