The restoration of an iconic London church

All Souls Church
Roof refurbishment and cleaning and repair of external stone (Image: All Saints Church)

David Shafik on the challenging task of exterior work to the iconic London church All Souls.

Arriving in 2017 at All Souls Church, in Langham Place, central London, as the newly appointed buildings and property manager for the whole parish, I was immediately struck by the immense privilege to work on this iconic Grade I-listed building next to the BBC. It is one of two in the parish, which also included a third church, a community centre and 27 staff properties.

2024 marks the 200th anniversary of the building by architect John Nash, who after its completion went on to do much work on Buckingham Palace for Queen Victoria. Verdicts at the time were not all complimentary, but now the sheer uniqueness of the design and construction makes the most grandiose statement in the immediate vicinity among all the competing buildings.

Work on All Saints Church is complemented by a redesign of the floodlighting system (Image: All Saints Church)
Maintenance of all entrances and exits was extremely challenging (Image: All Saints Church)

Foremost, it is a Christian church with a weekly footfall of around 1,200 worshippers each Sunday. The wear and tear is not insignificant and a large investment into the fabric is essential if the next 200 years are to be survived.

The first phase has been the complete refurbishment of the external envelope. Preparation has been the key, and this started in 2018 with the appointment of Matthew Lloyd Associates and partner Alex Sherratt as church architect.

Historic England, Westminster City Council and the Diocese of London all gave their approvals – to say nothing of our significant neighbours including the BBC, the Langham Hotel, the Algerian Embassy and the Treehouse Hotel.

The site is extremely restricted, with the building occupying 100% of its ownership footprint. The scaffolding was engineered in great detail.

Church activities continue

The maintenance of all entrances and exits became extremely challenging from day one, with church activities continuing on a 24/7 basis and Sundays becoming near impossible to navigate. The genius of the front-of-house staff and the contractors’ logistical plans dovetailed together to ensure the complete safety of the congregation.

Quinn London was the successful tenderer. The work started with the erection of the scaffolding, complete with temporary roof – thus enabling the work to continue throughout the winter of 2022/2023.

CV: David Shafik FCIOB

David Shafik trained as a quantity surveyor but worked for 25 years in the contracting industry, starting as an estimator and finally managing director of a medium-sized construction company.

After redundancy following takeover, he became CEO of a large charity. Retirement presented a new opportunity to amalgamate all previous life skills into the post of buildings and property manager All Souls Church, Langham Place W1.

Stone repairs and stone cleaning by Cunningham Stone to all elevations continued through the entire contract period, finishing with the refurbishment and repair of the rotunda steps.

The nave roof was stripped completely and recovered in Welsh slate, and the copper roof coverings laid down after the Second World War to 50% of the flat roof coverings were renewed in lead. All roofworks were completed to a very high standard with amazing details. The weight of lead alone equated to nearly 16 tonnes.

The final element to lift the church to new heights of ‘heavenly beauty’ was the replacement and redesign of the external floodlighting system by CES Lighting. The effect at night is electrifying, with coloured effects available for special occasions.

Phase two is the internal refurbishment. For me this is the greatest opportunity I could have imagined at this stage of life.

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