St. Augustine's Tower

Friends of Hackney Tower and Churchyard

This is an active group of people with a keen interest in the future of the Churchyard Gardens and St Augustine's Tower.

The Churchyard Gardens

St John-at-Hackney Churchyard has survived as an open space since medieval times and witnessed many layers of history. Today, the four and a quarter acres of trees, gardens and historic memorials are a green oasis in the heart of Hackney.

After years of vandalism and neglect the Churchyard Gardens have now been awarded  £2.5million from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the regeneration and conservation of these historic gardens. Work on the restoration started in February 2006. Old and damaged trees have been removed or pruned. Some trees considered by the planners to be unsuitable to their surroundings, have also been removed.

To see more detailed plans, which are also displayed on noticeboards in the gardens, visit www.ground-level.org/stjohnathackney

The Friends Group was founded in 2002 to raise awareness of the historic importance of the Churchyard Gardens and to represent the local community in the management and use of the Gardens. The aim of the Friends is to have representation on the management structure for the conservation plan, conserve the churchyard as a collection of quiet spaces, including open meadow, walled garden, formal memorial gardens and play area, make the gardens safe for all, and encourage more activities in the Churchyard. The Friends have been involved in the plans for the restoration of the Churchyard Gardens and a Friends member will be on the steering management committee for the restoration.

Whereas the churchyard and buildings are owned by the Church of England and its representative, the present Rector of St John-at-Hackney Church, the maintenance and care of the gardens are the responsibility of the London Borough of Hackney.

St Augustine's Tower

The Tower, situated in St John-at-Hackney Churchyard Gardens, is Hackney's oldest building and listed Grade 1. Dating back to the 13th century, St Augustine's Tower is all that remains of the original medieval parish church, which was demolished in the late eighteenth century to build a larger church. The tower survived as there were insufficient funds at the time to add a bell tower to the new church.

Hackney Historic Buildings Trust (HHBT) has had responsibility for the Tower since 1990 and has raised funding to make urgent repairs. The Trust keeps the unique early seventeenth century turret clock in working order and opens the Tower occasionally to the public. During recent years artists have used the building for exhibitions.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarded £231,000 to help preserve this important but neglected building. Hence, improvements at St Augustine's Tower - including physical repairs to the stonework, improved lighting and glazing, and flat level access to the ground floor - have recently been carried out. In the near future the tower will be opening to the public more frequently than in previous years with:

• new informative exhibition panels 
• a touch screen terminal which will use virtual reality to show the tower in its original setting
• a range of leaflets and education packs 
• access to the roof for the first time

To become a Friend contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

HHBT will be looking for local volunteers to help with open days. If you would like to become involved please contact Laurie Elks at HHBT on 020 8986 0029 or email him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it