Renovating our Meeting House: a history of the project

The Newington Green Meeting House is one of Hackney’s most precious historic buildings.

Mary Wollstonecraft, who is now known as the “mother of feminism” due to her pioneering writing, worshipped here. Ministers and campaigners also made this their spiritual home over the years, and these days it is occupied by New Unity – a radically inclusive community dedicated to love and justice.

But the building needed some attention, and a group of people from New Unity worked hard to secure a renovation.

Now, it has been fully renovated thanks to a major grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. This blog post will take a look back at just how the Meeting House renovation project came about.

Way back when

The Newington Green Meeting House has been renovated to one extent or another several times in its history. An organ was installed in 1839, for example. And in 1847, meanwhile, gas lighting was put in!

More recently

By the time 2018 rolled around, however, plans were well underway for a modern renovation. Architectural plans for the new building were published in early 2018, and public consultation events were planned around then too.

Receiving funds

In July 2018, it was revealed that the Meeting House would receive funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which has since been renamed the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

This funding was to be spent on renovation works as well as a heritage programme for the future.

“We want to share this vital history with a wider audience: schoolchildren, local community groups and interested parties from further afield,” said John Bates, chair of the team that submitted the bid, at the time.

“We’ll be adding a visitor centre, creating disabled access, and generally future-proofing the building,” added John, who is also New Unity’s chair of trustees.

Closing the building

As 2018 rolled on, the building was cleared out. At the end of the year, it was closed and the building team prepared for an action-packed 2019.

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