Woolwich Episcopal Area
Details of the Church
The old church of St Barnabas (built 1892 – 1905, architect W H Wood) was destroyed by fire on the morning of 7 December 1992. The fire was so severe that only the outer walls and the tower were left standing and these were demolished in early 1993.
The new building is a little smaller than the old, being 42 metres long, 20 metres wide and 14 metres tall, while the glass spire rises another 19 metres above the apex of the roof. It is set further back from the road, and is slightly angled from the axis of the old Church to be orientated to the cardinal points of the compass, a medieval tradition often seen in English village churches.
In front of the Church is an entrance area, where the outline of the old tower and walls can still be seen. On the right, part of the old south aisle wall still stands. The Reception area curves around from that wall, making the link from the old Church to the new. The front part of the Church is the Barnabas Chapel which seats 50. The main body of the Church seats 400 (including the choir) and is built on an octagonal floor plan around a central altar. The East end is occupied by the organ and choir stalls. Three dimensionally the Church is built as a central barrel vault with two smaller flanking vaults, spanning onto masonry piers of red brick. Above the central vault is the glass spire, constructed of 6cm x 4cm stainless steel box sections welded together to form a tapering octagon. The spire lets down light into the heart of the Church during the day, and is illuminated from within at night.
Special care has been taken over the acoustics (with a reverberation time of 2.2 seconds when full and 3 seconds when empty), the sound and the lighting systems. Modern stained glass has been designed and installed by Caroline Swash, with the help of a grant from the Arts Council.
For full details of the old and new buildings and the story of the fire, visit the parish website.