Worsening subsidence has forced a change of plan at Monken Hadley parish church: instead of renovating the historic church hall, structural engineers have advised that the 200-year-old building is now beyond reasonable economic repair and should be demolished.



A planning application is currently being considered by Barnet Council to replace Church House with a new hall of a design that would “minimise any harm to the character and appearance of the Monken Hadley conservation area”.

The change of plan is the latest twist in a two-decade long saga to either restore or replace the ageing hall, which has been a much-loved venue, but which in recent years has been in desperate need of improvement.

As it is now leaning over at a severe angle the hall has had to be closed to the public and is fenced off to prevent access.

Fortuitously the church had already raised over £500,000 towards paying for the restoration of Church House and this will now go towards helping to finance construction of a replacement building which is likely to cost around £780,000. There will now be a renewed push to reach the target.

Tim Fitzpatrick, chair of the restoration committee – seen above with fund-raising chair Elaine Padmore – said the latest structural survey showed that the extent of the subsidence was so significant that the front of the building was now outside safety tolerances; was in danger of collapse; and beyond economic repair.

Renovation was no longer a reasonable option not least due to the difficulty in obtaining estimates for the work.

An application has been submitted to replace it with a new building that would "replicate the original building style as closely as possible".

 “Our aim is to create a new community hub for Monken Hadley and the wider locality where there will be space and facilities for all sorts of local events, and which will be fully accessible," said Mr Fitzpatrick.

“So many people have memories locked away in Church House – perhaps attending events as children from Monken Hadley School or with the Guides or Rangers.

“We know there are numerous community groups and charities that could make use of a purpose-built hall, for drama, art classes, and a host of other events.”

Elaine Padmore – seen holding the magnificent key to the church front door -- said the success of fund-raising events since they launched their renovation appeal in 2019 has demonstrated the popularity of Monken Hadley as a venue.

“Over four years we have raised over £150,000 by staging all sorts of events – our Son et Lumiere to celebrate the 525th anniversary of the parish church of St Mary the Virgin and events around the coronation of King Charles.

“The next date in our calendar is Thursday 6 June – the day of the celebrations to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day landings along the Normandy coast during World War II.

“Inside the church at 7pm there will be a concert of the songs that helped to build morale during the war and then outside at 9.15pm the lighting of the Monken Hadley beacon to coincide with the lighting of beacons across the country.”

Over the last two decades various plans had been mooted for either restoring or replacing Church House. Mr Fitzpatrick said that following the previous refusal of applications to rebuild the hall, fresh proposals were prepared to restore the property – an application which was approved but which has now been overtaken by subsidence and the damage to the foundations.

Renovating the hall would have been extremely costly which was why the appeal target was set at £770,000 – a sum which would now be almost equivalent to the cost of a new building.

At some point internal pillars were added to support the structure – an arrangement which was causing concern in 2021 when the Monken Hadley rector, the Reverend Dr Thomas Renz, indicated the scale of the work that was needed.

Church House dates from the late 1700s and was originally a stable block for the adjoining Beacon House. Later it was converted into housing for single women and then in 1912 was given to the church for use as a church hall.