St. Leonard’s Church, Shoreditch

Restoration of 18th century clock and railings

St Leonard’s Church was first referred to during the 12th century but it was during the 16th century that it first became known as the ‘Actors’ Church’. It was the parish church for the local theatres and staged some of the first productions of plays by Shakespeare. Surviving a partial collapse in 1716, the church was rebuilt by George Dance the Elder between 1736 and 1740. Dance added a Doric portico, clock tower, belfry and 192 foot steeple. The church has been a well-known East End landmark for centuries. The famous nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons, mentions the church bells in the line “When I grow rich, say the bells of Shoreditch”.

The west end of St Leonards recently underwent full restoration. A grant from HOLT enabled the repair of the church's clock faces - the glazing of which was missing and the ironwork rusted - to be carried out as part of this conservation project.

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