Date of release: Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The role of St Alfege Church at the centre of the community is the theme of a research project being carried out at the University of Greenwich.

Alison Fisher, a Greenwich resident and also a postgraduate student at the university, has been awarded a Vice-Chancellor's Scholarship, which will enable her to look into the church's rich history and its place in the country's local and national heritage.

A Grade 1 listed building, St Alfege is a key part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. It was the first church built under the Fifty New Churches Act of 1711, and the first complete church project undertaken by Nicholas Hawksmoor, one of England's most original and significant architects.

Alison, a qualified architect, says she is delighted to be able to pursue her passion for history while based within the university's award-winning Faculty of Architecture, Computing & Humanities. "I welcome this fantastic opportunity to explore how these buildings and monuments reflect the history of our community and relate to the wider national context," she says.

"The position of St Alfege Church within the social framework of this area is central to understanding the development of Greenwich, and I'm keen to delve into its complex history. The physical memorials and surviving church records will enable me to examine the church's rich and varied role at key moments over two and half centuries."

Alison's research also ties in with the St Alfege Church project, called Heart of Greenwich, Place and People, which has received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and aims to open up the church's 'hidden spaces' and rich heritage for everyone.

The Rev Chris Moody, Vicar of St Alfege, adds: "Our church holds the history of Greenwich and its community. We are delighted that Alison is developing this fascinating line of research, which will uncover much about its history.

"As an architect and local resident, Alison is uniquely qualified, and we are tremendously grateful to the University of Greenwich for awarding her the Vice-Chancellor's Scholarship. We would also be interested to hear from anyone with family links to the church, and have set up a book to note these in our vestibule."

Working within the university's Department of History, Politics & Social Sciences, Alison will explore the relationship between the church and community, and analyse how they interacted over the years. She will investigate three key points in its history: the creation of the church by Nicholas Hawksmoor in the early 1700s; the development of an 'overflow' church, St Mary's, in 1825; and the restoration of St Alfege by Sir Albert Richardson, following extensive damage during the Second World War.

As well as looking at the whole church building, Alison will refer to individual gravestones, burial vaults, church archives and the public burial ground in order to build an in-depth insight into the communities that operated the church at these three key moments in time.

In this way the project will shine new light on the rich heritage and hidden spaces of this church, which is central to the town of Greenwich.

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For more on studying with the university's Faculty of Architecture, Computing & Humanities:

Story by Public Relations.

Picture: Alison Fisher in the church's crypt.

Notes for editors:
National Lottery funding has been awarded to help St Alfege Church progress plans to apply for a full grant at a later date. The Heart of Greenwich, Place and People project focuses on the architectural importance of the building and aims to improve access to, and facilities in, the church. It will also explore and reveal the stories of many famous people associated with the church such as Henry VIII, Thomas Tallis and General James Wolfe, as well as many less well-known figures.