Woodside Park, Greater London

Belarusian Church

The Belarusian Memorial Chapel is the first wooden church built in London since the Great Fire of 1666. Designed by Spheron Architects, the chapel in Woodside Park has been built for the Belarusian diaspora community in the UK, and is dedicated to the memory of victims of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

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Visiting information

  • Architecture

  • Interior features

  • Atmosphere / quiet space

  • Churchyard

  • Social heritage

  • Links to national heritage

Features

  • Accessible by public transport

  • Mostly accessible to all

  • Parking at church or nearby

  • Toilets at church or nearby

  • Refreshments at church or nearby

  • Belarusian Church (image by Joakim Boren)

  • Belarusian Church (image by Joakim Boren)

  • Belarusian Church (image by Helene Binet)

  • Belarusian Church (image by Helene Binet)

  • Belarusian Church (image by Helene Binet)

The chapel sits surrounded by 17 statutorily protected trees in the grounds of Marian House, a community and cultural centre for the UK Belarusian community in north London. Its design offers a mixture of traditional and contemporary elements and, like many rural churches in Belarus, the chapel will offer a gentle presence among the trees of its garden setting.

Extensive research into the Belarus’s wooden church tradition was taken by project architect Tszwai So, spending time in Belarus, recording and sketching traditional churches in the villages populating the rural areas to gain insight and inspiration for the design. The domed spire and timber shingle roof are common features of traditional churches in Belarus and offer familiarity, comfort and memories to London's Belarusian community, many of whom moved to the UK following the Chernobyl disaster.

Spheron Architects have introduced a series of contemporary twists to the basic traditional form, such as the undulating timber frill of the flank walls which enlivens the exterior. Natural light enters through low level and concealed clerestory windows running the length of the chapel, and through tall frosted windows on the front elevation. At night, soft light from within allows the chapel to gently glow, referencing the WWII atrocities of torching wooden churches full of Belarusians trapped inside. Inside the chapel will be decorated with a series of historic icons set into a timber screen separating the nave from the altar area in the apse.

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