The architecture and history of the New Peckham Mosque are of particular interest and well repays a visit. Since its construction in 1879, it has led a complicated life, and its present use as a mosque will guarantee a positive future for this historic landmark.
It was originally built as the Anglican church of St Mark’s, Coburg Road and was designed by the important Victorian architect Richard Norman Shaw (1832-1912) for the charismatic Bishop of London, Samuel ‘Soapy Sam’ Wilberforce (1805-1873). Wilberforce was one of the great orators of his day, now best remembered for his public challenge to Charles Darwin’s ‘The Origin of Species’.
In the 1880s this area was largely industrial, with small factories, a canal, and dense rows of workers’ housing. Wilberforce, with the aid of the benefactor Adelaide Thrupp, was able to raise a new church to serve this increasingly populous part of north Peckham.
Rather surprisingly they went to perhaps the greatest architect of his generation, Richard Norman Shaw, who in fact was better known for his public buildings and large houses for the wealthy. Around this time Shaw was working on designs for the new headquarters for the Metropolitan Police at Scotland Yard and the Alliance Assurance building at the bottom of St. James Street.
The design of the former St Mark’s church has a plain exterior but the interior, in contrast, is filled with light and architectural detail and is one of the reasons that the building is Grade II listed by English Heritage and is thus protected as a historic monument for future generations.
The building is of the ‘hall church’ type, where the two side aisles are the same height as the central nave. This gives it a lofty and spacious feel and has allowed the mosque to build a mezzanine gallery across the back of the nave for women and children. This gallery’s angled orientation aligns the congregants toward the ‘Qibla’ wall and beyond to Mecca, an important part of Islamic observance.
The highlight of the interior is the fine east window with graceful stone tracery filled with colourful modernist stained glass. An interesting internal feature is the ‘panelling’ which evokes English Renaissance woodwork but is in fact made of concrete. Shaw was an early adopter of concrete in architectural detailing. Ascent into another mezzanine space in the former church’s chancel allows one to closely see the details of the east window and the elaborate timber roof structure.
Shaw went on to design some of London’s greatest landmarks after completing this church commission. He helped to design Vauxhall Bridge and the Edwardian Baroque Piccadilly Hotel, which set a bold example in the rebuilding of Piccadilly Circus and the Regent’s Street Quadrant in the early 20th century. Other fine buildings by Shaw, worth seeking out in London, are westwards in Westminster and Kensington. They include the Royal Geographic Society headquarters, the nearby Albert Mansions, and a group of Dutch-influenced houses for the wealthy on the west side of Cadogan Square. His other church design in London is the exuberant St Michael and All Angels in Bedford Park, Chiswick.
Benedict O’Looney, M.Arch (Yale), ARB.
Architect to the Croydon and Peckham a Mosques St Marks Church was abundant as a worship place and it was sold to a company who was dealing with scaffolding business. Over 30000 Muslims living in Southwark borough there was a need for a place to worship. at that time sheikh Muhammed Nazim Adil al Haqqani was gathering Muslims together to teach them Islam in Naqshbandi way. The church was for sale and the sheikh with some of his followers started the new Peckham mosque trust and they bought the church and going through a lot of renovation it came to be probably the biggest mosque in south-east London. The first trustees were
- Sheikh Muhammed Nazim Adil
- Dr Saydam Akpinar
- Ayhan Abdullah
- Seyfeddin Salih
- Ali Huseyin
These people work very hard and many people after them to pay for this mosque and make it a loveable place for Muslims to learn and practice their religion.
Since 2016 June new trustees have taken over from some that had been retired. Namely, Mehmet Erguz(Treasurer), Ubeyde Bilaloglu (Secretary), Erbil Celebi and Djevdet Karshili as trustees and the chairman duty was given to Gunay Veli. With the new Trustees, they have achieved a lot of good results. The Mosque
- It’s now open 5 times prayers daily
- Weekend religious education for over hundred pupils.
- Religious educations for adults on Tuesday evenings
- Ladies educations on Thursdays
- Naqshbandi Dhikr on Thursday evenings
- Jumma prayers and sohbets on Fridays.
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