Dilston Studio

Dilston Studio

Dilston Grove, Concrete Quarterly, 1974, Church into Studio (photo: Trevor Jones)


Dilston Grove, the name of a sleepy back road in the southwest corner of Southwark Park, London SE16 also marks the focal point at one end of the street, a building of concrete construction built and blessed as Clare College Mission Church in 1911. The iconic cross, perched on the roof, denotes the building's former use; its continued presence maintains a symbolic reference to its role as a sanctuary for an ever changing flock.

The history and meaning of the building was reshaped in 1969 by a group of artists, graduates from the Royal College of Art, who shared the inner sanctuary as a studio/workshop. With the metamorphosis of ‘church into studio’ came the renaming of the building to Dilston Studio. The interior became a lofty, empty, rectangular shell, an open work space for several artists though ‘there are a few clues as to its previous use - a raised area at the north end where the altar used to be, a balcony where the organist once sat....’

In 1978 the local authority had other plans for the building and the artists vacated. For the following twenty-one years the future of Dilston Studio remained in the balance; pigeons took vacant possession. In 1999 the Bermondsey Artists' Group resumed the artistic link with the 70s securing a short lease from Southwark Council for the Café Gallery. Dilston Studio has now become known as Dilston Grove.

from: 'Artists in East London'
online available at: www.acme.org.uk/download.php?pdf=149
(accessed September 2013)

how is/was it run/structured ?: 

what is/was it's legal status ?: 

  • unincorporated organisation

how is/was it funded ?: 

history of the site: 

Dilston Grove is the former Clare College Mission Church on the Southwest corner of Southwark Park and is Grade II listed. Designed by architects Sir John Simpson and Maxwell Ayrton, it was built in 1911 and is one of the earliest examples of poured concrete construction.


Southwark Park Abbeyfield Rd
SE16 London 51° 29' 30.4836" N, 0° 3' 15.8724" W


previous usage of the site: 

number of studios: 

types of studios: 

  • open plan, private





last known status of the project: 

last known status of the site: