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Church mural that 'scared' children and reminded people of Grenfell fire removed

by Sophie Drew
St Peter in St Helier church.PNG - Banner image
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A church that was covered in a controversial mural that "scared" children, and reminded people of the Grenfell Tower Fire, has finally been given a facelift. 

The front of St Peter's Church, on London's St Helier's Estate, depicted distraught people surrounding a burning wreckage as a "God-like" figure oversaw the scene, smirking.

As of this morning, the mural has officially been removed, revealing a cross that was largely unnoticeable before. 

Rev Tracy Marlow, the vicar at Church Army's St Helier's missionary base, was struck by the painting from the moment she arrived at the interview. For years, previous vicars had been working to have it removed. 

She told Premier Christian News: "When I was put in post here, I asked the people in the community, - not the people in the church necessarily, but outside.

"I'd go and I'd hang around at the bus stop directly outside the church and ask people what they thought. I didn't put any ideas in their head. I just said 'What do you think of this picture?'

"That's where, not just the Grenfell story came up, but so many other things.

"Quite a few people said 'Well, when I look at it now, it reminds me of the Grenfell Tower fire.'

"But the other things that were being said were things like 'when I was a kid, I used to run past that church because I was scared.' 

"Other people said 'Well, my parents wanted to be married in there, but they weren't because they didn't like the picture.'

'One of the worst things for me was a young 14-year-old boy, that I knew from the estate, said 'The kids around here call that church the Hell Church.'

"Just today, as the scaffolding was being removed, there was a local guy who was a scaffolder who said 'Oh, this is funny, this is coming down. We've always called this the Devil Church.'" 

A number of people have already remarked on the church's makeover. 

Rev Marlow continued: "When the guy was removing the mural, people were stopping in the street and shouting 'thank you'.

"Just this morning, the scaffolder said 'I'm going to come to that church on Sunday,' because we just told him the story."

Following the removal of the memorial, visitors will be able to see the cross more clearly. Reflecting on the new exterior, Rev Marlow said: "The church is back to how it was always meant to be, so that the cross is revealed.

"You couldn't really see it because everybody would be looking at this picture of hell, and now we've seen the picture of salvation."

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