Alyn Shipton delves behind the dark theories and occult speculation that surround the churches of architect Nicholas Hawksmoor (1661-1736), to reveal the symbolism and imagery at work in his buildings.
Hawksmoor has always been a controversial figure.
His flamboyant and dramatic buildings were often criticised by his more conservative contemporaries for breaking the rules and transgressing the boundaries of good taste.
His unique personal style fused ideas from classical Greece, Rome and Egypt with a very arresting concern with mass and sensory impact.
His London churches, especially, are almost modern in appearance and it's only in the last fifty years that the sheer scale of Hawksmoor's genius has come to be fully appreciated.
After years of neglect, many of these buildings are now undergoing extensive renovation and restoration.
It seems his time has finally arrived, but his work still provokes fierce debate.
His churches are now controversial for a darker reason.
The writer Iain Sinclair, in his poetic essay Lud Heat, demonstrated mysterious alignments between the Hawksmoor churches: lines of power which set up occult influences across London.
He develops the idea of the Hawksmoor churches as centres for dark and malign powers, and draws parallels between the buildings and a series of grisly ritual murders across the east-end.
These metaphorical, literary ideas were then given further currency through the novel 'Hawksmoor' by Peter Ackroyd, which expanded on Sinclair's themes.