You’ve had a busy week. You’re stressing about deadlines and how you’re going to get into work when your car inevitably runs out of juice. You can’t wait until the weekend when you can go to your happy place to relax and cleanse yourself of stress and sin: of course we’re talking about church, or a health club, or – as far as Repton Park in Redbridge is concerned – both.
Opened in 1892 as a psychiatric hospital, Repton Park now offers a more serene experience to guests, having been converted into a wellbeing centre. Its stunning vaulted chapel has become London’s most atmospheric swimming bath. A 24m pool now occupies what was once the aisle, but otherwise much of the original interior has remained intact, with gothic arches and stained-glass windows. The site also boasts a health club containing a steam room, jacuzzis, a sauna and a gym. There are killer spinning sessions, group pilates and yoga, plus one-on-one classes with instructors.
The Virgin Mary may have been replaced by Virgin Active, but Repton Park has preserved its dramatic Victorian aesthetic and whiff of sanctity. That, or maybe someone’s left the steam room door open again. Its pool certainly gives new meaning to the idea of holy water.
Repton Park, Manor Road, Woodford Green, IG8 8GN.
You can swim beneath the stars in this (heated) London outdoor pool.