21 December, 2007

St Saviours Church Eltham - The concrete church

St Saviours Church appears in purple brick out of the sea of red brick council houses built in the 1930s by Woolwich Council. Built as one of the 25 new churches from by a special fund initiated by the Bishop of Southwark the building is a striking and fitting church with its foundation stone laid in 1932. Designed by N F Cachemaille-day, from the outside the small concrete windows look as though they would be more at home in a pavement, lighting up a basement and the sculpture in concrete of the Lamb of G*d and the large cross in brick make a statement that this is a modern and forward looking church. The tower of the church, unusually, forms the chancel, and the whole church has very little woodwork, which gives permanence and prevents fires. The font is made from a massive block of concrete with a bowl set into it and carving of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist with the words "this is my beloved son". It is set at the back of the church, not so good for modern practice although Mr Cachemaille-Day was part of the liturgical movement. The glory of the church is the reredos, in concrete, with a concrete sculpture of Jesus by someone called Donald Hastings (who also did the font) who hasn't yet made it to the web.

I hope the congregation appreciates their beautiful church and their pleasant and helpful Priest in Charge, who was kind enough to show me round on a Saturday morning.

10 December, 2007

Manchester Animals

Another trip to Manchester, the centre of the universe. Problems Problems. The first was that Virgin Trains were all delayed (as usual - I think they find it cheaper not to run early trains on Sundays so they don't). The second was I decided not to stay at my usual hotel and instead booked into the Jarvis, currently in the throes of refurbishment. The hotel did have some attractions, such as the flooded bathroom. The couple in the next room also provided amusement and instruction by alternately shagging extremely loudly and discussing the next session. I could almost hear every grunt, groan and word by the judicious application of a glass pressed to the wall. I had a modest evening out but the 'gay village' that the council enthusiastically promotes is more like the deserted village and a pub called the Rembrandt had so few people in it it was more like the Remnant. A secret bar was as good as usual but I was in my bed by half past ten. The next day dawned bright and sunny and after breakfast in the hotel, where my coffee was removed before I had a chance to drink it and my toast never arrived, I went out to take some pictures. I took a picture of the former Technical High School and the Sackville Gardens next door, purchased in 1900 for more than £20000 as a supreme act of municipal folly. This would be £4m today and I would doubt that the site is worth that. The gargoyles appear on the court building, and are not traditional waterspout gargoyles. I can only assume that these are present in order to keep the pigeons off the court, pigeons being the favoured diet of gargoyles. The lion is from the former fire station cum police station down by Piccadilly Station.

On the way back I called at the five towns and wandered through Stoke on Trent up to Etruria and Hanley. The five towns really merge into one and are collectively known as the Potteries, this being an area where pots are made . Hanley streets are named after London streets with a Picadilly and a Pall Mall. Nothing to see there so no pictures alas.

03 December, 2007

10 Miles from London Bridge - Penge and Beckenham

A visit to Penge and Beckenham on a fine winters morning.
The best thing about Penge is the Watermen's almshouses, private as are all these places so no opportunity to get good pictures, but quite an extensive complex. The library has a rather good ironwork sign outside it on top of an old lamp post. It shows a woman reading a book standing near a book case (see picture). Penge shopping centre is rather dreary with nothing much there. A short bus ride away is Beckenham, with the Church of St George standing in proud isolation on Beckenham Green. Beckenham Green is the result of V2 rockets during the second world war and has been left as a much needed open space in this land of dormitory suburbs. The church (Victorian) was proudly flying the flag of its saint and was open when I called. The bombing at Beckenham Green had taken out the former windows which have since been filled with modern stained glass including some that looks like a celebration of technology, with pictures of calculators etc. Very striking. The older windows on the other side were typical representational stained glass of the period of the church. Some antiquities from a 13th century church on the site had been preserved including a piscina. There was a funeral bier in the church stencilled 'Beckenham'.

The font was in the Liturgical North Transept, a good move as it allows many more people to see the baptism which of course is a public ceremony.

The Lych Gate was 13th century and is thought to be the oldest in London. It has had the tiles replaced 3 times and the timbers replaced 5 times. Restored in the 1920s according to a plaque on it the timbers looked extremely new.
The village sign is usual to all villages in Bromley Borough and Beckenham has one, bearing the coat of arms of the former Beckenham Borough.
Beckenham is ten miles and 2 furlongs to London Bridge as marked by a stone on Beckenham Green.
The afternoon was not so nice as the morning and I went home via Chislehurst which was pleasant and very villagey.

Posted by Picasa