Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Crumbling Churches

Around 20 Church of England churches are closed each year. These churches, whose once devout congregations have dwindled to nothing, leaving the  buildings to start to crumble and rot.
On a cold, crisp October morning we set out to explore some of these abandoned churches.
First stop was St. Saviour's, consecrated in 1865, built in the Early pointed Gothic style. This very grand, imposing building closed its doors for the final time as a place of worship in 2007.

                   Sadly, some of the windows are broken. Others are boarded up.
Sadly for us, this building has been recently securely locked up and so we were unable to gain access to the interior.
We admired this stunning building from the outside, lamenting its demise and got ready to move onto the next location.
A short drive and we were at the Church of St. John the Evangelist, a church built in the 1850s, designed by Paley, Austin and Paley.

This was another impressive building, sadly closed in 2012 due to vandalism so severe that the entire roof was ruined, to the tune of £20,000 worth of damage. An architect estimated that the cost of repairing the whole church to its former glory would come to half a million pounds. Reluctantly, the congregation had to move elsewhere.
Again, we could not gain access to the inside of the church. Once again, the building had been securely boarded up, quite understandably considering the vandals had caused the place to close.
So we headed for our third and final destination of the day.
St. Paul's Church was built in 1846 and closed in 1999.

This Grade II listed building was designed in the Early English style with a Gothic tower. In 1997, shortly after its 150th anniversary, the ceiling and roof were found to be unsafe. The repairs required were too extensive and the congregation moved to another building. The final open air service took place in 1999.

The imposing tower appeared to be an easy access point for pigeons and other birds, who kept swooping in and out through a gap at the top.
The front door is so overgrown it long ago lost its function.
There were charming gargoyles, covered with a liberal growth of moss.
The surrounding graveyard had seen better days. Many of the gravestones were broken or had toppled over.
We found the only way in, which involved a little bit of climbing. Luckily I'm getting rather skilled at shinning up walls! However, the stench of pigeon droppings, of which there was 15 years' worth of, liberally covering the floor, put us off having a thorough explore. Photographs were hastily taken from my makeshift vantage point.
 The place has been truly trashed. There was rubbish all over the place. Pews were smashed up and piled in a heap at one end of the nave. The plaster on the walls was crumbling and filthy.

Every few seconds, pigeons would swoop through the church. There was the constant sound of pigeons cooing. The once human congregation are now all of the feathered variety.

Getting out before I caught something on the same scale as Ebola, we had a mooch around the graveyard.


Sad to see these beautiful buildings left to rot and decay.

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