Friday, May 11, 2007

Church theft

One area I've been meaning to investigate is whether the London Skyline of yore... the Wren skyline... the one that everybody seeks to preserve, received much opposition when it was constructed.

Slightly different kettle of fish given that the whole city had just been incinerated, and the idea that there were many people concerned about preserving the view when there were fish and spices to sell is a bit of a whimsy to be honest. But I do know there was opposition to St Paul's Cathedral as it was considered to be too catholic looking. I wonder if his other churches were similarly opposed by traditionalists?

In doing some preliminary googling I have the following to report:

Church theft

The Church of St Mary, Aldermanbury now resides in Fulton, Missouri (satellite picture). It was bombed during the blitz and rather than rebuild it all themselves the canny Cockneys thought they'd ship it off to America where 'visitors from around the world may enter Wren's beautiful, light-filled sanctuary.' But why Fulton?
'The structure would be rebuilt on the campus of Westminster College as a permanent reminder of Churchill's visit to the college and his prophetic speech.'
The speech was in fact the one where he became the first Western leader to openly accuse the Soviet Union of being... well... sorta evil, and coined the term 'Iron Curtain'. Bit of an odd way to permanently remind yourselves of Churchill; import (at huge cost) a church which he had nothing to do with. I dunno - Americans.

Another stolen church feature I came across in Perth, Australia a few years ago. The original bells from St Martin-in-the-Fields are there in a striking bell tower (satellite image) which looks a bit like the maelstrom boat from the forgettable 'Pirates of dark water' cartoon from the early nineties. It is appartently one of the largest musical instruments in the world (if you can call that racket music. Honestly - it's just noise! Give me some punk over bell-ringing any day). I've seen (but not heard) the largest musical instrument in the world. It's some disused grain silos in Montreal which I believe work a bit like mammoth organ pipes. They call it the silophone. Maybe they should aim for a similar thing for Battersea power station. I could then nip down there in my lunch hour to tinkle the old turbine halls.

Hawksmoor's seven

Found this fact about Hawksmoor's contribution to church-building in London:
All seven were constructed under the Act of 1711 which proposed to build '50 new churches of stone and other [1]proper materials with towers or steeples'. This scheme was put forward by the Tories, [2]partly to celebrate the [3]fall of the Whigs after 22 years but also because [4] law and order in the suburbs was thought to be suffering for want of churches.
What an excellent act of parliament! It's got the lot: [1] vague, almost mystical terminology, [2] the bizarre practice of splashing out by indulging in a bout of piety, [3] inter-party pettiness, and [4] the almost childlike naivety we know, love and expect in politicians.

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