‘The question to ask is “Does the building speak of what goes on both inside and outwards from it?” If it does then it will look like a church – of the particular character of the people of God who have created it.’ John Marsh
St Michael’s Cathedral, Coventry
Designed by Basil Spence in the early 1950s the new Cathedral was built adjacent to the ruins of the old Cathedral, destroyed in wartime bombing, and completed in 1962. The same Hollington sandstone was used for the new building to provide an element of unity between the new and old. This game of new and old works well as far as it goes, but the building was severely criticised (at least among church architects) at the time because it did nothing to question the liturgical form of the building. Instead of responding to the new emphasis on gathered community, it fell back on established forms, albeit in a modern idiom; in this sense, for its time, it is a very conservative building.
All Saints’ Church, Jesus Lane, Cambridge
Beautiful, but dead? Or is it alive? This great piece of architecture was designed by George Frederick Bodley and built between 1863 – 70. It closed in the 1970s, presumably with the change of demographics and decline in church attendance. Architecturally it is a gem, retaining its highly decorated Arts & Crafts interior, and of course it remains a significant landmark in Cambridge. The church now is cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust, and after many years of being closed is now open every day. It is used by Presbyterian congregation, and by the adjacent Westcott House theological college. So what is this church saying? And what should be done with it?