Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Stripping of the Altars

How was this allowed to happen? My apologies for the quality of the picture (scanned from a parish magazine from 1959) This is the church in which my parents were married, my sisters were baptised and my uncle ordained to the priesthood.This church, designed by Adrian G. Scott in the Gothic style, was opened in 1931.

This is what it looked like at the Quarant' Ore devotion in 1959:


This is what it looks like today:


What purpose was served by removing the simple, dignified high altar and reredos? Is there no recognition that the stones of our churches make up a part of the substance of our faith? Is this how the bewildered Catholic people of England felt when Cromwell's men went to work? It certainly feels like the process Eamon Duffy describes.

"It was theologo-philistinism chilling in its austerity."
Carl Green, Oriens

I might ask Fr Nicholas, who is a stone's throw away at Willesden to take a photograph the hideous tabernacle. I was so horrified by it, I couldn't bear to snap it at a family wedding last year.

6 Comments:

Blogger antonia said...

I agree with you -- it now looks awful.


It was so refreshing to be in Rome, where every Church is glorious and beautiful, and just how a house for God should be.

There are some hideous modern creations around now-a-days. eugh!

God Bless,

4:37 PM  
Blogger Fr Nicholas said...

Hmmm, not sure I'll be passing Wealdstone between now and my move. Despite appearances, though, the parish organises some good things - I've preached there at a Pro-Life Vigil (together with Fr Tim of Hermeneutic of Continuity) and given some catechetical talks.

11:14 PM  
Blogger Paulinus said...

Well, good to know that even if they've vandalised the buildings the Salvatorians are doing some things right!!!

8:55 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Very sad, indeed!!!

But, someday perhaps it can be fixed. See my blogpost today for some photos of a parish that reverts, somewhat to a more decent setting. Too bad they didn't add a wall altar, but by the looks of it, they are prepared to do so in the future.

3:14 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

I much prefer the solemn dignity and beauty of the 1959 photographs.
The modern one looks more like an airport lounge than a church.....

7:06 PM  
Anonymous Caro Skyrme said...

How very right you are, the old interior was so much more dignified and beautiful. Who in their right mind would have chosen this as an acceptable alternative? I have seen such terrible things done in the name of progress and modernizing, it makes one weep.
I was baptised at The Chapel of The Resurrection at Belfast Castle in 1950 and the most heartbreaking vandalism took place there, now the place is boarded up and there is talk of making it into flats! When one sees what is being offered to-day for places of worship, I begin to worry about what will be left in a few years. It is all too sad.
Caro.

3:49 PM  

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