Saturday, October 16, 2010
St Saviour's Church, Leicester
Leicester's excellent civic society has launched a new campaign: Save St Saviour's Church.
St Saviour's is a massive brick church in the Highfields district of Leicester. It was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, the architect of the Midland Hotel at St Pancras, and built between 1875 and 1877. It has been out of use for five years and has recently suffered from vandalism.
The church, its stone-faced spire contrasting with the red brick bulk of the rest of the building (not sure about that, Sir George), will be a familiar landmark to anyone who travels through Leicester by train. I went there today to have a closer look.
Everything is now firmly locked, though it is possible to wander around the outside of the building. At some stage its name was stuck on to the front in plastic letters. Most have now fallen off, making it resemble Reggie Perrin's employer Sunshine Desserts.
Far sadder is the neighbouring school, which was latterly a neighbourhood centre. It is another large building, but it is in a bad way and will be past saving if someone does not step in soon. It is hard to resist the impression that the Church of England has just locked the doors and walked away.
The irony is that religion is thriving all around St Saviour's. Highfield is the heart of Leicester's Muslim community and well supplied with new mosques. There are bills advertising madrasahs, which give religious instruction to children, in the windows of many houses.
Part of me left the area mourning Western decadence and the decline of Christian England. Then I remembered that neither religion is true.