God bothering alternatives

Churches make fantastic spaces for so much more than simply God bothering.

And by allowing alternative uses for some of these fabulous old buildings, local councils can help to ensure that they remain “lived in” and to some extent “looked after”.

Holy Trinity Church in Horncastle was made redundant on 19-Oct-1979 and became an Arts and Community Centre on 21-Dec-1988.  This retired church on East Street is now home to the Trinity Antiques Centre.  Anyone visiting this small Lincolnshire market town for the first time cannot fail to notice the plethora of antique shops.  In fact, this is what Horncastle is most famous for in the 21st century – it has welcomed television shows such as the BBC’s Bargain Hunt on more than one occasion.

The town has Roman origins and you can still see some of the remaining walls.  It also has a famous character or two on its historic bragging list.

It is a sense of godly history that makes it feel a little odd to be in a church perusing English bone china tea sets and cut glassware all laid out with price tags, just asking to be bought and given a new home.  It goes against the grain somehow.  There’s a definite decibel awareness too; fellow visitors speaking almost in whispers, and treading reverently on the ancient stone flags, as if He might still be in residence.

It makes for a peaceful experience I have to say, a welcome break from the constant traffic buzzing by outside on its way to the east coast seaside resorts on a Friday afternoon.  Retail clearly does work as an option for redundant town churches, as proved here.

My particular concern though is regarding the demise of the scores of small, country churches in our villages and hamlets, where there is no call for retail businesses to exist.  And not every village has a famous son or daughter to fall back on in hard times.  Sadly, because of planning rules, the majority of these buildings cannot currently be purchased and made into dwellings.  I’d like to see local councils changing their tune on planning permission and re-assessing how these ancient buildings can be put to alternative good use as homes, offices, galleries and small rural businesses.  Surely “lived in” has to be a better description than “lost” for our rural historic churches?

 

 

All photographs © Suzy Barker 2016 and they may not be used elsewhere

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22 thoughts on “God bothering alternatives

    1. There are certainly some lovely items to be seen and bought. Lincolnshire is home to some of the largest antiques centres in Europe. Much of it is over-priced. And a lot of it is just bric a brac. Quite fun wading through it all. And yes, if it keeps a building alive then all well and good. Thanks for reading. And commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. What a big Q? The church is lovely, historic, valuable..
    Why doesn’t anyone worship there anymore?
    Is it better as a historic and antique center?
    Highest and best use is always community and market driven. That’s the American appraiser in me speaking of course.
    But a church…it was built for worship.

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    1. Sad to say – I think we have more churches than we need in modern day life. There are fewer and fewer churchgoers with each passing year here in the UK – that’s the bottom line. In their day they have cost a lot to build and maintain, and communities have loved them and used them. It bothers me that when a church disappears so does a whole chunk of social history. So I’m a fan of using them for something useful rather than losing them.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I heartily agree, there are plenty of more constructive uses for churches. There’s a great one in the centre of Copenhagen that is now a popular art gallery. I’ve read of others being turned into nightclubs or homes.

    If a god did exist, I’m sure he/she/it could get along just fine without all the worshiping. I’d imagine just doing / being good and kind would be quite sufficient to please any theoretical creator figure.

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  3. What a beautiful old church. For whatever its purpose. I agree it shouldn’t be torn down, but put to a good use ~ perhaps something with a sort of “reverent” quality. Like antiques or art. Nightclub, ummm not so much! 😉

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  4. Beautiful!! The church that my Great Grandfather had built in a residential neighborhood had to be sold because there weren’t enough people going on a regular basis. I was sad to see it go, but someone made a home out of it. The photo’s I’ve seen of it are pretty and I would love to go in next time I’m there. I had always thought that it would be a cool idea to live in a church or an old renovated barn! Thanks for sharing, I would love to visit those one day!

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  5. Definitely sad to see churches go to waste! Here in NYC, churches are sometimes converted into homes or even commercial businesses so the architecture can still be appreciated. This isn’t a very religious city, so it’s more common than one might think.

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