Friday, April 08, 2011

St Gabriel's, Kerrysdale Avenue, Leicester

It isn't just St Peter's, Belgrave, that is up for sale. The same Parish of the Ressurection has closed another church and put it.on the market another. So naturally I had to go to look for St Garbriel's, Kerrysdale Avenue, too.

What I found was a building I rather liked. St Gabriel's dates, very clearly, from the early 1960s - an era before popular modernism had coarsened into the concrete brutalism of the 1970s. It is a style I grew up with, having lived in the new town of Hemel Hempstead as a small boy.

I am not the only person who likes it. A Leicester Mercury report from 2009 quotes the Leicestershire church expert Dr Geoff Brandwood (I heard him lecture years ago) as follows:
"An effective building, particularly inside. The altar is at the west end. The materials are red brick and concrete and the roof is flat.

"Over the canopy is a stylised, recumbent fibre-glass figure of Gabriel blowing his exceedingly long trumpet... The interior is clean and simple, the most successful device being the way the square space around the altar is lit from a glass octagon above.

"On its nave side, there is a square 'chancel arch' with free-standing concrete columns. These are flanked by a pulpit and identical lectern.

"Beyond the altar is a small Lady Chapel, which occupies a volume corresponding to a conventional chancel.

"The altar, dating from the 1950s, has good carving designed by Cyril Simms and was brought from the old church."
There is also a spire of sorts, though you have to go into the supermarket car park behind the church to see it clearly.

Note that the Mercury report reveals that this plot was originally the site of a tin tabernacle.

As with St Peter's and St Saviour's, sale of St Gabriel's is being handled by the estate agents Andrew Granger. Ominously, the particulars for St Gabriel's suggest that redevelopment of the site may be an option.

Was there an alternative to the closure of St Peter's and St Gabriel's?

Another Leicester Mercury report says:
The Parish of the Resurrection - responsible for the three churches in Belgrave - has said dwindling collections and escalating bills meant it could only afford to keep one church open. It had chosen St Alban's, in Weymouth Street, because it said it had better facilities and was cheaper to run.
But the journal of the excellent Leicester Civic Society talks of "decisions that may have more to do with the current politics of the parish than any genuine concern for its heritage."

Meanwhile, The Islamic Standard crows:
We at the Leicester Islamic Standard welcome the dying out of this idolitrous (sic) faith in our city and look forward to the day when Islam is the dominant faith over the whole of Leicester, with the law of God enforced for the benefit of all.
Whatever happens to St Gabriel's, I hope this sculpture of an angel will be saved. We need all the angels we can get.


Anonymous said...

This church should never have been closed in preferance to St. Albans! Ifeel there was more opportunity for mission in this area of the city.

Anonymous said...

I notice they can't even keep the web sites up to date! How long has St. Peters & St Gabriels been closed, surely the C of E should be putting out up to date information two years down the line! How does the Church care for the people who attend or may want to attend if they are so behind the times?

Anonymous said...

Visited Leicester in the last couple of days, visiting St Matthew's House on the estate of the same name, and St Gabriel's, both in the parish of the Resurrection. In 1990/1 the parish had three priests, two deacons and three Benedictine Sisters, with three pastoral assistants based at St Matthew's House, one of which was me.
How times have changed! St Gabriel's was a hugely successful parish, well-attended and well-organised - although a new congregation has settled there, I concur with a previous poster that the opportunities for mission would be greater at St G's than St A's, but then I am 25 years out of the area, and there has been much change.
Have great affection for The Resurrection Parish and all that we achieved there as a ministry team, and I feel that not all the changes have been for the best.