21 December, 2007

St Saviours Church Eltham - The concrete church

St Saviours Church appears in purple brick out of the sea of red brick council houses built in the 1930s by Woolwich Council. Built as one of the 25 new churches from by a special fund initiated by the Bishop of Southwark the building is a striking and fitting church with its foundation stone laid in 1932. Designed by N F Cachemaille-day, from the outside the small concrete windows look as though they would be more at home in a pavement, lighting up a basement and the sculpture in concrete of the Lamb of G*d and the large cross in brick make a statement that this is a modern and forward looking church. The tower of the church, unusually, forms the chancel, and the whole church has very little woodwork, which gives permanence and prevents fires. The font is made from a massive block of concrete with a bowl set into it and carving of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist with the words "this is my beloved son". It is set at the back of the church, not so good for modern practice although Mr Cachemaille-Day was part of the liturgical movement. The glory of the church is the reredos, in concrete, with a concrete sculpture of Jesus by someone called Donald Hastings (who also did the font) who hasn't yet made it to the web.

I hope the congregation appreciates their beautiful church and their pleasant and helpful Priest in Charge, who was kind enough to show me round on a Saturday morning.


Anonymous said...

Hi,I live in Dagenham, Becontree, and our local church was designed by welch cachemaille day & lander, St. Marys is of a very similar desgn to St. Saviour Eltham, It has the unusual square tower also used as a chancel. It is situated on the corner of Grafton Road / Valence Wood Road, if you would like to have a look at another example of their work, its worth it.

Anonymous said...

Hi, The concrete sculpture of Christ is actually by my mother's cousin Donald Hastings, not 'Harding'. Donald Hastings' work is archived at The Henry Moore Institute in Leeds. Jeany.