Thursday, 17 September 2009

The church of St. John Fisher, West Heath

The church of St. John Fisher, West Heath, Birmingham, where we had the solemn high mass two days ago is a most remarkable building and comes as a considerable surprise for several reasons. Firstly, for what is an average outer suburban city parish founded in the mid fifties, it is not a concrete carbuncle but a quite hansom modern brick church built in the shape of a Greek cross. It is totally of the period it was built in idiom and style, yet completely in harmony with ecclesiastical architectural tradition.

But secondly, it was built from 1962 - 1964, right during the council, and yet was specifically designed for the traditional liturgy. And thirdly, it has completely escaped the liturgical vandalism of the post conciliar era, to the point where no permanent altar versus populum has been installed, as you can see below. A portable altar is placed in the sanctuary for the parish masses.

Touring the church, we find three side altars completely intact for Our Lady, St. Joseph and the Sacred Heart.

Our Lady

St. Joseph

Sacred Heart

Choir gallery

Alas, the organ, a once very fine electric action instrument, has given up the ghost and been completely vandalised by amateur attempts to repair it. To get it up and running again would cost a small fortune. Hence a dreadful Hammond sounding electric organ has been placed up there (exactly the same kind I once played in the church of St. Birinus, Dorchester on Thames, producing a very ugly sound).


1 comment:

Ben said...

Fascinating. It reminds me very much of the church of Our Lady & St Joseph, Poplar, in the East End of London. The two churches are of the same vintage, and I wonder whether they were both by the same architect. (Adrian Gilbert Scott?)

Hope all is well with you, Oliver.