Friday 30 January 2009

Tin tabernacles, old and new

Tin tabernacles were a cheap, quick alternative to the traditional stone church: you could literally buy one from a catalogue. Actually made of corrugated iron, many disappeared once their congregations could afford to build in brick or stone but a number of survivors are scattered around London and the country.

I was also delighted to visit one with the Victorian Society last year. This lovely example in Littlebury Green, Essex was built in 1885 from a flat-pack kit (presumably with better instructions than the average bookcase). Even the 'stained' glass came in the form of ready-made film to be attached to the windows. Since it serves as chapel of ease to a hamlet of just 52 houses, it was perhaps always safer than most from more expensive replacement; but these buildings are also vulnerable to other issues, not least rust. However, thanks to local support and restoration, its condition is remarkably good (other tin tabernacles have not been so fortunate or so loved).

While in many parts of the country churches are falling out of use, there is still strong demand for premises around Deptford. As a result, some congregations have found a contemporary version of the tin tabernacle:

1 comment:

Adam said...

Church in warehouse unit? I'm not sure what that says about religion really!