Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A visit to Silver road Baptist church, Norwich, revealed a classic non-conformist pattern: After the repeal of the Test Act in 1828, non-conformists quickly became recognised and respected pillars of English society. They started building churches that made use of time honoured establishment church architectural details and they erected monumments celebrating the life of those in their midst who were well placed in society. This practice seems to have lasted up until the 1950s:  However, at Silver road it is the first time I  have seen the use of Romanesque rather than Gothic (or classical) details in a non-conformist building. Perhaps they were attempting to go one better and  create the ambiance of the cathedrals, many of which are old enough to preserve details as early as the 12th century. These baptists no longer saw themselves as remnant upstarts or new kids on the block, but part of the broad swathe that Christianity cuts through history. Today's marginalised evangelical churches would never dream of aping these prestigious styles.

Romanesque windows on a pseudo transept.

Left: A façade with the unmistakable air of a Romanesque cathedral and a hint of Gothic Chartres thrown in for good measure.
 Right: Celebrating civic links.

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