I took a trip over to Darlington to have a look at some old stones in St Cuthbert’s Church. The website states that the church is open from 11-2… it was wasn’t.
Plan B. Next door to the church is the Town Hall. Designed by Williamson, Faulkner Brown and Partners in collaboration with Borough Architect, A. E. Torbohm. The building opened in May 1970.
The sculpture in front of the building is the work of John Hoskin and is called Resurgence.
Walking the boundary of the building, in parts under the eye of the security guard, I found a pair truncated posts made of Shap Granite. I’m always chuffed when I find a lump of this beautiful stone. I then noticed that half of the market place is paved with the stuff.
After wandering around the town I returned to the church, it was still locked.
I called in to St Oswald’s Church at Lythe today. I’ve been here many times and never tire of visiting this lovely church. The church is a welcoming space, left open for visitors and has built a lovely display of it’s Anglo-Scandinavian collection of carved stones.
This is a marked difference to a number of our local churches which would prefer to keep their doors locked apart from an hour or two on occasional Sundays.
Church attendance across the mainstream christian denominations in the UK is generally in decline and in our area we see many churches locked for the majority of the time. Faith Survey 2020
Not being a christian myself I don’t feel it is appropriate for me to explore the reasons why church attendances are falling, but as someone who takes an interest in local history and the cultural life of the area I feel that local communities are being denied access to these spaces for little or no reason.
Our local churches are not only places of worship, they are also the custodians of local history, their architecture and memorials are physical records of the history and culture of our towns and villages. In my opinion, the exclusion of the greater community from accessing local churches will only accelerate a sense of detachment and lack of ownership of these beautiful spaces.
I’d also like to mention parochial houses being left empty. At a time when access to affordable housing is an issue in so many of our communities, the various church authorities seem to have no issues with allowing good quality houses to lie empty.