Thursday, February 25, 2010

Methodist Church, Bourne

click photo to enlarge
Non-Conformist chapels and churches come in a greater variety of forms than their Church of England counterparts. The earliest seventeenth century examples, such as the Friends (Quaker) Meeting House, Settle, North Yorkshire, (1678) are basically converted houses. Others such as the Methodist chapel at Walsingham, Norfolk (1791) are simple brick boxes with a porch attached, semi-circular headed windows and a single galleried room inside. Others, especially in the nineteenth century seem to vie with nearby C of E building, adopting a Gothic persona of pointed windows, stained glass, tracery, buttresses, towers and spires (though usually unconvincingly): a United Reformed Church building that I know in the Lancashire village of Elswick could easily be mistaken for the local Church of England parish church. Then there are the large circular, octagonal or other odd shaped buildings with multiple annexes, that put the visitor in mind of a court room or theatre, such as North Shore Methodist church, Blackpool (early 1900s), or the Methodist Central Hall, Westminster (1912).

The other day, during a trip to Bourne I came upon a Methodist church building of 1839 designed by the architect Thomas Pilkington. It was set back from the road and fronted by flat, green lawns and a path. All the nearby buildings were red brick, so the clean, white facade impressed itself upon the passerby, with its simplicity and purity. Perhaps that was the intention. However, behind this elegant face the same red brick that is used by the neighbouring buildings prevails. During the nineteenth century Non-Conformist churches flirted with classical forms to a greater extent than did the established church, and here Pilkington uses giant Doric pilasters and a triangular pediment to give an impression of the facade of a Greek or Roman temple. Many churchmen thought classical architecture pagan, and spurned it for that reason, but not this group of Methodists in Bourne. In fact, the building is recorded as having acroteria angularia on the two flat plinths at each side of the pediment, and undoubtedly had an acroterion on the similar surface at the apex, so the full panoply of classical architecture was obviously applied.

With this photograph a black and white conversion made more of the composition than did colour. I particularly liked the way it emphasised the building, giving it an ethereal look, and how it gave greater prominence to the outline of the gate in the foreground.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 11mm (22mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/250
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On