Monday, September 10, 2007

Congregation, coloured glass and dress circle.

Nick and I spent yesterday visiting buildings in the Heritage Open Day.

1. Reading that St Augustine's church was once described as a 'tent' and that it helps worshippers recall the nomadic roots of their religion. It's a low modern building laid out in a square -- the congregation must feel very involved with the services. Nick thought its high rafters made it like a Medieval hall. The guide who greeted us said that when the church was first opened in 1974, she didn't get on very well with the modern architecture, but it has grown on her.

2. The stained glass window at the back of the stage in Trinity Arts Centre. Trinity is a converted church and the window is normally hidden by a curtain.

3. Going upstairs in the Opera House. It's been a pub since I moved to Tunbridge Wells. Before that, it was a bingo hall, and before that a cinema, and before it was a theatre. The dress circle has recently restored red tip-up seats. But I didn't know there was an upper circle, too, which hasn't been used since the last film in 1968. The seats look rather hard and uncomfortable, and it is strange to think that no-one has sat in them since before I was born. It was very grimy, very eerie, with toilets full of dust and stacks of unwanted doors and old furniture lying around. I was so glad of the chance to go behind the scenes in this familiar place.