Friday, 7 December 2012

Upper Norwood Methodist Church

The stained glass windows of medieval churches and cathedrals are often described as the cinema of their day; not just for their technicolor images, but also for the epic stories they illustrate. Whatever your beliefs, they still have the power to impress today, and there are some wonderful examples of modern glass design right here on the Triangle. Every time I walk past Iceland on Westow Hill, my eye is caught by the glowing red and white cross at the end of an otherwise rather dismal alley.

The current church on this site was built in 1964 by, Edward Mills, a modernist architect of some note. His biggest project was the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre. 60s architecture may not be to everyone's taste, but this shy and retiring building has an impressive interior, which combines simplicity and sobriety with theatrical exuberance. Fortunately it retains most of its original fittings, including the pews, pulpit, font, and of course, the flamboyant windows.

I was met at the church by it's enthusiastic and friendly young minister, Reverend Imran Malik, who has only been in his post for 3 months. The son of a Presbyterian minister, he was born in Baddomalhi in Punjab, and came to Britain in 2005. Despite his background, Imran was drawn to the teachings of John Wesley, and chose Methodism over his father's denomination. Unlike most of the locals I've written about, Imran did not have a choice about living in Crystal Palace, but was posted here by the church. However, he has quickly embraced his new community, and is excited by the church's physical presence on the High Street, giving him plenty of opportunities to engage with the locals.

This Sunday (9th December) at 11am, the church will be holding a family Carol Service.

Merry Christmas!

You can read more about the building in this 1965 issue of Concrete Quarterly.

Upper Norwood Methodist Church
Westow Hill