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


  1. It's great seeing this church still active in the community.I've always loved those stain glass windows,some of which were bits used from the old building.
    I was born in 1952 and grew up,firstly in the previous stone church on this site,then in the existing church which opened in 1964.
    My family and I were friends with Edward Mills and his wife.I often visited his house to clean his unusual Citroen car and walk his Alsatian dog 'Kias'.
    I was in the Sunday School and later in the Westow Youth Club,and in 1974 was married here by Rev. Douglas Wollen.
    Richard Stewart.

  2. My mother was Lyn Roberts who ran the girl guides in the mid 70s .I went to the church on a Sunday and went to Sunday school . Douglas Wollen and then Peter Coates were the ministers. My mother was friends with Dorothy Mead , Judith Kirby , Bill Colman, Gwen Walton . The organist was a woman name I can’t remember families who I can remember The Hetheringtons, The Dallaways . My sister was married at the church in early 70s.