David Lemon on St James' Anglican ChurchThursday, December 14, 2006
I like Adrian Gilbert Scott's St.James's space, square, solid and reassuring. And it's an intriguing link to the Scott family that gave us the sublime Midland Grand Hotel at St. Pancras Station in London - as both engineering marvel and scenery, and the second largest Gothic cathedral in the world at Liverpool (the number one spot being held by St. John the Divine in New York) among other gigantic and more intimate contributions to Gothic revival architecture. When I was growing up much of this was disparaged. Many of the most exuberant buildings in the big cities were then cloaked in grime and all but abandoned, and it took the best part of a hundred years to recognise that they are covered in superbly integrated ornament and redolent of a broader culture entirely missing from the cheap and dour 'fifties minimalism that masqueraded as purity. As many others do I recall with sadness the superb Doric Arch by Philip Hardwick at the entrance to Euston Station which was destroyed in 1962 to make way for the vulgar efficiencies of the age. Then, everything that paid hommage to the culture of the ages was deemed fraudulent. St.James's sits on the cusp of modernism, a bold concrete echo of Byzantium and Normandy.