Last edited 22 Oct 2023

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Institute of Historic Building Conservation Institute / association Website

Holy Houses: places of worship in twentieth-century Britain

Holy houses.jpg

One of the great benefits of membership of the Twentieth Century Society, in addition to its excellent regular magazine C20, is the periodic publication of the splendid and important series of monographs on modern architecture. This is consistently supported in particular by the Mark Fitch Fund and by others including, from time to time, Historic England.

Volume No 15, edited by Elain Harwood and Alan Powers, is entitled Holy Houses: places of worship in twentieth-century Britain. This invaluable collection of essays, well-illustrated with most of the photographs of buildings in colour, should act as a stimulus to motivate readers towards the care and management of these buildings as an integral aspect of our built environment and cultural heritage. Sadly, we recently learned of the death of Elain Harwood, who will be greatly missed.

Within its 192 pages, the society brings together a wide range of ecclesiastical subject matter from twelve contributors. It is enterprisingly broad, ranging from denominations like the Salvation Army (by Stephen Spencer) and Christian Scientists (by Alan Powers), rarely considered as serious architectural clients, to the Quakers (by Johanna Roethe), a denomination more readily associated with the architecture of earlier eras.

The volume also covers several individual architects, some of them well known, like Percy Thomas (by Robert Proctor) and Robert Potter and Richard Hare (by Elain Harwood). Others, like Ernest Bower Norris and Richard Twentyman, receive the wider recognition seemingly only formerly accorded within the limited geographical areas where their work was dominant.

This article originally appeared in the Institute of Historic Building Conservation’s (IHBC’s) Context 176, published in June 2023. It was written by Bob Kindred MBE.

--Institute of Historic Building Conservation

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