The Press (NZ): Cathedral advocates 'appalled' at comparisons

A call by the world’s most senior Anglican bishop for Christchurch to stop clinging to the past has been criticised by those fighting to save the city’s earthquake-damaged cathedral.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby made the comments during a visit to Auckland last week, saying the city should not “be boring” and should look to England’s Coventry Cathedral as something to aspire to.

Coventry Cathedral had incorporated the ruins of the city’s old cathedrals when they were destroyed by time and war.

Great Christchurch Buildings Trust member and retired reverend Graeme Brady said he was always moved by the old ruins, but the rest of the cathedral had dated very quickly.

It was a shame Coventry’s authorities had “completely wiped out” all of the city’s old buildings and replaced them with a “concrete mess”.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces

6 comments on “The Press (NZ): Cathedral advocates 'appalled' at comparisons

  1. driver8 says:

    1. The Cathedral was rather controversial in its own day but it is perhaps the most successful English attempt to transpose neo-gothic into a modern idiom, using modern materials and theologically traditional but formally modernist artworks.

    2. The city centre took a rather different direction – the past was erased – there was little reconstruction of what had been. Instead city planners and architects were confident in their ability to create a better modernist future. I think it’s fair to say, it didn’t quite succeed.

    My own sense is that for all it’s greatness – and I love the Cathedral – it wasn’t a model for future church building in England – perhaps because neo-gothic fell so rapidly out of fashion, perhaps because it was liturgically and theologically rather conservative (though formally and materially innovative), perhaps because it was a prohibitively expensive model to follow.

    On the other hand the confidence of town planners and architects that the past might happily be erased and replaced with the rational creations of the 50s and 60s – continued to do rather a lot of damage to the architecture of English cities and towns.

  2. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    The Archbishop is absolutely right. We should put some exciting high rise offices on Lambeth Palace, become as rich as Trinity Wall Street, and make London a less boring place at the same time.

  3. driver8 says:

    The issue – I think – is that “don’t be boring” tends to be read by the cost conscious and the liturgical and theological modernists – as erase every architectural element that would speak of the past. In other words, act precisely like Coventry city centre planners and not like the Cathedral.

    One only has to think of churches from the 70s onwards – that look like nuclear bunkers or hospital waiting rooms or the ecclesial equivalents of vapid Gap style minimalism, from which any significant Christian symbol has been stripped.

    Instead of “don’t be boring”, which is itself such tedious advice – I think of the Competition document for Coventry Cathedral which said, “The Cathedral is to speak to us and to generations to come of the Majesty, the Eternity and the Glory of God”.

  4. David Keller says:

    The church IS the buildings, afterall.

  5. driver8 says:

    Presumably one will want to be as attentive as one is able to quite how and what is communicated through the spaces in which the church gathers. The Lord, at least occasionally, seems surprisingly interested in such matters….

  6. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    George Gilbert Scott is ‘boring.’ Who knew?