Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Halse, Northamptonshire

Flexible, portable, durable

The Northamptonshire town of Brackley is somewhere I’ve visited often, but on my most recent visit I left the town by a route I’d not tried before and soon found myself in Halse, staring at this small corrugated iron church. I knew nothing of its history, but was reminded of others* I’d seen – the Mission Chapel at Halse has an impressive selection of the features – pointed ‘Gothic’ inserts to the rectangular windows, quatrefoil openings, a small spire – that could be fitted to a corrugated iron building in the 19th century to indicate that it was a church.

When I got home I looked online, and found the church’s website.† It tells how in 1885 the curate from Brackley had to walk about a mile to Halse to take services in someone’s dining room. It was thought that the congregation of about 40 people (most of the hamlet’s adult population) deserved a place of worship of their own, and the Earl of Ellesmere bought this building for them in 1900. Apparently he bought it secondhand – it had been a ‘railway community room’ for workers building local railways and had to be taken apart and moved to its present site, demonstrating that these prefabricated buildings are portable and adaptable. One wonders whether the ecclesiastical features were added when it was moved to its current location.

The church is still in use and, after a major repair and restoration program in 1999 it looks in good shape – tin churches were not expected to last 100 years. The direction of the very strong sunlight meant I found it hard to take a photograph that does the church full justice (the spire is lurking in the shadows), but I hope the pattern of corrugations, fence uprights, and green leaves is at least pleasant to the eye.

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* I’ve previously done posts on ‘tin churches’ at Rodley, Coombe Green, Defford and Kilburn, London.

† I am indebted to the website of St Peter’s, Brackley for information about the building’s history.

1 comment:

Joseph Biddulph (Publisher) said...

Long live tin churches! One also at Llwyn-y-Pia, Glamorgan. Alas,no photo.