Monday, 23 June 2014

St James at your convenience

They didn't call it Bermondsey New Church for nothing. When St James's Church was built in 1829 it contained a new, daring, and controversial innovation: a church loo.

Spending a penny was no longer just about putting money in the collection. Congregants caught short during an over-long sermon could nip out to the state-of-the-art Water Closet, thoughtfully installed by architect, James Savage.

But not everyone was happy with the new arrangements, in fact, according to a recent article in the Daily Telegraph which featured a prominent photo of St James (thanks Nick), a whole campaign was fought in early Victorian England against the  the installation of  lavatories in churches, especially those sited near 'to the altar.'

The Ecclesiologist magazine drew particular attention to the appalling 'desecration' that had taken place at St James, Bermondsey where they reported the dismal news that “there are two water-closets, one on each side of, and adjoining the Altar: the one being for the use of the vestry, and the other for the congregation.'

Now at this point your blogger could descend into a series of poor taste puns (we are not known as a Waterloo church for nothing etc etc), but I will just say that I am glad, as the Telegraph article points out, that there are 'toilet facilities' in St James to this very day.

And if we led the way in that regard, well, so be it.

The Telegraph's photo of St James

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