This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Tragedy of St Saviour's
The plight of Leicester's redundant churches is an ever-increasing problem.
What is going to happen to St Peter's Belgrave, St Gabriel's and St Barnabas? Will they stand dejected and rotting like the once magnificent edifices of St Paul's and St Saviour's, or even end up like the burnt-out shell of St Augustine's?
There is a serious problem here and it needs to be addressed, as is made all too clear in an article by Karen Green in the November edition of the Leicester Citizen, journal of the Leicester Civic Society.
It is entitled "The Threat to St Saviour's" – now a heartrending sight of neglect and dereliction, but was once the pride of the area. Here is just part of what she has to say:
"From christenings to funerals, the generations who lived in the densely populated area had their own personal attachment to St Saviour's and many stories to tell. I recently received contact from a lady who informed me about one of the windows located in the Memorial Chapel. Here great grandparents lost their son in France during the Great War; they worshipped at St Saviour's and paid for the window to be installed. Depicted is the image of an angel with vibrant halo and robes, the angel's face is the actual face of the fallen soldier.
"All very poignant and one example of how St Saviour's provides a tangible link to the social history of our city.
"Sadly in 2005, St Saviour's closed its doors as a functioning church and has subsequently been declared redundant. In 2010 it presents a sorry sight sitting in unkempt grounds where discarded waste and overgrown flora are the norm.
"The impression that no one cares has been seen as a green light for drug users, drinkers and vandals, and the result of their unwanted attention is devastating. The window I mentioned is half-gone, having been used as a means of entrance, what is left is peppered with holes. The once beautifully ornate pulpit is obliterated and several small fires have been started which fortunately didn't take firm hold.
"It is heartbreaking to witness such a precious building awaiting a dreadful fate."
St Saviour's if of architectural significance — not just because of its size, but the fact that it was the last project of one of the greatest of all Victorian architects, Sir George Gilbert Scott – whose designs include the frontage of the magnificently restored St Pancras Station and the Albert Memorial.
In her last paragraph Karen Green writes: "There have been too many historic buildings and monuments lost in Leicester in recent years through ignorance, apathy and wanton destruction and enough is enough! We must do all in our power to ensure that buildings such as St Saviour's are brought into use for future generations. It's time to insist that the privileged guardians of Leicester's heritage do all they can to adequately protect what is – when all is said and done – our true and rightful inheritance."
To join the Leicester Civic Society call 01509 520 904.
This week it was announced that St Saviour's was to be sold.