Saturday, 12 August 2017

In praise of Stevenage from Room 406


The Holiday Inn has been a prominent feature in my July! Flying back from the US and a twenty-four hour turn round found me in the Holiday Inn Stevenage for a week.


This time I was in room 406 and looking out on one of the most thrilling pieces of church architecture I have seen for a long time.








Like the I-95 highway snaking its way past me in Massachusetts, the church St Andrew & St George, Stevenage, with its cathedral-like aura provided visual a diversion each day as I looked out of my window. Its campanile was almost close enough to touch.

Again you can really get to become found of a hotel in a week. Again the meeting room facilities were perfect and every member of staff was a delight! So, I award 10/10 for the Holiday Inn organisation.


After I had finished my work at lunchtime on Friday I went to take a closer look at the Church of St Andrew and St George and was shown around inside the church by Vic Summerfield the self-appointed archivist. 


In various nooks and crannies Vic unearthed framed original architect drawings, photographs of HRH Elizabeth the Queen Mother laying the foundation stone on 14 July 1956 and another of her at the consecration in November 1960 when nearly a thousand people were present.


The whole church is a wonderful confection of pre-cast concrete, columns of it interlace with clerestory windows forming an almost continuous wall of glass.  The East window was originally plain stained glass with a single cross set into the design, this was moved to the west end of the church and new one (1966) with psychedelic sacred motifs put in it place; to conceal the large office block at the time – now my hotel!   


Tucked away in a room near the entrance another treasure. A Madonna, a bronze sculpted by Gwendolen Williams. Vic pointed out that given Gwendolen Williams (1870-1955;) specialised in small-scale, intimate sculptures, of which this one was atypical being of some size.


TALL TOWERS GREAT THE EVENING SUN






A CHURCH IN PRAISE OF CONCRETE
HRH QUEEN ELIZABETH THE QUEEN MOTHER SIGNS THE CONSECRATION BOOK