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December 11, 2010, 02:56 PM

Reflections on an epic church clearance

By Lawrence Skilling

St Albans Church, Acton, clearance [photo Chancellors

London West, UK - In an average year we probably have 2 epic jobs. Church clear-outs which, by virtue of scale, take ages to complete with lots of people, vehicles and general logistic stuff. St Alban's in Acton Green is definitely the last one we will do this year. 40 plus pews, a large stone font, monster iron railings in the Lady Chapel, 20 foot high organ pipes and everything else you could possibly imagine in a church.

Anyway, we finally finished yesterday, picking up the last few scraps of panelling. As I finished one last cursory sweep up before locking the building and leaving for good, the sun shone through the windows bathing the church for a few moments in that rare winter glow. Bearing in mind that the next people to visit the church will probably be there to demolish it, I had a poignant sense of all that had gone before rising up and vanishing with the light. All of the marriages, the funerals, the baptisms. Those who sought comfort and found it. Those who were there out a sense of duty and were bored. Those for whom that time on a Sunday was just another small slice of a lifetime; just like going to the shops, or a meaningless job. Something to be ticked off before eternity closed in. Now, all gone forever.

I like those times when I am alone in an empty church I have worked in. But cannot help thinking about the teams of craftsmen who spent so much time making everything that we have taken down with our sledgehammers and cutters. Did they have any idea at all about just how transitory everything is?

Antique Church Furnishings

Chancellors: In an average year we probably have two epic jobs

Story Type:  Feature

ID: 56781

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