Victorian spires and ‘starkitecture’

On Monday evening went to a very enjoyable and special party organised by Simon Jenkins to see the illumination of All Saints, Margaret Street; it’s a great Victorian church by Butterfield, tucked into a street off Regent Street, with a soaring spire.

Inside it is splendidly sepulchral. I used to visit this church a bit when I was a student in London and was amazed by how many of Simon’s friends admitted to never have been inside it before. Had a long conversation with Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London who thinks that church officials are much more positive about the historic churches in their hands than they used to be. He also explains how much money is made available for church repairs in Germany and Sweden. It is rather amusing seeing how dark the nave is, where drinks are being held, means that guests circulate before pouncing on a familiar shadow.

It is interesting how important the issue of “place” and “place-making” is becoming at the moment. This week I have been to two discussion lunches where this is the main topic; it is a response of course to the volume of new building which we notice going up on all sides. I hear a new phrase at one lunch: “markitecture” which I think refers to buildings designed by grand names of the profession to get permission, and then sold on to others execute, often in diluted form. Another phrase used to describe an imbalance in London’s development, particularly in the region of tall buildings, is “starkitecture”. I am starting a glossary, do send in any you hear.

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