Friday, 13 July 2007
My mother’s chapel is an impressive stone building with thick walls and a new roof, though it’s small by housing standards. It is listed, whereas her house isn’t, apparently because her house has a wall along the road so the listings officer couldn’t see it. That's me and Mollie inside, by the way. (Purposely) too small for indentification.
She didn’t really want a chapel, nor the graveyard outside, but there was no choice in the matter, apparently; one came with the other on the deeds. And yes, it could be turned into a dwelling but she’d need planning permission and a lot of renovations; it doesn’t have any plumbing or heating.
It’s about twenty foot square with a gallery that runs along one side, up some stairs. This is now stuffed with backdrops from various plays, and downstairs, as we walked in, was a gravestone saying E. Scrooge, RIP. The acoustics are wonderful, as proved by Himself while we were up there, and the elegant sounds of the trumpet drifting through to the garden next door were most impressive.
Since my mother’s owned it, the chapel has been a dance studio, a resting place for some friends who were homeless (not ideal given the lack of heating and plumbing), a pottery studio, a gallery, a painting studio and a party venue. It is currently being used by an amateur dramatics company.
It’s extremely cold in winter – the windows are tall and let a lot of light (and cold) in, and the thick stone walls enforce the refrigerating effect. Conversely in summer it’s boiling as the sun streams in and the walls drink the heat up greedily. Having said that, it’s a friendly feeling place that needs a lot of attention. It should be used for music, I think – singing and music and laughter. Plays, perhaps and paintings. It needs performances and a purpose. It needs people to fill its solid squareness and bring it cheer, to make it feel loved. I hope someone does, one day, but the tenants never seem to last long.
Any of you write for children? The chapel is your hero. Or heroine. Perhaps one day someone will stay long enough to cheer its heart.