I first came across a church that had been turned into a public house a while ago when we went to York. I loved it! (see ‘Throwing yourself on the mercy of the parish these days’……….post) At first I felt a bit uncomfortable about the idea, – but the conversion was so tastefully done and it meant that the church was saved from perhaps demolition or a really drastic bad modernisation, so I was very much inclined to approve of it.
On our trip to Lancaster we found yet another chapel that had been coverted into a pub. The Friary, on Rosemary Lane has a completely different feel to the Parish in York. The decor I suppose could be called Shabby Chic or Boho: some of the textiles and colours are not for the faint hearted, but there are original touches here and there. The light fittings in particular are highly inovative, in the sense that they have been fashioned out of rather unusual recyclable materials. An oil drum, for example, split in half and the inside encrusted with glitter hangs over a table illuminated by bare bulbs.
A wire frame with hanging bottles provide another eye catching light arrangement. What looks like part of a tyre, is fashioned to become another unusual lighting design. Strange vinyl sofas with matching covered tables, interspersed with velveteen seating banquettes. All this – and carpets, red snooker tables.
This pub used to be owned by the Firkin group, who like to convert old buildings into pubs. We have one in Manchester which used to be an old cinema – and it’s most interesting pub which still has the balcony. In the Friary the real ale has gone from this pub now and it’s mainly for students and owned by the Scream group.
All in all, I did prefer the Parish in York, I thought the space better utilised. Although the Friary is a good size too, the layout is a little too haphazard and the layout chaotic. But that’s probably part of its charm:) I suppose it’s a sign of the times that the only time some people go into a church is to worship at the bar. But at least these buildings are being put to use and they are attracting their own congregation.
Excellent Friary Church outer shot from here