Ecclesiastical public bars

The Parish York

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.

The Friary Lancaster

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.

ten greenish bottles

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.

Footage and Firkin Manchester

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.

The Friary Lancaster

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

10 thoughts on “Ecclesiastical public bars

  1. These are gorgeous – we don’t have the historical big old places here in Australia, or the castles you have there in the UK which I loved when I was visiting a couple of years ago.

    1. Its lovely to see these old buildings being utilised and remaining still part of the community! Thanks for visiting Kimberley – appreciated:)

  2. Alcohol and churches have a long history of mixing together! Consider the sacramental use of wine in rituals. I think why church spaces are so evocative is that they have evolved to become theaters where the spectacle of spirituality is played out in a communal setting. Seems adapting them comes naturally since the need to celebrate or commiserate are still with us.

  3. Yes, defintely a congregational space. I love the bar at the Parish one – its like a huge altar. The stained glass are the coloured bottles on display(though it still retains the original stained glass windows) Plenty of ‘spirit’ to be had too:) Plus, like you say – a ready built up atmosphere. I think they are a wonderful idea. I’ve seen too many churches fall into states of disrepair, all the lead being stripped of the roofs and the carcass left to rot. What a great way to ressurect them!

  4. I am always torn by church renovations ,,I hate seeing lovely buildings fall in ruins ,,we have a lovely church nearby being left to fall apart as the restoration by the church congegation itself would have cost too much for the small congregation to afford,,this was because of listed building restrictions ,,slapping listed building status on churches always seems a good idea to councils but almost never ends well ,,it usualy means the church congregation can nolonger afford repairs and sells it or if it cant sell it abandons it.The comunity loses its church which may not seem too bad but it also usualy loses old peoples activities or meals on wheels that arte organised or run from it ,guides and cubs ,mother and toddlers and often cheap comunityspace for rent by groups outside of the church ,groups that often cant afford more expensive places,(,I have done workers education association clases and taekwando in church spaces ,,, ,,

    the church buildings then left to fall apart unitl its unsafe so a propety developer can knock it down and use the land(often including the graveyards )for a big modern developement
    .Useing them for other things is much preferable to letting them be lost forever ,,I have seen some lovely homes and art centers and restuarants but somehow it seems wrong to use Chapels for pubs as they almost all had strong views against alchol consumption ,,I dont have a problem with c of e and rc churches they didnt have a teetol policy so its not a problem there ,,but generations of people will have signed the pledge in the chapels ,Theres one chapel a distance away thats a casino people wander across the graves swearing or throwing up and no one seems to realise theres still living relatives of those buried there that see it .I do think more restrictions should be placed on what church buildings can be used for ,,it might reduce the profits to be made by selling them and make the church organisations think twice about letting small chapels go under just so they can get rid of expensive to run buildings and make themselves a nice profit ,,its like a modern dissolution of the monastrys in small comunities ,their national church leadership decides their pretty little chapel can make them a nice little bit to fund more interesting projects and jsut withdraws their help to maintain them.
    But again as I said earlier I hate to see this beautiful buildings fall apart its heartbreaking to see heritage lost,Its also better to see buildings used than become a place for thugs and dealers to meet in secret as sometimes happens ,,though I quite liked that one was slept in my homeless people who used to break in,,I think Jesus might well have smiled at that,,,

  5. Great post Lyn! I hadn’t even thought about the pledge association with chapels. I have to agree with you about building restrictions regarding use of building. I do think that casino’s are a big NO NO! When we went to St Michens in Dublin and were taken down to the crypt there were some that we were not allowed to look in because relatives were still living (and these crypts housed crusaders and and lots of ancient folks).

    What I liked about the York renovation was the way that the building still retained its origin, the architects had worked with the building instead of against the building. It didn’t try to disguise what the building had been. Next time you are in York, pop in and let me know what you think of it 🙂

  6. Hi
    yes I will ,,Its weird but we rarely go ,,its quite close but on really slow roads and usualy we are en route somewhere else when we pass ,,I have wanted to go to see the new dig site but I bet its finished now.

    1. I LOVE York – I would live there if I could! I just love everything about that place. We go regularly and never get tired of it. Theres always something new to see and do. I feel another trip coming on……. 🙂

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