St Saviour, London (Exterior)

St Saviour's, Pimlico, London


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Mystery Worshipper:
Church: St Saviour's
Location: Pimlico, London
Date of visit: Sunday, 13 April 2014, 10:00am

The building

A Decorated Gothic church dating from 1863, the work of 19th century architect Thomas Cundy Jnr. The spire, once London's tallest, still ranks as a landmark. Originally rather plain, the interior was "beautified" in the 1880s with the addition of a rood screen, reredos, pulpit and oak font. Statues of the Madonna and Child and the Sacred Heart of Jesus were obtained from Oberammergau, Germany, in the 1930s. The east window depicts Christ in majesty. The floor is black and red.

The church

The father of the late great actor Sir Laurence Olivier served as a curate at St Saviour's, and Lord Olivier himself was a choirboy and boat boy. Diana, Princess of Wales, worked at the Young England Kindergarten (who still use the church to this day) prior to her marriage to Prince Charles; a bench seat in her memory stands by the main doors. They put on an annual murder mystery supper and drama that is quite popular (in their last one, the churchwardens did it!). There are two masses each Sunday, and morning prayer, mass and evening prayer on weekdays.

The neighborhood

Pimlico, in the City of Westminster, is a fashionable area known for its carefully planned grid of handsome white stucco terraces, grand squares and Regency architecture. There are many homes and some shops quite close by. There is the Pimlico Tube just along the road. Beside the church is a lovely park with lots of trees and flowers and green grass.

The cast

The Revd Matthew Catterick, vicar, led the service.

What was the name of the service?

Parish Mass with Procession

How full was the building?

There were about 70 people, including children, and there was plenty of room to sit.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

Several people smiled and welcomed me, and after the service many people shook my hand.

Was your pew comfortable?

The pew was very comfortable: light brown wood with soft square cushions to kneel on to pray.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

People chatted, read the bulletin, and listened to the organ prelude.

What were the exact opening words of the service?

"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

What books did the congregation use during the service?

Everything we needed was printed in the bulletin we were given.

What musical instruments were played?

Organ, piano, and excellent singers.

Did anything distract you?

After the palms were blessed and distributed, we processed around the park next to the church. It was a bright sunny day with a lovely blue sky, and I suppose that was distracting in a pleasant sort of way. Also, as the blessed palms were sprinkled with water, a few drops hit me and took me by surprise.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?

Joyful as we processed around the park singing hymns and waving our palms, but somber once we got back to the church and the reading of the Passion began.

Exactly how long was the sermon?

There was no sermon inasmuch as the Passion reading took longer than the gospel reading usually does.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?

It felt like being in heaven as we walked about singing in the glorious sunshine.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?

How suddenly our glorious mood turned to gloom as the story of Jesus's suffering and death sank in.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?

People next to me said they were pleased to meet me and told me that there would be tea and coffee. They also told me about the upcoming schedule for Holy Week and Easter.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

There was tea and coffee and little sweet things to eat with it. It was hot and nice.

How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?

10 – I really loved being in this beautiful church with such friendly people and a wonderful vicar.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?

Very much so.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?

The reading of the Passion and its reminder of Jesus' love for us.

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