It’s been over two years since the tragic events of the Grenfell Tower fire took place.
For some of us it’s hard to believe that ten years have passed since another fire, closer to home to us in Camberwell, took place in a residential tower claiming the lives of six people and traumatising many more.
St Giles’ will be marking the ten-year anniversary of the Lakanal House fire with a multi-faith service, open to all, on Wednesday 3rd July at 6.30pm. For some people, such an event may be too painful for them to attend. For others, it may provide some comfort and the opportunity for those who were involved to come together in friendship.
All are very welcome.
You may have read that John Ruskin was born 200 years ago this week. Ruskin was educated in Camberwell and moved opposite to what is now Ruskin Park in 1843. There are also local schools and streets named after the great man – and we have a very special connection to him here at St Giles’ too…
As well as being the most influential art critic of the Victorian era (Ruskin almost singlehandedly turned around the legacy of the artist J. M. W. Turner) he was a draughtsman, art patron and water-colourist. He was a prolific writer and wrote on subjects such as geology, ornithology, education, botany, myths, architecture and political economy. He even found time to write travel guides.
Ruskin was appalled about the way the industrial revolution was dehumanising workers and was concerned about the effect industrialisation was having on the environment. Using lectures and magazine articles, he encouraged workers to improve their lives through self-education. He believed that everyone was capable of developing their own creativity and founded a drawing school in Oxford, now known as The Ruskin School of Art.
It’s appropriate that Camberwell is now home to UAL: Camberwell College of Arts and that Camberwell Arts Festival has been flourishing since 1994. And at St Giles’, our beautiful stained glass East window was designed by John Ruskin in 1844 and continues to be enjoyed to this day.
If you happened to be walking past St Giles’ on a Saturday in mid-December, you might have been surprised to hear the sound of over 400 people singing Wham!’s ‘Last Christmas’ with the church organ. You might have heard Mariah Carey’s ‘All I want for Christmas’ as well or even Brenda Lee’s ‘Rockin’ around the Christmas tree’ along with many other pop classics through the course of the evening.
Of course, it could only have been ‘Organoke’, our joyful ‘alternative carol service’. Our ‘authentic’ carol service took place the very next evening, and this year it was Victorian-themed. The church looked splendid, bedecked with holly and ivy, and we also welcomed a very special guest..
‘Boris’ the wild boar cake was carried into church as the choir sang the boar’s head carol, which dates back to the 15th century. Our church was packed again and there was a wonderful atmospheric as carols were sung by candlelight. ‘Boris’ was a Victoria sponge cake covered in chocolate – he was very tasty indeed!
After all the excitement, ‘Music for the Winter Solstice’ was our way of providing a short escape from the Christmas buzz. A meditative programme of mostly 21st Century organ music by candlelight was well attended and we hope to do something similar again next year – or perhaps even for the summer solstice in June.
Thank you to all who have helped us to make St Giles’ a very merry place in the run-up to Christmas. Best wishes to all in advance of the big day.