The Tears of a Clown

Now if there's a smile upon my face…

Churches as Pubs

I’m quite interested in the concept of using a former church from which to make a pub. I’ve written about this particular establishment before but I have the Piano and Pitcher in Nottingham’s Lace Market district very much in mind as I write. The pub was once a handsome house of God, the former, now deconsecrated Unitarian Church close to Weekday Cross in the oldest part of Nottingham, the original centre of the city. Some years ago it became a museum to commemorate Nottingham’s old lace industry before being converted into a pub.

Recently I was having a conversation with a woman at the bar in the Bell Inn in Market Square about the High Pavement pub and other city centre pubs in general. Obviously her tastes were fairly conservative ones, citing many city pubs as being ‘shops’ nowadays. I found her views on the Pitcher and Piano quite thought provoking though.

I’ve used the place a small handful of times. It’s certainly a curiosity if not necessarily unique though one has to say it’s a pretty inventive conversion that’s been carried out. I was in there last week and whilst it’s not really my thing I can appreciate what some others might see in it. The woman I was speaking to found the use of the church to be slightly sad if not offensive. She asserted a slight revulsion in particular to the fruit machines there and whilst obviously not being a religious zealot particularly, compared it to ‘gambling in the temple’ in the good book.

I wonder about the principle of making a pub from an old church. Is it sad, an indictment on society and us all, or rather a useful way of preserving and cherishing a historic building? Maybe all of these things?

We need to look no further than Nottingham’s Bell Inn perhaps to see religion’s connection with pubs. It’s apparently a former Carmelite monastery’s guest house according to the official website of the Inn.

I’m not overly sniffy about the church’s transformation into a pub. It’s preferable that the building is at least preserved in some useful way than the alternative of it being demolished or left neglected. It is a statement about modern society in some ways perhaps but if people will go to a pub but won’t visit a church then so be it. It is worth a deeper thought though I believe as to what that says about us all and the way we choose to live our lives in 2008.

I find the pub useful for taking family and friends to who are visiting Nottingham as tourists, they seem to like it. As regards queuing to get in there on a weekend evening to throw a heavy pose with the rest of the Lace Market, Ted Baker brigade I think I’ll pass. I much prefer the nearby Cock and Hoop and Keans Head if I’m up that way.


January 6, 2008 Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , , , | 2 Comments