May 2019. Head onto Leighton Literature’s search bar, type in church and you’ll get a whole bunch of articles zipping up from across 30 odd countries. And yet I’m still confident that until now I haven’t blogged about anything quite like Liverpool’s amazing St. Luke’s Church, better known to visitors as The Bombed Out Church. Built between 1811 and 1832, this former Anglican parish was hit by an incendiary bomb during The Liverpool Blitz in 1941, reducing it to nothing more than a bombed out shell.
May 2019. Located on the corner of Leece Street and Berry Street, St. Luke’s Bombed Out Church can be accessed via the lovely church gardens dominated by the touching All Together Now sculpture by Andy Edwards. Added to the church grounds in late 2015, the sculpture commemorates the amazing 1914 Christmas day truce between British and German soldiers during the First World War.
The fiberglass sculpture shows two soldiers about to shake hands, a football set between them on the ground as the Germans and the English prepare to have a match. According to Edwards, his creation is meant to “capture that moment of humanity amidst all the horror and carnage”.
May 2019. The church gardens are simple but lovely and very popular with locals since reopening in 2015 after a huge two year restoration project. Today locals come here to read, listen to music and have lunch on the lawn.
May 2019. I was also touched to see this unexpected memorial stone to the English entertainer Roy Castle, who was actually from Yorkshire but a lifelong fan of Liverpool Football Club. I remember watching Roy on TV as a kid when he presented the popular BBC series Record Breakers, a show about amazing world records. Roy presented the program for eleven years, breaking nine world records himself in the process! He died in September 1994 of Lung cancer aged 62.
May 2019. The Liverpool Blitz was a heavy and sustained period of bombing upon the city by The German Luftwaffe, due to it having the largest port on England’s west coast. Hundreds of historic buildings were destroyed during 1940-1941 and St. Luke’s Church was one of them. There were several plans to knock it down completely over the years, but somehow it survived and in 1975 was granted Grade II listed status in 1975.
May 2019. But it wasn’t until 2007 that the church became a fully managed public ruin thanks to the work of local arts company Urban Strawberry Lunch and its founder Ambrose Reynolds. A visitor centre was opened that year and plans drawn up to turn it into an events venue.
In 2014 a new organisation was formed called… funnily enough… Bombed Out Church. Supported by Liverpool City Council, volunteers, private donators and a massive crowdfunding campaign, the church’s long term protection was eventually guaranteed. Hooray! And so St. Luke’s has gone on to become a key part of Liverpool cultural life. There have been some fantastic events held here over the years, such as Yoko Ono’s Sky Ladders for Liverpool exhibition, a series of movie screenings honouring the Hollywood legend Humphrey Bogart and even local weddings! Today you can find a permanent exhibition on the Second World War and The Blitz, while it’s also possible to sign up for yoga classes and order tickets for live Shakespeare performances.
St. Luke’s Bombed Out Church is a fantastic Liverpool spot well worth your time, even if like me you just come for a thirty minute diversion between other sights. The gardens are usually open from 10:00-18:00, while to go inside they ask for a very reasonable £1 donation. If you’re planning to come here do check ahead of time, as they occasionally close for special events and maintenance days. For all the info, take a look at their website.
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