On Wednesday 25 September, Nicholas Mellor will take us on a short but fascinating walk in the immediate area of St James’s Gardens in the Norland ward, showing us five or six very different faith centres for Catholics, Shia Muslims, Church of England followers, Sephardic Jews and Sikhs – and we will hopefully be able to visit three or four of them.
The St James’s Gardens is rather unique in both the diversity of faiths as well as the institutions that represent them. These institutions and their communities have shaped the neighbourhood, while providing an echo of past challenges of poverty, migrants or refugee groups and the richness of a nation trading across the world.
The story of the neighbourhood brings together tales of pig keeping and potteries, of John Bentley’s rich Gothic architecture at St Francis and the clerical traditions and hospitality of the city of Qom in Iran, represented by the Islamic Universal Association at the top of St James’s Gardens. And in the middle of St James’s Gardens we have St James’ Church.
Our short walk will show how social movements and religious aspirations have led to the reshaping of the area. It will take in the synagogue on the other side of St James’s Gardens, built by Sephardic Jews who travelled to London from the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the 20thy century, and the Sikh Central Gurdwara at 62 Queensdale Road, which took over an old Salvation Army citadel. If time allows, the walk may also include the recently restored St John the Baptist in Holland Road,
This walk is designed to provide a short introduction to the local landmarks that represent these different faiths and communities. We hope to stop at three or four of these landmarks depending on religious calendars and what can be organised. The walk will end with refreshments, at a venue yet to be confirmed.
Nicholas Mellor has lived in the neighbourhood almost all his life, but has travelled widely. He was a founder of the Merlin charity, now part of Save the Children, which provides healthcare in crisis situations. Nicholas is currently helping communities in areas of conflict around the world to document and protect their heritage.
This event is limited to 15 persons, so book quickly!
Kensington Society members £10, non-members £15