The word ‘exquisite’ is used often at the Fitzrovia Chapel. I believe the reason for this is because it has a breathtaking beauty that is so surprising to us, and goes beyond what we had expected. This was an exquisite place in a working hospital. As it was never consecrated, it was a haven for all; a beautiful sanctuary for the broken, the troubled, the weary.
The importance of beauty
Since I became director in September, I have focused on the operational challenges of such an incredible building and the many processes required to set up a sustainable organisation. Between the finance meetings and boiler discussions, and during partnership and fundraising meetings with some of the great creative forces in the city and beyond, I have found myself coming back to the same question: Why is the chapel so needlessly beautiful?
Four walls, a roof and a door would have been enough to create a hospital chapel.
But then beauty is important.
I’m not referring to the hostile, imposed, unnatural beauty demonstrated in some magazines, but rather our own wonderment at an aesthetic or sensory experience. We seek to surround ourselves with things we feel to be beautiful. For the significant moments in life, we make this a focus: our weddings, photographs of our children, our homes and our loved ones’ funerals. We wrap our gifts in such a way because beauty is critical to us.
An invitation to the chapel
We have grand plans for the chapel. Plans to reflect the important heritage of one of London’s iconic hospitals, to celebrate the architectural achievements of Loughborough Pearson and to welcome the new community of Fitzrovia. I have a strong artistic vision and will pilot a groundbreaking arts and cultural programme.
In all of this , I intend to acknowledge the importance of beauty, as a sanctuary and inspiration in a busy world. We are inviting you to come as you are in the midst of life’s challenges and soak in the beauty.
For me, the chapel’s most compelling stories come from those who worked in the midst of it all: the nurses who stopped by in the middle of their shift to take a moment for themselves, the hospital porter that slept on a pew in exhaustion, the bloodied surgeon who took a minute between operations. We will acknowledge the impact of a space like this; we follow John Loughborough Pearson’s intentions.
Opening our doors to everyone
Join us for a moment’s respite, an opportunity to experience something beautiful, remarkable and away from your everyday. Reflect and quietly contemplate. Our visitors may not step out of the operating theatre or come off a night shift but they come to us from the bustling streets of central London, the state schools, the office blocks. We open our doors to everyone and give them the opportunity to glimpse something truly beautiful. And there is more to come.