The free National Heritage Open Days events take place annually over a four day period usually in September, a variety of institutions open their doors to the public, it’s impossible to get to them all during this short time so last Sunday I settled for just a couple.
St.Bartholomew’s church in Armley, a well known landmark on the Leeds skyline, the exterior of which has always struck me as dark and imposing, but stepping into it I saw a surprisingly beautiful interior, sunlight through the stained glass windows beamed across the vaulted ceiling and the Schultse organ which is of a particularly impressive design and proportion.
A service had just commenced therefore it wasn’t appropriate to take my own photographs, I sat a while enjoying the mixture of smells; polished wood pews, that slightly churchy dampness, melting candle wax, the myrrh incense with its mist hanging heavily in the chancel. Listening to the singing I contemplated if the sermon or bible readings had any relevance to my spiritual needs.
My next destination was the Makkah Masjid Mosque in Burley/Hyde Park area, set among rows of red brick back to back houses, this exotic edifice with its bright multi coloured brickwork, domed roof and minarets gives a hint of what may be inside,
sure enough the interior is flooded with light from the roof , crystal chandelier reflections and the numerous windows of the large circular, furniture free room, its sumptuous bright blue and gold carpets, highlight its main use for sujud prayers, they were not in session, just a few visitors were listening to a talk about Islam, a view from a rear window, with the spire of Wrangthorne, St Augustine of Hippo, Church on the horizon seemed to link the importance of the two buildings to the community.
Religious tradition is often relevant to mental well being and many people find comfort congregating with others in ritual and prayer in their places of worship, I guess that’s why the buildings intrigue me, however I choose to find my spiritual renewal outside religious confines.
Wandering towards Woodhouse Moor I noted that other citadel of community gatherings, Hyde Park Cinema, it’s doors were open for tours of the building, pausing to preview it’s up coming programme, I considered the powerful role of film and media in maintaining or challenging our cultural, religious viewpoints and traditions, thankfully this cinema offers alternatives to Hollywood film representations.