St Simon's Church in Baptist Mills stands at the end of Warwick Road in Easton. It now overlooks junction 3 of the M32, with its huge roundabout and underpass, and the start of the Outer Circuit Road dual carriageway which saw the removal of at least three churches including nearby St Gabriel's. The church now seems to gaze out across to St Agnes church which was originally largely hidden from view from here in the 1950s. The area around this church has changed greatly since I was a small child, and many of the streets with tightly-packed housing fell victim to these new roads of the late 1960s and early 1970s. In fact St Simon's church itself was closed well before this happened and the Church Of England eventually sold it to the Greek community in 1960. They have preserved most of the original features of the church and enhanced it greatly through new fittings and icons. To the west are new church halls and to the south is a pleasant garden.
|The church opened in 1847 and was built to the designs of S.J.Hicks and S.B Gabriel. Pope & Bindon did some alterations to the building in 1876. It consists of a nave and north aisle, and chancel with a small south vestry and a north chapel. The tower stands at the outer north-east corner of the aisle and has a spire, once 121 feet high,which in recent years had its top truncated and a silvered ball and cross built on the remains of the spire. The Greek community sought funding from many sources to repair the spire which were not forthcoming and reluctantly they took this course of action as their funds were insufficient to dismantle and rebuild all the spire. Interestingly it has made the church more of a landmark than before, and it has been the subject of conversation in the local press as well as in the cars of visitors and commuters into and out of the city.|
The church always had an Anglo-Catholic ritual ("High church") and there were a number of excellent fittings in this tradition. Since the arrival of the Orthodox ritual the church continues to build on its treasures by further rich fittings and iconography associated with this style of worship. As you shall see, some are staggeringly beautiful. However this view above would be recognised by former anglican parishioners.
The view west shows the simple design of the architecture, and the pulpit is the original, still entered by stairs from the vestry. The screen too belonged to St Simon's, but now serves as an iconostasis, and most of the former openings have been infilled with religious paintings in the orthodox tradition and the chancel is generally screened from view. The glass in the east window has also remained in situ from St Simon's.
|Towards the south-west corner of the nave is this rather splendidly decorated carved chair, one of the many fittings brought into the church since 1960. The gorgeous chandeliers hanging in the nave are embellished with icons and amazing metalwork, my favourite feature in the present day church.|
This page has been delayed in the production for a variety of reasons which I regret. Father George made me extremely welcome and allowed me to see and photograph all parts of the church for which I am very grateful. Indeed other members of the congregation also made me feel at ease and expressed an interest in this web-site. The church is rarely open except for services. A condition of my posting these pictures on the internet was the inclusion of the serviceboard outside which I gladly reproduce below. The parish now also has a website.
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