The Sacred and the Suburban: Atmospherics, numinosity and 1930s interiors in Ealing, London

David Gilbert, Laura Cuch, Claire Dwyer, Nazneen Ahmed

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Near each other in Ealing, London, and both dating from the 1930s, the Ealing Christian Centre (ECC) and the Anglican Church of St Thomas the Apostle show contrasting relationships between interior design and Christian faith. Architect Edward Maufe’s St Thomas’s was a purposeful quest to create numinous sacred space in suburbia. The ECC, a branch of the Elim Pentecostal Church, took over the old Avenue cinema, one of the finest British examples of the ‘atmospheric’ style. At the ECC, the distinctiveness and theatricality of the building makes an important contribution to the nature of collective worship, but the Church resists on theological grounds any suggestions that the space itself has sacred qualities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-234
Number of pages24
JournalInteriors Design/Architecture/Culture
Issue number3
Early online date26 Apr 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Apr 2016


  • Sacred space
  • suburbs
  • theology
  • atmospheric cinemas
  • numinous space
  • 1930s architecture
  • London

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