Liverpool: Bombed Out Church of St Luke

I’ve often mentioned my fascination with the Church of St Luke, the bombed out shell of a church that still stands in Liverpool.  When I was in Liverpool a couple of weeks ago, I thought I owed it to my blog readers to make a turn there and take some photos for you.

After our visit to the new Quiggins Centre we continued to walk down Renshaw Street and soon the outline of the church became visible.

Church of St Luke (bombed out church in Liverpool) 01 From a distance, it looks like any other church.  It is only as you come closer that you realise that this is merely a shell; it is all that remains after the church was hit by an incendiary bomb on May 5 1941.  That is my birthday, May 5.

Church of St Luke (bombed out church in Liverpool) 02

Something about this church haunts me.  I am interested in war, of course, and the devastation that occurred in Liverpool and London during the Blitz but this goes beyond that.

Church of St Luke (bombed out church in Liverpool) 03

I think it is the idea that the sense of devastation after a war can be so absolute that there is simply no sense in rebuilding or even tearing down.

Church of St Luke (bombed out church in Liverpool) 04

We’re simply left with painful, hurtful and permanent reminders of just how much has been lost.

Church of St Luke (bombed out church in Liverpool) 05 Church of St Luke (bombed out church in Liverpool) 06 Church of St Luke (bombed out church in Liverpool) 07

And over the years, those people who could remember what it was like before all the devastation and destruction move on.  Until no one alive can remember what it was like before or even what it was like during the war and all the suffering and loss.

Church of St Luke (bombed out church in Liverpool) 09I wonder if it is better where they are?  When our war veterans and survivors move on, are the buildings and churches there complete once again?

Church of St Luke (bombed out church in Liverpool) 11

Does the Church of St Luke still have stained glass windows in that place?  Does it have shiny, brown, wooden pews and does it still smell of prayer books and polish?  Does the afternoon sunshine cast rainbows of light across the floor?

Church of St Luke (bombed out church in Liverpool) 12What will happen when no one is left to remember that war? Or is that what has started to happen?  Is that why we are so keen to rush off to war in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Church of St Luke (bombed out church in Liverpool) 08 

I’m so lucky to have my father to tell me all of the war stories that he can remember.  Of course, he was only born the year the war ended in 1945 but he tells me of what a hero my grandfather was.

Church of St Luke (bombed out church in Liverpool) 15

Of how he was in the navy and how he travelled the world and fought in the major operations.  (I must remember to start taking notes!)

I guess it goes to show how little people appreciate their heritage, as the Church of St Luke is on the English Heritage Buildings at Risk Register.  How sad.

Postcard update:  I am the worst person on Earth for actually getting off my backside and going to the post office.  So, I can confirm that I still have to post postcards for Rose, Matt and Martyn.  Christina, Kathy, Ivanhoe and April still need to send me their postal addresses!  Come on ladies… I’ll have to donate the postcards to the rest of the internet if you don’t reply!  Email your address to missus dot emm at gmail dot com.

19 comments on "Liverpool: Bombed Out Church of St Luke"
  1. Do take notes when your Dad tells you what your grandfather did! Then you can find out more about the specific operations and you will find it so much more meaningful than reading about them as happening to strangers. If that makes sense.

    This is really a lovely church, even in its present state. I think it's very important to have physical reminders of the devastation of war, especially WWII since it impacted the civilian world so directly. I'm glad that they didn't just bulldoze all the bombed buildings and start over, but left a few reminders in the UK, Germany and probably elsewhere. It tells the story better than a history book can.

    I'd forgotten about the postcard I won! I'll send you my address right away!

  2. Lovely post Mandy!! Sad the destruction, hey?! But the building still looks sooo exquisite... lovely pics you took! Gena

  3. Amazing testament to the way they built these churches that so much of the structure survives. Take notes; I never did. My Dad is gone, I know only a little about what he did in the 39-45, and have had a hell of a job to discover much about my grandfather's war in 1914-18. If only I had asked and taken notes.

  4. Great post!
    I have never thought it before.
    If WWII had never happened, what would have changed in the world we live? Something left still reminds us. The lesson we had been taught last century is cherish what we have now, and we can not take everything for granted. Let's do something good for our world!!

  5. Emm that is one beautiful structure and what a shame it cannot be restored. I know it acts as a reminder of the devastation that war causes, but what a marvellous sight the church would be if restored to its former glory.I'd plump for restoration over reminder.

    Don't worry about the postcard save yourself a few pennies as I can see plenty of Liverpool postcard pictures on your blog. Have fun.

  6. What a fantastic post! Your question is a great one and I would like to think, despite the fact that none of us can see much into that misty world beyond our own, that the buildings and people and situations that the newly dead held dear in life make up a good part of the experience. So, just maybe, the church is whole there for them once again. And, maybe, if you connect to it as strongly as you seem to, it will be whole for you as well.

  7. I love this post!! What a beautiful church. I think the shell of something is even more amazing sometimes.

    That is really special that your dad has so many stories to share. You really should write them down. I'm planning to interview my parents when I go home for the holidays.


  8. Wow looks amazing. I've been meaning to do more traveling England. I really should get around to it...

  9. The war destroyed so many things and changed so many lives. We should learn from it and do what we can to prevent it in the future.

    The Saint Luke Church looks still good after being hit by a bomb...

  10. What impressive photos you captured! It's obvious it was an exquisite building and still is in its skeletal form. I visited Hiroshima (twice) in Japan and took similar photos there on both trips. That sight was tough emotionally. It was raining on my second visit which made it all the more moving. Beautiful post, Emm...

  11. Absolutely beautiful pictures. It is very sad what war can devastate but places like this church are a sobering reminder of what was lost.

    I can only imagine how beautiful the church was before the devastation but it is still very beautiful and it makes you use your imagination to conjure up what might have been.

  12. There's a great bombed out church like this at Charles Cross in Plymouth. It's used as a roundabout.

  13. @ Kathy: It absolutely does make sense! I definitely find it easier to learn about history through visual and tangible means than to simply read it from a book.

    @ Gena: Thank you! That is very nice of you to say, being a photographer yourself.

    @ John: You are so right. I must make a time and date to chat to my Dad, hopefully before the year is out.

    @ Chen Yin Tzu: Absolutely. I think humans are strange in that they do take things for granted whereas animals work on survival instinct.

    @ Martyn: I don't think I'd like it to ever be restored but I think it is important that they not allow it to degrade further. The reason I say that is surely the neighbouring cathedrals could use the money?

    @ Xoán-Wahn: What a lovely thing to say! Yes, I hope it is intact on the other side.

    @ JaPRA: You must! Hmmm, I am thinking that mayeb 2010 must be talk to your parents day!

    @ Lost: Well, the South East has a million castles and historical towns too so sometimes you don't even have to travel far!

    @ Juka: I agree with you wholeheartedly!

    @ Carolyn: Wow - have you posted your Hiroshima photos online? I'd love to see them.

    @ Talen: Hi! Thanks for stopping by! I agree with what you said about imagination. I think the reason this church affects me so much is it gives a glimpse into what to must have been like to see the devastation after the war.

    @ David: Hiya! Another new visitor! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I shall duly put Plymouth on my 'to-visit' map then! Actually, I must ask my Dad, I have very vague recollections of having visited there in 1989.

  14. I'm from Italy....I'm honest when I saw this church (I didn't know the history) I thought "One of the most beautiful church in Liverpool is devasted and abandoned, what a pity and what a shame).When I returned home I search for curiosity the reason of this damaged churc...
    but now that I know the real history, I have appreciated it because it is a simbol of honour and resistance to the war....
    ps I have also visitated the anglican cathedral and for a catholic is very strange too see a bar in a church....but are there bar in all anglican cathedral?:)
    Saluti from (Mantua)Italy

  15. Hi Alberto! Thank you so much for your comment and I'm glad you found the answers you were looking for about the church! It really is beautiful and inspirational! Unfortunately, being neither catholic nor anglican, I can't comment on the bar in the cathedral. Any plans to come to London?

  16. thank you for the reply.....I travel with my friend and we take low cost...and London for Easter is not low cost :) but I want to see it before I die ;)...I have my map for a sort of magical mistery tour of Queen in London...(I'm very fan of them)
    Last question.....for me and my friends were strange too see in Liverpool (I think in all Uk) people in winter dressed like summer while we were in scarf and windcheater :)
    sorry for my english
    best regards!

  17. Hi Alberto! Your English is just fine!! You should have taken photos of what they wore - I love seeing the different fashions!

  18. I'm always fascinated by ruins and derelict buildings. Last year I had chance to visit the Royal Garrison Church in Portsmouth with was damaged during the war.

  19. @ John: Ha! I'll have to put that on my list of places to visit! It looks lovely.


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