The Extraordinary Church is not your average church. What makes it special? The Blewetts’ desire to start a new church in Bloomingdale High School, the transformation of The Kilburn Tabernacle into a battleship replica, and the resident cat all come to mind. But there’s more. There’s a lot to love about the Extraordinary Church. So get ready to become a member and experience it for yourself!
The Blewetts’ desire to start a new church in Bloomingdale High School
James Blewett can make any message interesting, and he knows how to reach people. While preaching the gospel, he does much more – he leads powerful Bible study groups, and he is passionate about reaching out to the community. He wants to see people experience God and have a life-changing experience, and he has created an environment that allows his church members to lean into his word and connect with their community.
The Kilburn Tabernacle’s transformation into a replica battleship
A Victorian chapel, the Kilburn Tabernacle is in desperate need of restoration. The tin structure is a stunning example of Victorian architecture, but it is also extremely fragile. The Victorian Society organises events to raise funds for its restoration and care. You can learn more about the chapel’s history and the transformation into a battleship below. However, be warned: the church is not a museum. The restoration project is likely to take several years and is expected to finish in 2021.
The conversion was made possible by a group of volunteers – the Sea Cadets – who used two old buses to transform the interior into a battleship. The Sea Cadets also installed information boards on different ships, filled the total immersion font with concrete, added a Bofers anti-aircraft gun and furnished the naval chapel with fittings from the Becket movie set.
The Tin Tabernacle’s resident cat
A Grade II listed building, The Tin Tabernacle has a resident cat named Tiff. She first arrived in 2014, a starved stray. Volunteers have since fed and cared for her. The building is on the Heritage at Risk register, but a recent grant from Historic England has given the team the chance to reopen it. Now, the team is working with the London Historic Buildings Trust to make the building safe and accessible for visitors.
There are about 200 examples of Tin Tabernacles across the country, but few are listed as such. Listing is usually only available for 19th-century buildings that retain original features and are otherwise in good condition. Conservation areas protect these buildings, but they offer little protection. We must ensure that they remain a vital part of our cultural heritage. The Tin Tabernacle’s resident cat has a fascinating backstory that is well worth discovering.
The Kilburn Tabernacle is the quirkiest tin tabernacle in the city. Built in 1863, it was meant to be a temporary structure until a permanent church could be built. The building remained in use until the Second World War, when it was a lecture and concert venue. In the years following the war, it was used as a Sea Cadet training ship.