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

Gilbert, David; Cuch, Laura; Dwyer, Claire and Ahmed, Nazneen. 2015. The Sacred and the Suburban: Atmospherics, numinosity and 1930s interiors in Ealing, London. Interiors, 6(3), pp. 211-234. ISSN 2041-9112 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

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.

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© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Interiors on 26 April 2016, available online: It is deposited under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

This work was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council [grant number AH/M001636/1].


Sacred space, suburbs, theology, atmospheric cinemas, numinous space, 1930s architecture, London, photo essay, interiors

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Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


8 June 2015Accepted
26 April 2016Published Online

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14 Jun 2022 11:14

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14 Jun 2022 11:18

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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