Volunteer Reflections: Jessica Pallot
Jessica originally contacted us as she wanted to do her final year Architecture Dissertation at the University of Sheffield on the derelict St Silas church on Broomhall Road. She became an active volunteer of the project and interviewed a number of people with connections to the church.
She now works as Part One Architect in an Architectural practice called Lewandowski Architects, based in Eton. Jessica wrote the following reflection about her time working on her dissertation and volunteering on our project:
“Disused churches are sadly a regular sight to behold in this country. Secularisation and increase in social networks results in sparse modern day community. We are always learning about what is around us and the more we learn the more we change. The Church of England and its traditions therefore become archaic in this new and exciting world. However, are not the church values, architecture and its historical presence timeless?
St. Silas caught my eye from the start. I have always been interested in the architecture of abandoned churches, but for some reason St. Silas made me think hard about its history. Cracks in the boarding tauntingly revealed glimpses of the internal architecture and I wanted to know more. To me the church did not seem dead or abandoned. It was as if I could feel it pulsating with the energy of the memories stored up inside it. There was beauty in its starkness and its stillness: peacefulness surrounded it that made me think of someone resting after a heavy days work. St. Silas worked hard within the Broomhall community, and although it sits silent, I believe it is only a temporary pause until the day it will re-enter the history of Broomhall.
Amazingly as I began to undertake my dissertation project I soon discovered the Broomhall Centre, a place filled with life and colour: it is a defiance of stereotypes placed on the area. I was taken aback by its variety of activities and opportunities: Through efforts to draw out the best of each individual in Broomhall, it breathes life into its community.
Suddenly I found myself joining a historical journey through Broomhall together with the volunteers of the “Our Broomhall” project. Who would have known that Broomhall was home to one of the most famous carpenters of his time? Or that Broomhall was subjected to one of the most horrific geographical divides? From past to present Broomhall has been filled with extreme happiness and moments of extreme sadness. Such juxtapositions have forced Broomhall to fight for its life. It is a strong community held together by its historical significance and perseverance. This is what I believe is reflected in St. Silas. Just like Broomhall the church has overseen so many drastic changes, and yet somehow it still stands tall.
Working within Broomhall opened my eyes to fascinating historical truths and took me on tangible adventures I otherwise would not have known. Not only is its history alive, but Broomhall itself is evidence of a surviving community in this modern world; the definition of which is not archaic to those who live within it.
I will always remember Broomhall.”