Episode 8 – The Story of the Red Telephone Box... What's That Got to Do With Liturgy?

In Episode six, we talked about liturgy and the culture, and we briefly made reference to the famous red telephone boxes in the UK, Charlie who is Californian through and through told us that he used to have it on his keychain after his sister brought it back from England as a souvenir. As Charlie said, no one brings back a souvenir of American phone booths when they come to visit California.

In fact, as we discover, it is no accident that it makes such a strong connection with the public. It is derived from and points to liturgical forms in way that is appropriate to its mundane purpose - housing a telephone, keeping out street noise and offering privacy to those who use the phone.

In the course of our discussion we refer to the following buildings:

 The cover of  The Principles of Pointed Architecture  by A W Pugin.

The cover of The Principles of Pointed Architecture by A W Pugin.

 An example of a Pugin church. St Giles Cheadle, Staffordshire, England

An example of a Pugin church. St Giles Cheadle, Staffordshire, England

 Part of the interior of St Giles, Cheadle

Part of the interior of St Giles, Cheadle

 Mumbai railway station

Mumbai railway station

Below we have two buildings designed by Giles Gilbert Scott in the mid-19th century.

 Amersham workhouse

Amersham workhouse

 St Pancras Station Hotel, London, exterior

St Pancras Station Hotel, London, exterior

 St Pancras Station Hotel, interior

St Pancras Station Hotel, interior

Here are some photos of American collegiate gothic architecture. These look to the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge Universities, many of which date from the original gothic period.

 Princeton

Princeton

 Yale

Yale

 In a rural setting.

In a rural setting.

 In a city setting: with the Houses of Parliament in the background. The Houses of Parliament were designed by Sir Charles Barry, but he engaged Pugin to desing the famous tower which houses the bell, Big Ben.

In a city setting: with the Houses of Parliament in the background. The Houses of Parliament were designed by Sir Charles Barry, but he engaged Pugin to desing the famous tower which houses the bell, Big Ben.

 Without any need for public phones, these boxes are being retained and assigned different purposes.

Without any need for public phones, these boxes are being retained and assigned different purposes.

Geoff Yovanovic can be reached at geoffyovanovic.com