St Paul’s – Freud Café
Over the past twelve months I have contacted, to no avail, Frued Café and its parent company in London on numerous occasions. In order to photograph this site, the only remaining solution was to knock at the door…
To my surprise, I was greeted by the Manager who allowed me free access there and then. It was almost 20 years since I was last here, and on that occasion it was hosting a photography exhibition of which my work was a part. Time has not been kind on the building. The juxtaposition of glitter balls and fairy lights with the Victorian stained glass seems severe and the aroma of stale beer rather unfitting. The building is now clearly showing its age, with the décor definitely on the dilapidated side of shabby chic. However, it still exists thanks entirely to its change of purpose.
Designed by H.J. Underwood, the building was constructed in 1836 as the Church of St Paul and was the first Anglican church to be constructed in England after the Reformation. The apse was added in 1853 according to plans by E.G. Bruton.
St Paul’s closed as a church in 1969 and was deconsecrated shortly thereafter. Secession Ltd. acquired the site in 1988 to prevent its demolition, opening the doors to the public as FREUD to bring the legendary cocktails of its sister café in London to the people and visitors of Oxford.
Sadly no information has been found relating to the stained glass windows designer or artist. Photography of the windows was far from easy. The attractive East Window is backed by trees that are clearly visible through the plain glass within the window and impacting negatively on the appearance of the stained glass. All of the windows are dirty, some in poor repair, and all affected by the lighting within the building (the Manager was not prepared to turn it all off). Besides the East Window, there was only one window not obscured in part by fairy lights and pendant lights: PeaceText:
Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now
lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales:
and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized
Acts 9 :18
To produce this image, 17 photographs were taken at 107 mm using the Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, at an aperture of f/6.3 and exposure times ranging from 1.3 s to 1/30 s. As with all images photographed for my research project, it was taken using the Canon EOS 1Dx Mark II.
With so many support bars, I see little point in attempting their removal – at more than a hour of editing per bar, it would be time poorly spent.