The Church, where just about every expat adventurer in London will confess to have taken communion, is calling it quits.
The infamous Sunday afternoon congregation of boozy global hedonistas has announced it will be closing its controversial doors for the last time on 24 May.
For over 35 years The Church has been a right-of-passage for London’s Aussie and Kiwi expats; a sanctuary to let their hair down, take their shirts off (ladies as well as and gents), drink warm beer from cans carried in a plastic bag, while leaving their alcohol imbued innards splayed publically on a sawdust scattered floor.
Legend has it that The Church was so named in order that worshipers could (tongue firmly planted in someone else’s cheek, or worse) dutifully inform their mothers half a world away in Australia and NZ that they were attending regular communion while living in London.
While the holy truth may be disputed, the experience was indeed Biblical. The faithful gathered at about midday on Sunday, at various venues throughout The Church’s somewhat blurry history, eager to partake in the Sabbath afternoon rapture.
According to myth, to skate around licencing laws, parishioners did not buy drinks. Rather, they bought tickets which could be exchanged for beers once inside. The beers were free, the tickets were not.
Once on hallowed ground, worshipers indulged in an orgy of song, dance, drinking games, strippers and other blasphemous displays of human flesh and expat debauchery.
In modern times, in the face of dwindling Aussie and Kiwi believers The Church’s clergy successfully converted hedonistic students and expats from other lands. But it became a holy ghost; a (just about) sanitised, fancy-dressed shadow of its obscene former self.
And now, the great beast is slain.
To its detractors, The Church was an abomination. To the believers, it will be remembered as a glorious, sin-filled, united damned-nations… and many a lonely expat’s salvation.
Also see: Redback Tavern in London closed down