The Shining Ones starts in an abandoned church in the centre of Newcastle. I could have invented a location, but reality provided the perfect candidate in All Saints. It’s a beautiful old building – a dilapidated 18th century elliptical church.
I chose All Saints because of its shape: the ellipse is aligned more or less north to south, and the interior has a domed ceiling plus a wooden gallery with pillars. The acoustics are fantastic – I attended a concert there many years ago when the building was still in use. It’s a beautiful space, with curved staircases and an old broken organ, and would be a great place to set a complete story.
In fact, I wanted to use it more than once in The Shining Ones. In an earlier draft, the story circled back round to end in the church the way it begins. I wanted to draw on the symbolism of the circular church and the idea that there is no beginning and no end – life just keeps going round and round, renewing itself in an endless cycle of death and rebirth. But then the story evolved and the ending changed. Perhaps I’ll circle back round to it another time.
The current building was finished in 1796 and stands on the site of All Hallows, a decayed medieval church from the 1100s. All Saints was deconsecrated in 1961 and has suffered flood damage twice since then. It’s Grade I listed and was put on the buildings at risk register in 2015. Let’s hope they find the cash for repairs before entropy finally takes over…
These days it’s all locked up so I couldn’t get inside, but you can see some of the interior here: