Many of the older properties in the city centre which survived the cull have been turned into apartments. This hasn’t happened in the second photograph – yet. Faded glory and leaking drainpipes.
The Secular Society is a grade II listed building, constructed in 1881 and occupied by the society ever since (now sharing with the delightful Sweety Shakes and the ABC ballroom). The purpose of the society was “to provide the members with such means of recreation, amusement, instruction and social intercourse as have a tendency to elevate the taste and contribute to their intellectual improvement, without being dependent for these purposes on the public house.” This is because the society was banned from holding meetings in the local inn, the Three Crowns.
Leicester has a long tradition of self-reliance, independent thought and progressive ideas. In the words of Thomas Paine, “To do good is my religion”. Religion is broadly defined as “the simple creed of deed and duty, by which a man seeks his own welfare in his own way, with an honest and fair regard to the welfare of others” in contrast with theology.
“In the first place, its essential principle is that of self-reliance. It calls upon all the best elements of human nature to assert themselves and cooperate for the spread of truth, justice and peace. There is in this principle a stimulus which supernatural religion fails to supply. The one works from within; the other feebly appeals from without. Rationalism relies upon the moral judgment, while theology depends upon the commandments of God. In the second place, the Society’s platform is an open one. Heretic and believer, mystic and social reformer, the scholar and the shrewd but unlettered working man, are all alike welcome to set forth their opinion of our teaching. In this clash of though with thought the spirit of liberty delights. Out of this free and manly interchange of ideas the society will gain suggestions for its own moral and intellectual improvement.” (FJ Gould)
I like the orange busts on the capitals of five pillars (the photograph only shows four – Socrates, Jesus, Voltaire and Paine, missing out Owen). The grey stone is from Darley Dale and the red bricks were made locally in Coalville. The architect, WL Sugden, in the style of the Flemish Renaissance.