Brother's habits rile neighbours

Brother Luke tries hard to adhere to the strict rules of the Greek Orthodox faith. In his tiny chapel, which measures little more than 5ft 6in by 3ft, its walls adorned with icons and crucifixes, he and four other devotees meet to worship every Tuesday afternoon.

Unfortunately, they have fallen foul of another body with its own, equally strict, set of rules: Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council and Section 97 of the 1985 Housing Act.

For Brother Luke - real name Denis Keegan - has set up his chapel in the red-brick coalhouse on the first-floor landing outside his flat on the Blackatree Estate in Nuneaton, Warwickshire.

The neighbours have complained about the chanting, and Brother Luke did not get change-of-use permission.

'We do not consider this to be an improvement,' said the council's housing manager, John Dolman.

Brother Luke, 35 and unemployed, views it as persecutiuon on religious grounds. 'This chapel has been consecrated. It's not to be closed down at all,' he said. 'I shall be fighting it all the way. I've not done any harm or knocked any walls down. Anyway, I don't use coal or solid fuel. I've got a gas fire.'

The housing department is taking the accusation seriously: 'We shall investigate his allegations about the way we've treated this case,' said Mr Dolman. 'We do have an equal opportunities policy.'

Brother Luke's spiritual journey to Greek Orthodoxy has taken a roundabout route. The son of an Irish mother and a Pakistani father, he was brought up by nuns at Coleshill, near Birmingham, but became disillusioned with Roman Catholicism. After brief flirtations with the Church of England and Hare Krishna, he discovered what he calls 'the true faith' three months ago.

On Christmas Eve, he and his small band of supporters will travel 10 miles down the road in a hired minibus to the Greek Orthodox church in Rugby for his official confirmation.

Brother Luke dons a long robe of brown Crimplene to lead worship in the former coalhouse. 'About five of us can get in here at a push,' he said.

What particularly appeals to him is the veneration bestowed on icons of the sort now installed there. Space has been further restricted by the installation of two shelves bearing a Bible, a prayer book, the Divine Litany of St John Chrysostom, an incense burner and part of the cloth that covered the body of St Edward the Martyr, encased in marble.

'I got it from the Orthodox monastery,' he confides. That's the Orthodox monastery in Essex, he adds.

Has he ever been to Greece? 'No, but I'm saving up to go.'

(Photograph omitted)

A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home