Saturday, 29 February 2020

A grave in Saint Mary’s
recalls Charles Graves,
scholarly Bishop of Limerick

The head of the Celtic Cross on the grave of Bishop Charles Graves shows the Lamb of God surrounded by symbols of the Four Evangelists (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

Patrick Comerford

Leaving the south porch of Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick, after a meeting earlier this week, the two most striking graves in the cathedral churchyard are those of the Bernal family and Bishop Charles Graves.

Charles Graves (1812-1899) was Bishop of Limerick from 1866 until he died in 1899. His memorial is the style of an Irish High Cross, a style made fashionable by the Celtic Revival.

The cross has an epitaph in three languages: Irish, Latin and English. The Irish-language version was written by Graves’s friend, Douglas Hyde, later the first President of Ireland; the Latin version was composed by RY Tyrrell, Registrar of Trinity College Dublin; and the English text was written by the bishop’s own son, the poet and musician Alfred Perceval Graves, father of the better-known poet Robert Graves.

As well as being a prominent bishop before and after the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland, Charles Graves was a mathematician and academic.

An image of Bishop Charles Graves on his grave at Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

Charles Graves was born at 12 Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin, on 6 November 1812. His father, John Crosbie Graves (1776-1835), a barrister, Commissioner of Bankruptcy and the Chief Magistrate for Dublin, and a son of the Very Revd Thomas Ryder Graves, Dean of Ardfert (1785-1802), and Dean of Connor (1802-1811) and Rector of Rincurran, Cork (1811-1828).

The Graves family came from Yorkshire to Co Limerick in the mid-17th century, and Dean Thomas Graves was a younger brother of the Very Revd Richard Graves (1763-1829), Regius Professor of Greek at Trinity College Dublin and Dean of Ardagh.

His mother Helena Perceval (1786-1850) was a daughter and co-heiress of the Revd Charles Perceval (1751-1795) of Bruhenny, Co Cork, and a second cousin of Lady Frances Perceval (1748-1830) who married Lord Redesdale, Lord Chancellor of Ireland (1802-1806), so introducing a distant connection with the later prominent Mitford sisters.

His brothers included the jurist and mathematician John Graves, and the writer and priest the Revd Robert Perceval Graves.

Charles attended a private school near Bristol and entered Trinity College Dublin at the age of 16. At TCD, he was a Scholar in classics and graduated BA in mathematics in 1835. His later degrees were MA (1838), BD and DD (1851), as well as a DCL from Oxford University (1881).

He played cricket for Trinity and later in life spent much time boating and fly-fishing. The family hoped he would join the 18th (Royal Irish) Regiment of Foot under his uncle, Major-General James William Graves (1774-1845). Instead, he became a Fellow of Trinity College Dublin in 1836, and was ordained deacon in 1838 and priest the following year.

He went on to become Erasmus Smith’s Professor of Mathematics at TCD (1843-1862), and was President of the Royal Irish Academy (1861-1866). He was also secretary to the Brehon Law Commission and vice-chair of the Endowed Schools Commission.

He published Two Geometrical Memoirs on the General Properties of Cones of the Second Degree and on the Spherical Conics in 1841, a translation of Aperçu historique sur l'origine et le développement des méthodes en géométrie (1837) by Michel Chasles, but including many new results of his own.

Bishop Charles Graves is buried on the south side of Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

Graves published over 30 mathematical papers, and continued to publish after he had left TCD. Most of his research was published in either the Proceedings or the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy. In 1841, Graves published an original mathematical work and he embodied further discoveries in his lectures and in papers read before and published by the Royal Irish Academy.

He was a colleague of Sir William Rowan Hamilton and when Hamilton died Graves gave a presidential address that included an account both of Hamilton’s scientific labours and of his literary attainments.

Graves was interested in Irish antiquarian subjects. He discovered the key to the ancient Ogham script on stone monuments. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1880.

While he was still professor of mathematics at TCD, he became Dean of the Chapel Royal, Dublin Castle (1860-1864). He was then Dean of Saint Brendan’s Cathedral, Clonfert, Co Galway (1864-1866).

He was appointed Bishop of Limerick, Ardfert and Aghadoe on 28 April 1866. He was consecrated in the Chapel of Trinity College Dublin on 20 June 1866 by Archbishop Richard Chenevix Trench of Dublin, assisted by Bishop Robert Knox of Down, Connor and Dromore, and Bishop William Fitzgerald of Killaloe and Clonfert. He was enthroned in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick, on 4 July 1866.

As Bishop of Limerick, his official residence was at the Bishop’s Palace on Henry Street, Limerick. But since the 1850s he had leased Parknasilla House, 3 km from Sneem, Co Kerry, as a summer residence.

He was on the best of terms with his Roman Catholic counterpart in Limerick, Bishop Edward O’Dwyer. They shared Latin jokes with each other, discussed fine points of scholarship and it is said they did not take their religious differences too seriously.

Bishop O’Dwyer once joked at the size of Graves’s family of nine children. Graves retorted with the text about the blessedness of the man who has his quiver full of arrows; O’Dwyer replied, ‘The ancient Jewish quiver only held six.’

The inscription at the base of the cross is in English, Latin and Irish (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

Charles Graves married Selina Cheyne, daughter of John Cheyne, on 15 September 1840. Their children included the poet Alfred Perceval Graves (1846-1931); Arnold Felix Graves (1847-1930), founder of Kevin Street Technical College, which went on to become Dublin Institute of Technology and now the Technological University Dublin; the writer and critic Charles Larcom Graves (1856-1944); the diplomat Sir Robert Wyndham Graves (1858-1934); and the writer Ida Margaret Graves Poore.

Their grandchildren included the poet and classicist Robert Graves (1895-1985), the journalist Philip Graves (1876-1953) who exposed the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as an antisemitic fraud; the journalist and travel writer Charles Patrick Graves (1899-1971); and Sir Cecil Graves (1892-1957), Director General of the BBC.

Bishop Graves bought out the lease of Parknasilla House in 1892, with a further 114 acres (0.46 sq km) of land that included some islands. He sold the house to Great Southern Hotels in 1894; the hotel opened in 1895, and is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.

He died at Portobello House, Dublin, on 17 July 1899, and was buried in the churchyard on the south side of Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick.

The Irish inscription, composed by Douglas Hyde, is partially obscured by a neighbouring gravestone (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

The inscriptions at the base of the Celtic cross on his grave include:

In Loving Memory of Charles Graves, DD, DCL, FRS,
Born Nov 6 1812. Died July 17 1899

Qui pietate gravis doctrina spledidus almus
Vixerit externis commodus atque suis
Huic ipse cineres spirant opobalsama Laetas
Submittit flores funebris ipse rogus

Erected by his 7 surviving children, his 3 sons-in-law, his nephew and niece 1901

To God, his steadfast soul, his starry mind
To Science, a gracious heart to kid and kind
His living gave. Then let each fair bloom
Of Faith and Hope breathe balm around his tomb


After his death, his estate was valued at £48,901 equivalent to about €6 million today. But he had lived to an age that far exceeded that on which the commutation capital had been calculated, so that the General Synod of the Church of Ireland had to draw from its other funds to provide a large grant to help the Diocese of Limerick to maintain the income of the future bishop.

Bishop Charles Graves died in Dublin but was buried in Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

Searching questions in
the latest ‘Search’ about
conservative evangelicals

Patrick Comerford

The ‘Church of Ireland notes’ in The Irish Times today open with the following paragraphs:

The Spring edition of the Church of Ireland journal, Search, edited by Canon Ginnie Kennerley, has been published.

With the Lambeth Conference coming up this summer and anxieties about the coherence of the Anglican Communion on the rise, some respectful and good-humoured dialogue is called for, along with a modicum of self-criticism. An attempt to model this is offered by Canon Patrick Comerford and the Ven David Huss, sharing and comparing different views of what it means to be both conservative and evangelical. Readers are invited to ponder and respond – and the Revd Earl Storey’s reflection on the Hard Gospel project of 2005-2009, which follows, may help them to do so.

The other nagging issue is the growing threat to life on earth of the ‘civilisation’ we have developed. Apocalyptic is a word we use increasingly to describe this nightmare; but Jewish apocalyptic writing was intended to bring comfort – an assurance that beyond present and future tribulations God would bring joyous deliverance. Dr Margaret Daly-Denton considers how we should understand such writing today. Not unconnected with these concerns, is Prof Benjamin Wold’s exploration of the Jewish background to the petition Lead us not into temptation in the Lord’s Prayer. Is Pope Francis right that it gives a misleading view of God in our time?

In her Editorial in the Spring 2020 edition of Search (Vol 43 No 1), the Editor, the Revd Canon Dr Ginnie Kennerley, writes in similar terms:

‘With the Lambeth Conference coming up this summer and anxieties about the coherence of the Anglican Communion on the rise, some respectful and good-humoured dialogue is called for, along with a modicum of self-criticism. An attempt to model this is offered by the first two contributors of this issue, Patrick Comerford and David Huss, sharing and comparing different views of what it means to be both ‘conservative’ and ‘evangelical’. Readers are invited to ponder and respond – and Earl Storey’s reflection on the Hard Gospel project of 2005-2009, which follows, may help them to do so.

‘The other nagging issue is the growing threat to life on earth of the ‘civilisation’ we have developed. ‘Apocalyptic’ is a word we use increasingly to describe this nightmare; but Jewish ‘apocalyptic’ writing was intended to bring comfort – an assurance that beyond present and future tribulations God would bring joyous deliverance. Margaret Daly-Denton in this issue considers how we should understand such writing today. Not unconnected with these concerns, is Benjamin Wold’s exploration of the Jewish background to the petition ‘Lead us not into temptation’ in the Lord’s Prayer. Is Pope Francis right that it gives a misleading view of God in our time?

‘Returning to Search’s recent concern with the development of effective ministry today, we look in this issue at a recent initiative, that of ‘Messy Church’, which shows huge promise, and consider how best to renew a time-honoured but problematic institution, that of Confirmation. Alistair Doyle, regional co-ordinator of Messy Church for Leinster, considers the former, while Canon Cecil Hyland (a one-time C of I youth officer!) fields an experienced team to ponder the confirmation dilemma.

‘The issue continues with a reflection on prayer and contemplation by N.I. religious studies teacher Nigel Martin and the latest in our Liturgica series by liturgist Professor Bryan D Spinks. It concludes with Book Reviews by a distinguished team gathered by reviews editor Raymond Refaussé.

This being the first issue of 2020, may I beg readers to renew their subscriptions for this year if they have not yet done so. This will be much appreciated by our treasurer and subscriptions manager, Michael Denton. My thanks to all concerned for help with this issue.’



Praying through Lent with
USPG (4): 29 February 2020

Hope against adversity … a fading rose on the fence at Birkenau; behind is one of the watchtowers and a train wagon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Today [29 February 2020] is fourth day of Lent.

During Lent this year, I am using the USPG Prayer Diary, Pray with the World Church, for my morning prayers and reflections, and – because this year marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and the end of the Holocaust – illustrating my reflections with images on this theme.

USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is the Anglican mission agency that partners churches and communities worldwide in God’s mission to enliven faith, strengthen relationships, unlock potential, and champion justice. It was founded in 1701.

This week (23-29 February), the USPG Prayer Diary is focussing on Saint John the Evangelist Church in Casablanca, which has become a spiritual home for displaced people. On Sunday [23 March 2020], the diary published a reflection by the Rev’d Canon Dr Medhat Sabry, Chaplain of Saint John the Evangelist Anglican Church, Casablanca.

However, the prayer today turns to an obvious theme on this extra day in February in this leap year:

Saturday 29 February 2020:

Let us rejoice with everyone who receives and accepts a marriage proposal today.

Readings: Isaiah 58: 9b-14; Psalm 86: 1-7; Luke 5: 27-32.

The Lenten Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

‘Love is the Answer’ … a message in a window in Skerries, Co Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Continued tomorrow

Yesterday’s reflection

Friday, 28 February 2020

Father Godfrey O’Donnell:
brought the Romanian
Orthodox Church to Ireland

Father Godfrey O’Donnell, Patrick Comerford and Ruth O’Donnell at the IOCS summer school in Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, in 2014 (Photograph courtesy IOCS, Cambridge)

It is with great sadness that I learned earlier this month that Father Godfrey O’Donnell had died at his home in Swords, Co Dublin two weeks ago [14 February 2020].

Father Godfrey was instrumental in establishing the first parish of the Romanian Orthodox Church in Ireland, and later he was the first representative of the Orthodox churches in Ireland to serve as President of the Irish Council of Churches (ICC), and co-chair of the Irish Inter-Church Meeting (2012-2014).

I was honoured to have been a guest as his friend at his ordination to the priesthood in the Orthodox Church in 2004, and while I was living in Dublin we continued to meet regularly.

We were often at the same Church gatherings, whether they were Orthodox, Church of Ireland or ecumenical events, and he was a frequent visitor to the Church of Ireland Theological Institute when I was on the staff. When he preached one year during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, I presided at the Eucharist and he was the first Orthodox priest to preach in the chapel of CITI.

We were both students too at various times at the summer courses in Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, organised by the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies (IOCS).

Father Godfrey O’Donnell was born in Derry, and he was brought up by his widowed mother next door to the Church of Ireland rectory in Queen Street, Derry.

He served as a Jesuit priest for 28 years before leaving the Society of Jesus in 1985. Later, he married Ruth and they then joined the Romanian Orthodox Church. When Father Godfrey joined the Romanian Orthodox church in 1999, he was asked by the Romanian Orthodox Metropolitan Iosif, based in Paris, to help secure a Romanian Orthodox priest for the Romanian community in Ireland.

Father Godfrey was instrumental in establishing the Romanian Orthodox parish in Dublin in 2000, and regular services began in 2001 in the Jesuit chapel in Belvedere College.

He was ordained priest in the Romanian Orthodox Church by Metropolitan Iosif in a six-hour liturgy in the same chapel in 2004. I was his guest at this ordination, which was also attended by representatives of other Orthodox churches, the Church of Ireland, the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian Church and diplomats at the Romanian embassy.

His work in establishing the Romanian Orthodox Church in Ireland and his service to the Romanian Orthodox community were recognised in 2013, when he was honoured with the accolade of ‘Stavrophore,’ the highest award given to married priests in the Romanian Orthodox Church. It gave him the right to wear a cross as a special honour and as a symbol of his service.

He was active in ecumenical and interfaith dialogue, serving for a time as Chair of the Dublin Council of Churches. He represented the Romanian Orthodox Church on the ICC for many years, becoming Vice-President in 2010 and President in 2012. During that time, he was instrumental in strengthening the links between the Orthodox churches and the other churches in Ireland.

In their tribute to Father Godfrey, the co-chairs of the Irish Inter-Church Meeting, the Revd Brian Anderson, President of the Irish Council of Church, and and Irish Inter-Church Meeting, and Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick, said: ‘He is remembered with great fondness by all who worked with him in the ecumenical community because of his generosity, gentleness, welcoming nature and dedication to Church unity.’

Father Godfrey, who continued to serve the Romanian Orthodox Church, died at his home in Swords, Co Dublin, on 14 February 2020, aged 80.

With the spirits of the righteous made perfect,
give rest to the souls of thy servants, O Saviour,
preserving them in that blessed life which is with thee,
who lovest mankind.
In the place of thy rest, O Lord,
where all thy saints repose,
give rest also to the souls of thy servants,
for thou alone lovest mankind.


Father Godfrey O’Donnell (right) with the Revd Dr Maurice Elliott, Director of CITI, Patsy McGarry of The Irish Times and Patrick Comerford, at a Christian Unity liturgy in the Chapel of CITI in 2007

Praying through Lent with
USPG (3): 28 February 2020

The ‘Gates of Hell’ … the entrance to Birkenau (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Today [28 February 2020] is third day of Lent.

During Lent this year, I am using the USPG Prayer Diary, Pray with the World Church, for my morning prayers and reflections, and – because this year marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and the end of the Holocaust – illustrating my reflections with images reflecting this theme.

USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is the Anglican mission agency that partners churches and communities worldwide in God’s mission to enliven faith, strengthen relationships, unlock potential, and champion justice. It was founded in 1701.

This week (23-29 February), the USPG Prayer Diary is focussing on Saint John the Evangelist Church in Casablanca, which has become a spiritual home for displaced people. On Sunday [23 March 2020], the diary published a reflection by the Rev’d Canon Dr Medhat Sabry, Chaplain of Saint John the Evangelist Anglican Church, Casablanca.

Friday 28 February 2020:

Let us pray for refugees and asylum seekers in our home towns, that our churches follow the example set by St John’s in reaching out in service to them.

Readings: Isaiah 58: 1-9a; Psalm 51: 1-5, 17-18; Matthew 9: 14-15.

The Lenten Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Continued tomorrow

Yesterday’s reflection

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Is isolation ever going
to contain a pandemic
or control public panic?


The former Bishop’s Palace in Lichfield … home of the poet Anna Seward, the ‘Swan of Lichfield,’ who was born in the ‘plague village’ of Eyam in Derbyshire (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Is the Coronavirus – or COVID-19 – leading to a pandemic? Or is it leading us to panic or pandemonium?

The public panic has been compared to the panic created in the past by swine fever, SARS, fear of the HIV virus, ‘Mad Cow’ disease, Ebola, a fictitious virus like YK2 … or, further back in the past, ‘Spanish ’Flu’ or even the plague.

When COVID-19 has run its course, we may find that more people have died in this winter ’flu from ordinary, everyday ’flu.

Talk about plans for mass graves and mass burials, and images of people isolated on cruise ships in Japan and Cambodia and confined for weeks to hotels in Tenerife, and whole communities cut off and isolated from the rest of the world, causes unnecessary distress among people who have never planned a holiday this year in Italy or China, people who have no idea how many people have been killed in road accidents this year, but who keep driving while they worry that Coronavirus has reached Latin America – why, it could be Limerick or Lichfield next!

Can isolating people and cancelling major cultural events – from the Venice Carnival this week and the upcoming Ireland v Italy international rugby match to Saint Patrick’s Day parades and possibly cathedral service … perhaps even the Tokyo Olympics – do anything to stop it spreading?

Is the arrival of Coronavirus inevitable no matter who or where is isolated today?

Is it going to run its natural course when Spring arrives, leaving us all to worry once again about the fallout from Brexit, global warming, health spending and Trump’s re-election? Or the real tragedies in China of a million Uyghurs and the struggle for democracy and human rights in Hong Kong?

Has isolation ever worked?

Many years ago, I visited Eyam, the ‘Plague Village’ in Derbyshire in the 1970s, while I was attending conferences at Swanwick and went on tours that also brought me to neighbouring places like Bakewell, Buxton, Chatsworth, Chesterfield and Matlock.

Years later, Eyam still tells a memorable tale from the 17th century of self-sacrifice and bravery that remains an outstanding and unique story of redemptive self-sacrifice. It is a story that I am often reminded of in Lichfield when I hear the stories of Anna Seward and her poetry.

Eyam is a village in the Derbyshire Dales and in the Peak District. The village is noted for an outbreak of the plague in 1665, when the villagers chose to isolate themselves rather than let the infection spread.

Eyam was founded and named by Anglo-Saxons, although before that the Romans had mined lead in the area. Today, Eyam depends on the tourism and its reputation as ‘the plague village.’

Eyam was also badly affected by the Great Plague of 1665, although the plague is usually associated with London. The sacrifice made by the villagers of Eyam is said to have saved many places throughout the Midlands and northern England.

The Tapestry in Eyam Museum recalling the brave and sacrificial story of the plague in 1665/1666

At the time of the plague, Eyam had a population of about 350. The most important person in the village was the Rector, the Revd William Mompesson (1639-1709), who moved to Eyam with his wife Catherine and their children in 1664.

In the summer of 1665, the village tailor received a flea-infested bundle of cloth from his supplier in London. This parcel contained the fleas that caused the plague. Within a week, the tailor’s assistant, George Vicars, had died from the plague. More began dying in the household soon after; by the end of September, five more villagers had died; 23 died in October.

As the plague spread, the villagers turned to their rector and his predecessor, the Revd Thomas Stanley. When some villagers wanted to flee to Sheffield, Mompesson feared they would bring the plague with them and persuaded them to cut themselves off from the outside would.

From May 1666, precaution measures were introduced to slow the spread of the plague. Families buried their own dead and church services were moved to the natural amphitheatre at Cucklett Delph, allowing villagers to separate themselves and reduce the risk of infection.

The villagers voluntarily quarantined themselves although this would mean certain death for many of them. The village was supplied with food by people living outside who left supplies at the ‘plague stones’ marking the boundary that separated Eyam from the outside world.

The villagers left money in a water trough filled with vinegar to sterilise the coins. In this way, the people of Eyam were not left to starve to death, and the people who supplied the village with food did not come into contact with the plague.

Eyam continued to suffer from the plague throughout 1666. William Mompesson had to bury his own family in the churchyard. When his wife died in August 1666, he decided to hold services outdoors to reduce the chances of people catching the disease.

By November 1666, the plague had come to an end. In all, 260 out of 350 villagers had died in Eyam. But their selfless sacrifice saved many thousands of lives in the north of England.

Mompesson survived. He wrote at the end of the ordeal: ‘Now, blessed be God, all our fears are over for none have died of the plague since the eleventh of October and the pest-houses have long been empty.’

The plague ran its course over 14 months, but when it came to an end it had killed most of the villagers. The parish records provide the names of 273 people who were victims. Only 83 villagers survived out of a population of over 350.

Those who survived did so randomly and there is no explanation for their survival. Many of the survivors had close contact with those who died yet never caught the disease. Elizabeth Hancock buried six children and her husband within eight days, but was never infected herself. The village gravedigger Marshall Howe survived even though he handled many of the infected bodies.

Mompesson eventually remarried, moved parish, became a Prebendary of Southwell, and turned down the offer of becoming Dean of Lincoln before he died in 1709.

Every Plague Sunday, a wreath is laid on Catherine Mompesson’s grave in the churchyard. Plague Sunday has been marked in Eyam since the bicentenary of the plague in 1866. It now takes place in Cucklett Delph on the last Sunday in August, at the same time as Wakes Week and the Well Dressing ceremonies.

The Plague Cottage in Eyam (Photograph: Mickie Collins/Wikipedia)

The Jacobean-style Eyam Hall was built by the Wright family in 1671, soon after the plague, and local mining helped Eyam to recover in population and to prosper economically. Today, many of the village houses and cottages are marked with plaques listing the names and ages of residents who died as victims of the plague, and the story of the plague village is told in Eyam Museum.

There is a plague window in the parish church. But Eyam and its church and churchyard are much older than the plague. The name of Eyam comes from Old English and first appears in the Domesday Book as Aium. The name probably means a cultivated island in the moors, although it may also refer to Eyam’s location between two brooks.

A Mercian-style Anglo-Saxon cross in the churchyard in Eyam dates back to the eighth century, and is covered in complex carvings. Saint Lawrence’s Church dates from the 14th century, but a Saxon font and Norman window are evidence of an earlier church on the site.

Some of the Rectors of Eyam had colourful stories. The Revd Sherland Adams was an ardent royalist, and was removed from office by the parliamentarians, although he returned again briefly in 1664 after the Caroline Restoration and the resignation of Adams.

The tithe from the lead mines was paid to the rectors, who received one penny for every dish of ore and 2¼d for every load of hillock-stuff. When a new rich vein was discovered in the 18th century, Eyam became a rich living.

Canon Thomas Seward (1708-1790) was Rector of Eyam for half a century from 1740 until his death in 1790, and his daughter, the poet Anna Seward, who was born in Eyam in 1747. While he was still Rector of Eyam, he moved with his family 90 km south to the Bishop’s Palace in the Cathedral Close in Lichfield in 1754, and became Prebendary of Pipa Parva in Lichfield Cathedral.

Although she was born in Eyam, Anna Seward became known as the ‘Swan of Lichfield.’ In her Journal and in her correspondence, she recalled the stories of the plague in Eyam she had heard in her childooh. She returned from Lichfield to Eyam, in 1788 and her poem ‘Eyam’ is filled with nostalgia for her birthplace, tearfully recalling the story of the plague:

For one short week I leave, with anxious heart,
Source of my filial cares, the Full of Days,
Lur’d by the promise of Harmonic Art
To breathe her Handel’s soul-exalting lays.
Pensive I trace the Derwent’s amber wave,
Foaming through umbrag’d banks, or view it lave
The soft, romantic vallies, high o’er-peer’d
By hills and rocks, in savage grandeur rear’d.
Not two short miles from thee, can I refrain
Thy haunts, my native Eyam, long unseen? –
Thou and thy lov’d inhabitants, again
Shall meet my transient gaze. – Thy rocky screen,
Thy airy cliffs I mount; and seek thy shade,
Thy roofs, that brow the steep, romantic glade;
But, while on me the eyes of Friendship glow,
Swell my pain’d sighs, my tears spontaneous flow.

In scenes paternal, not beheld through years,
Nor view’d, till now, but by a Father’s side,
Well might the tender, tributary tears,
From keen regrets of duteous fondness glide!
Its pastor, to this human-flock no more
Shall the long flight of future days restore!
Distant he droops, – and that once gladdening eye
Now languid gleams, ’en when his friends are nigh.

Through this known walk, where weedy gravel lies,
Rough, and unsightly; – by the long, coarse grass
Of the once smooth, and vivid green, with sighs
To the deserted Rectory I pass; –
Stray through the darken’d chambers’ naked bound,
Where childhood’s earliest, liveliest bliss I found;
How chang’d, since erst, the lightsome walls beneath,
The social joys did their warm comforts breathe!

Ere yet I go, who may return no more,
That sacred pile, ’mid yonder shadowy trees,
Let me revisit! – Ancient, massy door,
Thou gratest hoarse! – my vital spirits freeze,
Passing the vacant pulpit, to the space
Where humble rails the decent altar grace,
And where my infant sister’s ashes sleep,
Whose loss I left the childish sport to weep.
The gloves, suspended by the garland’s side,
White as its snowy flowers, with ribbons tied; –
Dear Village, long these wreaths funereal spread,
Simple memorials of thy early dead!

But O! thou bland, and silent pulpit! – thou,
That with a Father’s precepts, just, and bland,
Did’st win my ear, as reason’s strength’ning glow
Show’d their full value, now thou seem’st to stand
Before my sad, suffus’d, and trembling gaze,
The dreariest relic of departed days.
Of eloquence paternal, nervous, clear,
Dim Apparition thou – and bitter is my tear!


Eyam Hall, built shortly after the plague (Photograph: Dave Pape/Wikipedia)

Praying through Lent with
USPG (2): 27 February 2020

‘Arbeit macht frei’ … the sign at the entrance gate to Auschwitz (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Today [27 February 2020] is second day of Lent.

During Lent this year, I am using the USPG Prayer Diary, Pray with the World Church, for my morning prayers and reflections, and – because this year marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and the end of the Holocaust – illustrating my reflections with images reflecting this theme.

USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is the Anglican mission agency that partners churches and communities worldwide in God’s mission to enliven faith, strengthen relationships, unlock potential, and champion justice. It was founded in 1701.

This week (23-29 February), the USPG Prayer Diary is focussing on Saint John the Evangelist Church in Casablanca, which has become a spiritual home for displaced people. On Sunday [23 March 2020], the diary published a reflection by the Rev’d Canon Dr Medhat Sabry, Chaplain of Saint John the Evangelist Anglican Church, Casablanca.

However, the prayer diary switches its focus today to the Dominican Republic:

Thursday 27 February 2020:

Let us pray for the people of the Dominican Republic as they celebrate Independence Day today.

Readings: Deuteronomy 30: 15-20; Psalm 1; Luke 9: 22-25.

The Lenten Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Continued tomorrow

Yesterday’s reflection

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

What about the example given by
‘those hypocrites in the churches’?

Actors’ masks in the Plaka in Athens … how can we stop being play actors or ‘hypocrites’ in Lent? (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Ash Wednesday, Wednesday 26 February 2020:

11 am: Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton,

Ash Wednesday Eucharist, with optional imposition of ashes.

Readings:
Joel 2: 1-2, 12-17; Psalm 51: 1-17; II Corinthians 5: 20b to 6: 10; Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-21.

May I speak to you in the name of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

The Gospel reading at the beginning of Lent each year, from one Ash Wednesday to the next, is constant, never changes.

And so, the first words from Christ we hear at the beginning of Lent each year: ‘Beware of practising your piety before others … do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets.’

Writing about this reading in the current edition of the Tablet [22 February 2020], Jon M Sweeney wonders how many people as they leave church on Ash Wednesday with a dusting of ash on their foreheads, feel ‘a little smug, proud not to be like those hypocrites …?’

The writer grew up a Roman Catholic, his wife Michal Woll is a rabbi. Naturally, he is concerned too about how people hearing these words might misinterpret the reference ‘hypocrites … in the synagogues.’

He points out, forcibly, that Jesus was a Jew, that Jesus was a rabbi, that, ‘in fact, Jesus still is a Jew. And when he said those words … he was, of course, talking to his fellow Jews.’

To get the real flavour of his repeated admonishment, ‘as the hypocrites in the synagogues,’ he continues, we need to translate this, ‘as the hypocrites do in the churches.’

He advises, ‘If we want to imagine ourselves, today, standing in front of Jesus, as he looks us in the eye and speaks directly to us, then the “hypocrites” he speaks of … could be us.’

To follow Christ more closely during Lent, Jon Sweeney suggests, we should think of him as teaching us to be good 21st century Christians rather than bad 1st century Jews.

He points out that the author of Saint Matthew’s Gospel was Jewish, and to understand the jarring phrase ‘in the synagogues’ we have to grasp the infighting between different Jewish groups that was going on when this Gospel was written.

And, he says, ‘we should try to read Scripture as it applies to our own life, not the lives of others … Scripture should never be read as a way to condemn someone else’ … certainly not as a cloak for anti-Semitism.

He knows some parishes where the priest has quietly substituted the word ‘churches’ for ‘synagogues’ in today’s reading to avoid misunderstandings.

The word hypocrite is from a Greek word ὑποκριτής (hypokritēs), describing an actor who interpreted and performed in public a dramatic text.

This was not considered an appropriate role for a public figure in Athens in the 4th century BC. The orator Demosthenes ridiculed his rival Aeschines, who had been a successful actor before going into politics, as a hypocrite whose skill at impersonating characters on stage made him untrustworthy as a politician. So, a hypocrite came to mean someone who is ‘play-acting,’ assuming a false persona.

How might I put aside my false persona this Lent, and turn away from being a hypocrite?

Too often, when it comes to doing something for Lent, we think in terms of negatives, giving up something, rather than positives, doing something good.

There is a popular posting on social media in recent days in which Pope Francis asks ‘Do you want to fast for Lent?’

And his reply is:

● Fast from hurting words and say kind words
● Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude
● Fast from anger and be filled with patience
● Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope
● Fast from worries and have trust in God
● Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity
● Fast from pressures and be prayerful
● Fast from bitterness and fill your hearts with joy
● Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others
● Fast from grudges and be reconciled
● Fast from words and be silent so you can listen

And so, may all we think, say and do be to the praise, honour and glory of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

A window ledge in the chapel in Dr Miley’s Hospital, Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-21:

[Jesus said:] 1 ‘Beware of practising your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2 ‘So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

5 ‘And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

16 ‘And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

19 ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’

Burning Palm Crosses from last year to make ashes for Ash Wednesday this year (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

Liturgical Colour: Violet (Purple).

The Gathering:

The traditional Ash Wednesday invitation or exhortation in the Book of Common Prayer begins:

‘Brothers and sisters in Christ: since early days Christians have observed with great devotion the time of our Lord’s passion and resurrection. It became the custom of the Church to prepare for this by a season of penitence and fasting.

‘At first this season of Lent was observed by those who were preparing for baptism at Easter and by those who were to be restored to the Church’s fellowship from which they had been separated through sin. In course of time the Church came to recognize that, by a careful keeping of these days, all Christians might take to heart the call to repentance and the assurance of forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel, and so grow in faith and in devotion to our Lord.

‘I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Lord to observe a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy word.’

Silence may be kept.

Then the priest says:


Let us pray for grace to keep Lent faithfully.

Almighty and everlasting God
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent.
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts,
that we may be truly sorry for our sins
and obtain from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Book of Common Prayer suggests that at the Confession and the Commandments may be read (and should be read during Advent and Lent), but neither the Beatitudes nor the Summary of the Law is used at the Ash Wednesday service. The Book of Common Prayer suggests ‘there should be two readers if possible, one reading the Old Testament statement and the second the New Testament interpretation’:

Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ says:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like it.
You shall love your neighbour as yourself
On these two commandments depend all the law
and the prophets. (Matthew 22: 37-39)

Lord, have mercy on us,
and write these your laws in our hearts.


Penitential Kyries:

In the wilderness we find your grace:
you love us with an everlasting love.

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

There is none but you to uphold our cause;
our sin cries out and our guilt is great.

Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Heal us, O Lord, and we shall be healed;
Restore us and we shall know your joy.

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

The Book of Common Prayer (pp 340-341) also provides this form of Confession and Absolution:

After The Litany Two (pp 175-178), silence is kept for a time, after which is said:

Make our hearts clean, O God,
and renew a right spirit within us.

Father eternal, giver of light and grace,
we have sinned against you and against our neighbour,
in what we have thought, in what we have said and done,
through ignorance, through weakness,
through our own deliberate fault.
We have wounded your love, and marred your image in us.
We are sorry and ashamed, and repent of all our sins.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, who died for us,
forgive us all that is past;
and lead us out from darkness to walk as children of light. Amen.


This prayer is said:

God our Father,
the strength of all who put their trust in you,
mercifully accept our prayers;
and because, in our weakness,
we can do nothing good without you,
grant us the help of your grace,
that in keeping your commandments
we may please you, both in will and deed;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Or

The priest pronounces the Absolution:

Almighty God,
who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon you,
pardon and deliver you from all your sins,
confirm and strengthen you in all goodness
and keep you in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The canticle Gloria in Excelsis may be omitted in Advent and Lent and on weekdays that are not holy days. Other versions of this canticle may be used, or when appropriate another suitable hymn of praise.

The invitation to Communion:

The invitation to Communion begins:

Most merciful Lord,
your love compels us to come in.
Our hands were unclean, our hearts were unprepared;
we were not fit even to eat the crumbs from under your table.
But you, Lord, are the God of our salvation,
and share your bread with sinners.
So cleanse and feed us with the precious body and blood of your Son,
That he may live in us and we in him;
and that we, with the whole company of Christ,
may sit and eat in your kingdom. Amen.


This prayer may be used in place of the Prayer of Humble Access (see p 342). As such it comes before the Peace and not as part of the Invitation to Communion (the Church of England usage).

Introduction to the Peace:

Being justified by faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5: 1, 2)

Preface:

Through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who was in every way tempted as we are yet did not sin;
by whose grace we are able to overcome all our temptations:

Post Communion Prayer:

Almighty God,
you have given your only Son to be for us
both a sacrifice for sin and also an example of godly life:
Give us grace
that we may always most thankfully receive
these his inestimable gifts,
and also daily endeavour ourselves
to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Blessing:

Christ give you grace to grow in holiness,
to deny yourselves,
and to take up your cross and follow him;
and the blessing of God Almighty,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
be with you, and remain with you always. Amen.

Hymns:

535: Judge eternal, throned in splendour.
586: Just as I am, thine own to be.

The Crucifix on the Nave Altar in Lichfield Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Material from the Book of Common Prayer is copyright © 2004, Representative Body of the Church of Ireland.

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

Praying through Lent with
USPG (1): 26 February 2020

‘De Profundis’ (1943) is Arthur Szyk’s haunting Holocaust tour de force … my choice for Facebook cover photograph this Lent

Patrick Comerford

Today [26 February 2020] is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Later this morning, at 11 a.m., I am presiding and preaching at the Ash Wednesday Eucharist in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton.

During Lent this year, I am using the USPG Prayer Diary, Pray with the World Church, for my morning prayers and reflections, and – because this year marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and the end of the Holocaust – illustrating my reflections with images reflecting this theme.

USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is the Anglican mission agency that partners churches and communities worldwide in God’s mission to enliven faith, strengthen relationships, unlock potential, and champion justice. It was founded in 1701.

This week (23-29 February), the USPG Prayer Diary is focussing on Saint John the Evangelist Church in Casablanca, which has become a spiritual home for displaced people.

On Sunday [23 March 2020], the diary published a reflection by the Rev’d Canon Dr Medhat Sabry, Chaplain of Saint John the Evangelist Anglican Church, Casablanca. He writes:

St John the Evangelist was the first Protestant Church established in Casablanca. Consecrated in 1906, it is the oldest operating church building in Casablanca and one of the few official places of Christian worship in the city.

Over the past seven years, attendance at the church’s Sunday services has grown steadily. The new congregation members include migrants from East Asia (especially from the Philippines) and displaced people from sub-Saharan African countries such as Sierra Leone.

On 21 June last year, we celebrated in style when the church’s new community centre had its grand opening ceremony. With the community centre, we are aiming to offer training to help people develop personal skills, to provide a place for social and spiritual activities, to provide a subsidised hot meal twice a week for some of the displaced people, and a library for studies and after-school classes.

The community centre has also been used as a temporary home for the church, because the old church building is now too small to hold its ever-growing congregation. Our new, bigger church building opens on 28 March. Please pray for us.

Wednesday 26 February 2020, Ash Wednesday:

Lord, as we mark the start of the season of Lent today, help us to be mindful of all those around us, and seek to be a blessing to them.

Readings: Joel 2: 1-2, 12-17 or Isaiah 58: 1-12; Psalm 51: 1-18; II Corinthians 5: 20b to 6: 10; Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-21.

The Lenten Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Post Communion Prayer:

Almighty God,
you have given your only Son to be for us
both a sacrifice for sin and also an example of godly life:
Give us grace
that we may always most thankfully receive
these his inestimable gifts,
and also daily endeavour ourselves
to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Continued tomorrow

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

‘AWN Pugin and the
Gothic Revival in Adare’

AWN Pugin (1812-52) oil painting, by John Rogers Herbert, 1845 © Parliamentary Art Collection

Patrick Comerford

‘AWN Pugin and the Gothic Revival in Adare’

Adare and District Historical Society,

Tuesday 25 February 2020,

8 p.m.,
The Dunraven Arms Hotel, Adare, Co Limerick.

Introduction: Imagine the word ‘Gothic’:

For people of a generation younger than me, the words ‘Goth’ and ‘Gothic’ conjured up images of teenagers in flowing black clothes and whitened faces. For some of you, these words may make you think of the novels of Bram Stoker or Sheridan Le Fanu.

So, if you were hoping to hear about either topic under the heading of ‘Gothic Revival’ this evening, you are in the wrong room.

The ‘Gothic Revival’ in architecture was well under way when Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin began his practice. Indeed, there architects working in the Gothic style in Co Limerick and the neighbouring counties at an early stage, including, most notably, members of the Pain and Fogerty families.

But Pugin is such a giant on the architectural landscape of Ireland that I think he is worth introducing this evening, albeit with the understanding that he left very few footprints in Co Limerick, and, even then, these are difficult to identify with certainty.

Personal introduction:

I have spent some time over the past decade travelling around Ireland, mapping and cataloguing Pugin’s contribution to Ireland’s architecture and landscape. This exercise has led to similar traipses throughout the English Midlands.

My great-grandfather, James Comerford (1817-1902), and his brothers, Richard and Robert Comerford from Newtownbarry (Bunclody), Co Wexford, worked throughout Co Wexford with Richard Pierce (1801-1854), the Wexford-born architect used by Pugin to oversee many of his building projects – most notably his work at Saint Peter’s College, Wexford, and his cathedrals in Killarney and Enniscorthy.

Michael Fisher, an authority on Pugin’s work in Staffordshire, has referred to Staffordshire as ‘Pugin-Land.’ In many ways that epithet could also be applied to Co Wexford.

Pugin’s death in 1852, followed by Pierce’s death in 1854, explain James Comerford’s decision to move to Dublin in the early 1850s. The family’s traditional links with this architectural cluster continued when James’s own children married into the Coleman and Cullen families, who also worked with Pugin and his architectural heirs.

So, my interest in Pugin is as much a tribute to my own great-grandfather and his children as it is to the greatest figure in the Gothic revival.

The Gothic and Goths

We are all aware of the Gothic revival. Ask any child to sketch a church and she is more than likely to draw a church with a tower and steeple and three pointed windows. The more creative child might even add a porch.

But no child in Limerick is going to draw a church with a classical façade, complete with columns and triangular pediment, still less is she likely to draw a white-washed Byzantine church with a blue dome.

The Gothic revival has influenced and shaped how every one of us sees and sets our standards of what a church should look like.

The Gothic Revival long-predated Pugin, the Pain brothers and the Fogerty family in Limerick, or the arrival of Philip Hardwicke at Adare Manor.

It began as an architectural movement in the late 1740s in England. Its popularity grew rapidly in the early 19th century, when increasingly serious and learned admirers of neo-Gothic styles sought to revive mediaeval Gothic architecture, in contrast to the neoclassical styles that had come prevalent at the time. Gothic Revival draws features from the original Gothic style, including decorative patterns, finials, lancet windows, hood moulds and label stops.

The Gothic Revival movement that emerged in 18th-century England, gained ground in the 19th century. Its roots were intertwined with deeply philosophical movements associated with Catholicism and the Oxford Movement and a re-awakening of High Church or Anglo-Catholic tradition among Anglicans. By the third quarter of the 19th century, the Gothic revival was appealing to all Christian traditions on these islands and in many other places too.

The difference between Pugin and his predecessors in the Gothic Revival movement is the intensity of his ideology, and the way he gave expression to this in a short life span of only 40 years. Even though Newman preferred the Byzantine style for churches and dismissed Gothic as pagan, Pugin is the architectural voice and vision, the architectural visionary and ideologue, of those in the Oxford Movement who moved over to Rome in the 1840s and 1850s.

Rosemary Hill has described him as ‘God’s architect’ … and if John Ruskin could describe architecture as poetry in stone, then Pugin’s work is theology in stone.

Biographical summary:
The Palace of Westminster … Pugin designed the tower we now know as Big Ben (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-1852) was an architect, designer, artist, and critic who is principally remembered for his pioneering role in the Gothic Revival style of architecture. His work culminated in designing the interior of the Palace of Westminster and its clock tower, later renamed the Elizabeth Tower, which houses the bell we know as Big Ben. He also created Alton Castle and Alton Towers in Alton, Staffordshire.

Pugin designed many churches in England, including Saint Giles’ Church, Cheadle, and Saint Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham, and many churches in Ireland and Australia.

He was born on 1 March 1812 at his parents’ home in Bloomsbury, London. His father, August Charles Pugin, was a French draughtsman who had emigrated to England at the time of the French Revolution. Like many other French émigrés at the time, he probably joined the Church of England to guarantee government commissions and tenders.

Between 1821 and 1838, he published a series of volumes of architectural drawings, Specimens of Gothic Architecture and Examples of Gothic Architecture, that became standard reference works for Gothic architecture for many decades.

His mother, Catherine Welby, was from the Welby family of Denton, Lincolnshire, and the Pugin family lived in Bloomsbury.

As a child, his mother took Pugin to the Sunday services of the fashionable Scottish Presbyterian preacher Edward Irving (1792-1834), later the founder of the Holy Catholic Apostolic Church or ‘Irvingites,’ at his chapel in Cross Street, Hatton Garden.

But the young Pugin quickly rebelled against this style of Christianity with its ‘cold and sterile forms of the Scottish church.’ He then ‘rushed into the arms of a church which, pompous by its ceremonies, was attractive to his imaginative mind.’

Pugin learned drawing from his father, and for a while went to school at Christ’s Hospital. After leaving school he worked in his father’s office, and father and son visited France together in 1825 and 1827. His first independent commissions were for designs for the royal goldsmiths Rundell and Bridge, and for designs for furniture in Windsor Castle. At this early stage, he was also designing theatrical sets and scenery.

He then established a business supplying historically accurate, carved wood and stone detailing for the increasing number of buildings being built in the Gothic Revival style, but this enterprise quickly failed.

In 1831, at the age of 19, Pugin married the first of his three wives, Anne Garnet. Anne died a few months later in childbirth, leaving him a daughter. In 1833, he married his second wife Louisa Button, and they were the parents of a further six children, including the architect Edward Welby Pugin. Louisa died in 1844, and in 1848 he married his third wife, Jane Knill, and their son was the architect Peter Paul Pugin.

After his second marriage in 1833, Pugin moved to Salisbury, and in 1835 he bought half an acre of land in Alderbury, about a mile and half outside the small cathedral city. There he built a Gothic Revival style family home for his family, which he called St Marie’s Grange. One observer noted, ‘he not yet learned the art of combining a picturesque exterior with the ordinary comforts of an English home.’

Meanwhile, Pugin had converted to Roman Catholicism, and he was received into the Roman Catholic Church that year. To put this into context, it was just six years after Catholic Emancipation or the passing of the Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1829.

Following the destruction by fire of the Palace of Westminster in 1834, Pugin was employed by Sir Charles Barry to supply interior designs for rebuilding a new Palace of Westminster. At this time Pugin also worked with Barry on the design of King Edward’s School, Birmingham.

Later, he would accuse Barry of stealing the best of his plans and ideas. But Pugin could always come across as arrogant when it came to criticising his contemporaries.

Taken aback by the refurbishment of Lichfield Cathedral by James Wyatt (1746-1813), Pugin declared in 1834: ‘Yes – this monster of architectural depravity, this pest of Cathedral architecture, has been here. need I say more.’ And then, referring to the Lichfield architect, Joseph Potter (1756-1842) – the architect who influenced part of his designs for Saint Michael’s Church, Gorey, Co Wexford – he said: ‘The man I am sorry to say – who executes the repairs of the building was a pupil of the Wretch himself and has imbibed all the vicious propensities of his accursed tutor without one spark of even practical ability to atone for his misdeeds.’

To his advantage, Pugin’s new church membership also brought an introduction to John Talbot, 16th Earl of Shrewsbury, a Roman Catholic peer who was sympathetic to his aesthetic theory. His wife, Maria Theresa Talbot, was a daughter of William Talbot of Blackwater, Co Wexford, and she was a niece of John Hyacinth Talbot (1794-1868), MP for Wexford – in other words, Lord Shrewsbury was related by marriage to the Talbot and Redmond families, two of the most powerful political families in Co Wexford for much of the 19th and early 20th century, including John Redmond.

Shrewsbury employed Pugin to rebuild his family home at Alton Towers in Staffordshire, and to build Saint Giles Roman Catholic Church in nearby Cheadle. When Pugin’s second wife Louisa died in 1844, she was buried at Saint Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham, which Pugin had designed.

Meanwhile, Pugin had found Salisbury an inconvenient base for his growing architectural practice. He sold St Marie’s Grange and bought a parcel of land at Ramsgate in Kent, where he built himself a large house and, at his own expense, a church dedicated to Saint Augustine.

In February 1852, while travelling by train with his son Edward, Pugin suffered a total breakdown and arrived in London unable to recognise anyone or speak coherently. For four months he was confined to a private asylum, Kensington House, before being moved to the Royal Bethlehem Hospital, or ‘Bedlam,’ then close to Saint George’s Cathedral, Southwark, one of his major buildings and where he had married his third wife Jane in 1848.

Jane Pugin and a doctor moved Pugin from Bedlam to a house in Hammersmith where he recovered sufficiently to recognise her. In September, she took him back to the Grange in Ramsgate; there he died on 14 September 1852. He was only 40. He is buried in Saint Augustine’s, his church next to the Grange Ramsgate.

The cause of death was listed as ‘convulsions followed by coma.’ Pugin’s biographer Rosemary Hill suggests he was suffering from hyperthyroidism but points out that his medical history suggests he had syphilis from his late teens.

Pugin in Ireland:

The Talbot family connections introduced Pugin to Ireland (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The Talbot family connection provides the key to Pugin’s commissions throughout Ireland. This entrée was provided by John Hyacinth Talbot, MP, of Castle Talbot and Talbot Hall, Co Wexford, an uncle of Maria Theresa Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury.

Although Pugin only visited Ireland about 10 times in all and never spent longer than 12 days in Ireland, from the late 1830s until his early death in 1852, he designed a large number of Irish churches and convents, as well as the great seminary at Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Co Kildare.

He had a romantic and idealised view of Catholicism, so he was challenged and indeed uncomfortable with the reality of a highly politicised church in Ireland and its social context and makeup.

Circumstances meant he left the close personal supervision of his building projects in the hands of trusted Irish architects, particularly Richard Pierce, and many of his projects were not be completed in his lifetime because of lack of funds and because of the consequences of the Famine.

Yet one biographer, Phoebe Stanton, says ‘Pugin’s Irish buildings are among the best constructed and the largest he ever produced.’ In his churches at Gorey, Tagoat and Barntown in Co Wexford, the ‘emphasis on materials, the excellence of the workmanship, the lack of ornament, the dignified and heavy proportions are more than their characteristics – they are their graces.’

After Pugin’s death in 1852, work on his unfinished Irish commissions was carried on by his son Edward Welby Pugin, by John Joseph McCarthy, and, for the two years before his own death, by Richard Pierce.

Pugin was the chief designer for the Birmingham church decorators John Hardman & Co. His involvement in Irish church building and decoration gave rise to the establishment of a Dublin branch of the firm in 1853, under the direction of Thomas Earley and Henry Powell.

Pugin’s principle works in Ireland:

Samuel Lewis says in 1839 that the ‘very fine tower and spire’ was ‘lately added’ to the Roman Catholic Church, Tullow, Co Carlow. The church is attributed to Pugin by Thomas Kennedy in his History of Irish Catholicism (1970, vol 5, p 35), and this is noted in the Dictionary of Irish Architects, but not by Rosemary Hill or any of Pugin’s other authoritative biographers.

So, the following works in Ireland can be attributed to Pugin:

1, The Church of the Assumption or the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Bree, Co Wexford (1837-1840):

The Church of the Assumption, Bree (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

This church, the first of Pugin’s Irish churches, was commissioned by John Hyacinth Talbot MP. The church was built by Canon Philip Devereux, thanks to the generosity of the Talbot and Power families, on land given by Colonel Henry Alcock of nearby Wilton Castle in 1837. John Hyacinth Talbot ‘procured’ the plans from Pugin, and – if we date the church to the laying of the foundation stone in 1837 – then this is the first of Pugin’s Irish churches, although he never actually acknowledged the church as his own.

The foundation stone of the Church of the Assumption, Bree, was laid in 1837 and the church was completed in 1840. As an early church, it is a simple building with a long nave and smaller chancel. The main feature, which is now concealed, was a very early example of open-roof timbering.

The church has been much changed in recent renovations, but it is an interesting church in the light of Pugin’s other Irish churches built in the years that followed. It also owes its existence to the Redmond family patronage.

2, Saint Peter’s College, Wexford (1838-1841):

Pierce’s Gothic Tower and Pugin’s chapel at Saint Peter’s College, Wexford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Pugin’s first great work in Ireland is the Chapel at Saint Peter’s College, Wexford. He laid the foundation stone for the chapel on 18 June 1838, the chapel was dedicated on 15 June 1840, and the first Mass was celebrated in the chapel that year. The collegiate style of the chapel was unique in its day.

The chapel interior remained unchanged until 1950, when the rood screen was removed, changing Pugin’s original design. What survives is the fine triptych altar design and the magnificent Hardman stained glass in the rose window, which contains the Talbot family coat of arms. It is still an original and beautiful interior.

Pugin’s triptych and altar in Saint Peter’s, Wexford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

3, Saint James’s Church, Ramsgrange, Co Wexford (1838-1843):

Saint James’s Church, Ramsgrange, Co Wexford … Pugin’s authorship has been questioned by some architectural historians (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Saint James’s in Ramsgrange was built as a new church for Father George Murphy. The plans are said to have been copied from chapel at Saint Peter’s College, Wexford.

JJ McCarthy claimed in 1856 that he had been told that Pugin was ‘very angry when he was informed that his design for Saint Peter’s College Chapel in Wexford was copied as a parish church in Ramsgrange.’ The church tower was added in 1870.

But, whatever Pugin contributed to the design of this church is largely masked by later additions and alterations.

4, The Church of Saint Michael the Archangel, Gorey, Co Wexford (1839-1842):

Saint Michael’s Church, Gorey, co Wexford … Pugin’s only Romanesque church in Ireland (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Pugin’s church in Gorey, Co Wexford, is unique among his Irish churches for it is built in the Norman style. It was begun in 1839, was completed in 1842, and is one of his earliest Irish commissions. The patrons were the Esmonde family, who donated the site and whose coat of arms are displayed above the front entrance.

The spire was never added, but Pugin shows it in his drawing of his churches. The interior was also decorated with highly coloured stencilling and his hand is seen in the timbering of the roof trusses.

5, Loreto Convent, Gorey, Co Wexford (1839):

The former Loreto Convent, Gorey, Co Wexford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

This convent, next to Saint Michael’s Church, Gorey, Co Wexford, was also designed by Pugin in 1839, but may have been built later.

6, Loreto Abbey, Rathfarnham, Co Dublin (1839):

Pugin’s chapel in Rathfarnham dates from March to June 1839, the same time as his plans for Saint Michael’s Church, Gorey, Co Wexford, and Saint Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Pugin produced his designs Loreto Abbey, Rathfarnham, Co Dublin in 1839. His drawings for the church were prepared at the same time as his plans for Saint Michael’s Church, Gorey, Co Wexford, and Saint Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham. They all date from 1839, and together they mark the end of the first phase of his career.

His drawings were completed by 28 May 1839. In parts of the chapel, Pugin’s designs were inspired by the Octagon or Lantern Tower in Ely Cathedral.

However, the building was simplified in execution by John Benjamin Keane working with Patrick Byrne. The angels on either side of altar by the sculptor John Hogan are believed to be based on Hogan’s two eldest daughters.

7, The Presentation Convent, Slievekeale Road, Waterford (1842-1878):

The rood screen in the former Presentation Convent Chapel in Waterford … a typical feature of Pugin’s work (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

This convent and school were designed by Pugin in 1842. It now serves as a health centre. Pugin was present when the foundation stone was laid on 10 June 1842. The main contractor was Richard Pierce, the Wexford architect Pugin employed for most of his work in Ireland.

However, it took over two decades to complete Pugin’s chapel, and when it was consecrated by Bishop Dominic O’Brien in 1863, it was more than ten years since both Pugin and Pierce had died.

The Presentation Order sold the building in 2006 and it is now a health centre.

8, Saint John’s Manor, Slievekeale Road, Waterford (1842-1845):

The Manor of Saint John, Waterford … designed by AWN Pugin for the Wyse family ca 1842 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Saint John’s Manor, a manor house in Waterford, was rebuilt ca1845 for Sir Thomas Wyse, a friend of Pugin. But Pugin considered Wyse’s expectations too elaborate for a house of this side, and we are unclear what was actually designed by Pugin.

9, Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Killarney, Co Kerry (1842-1850):

Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Killarney … Pugin’s design was inspired by Salisbury Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Saint Mary’s Church, later Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Killarney, Co Kerry, was designed by Pugin as miniature, two-thirds size replica of Salisbury Cathedral, and was built in 1842-1850. Here Pugin’s patron was the Earl of Kenmare, and the work was overseen by Richard Pierce, the Wexford architect who oversaw much of his Pugin’s work.

It is disappointing to notice that the plaque outside the cathedral declares it is the work of Edward Pugin and not of his father Pugin.

10, Woodford House, Killarney, Co Kerry (ca 1842):

Woodford House, Killarney, Co Kerry … Pugin added the Gothic details to an earlier house (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Adrian Hilliard has helped me to identify Woodford House, Killarney, as one of the few examples of domestic architecture by AWN Pugin in Ireland.

When I visited, Mary O’Connell was very welcoming as she pointed out how an earlier house, built in the 18th century by the Fitzgerald family, had been extended to the front by Pugin, at the invitation of the Earl of Kenmare. At the time, Pugin was working on Saint Mary’s Cathedral, and his work at Woodford House includes a Gothic-style window inserted above the stairs in the original house, and a Gothic-revival, three-bay facade added to the front of the house.

11, Saint Aidan’s Cathedral, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford (1843-1850):

Saint Aidan’s Cathedral, Enniscorthy, Pugin’s ‘Irish Gem’ overlooking the River Slaney in Co Wexford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The foundation stone for Saint Aidan’s Cathedral, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, was laid in 1843. This is Pugin’s largest church in Ireland, and local people in Enniscorthy describe it as ‘Pugin’s gem.’ Once again, Richard Pierce was Pugin’s clerk of works.

The external stonework is superb work by the Irish stonemasons who were praised by Pugin.

Renovations in 1996 did much to restore the original beautiful building as envisaged by Pugin. The restored stencilling of the interior gives us some idea of what Pugin wanted for his churches.

12, Saint Mary’s Church, Tagoat, Co Wexford (1843-1846):

Saint Mary’s Church, Tagoat, is the last of Pugin’s churches in Co Wexford and many regard it as his most important parish church in Ireland (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

While he was engaged in designing Saint Aidan’s Cathedral, Enniscorthy, Pugin also designed this Co Wexford church. Once again, this church was designed by Pugin through the patronage of John Hyacinth Talbot.

This is the last of Pugin’s churches in Co Wexford. Many regard Saint Mary’s as the most important of Pugin’s parish churches in Ireland, and it has been has been described as ‘an example of Pugin’s best work on a small church.’

Saint Mary’s contains more original Pugin features than any of his other Irish churches, including floor tiles in the large sanctuary area produced by Henry Minton (1795-1858), wooden screens to the side chapels, stained glass by Hardman, a set of four brass altar candlesticks designed by Hardman and presented by Pugin when the church was dedicated in 1846, and a marble, brass-inlaid memorial floor slab in the sanctuary commemorating Canon Rowe, presented by Sir Thomas Esmonde, Pugin’s patron in Gorey.

13, Saint Alphonsus’s Church, Barntown, Co Wexford (1844-1848):

Saint Alphonsus’s Church, Barntown, Co Wexford, is Pugin’s only complete expression in Ireland of the small village parish church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Saint Alphonsus’s Church, Barntown, near Taghmon and in the parish of Glynn, was built on 1844-1848. It was planned by Pugin as a complete Catholic parish church, so it consists of a nave and aisles with a belfry, south porch, wide passages for processions, a distinct and deep chancel, a sacristy, a Lady Chapel, and so on.

Pugin’s design for Barntown is based on Saint Michael’s, one of two mediaeval parish churches in the village of Longstanton, 10 km north-west of Cambridge.

Sadly, the church has been much altered, but the external stonework and the solid nature of the church is striking. The finest feature of the interior is the surviving Hardman high window.

Saint Michael’s ... a rare example of an English church with a thatched roof … is said to have inspired Pugin’s design of a parish church in Barntown, Co Wexford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

14, Adare Manor, Adare, Co Limerick (1846-1848):

Adare Manor … Pugin contributed to this Gothic extravaganza at the invitation of the Earls of Dunraven (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Adare Manor was built for the 2nd Earl of Dunraven ca 1846-1847, and incorporated some of Pugin’s designs for alterations and extensions to the existing house.

Pugin’s contributions to Adare Manor are difficult to date and to quantify: Phoebe Stanton says that in 1846 he may have designed details in the great hall, the hall ceiling, the great staircase, the gallery at the end of the hall, various fireplaces and doors, and the general design of the dining hall.

15, Houses, Midleton, Co Cork:

Pugin was commissioned by the 5th Viscount Midleton to design two villas or houses on his estate in Queenstown (Cobh), Co Cork, but, as Rosemary Hill points out, they were probably never built.

16, Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Co Kildare (1846-1851):

The Pugin Hall in Maynooth, restored in 1992 said to be Pugin’s finest hall (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Pugin designed the collegiate buildings of Saint Patrick and Saint Mary in Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, but not, despite popular perceptions, the college chapel. His original plans for Maynooth included both a chapel and an aula maxima or great hall, neither of which was built because of financial constraints.

The college chapel, added later in 1875, was designed by a follower of Pugin, the Irish architect JJ McCarthy.

17, Saint John’s Convent of Mercy, Birr, Co Offaly (1846-1847):

The interior of the beautifully restored Convent Chapel in Birr, designed by Pugin and now a library (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

This convent was commissioned by Sister Anastasia Beckett, and the foundation stone for his convent in Birr was laid in 1846, although the first portions were not built until 1847. The design is a heavy, stone version of the convents he had built in Handsworth and Liverpool. But Pugin also paid tribute to Irish architectural heritage by attaching a Round Tower to the corner of the building.

The convent was still not complete when Pugin died in 1852. The main front resembles his design, but the larger part of the building was finally completed with slightly different massings by his son, EW Pugin, and his son-in-law, George Ashlin.

The Pugin-designed convent chapel was greatly revised at a later stage. When the convent closed, the altars and the furnishings were donated to neighbouring churches or auctioned off. But the convent and chapel have been converted to accommodate a modern library, council offices and a health centre, and many of the original Pugin features have been carefully preserved or restored.

Birr Convent was built by Pugin along the lines of his convent in Handsworth … with the addition of an Irish round tower (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

18, Lismore Castle, Co Waterford:

Pugin designed some furniture for the sixth Duke of Devonshire at Lismore Castle, Co Waterford, although he never actually visited Lismore (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Pugin designed some furniture for the sixth Duke of Devonshire at Lismore Castle, Co Waterford, although he never actually visited Lismore.

19, Fitzpatrick Mortuary Chapel, Clough, Co Laois:

This is not noted by either Hill or Stanton.

20, Power family chapel, Edermine House, Co Wexford (1850s):

The Pugin Chapel and the once splendid Victorian iron conservatory at Edermine House (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The chapel at Edermine House, Co Wexford, was commissioned by Sir James Power and his wife, Jane, and was built in the 1850s. Jane Power was a daughter of Pugin’s Irish patron, John Hyacinth Talbot, and the Power family later intermarried with the Cliffe family of Bellvue.

A plaque on the door and a second inside the chapel have led many to believe that the chapel is too late to have been designed by AWN Pugin, and they have ascribed it to either his son, Edward Welby Pugin, or to JJ McCarthy. However, Pat Doyle, the present owner of Edermine House, has long believed that the chapel is an original work by Pugin and that McCarthy merely supervised its later construction.

Many contemporary writers believe the intermarriages between the Talbot and Power families underpin the supposition that the chapel was originally designed by the elder Pugin and that the project was supervised either by his son or by McCarthy.

Some works that are claimed for Pugin:

1, The College Chapel, Maynooth:

The College Chapel seen from the corridors in Saint Patrick’s House (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Although the College Chapel in Maynooth is often ascribed to Pugin, this is the work of JJ McCarthy, designed by him a quarter century after the death of Pugin.

2, Saint Nicholas Church, Adare, Co Limerick:

Inside Saint Nicholas Church, Adare, Co Limerick … is this the work of Pugin? (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Phoebe Stanton says Pugin added a new roof and stained-glass windows ‘to the village church [in Adare], which he probably also full restored.’ But she does not say which church. Rosemary Hill does not refer to this at all.

Although Pugin’s influence can be seen everywhere in the Trinitarian Church in Adare, I would suggest this is Saint Nicholas’s Church, with its collegiate east end and the large number of Hardman windows in the church.

3, The Midleton Arms, Midleton, Co Cork:

The Midleton Arms, a public house and shop on the Midleton estate, Co Cork, has also been attributed to Pugin. But they date from 1861, and, if anything, may have been the work of his son, Edward Welby Pugin.

4, Saint Michael’s Church, Portarlington, Co Offaly (1842 or 1845):

Saint Michael’s Church, Portarlington, built in 1839-1842 … was it designed by AWN Pugin or by TA Cobden? (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Saint Michael’s Church, in the Co Offaly side of Portarlington is also attributed to Pugin, and dates from 1842 or 1845. Although it may have been built according to Pugin’s plans for another church, I am still wondering whether it can be ascribed to Pugin.

Local historians are more inclined to date it to 1839-1842 and to attribute it to the Carlow-based architect Thomas Alfred Cobden (1794-1842), perhaps on stylistic grounds but mainly because Father Terence O’Connell, the parish priest of Portarlington at the time Saint Michael’s Church was built had the administrator of Carlow Cathedral when it was built.

5, The Cliffe Chapel, Bellvue, Co Wexford (1858-1860):

The Cliffe chapel in Bellvue … built ‘from the designs of A. Welby Pugin’ (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The Cliffe family stirred controversy in Co Wexford when they changed their membership from the Church of Ireland, becoming Roman Catholics in 1856. They built a new chapel adjacent to their home at Bellvue in 1858-1860, and although the chapel was designed by JJ McCarthy, he used earlier plans by Pugin.

The Building News reported in 1859: ‘A new church has lately been erected by A. Cliffe … from the designs of A. Welby Pugin; it is designed in the Early Decorated period and it is well executed by a local builder.’

Some claims for Pugin:

At another time, I might like to argue that two other structures in Ireland can ascribed to Pugin:

1, The Talbot and Redmond vault, Wexford:

The Talbot and Redmond mausoleum is an important part of the early 19th-century heritage of Wexford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

2, Saint Catherine’s Church, Dublin:

Saint Catherine’s Church, Meath Street, Dublin … the beautiful interior has been restored to its original splendour (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

After a fire in 2012, this church has been beautifully restored, and reopened in 2015. Although it is ascribed to JJ McCarthy, I have argued in the past that McCarthy used Pugin’s plans for this church, and I have described it as ‘the poor man’s Cheadle.’

Pugin church restoration in Adare

The five-light Chancel Window in the East End of Saint Nicholas’s Church, Adare, was designed by JH Powell of the Hardman studios in Birmingham (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

So, which Church in Adare did Pugin work on?

Pugin’s biographer Phoebe Stanton says Pugin ‘added a new roof and stained-glass windows to the village church [in Adare], which he probably also totally restored.’ On the other hand, the architectural historian, Roderick O’Donnell, says Pugin did this work in for Roman Catholic Church in Adare, the former Trinitarian Abbey.

Although there is extensive evidence of Pugin’s influence throughout the Trinitarian Abbey, the involvement of Powell and the Hardman studios in windows throughout Saint Nicholas’s Church seems to me to confirm Phoebe Stanton’s choice of this church, too.

Saint Nicholas’s has a splendid collection of windows by the studios of Mayer & Co in Munich, by Heaton, Butler and Bayne, and by the Birmingham studios of John Hardman. All three companies were closely identified with the Gothic Revival, and to find works from all three studios in one church in an Irish town is a real delight.

Four sets of windows in Saint Nicholas’s, Adare, are the work of Joseph Hardman’s studios in Birmingham and their principal designer, John Hardman Powell: the East Window in the Chancel; the window on the south wall of the chancel, above the altar rails; the main window at the East end of the South Aisle; and the window at the back of the church at the west end of the Nave.

These four windows, taken together, are a unique collection and provide a direct link between Adare and the work of Pugin.

The Hardman studio was founded in 1838, began manufacturing stained glass in 1844, and was one of the leading manufacturers of stained glass and ecclesiastical fittings until it was wound up in 2008.

The three key figures in the business were John Hardman snr (1766-1844), of Handsworth, then in Staffordshire, who was the head of a family business designing and manufacturing metalwork, his son John Hardman jnr (1812-1867), and his nephew John Hardman Powell (1827-1895).

The Hardman family and studio were closely associated with AWN Pugin from the 1830s, when he was commissioned by the Bishop Thomas Walsh to design Birmingham Cathedral as a suitable church to house the relics of Saint Chad, which had been rescued from destruction at Lichfield Cathedral during the Reformation.

When Pugin’s building was consecrated in 1841 as Saint Chad’s Cathedral, it was the first Roman Catholic cathedral built in England since the Reformation. Pugin contracted Hardmans to provide metalwork for Saint Chad’s Cathedral, and the Hardmans were enthusiastic donors, giving the rood screen to the cathedral and providing the Hardman Chantry in which John Hardman sr was buried in 1844, followed by later family members.

From 1845, at Pugin’s urging, his close friend John Hardman jr entered the fast-developing stained-glass industry. He was joined by his nephew, John Hardman Powell, who became Pugin’s son-in-law and claimed to have been Pugin’s only pupil.

As a young man, John Hardman Powell stayed at The Grange in Ramsgate to assist Pugin with his many orders for stained glass, church plate, and other artefacts. Through Pugin, the firm became very successful throughout the 19th century and set high standards of design and craftsmanship, initiated by Pugin and then developed by Powell, who married Pugin’s first child, his daughter Anne, in 1850. Pugin supplied the first designs for Hardmans, and in his later years relied increasingly on his talented son-in-law Powell to provide the designs for stained glass.

Powell became the chief designer for Hardman’s after 1849 and before Pugin’s death in 1852. The company also took part in the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London, exhibiting the great chandelier designed for Alton Towers in Staffordshire.

A year later, Hardman and Powell collaborated with AWN Pugin’s son, Edward Welby Pugin, in designing the funeral arrangements of John Talbot, 16th Earl of Shrewsbury, in November 1852.

Pugin’s involvement in Irish church building and decoration gave rise to the establishment of an Irish branch of the firm in Grafton Street, Dublin, in 1853, under the direction of Thomas Earley and JH Powell’s brother, Henry Powell (1835-1882), who lived at 25 Elm Grove, Ranelagh.

Under JH Powell’s direction, the firm produced enormous amounts of stained glass for Anglican and Roman Catholic churches throughout Britain and Ireland, and beyond, in the second half of the 19th century.

Powell never forgot his debt to Pugin, saying he had learned everything from him. But he gradually evolved a personal style, involving rather more elongated figures and a more exaggerated sense of movement than his master. He also wrote a vivid and affectionate memoir of his great teacher, Pugin in his Home (1889).

The collaboration between the Hardmans and the Pugins continued after Edward Welby Pugin’s death in 1875 with the later firm of Pugin & Pugin. This collaboration lasted for three generations and was a major influence on church architecture and decoration and the Gothic Revival.

Under JH Powell, the metalwork design department split from the stained-glass department in 1883 and traded under the name Hardman, Powell and Co. Powell died in 1895, and the leadership of the firm passed to John Bernard Hardman, a grandson of John Hardman snr.

A large proportion of the Hardman archive was damaged and destroyed in a fire in 1970. Some of the earliest cartoons are now held in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. The business closed in 2008.

Powell’s designs are original innovations in the Gothic style. His stained glass recreates the elegance, the refinement, the brevity that is seen in some of the finest examples of glass, sculpture and illumination of the 13th and 14th centuries. He utilises the flowing, curving lines, the flourish of drapery, the calligraphic brush-strokes and pure colour.

One of his best works is the large Immaculate Conception window in the north transept of Pugin’s Saint Chad’s Cathedral, in Birmingham, designed in 1868 in memory of John Hardman jnr. This is an elaborate and uplifting design, with a beautiful ethereal quality, pure colours, and a silvery overall light.

This connection between Powell, Hardman and Pugin leads me to conclude that Saint Nicholas’s is the church in Adare that Phoebe Stanton identified as probably being restored by Pugin.

Evening lights at Saint Nicholas’s Church, Adare, Co Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Apart from some, unidentified work at Adare Manor, and some unspecified work at Saint Nicholas Church, Adare, there are no other works by Pugin in Co Limerick.

However, Pugin’s influence on Gothic revival architecture in Adare can be seen in Hardwick’s work on the Abbey Convent in Adare, which has many similarities with Pugin’s convents in Birr, Co Offaly, and Handsworth, near Birmingham, and in the interior decorations in the Trinitarian Church.

The north side of Our Lady’s Abbey, Adare, Co Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Pugin’s influence in Co Limerick

Pugin’s sons Edward Welby Pugin and Peter Paul Pugin continued his architectural firm as Pugin & Pugin. His son-in-law, George Coppinger Ashlin, continued this tradition in the practice of Ashlin and Coleman.

The influence of the Gothic Revival can be seen in Co Limerick not only in the works of the Pain brothers and the Fogerty family, but in churches and church buildings throughout this city and county.

JJ McCarthy, who claimed Pugin’s mantle, was the architect of many of these churches, including Foynes, Kilmallock and Rathkeale. But his work might be a topic for another evening.

(Revd Canon Professor) Patrick Comerford is priest-in-charge of the Rathkeale Group of Parishes, Precentor of Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick, and a former theology professor in the Church of Ireland Theological Institute and Trinity College Dublin.