02 July 2023

Daily prayers in Ordinary Time
with USPG: (35) 2 July 2023

Holy Trinity Church, Bordesley, was once the most important and controversial Anglo-Catholic church in Birmingham (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Patrick Comerford

We are in Ordinary Time in the Church Calendar, and today is the Fourth Sunday after Trinity (3 July 2023). Later this morning, I hope to attend the Parish Eucharist in Saint Mary and Saint Giles Church, Stony Stratford, and there is a Greek Festival in the Greek Orthodox Church in Stony Stratford later this afternoon, from 2 to 5 pm.

But, before this becomes a busy day, I am taking some time for prayer, reading and reflection.

Over these weeks after Trinity Sunday, I have been reflecting each morning in these ways:

1, Looking at relevant images or stained glass window in a church, chapel or cathedral I know;

2, the Gospel reading of the day in the Church of England lectionary;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

Holy Trinity Church, Bordesley, is lonely and forlorn on the top of Old Camp Hill, between Bordesley Circus and Camp Hill Circus (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Holy Trinity Church, Bordesley, Birmingham:

Last week, I described a recent visit to Holy Trinity Church, Bordesley, a Grade II listed former Church of England parish church, about 2 km south-east of Birmingham city centre. The church appears lonely and forlorn on the top of Old Camp Hill, isolated in a virtual traffic island between two roundabouts, Bordesley Circus and Camp Hill Circus, on the Middleway ring road.

Holy Trinity Church was consecrated and opened 200 years ago in 1823, and it was once at the centre of the most important Anglo-Catholic controversies in Birmingham that led to its Irish-born vicar, the Revd Richard Enraght, being jailed and dismissed.

Historically, Bordesley was part of the parish and union of Aston, on the edges of Birmingham. The hamlet was originally small, with only a few scattered dwelling-houses, such as Stratford Place, still standing at Camp Hill, and the Old Crown in Digbeth, which I visited after visiting Holy Trinity Church last week. Both houses are of timber framework and plaster, with projecting upper stories.

Holy Trinity Church is an example of a Commissioners’ church. It was built between 1820 and 1822 by the architect Francis Goodwin (1784-1835) in the decorated perpendicular gothic style. Goodwin’s later works include Lissadell House, Co Sligo, designed for Sir Robert Gore-Booth, and the gatehouse at Markree Castle, near Collooney, Co Sligo.

Goodwin is said to have modelled Holy Trinity Church, Bordesley, on King’s College Chapel, Cambridge. The church was consecrated 200 years ago on 23 January 1823 by the Bishop of Lichfield, James Cornwallis. A parish was assigned out of the parish of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Aston. At first, the living was in the gift of the Vicar of Aston, and was called a vicarage from 1872. The patronage was transferred to the Aston Trustees in 1884.

The church was built on a conventional rectangular plan with shallow canted apse, faced in Bath stone that is enlivened by spirelet pinnacled buttresses diving the windows and with octagonal pinnacled turrets holding the corners. A larger pair flank the effectively recessed full height entrance bay under the parapeted gable.

The soffit has a pattern of ribs over the large decorated west window, and the tracery is of cast iron. The porch proper is shallow and contained within the recess, a tripartite composition with an ogee arch to the central doorway with an ornate finial.

The east end above the apse has a cast iron tracery rose. It is said the coved ceiling still partially remains, but the interior decoration, which was of a high standard for its time, has been stripped and a floor inserted.

Holy Trinity Church played an important in the history of the High Church or Anglo-Catholic movement in the Church of England in the 19th century.

The Revd Samuel Crane, who was the first vicar in 1823-1841, was succeeded by the Revd Dr Joseph Oldknow, who is often regarded as Birmingham’s first Anglo-Catholic or ‘ritualist’ priest.

Oldknow was succeeded in 1874 by the Revd Richard William Enraght, whose trials and tribulations came to a head in the ‘Bordesley Wafer Case’ were first brought to my attention in 2016 by a friend at Lichfield Cathedral, Stephen Wright.

The Revd Richard William Enraght (1837-1898) was an Irish-born Anglican priest and one of the Anglo-Catholic priests who were prosecuted and jailed in the 19th century for their ritualism. He was born on 23 February 1837 at Moneymore, Co Derry, where his father, the Revd Matthew Enraght (1805-1882), was the Curate of Saint John’s, Desertlynn.

Matthew Enraght was born in Rathkeale, Co Limerick, where I was the priest-in-charge until last year (2017-2022). When he later moved to England, Richard remained in Ireland and in 1860, at the age of 23, he graduated BA from Trinity College Dublin. He then moved to England, and in 1861 he was ordained deacon in Gloucester Cathedral by the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol.

Richard Enraght became Vicar of Holy Trinity, Bordesley, in 1874. He introduced weekday celebrations of the Eucharist. His practices at Holy Trinity included the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, candles on the altar, wearing a chasuble and alb, using wafers at the Eucharist, mixing water with the wine, making the sign of the Cross, bowing during the Gloria, and allowing the choir to sing the Agnus Dei.

The ‘Bordesley Wafer Case’, which I described in a posting on Tuesday, resulted in Enraght’s conviction on 9 August 1879 on 16 counts. He spent that Christmas in prison and was released after 49 days.

Bishop Philpott revoked Enraght’s licence in March 1883 and appointed the Revd Alan H Watts to the parish, against the wishes of the congregation.

The church was closed in 1968. There were plans to demolish the church in the 1970s and proposals to convert the building into an arts centre, but these never came to fruition. Instead, the church was used for some years as a shelter for homeless people until about 1999.

There were plans to retore the building for church and community use as the Birmingham Trinity Centre, a conference and wedding venue and the meeting place of All Nations’ Church, Birmingham. The church was marketed for a residential conversion in 2014, but it remains empty today.

Holy Trinity Church, Bordesley, was designed by Francis Goodwin and modelled on King’s College Chapel, Cambridge (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Matthew 10: 40-42 (NRSVA):

[Jesus said:] 40 ‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42 and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple – truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.’

Holy Trinity Church, Bordesley, was at the centre of the ‘Bordesley Wafer Case’ in 1879 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Today’s Prayer:

The theme this week in ‘Pray With the World Church,’ the Prayer Diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel), is ‘FeAST – Fellowship of Anglican Scholars of Theology.’ This theme is introduced today by the Revd Canon Dr Peniel Rajkumar of USPG:

‘USPG launched its new global forum of scholars engaged in theological research and education in February. This forms part of our continuing commitment to stimulate, support and strengthen theological engagement across the Anglican Communion.

‘FeAST, which represents ‘Open Table,’ is true to its name. It’s a place of sharing, challenge, and mutual conversations where a new community of Anglican scholars pursuing theology as a field of study will be formed. Its core goal is to launch a future of Anglican theological research that is truly international in scope and participation.

‘Global Anglicanism holds boundless theological wealth, much of which is often not sufficiently shared across (and beyond) the Anglican Communion. There are several reasons for this, some of which include a lack of networking opportunities, academic publishing opportunities, and engagement in international academic forums. These barriers have their roots in historical imbalances in global theological studies, which have long favoured and given normative authority to theologies and theological techniques with a Eurocentric bias.

‘Our aim is that this global forum will change what is being presented at these tables for the edification of the Communion and beyond.’

Find out more HERE.

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (2 July 2023, Fourth Sunday after Trinity) invites us to pray:

Healing God,
May we look to You in uncertain times.
Let us take the words of your Son to heart:
‘Do not fear, only believe’.


O God, the protector of all who trust in you,
without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy:
increase and multiply upon us your mercy;
that with you as our ruler and guide
we may so pass through things temporal
that we lose not our hold on things eternal;
grant this, heavenly Father,
for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post Communion:

Eternal God,
comfort of the afflicted and healer of the broken,
you have fed us at the table of life and hope:
teach us the ways of gentleness and peace,
that all the world may acknowledge
the kingdom of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Holy Trinity Church, Bordesley, was closed in 1968 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

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

Holy Trinity Church, Bordesley, remains empty, isolated on a virtual traffic island (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

No comments: