22 June 2014

‘For all the saints, who from their labours rest,
who thee by faith before the world confessed …’

The interior of All Saints’ Church, Grangegorman … redesigned and renovated according to Tractarian principles while William Maturin was the vicar (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

Patrick Comerford

For the past three Sundays I have been doing “Sunday duty” in the three churches in the Christ Church Cathedral group of parishes, presiding at the Parish Eucharist and preaching in Saint Werburgh’s Church in Werburgh Street, Saint Michan’s Church on Church Street, and All Saint’s Church, Grangegorman.

Each church is unique, with its own history, traditions and style of worship, and each beloved by a core group of dedicated parishioners.

My last Eucharist for these three Sundays was in All Saints’ Church, Grangegorman, this morning.

The church stands in an area that was once a grange belonging to the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church Cathedral, with lands providing rents that supported the Vicars Choral of the cathedral.

Although a curate was being appointed to the area from the early 18th century on, this was hardly a demanding position and because there was no church, the position was described as late as 1800 as being a sinecure.

All Saints’ Church was designed by John Semple in 1828, with a bellcote and octagonal corner turrets (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

Originally this church was built as what has been described as “a dour little First Fruits gabled hall of 1828,” designed by John Semple, with a bellcote and octagonal corner turrets. A new parish was formed in 1829 from parts of the parishes of Saint Michan and Saint Paul, the new church was licensed for public worship in 1830, and a new glebe house was built.

The first Vicar of the new parish was the Revd Arthur Smith Adamson, but his contribution to the life of All Saints is overshadowed by the story of his successor, the Revd William Maturin (1806-1887), who was the Vicar of All Saints for almost half a century (1843-1887).

Maturin, who was a cousin of Oscar Wilde’s mother, came to All Saints in 1843 after a year as Warden of Saint Columba’s College,and seven years as Assistant Chaplain of Saint Stephen’s.

A high-churchman strongly influenced by Pusey and Newman, Maturin was unreserved in the expression of his views. This caused Archbishop Richard Whately and others to neglect him, so that, in spite of his great talents as a preacher and his devoted pastoral work in his parish, Maturin remained at All Saints for the rest of his clerical life, with an income that never rose above £100 a year. Friends who wanted to support him found him the additional post of Keeper of Archbishop Marsh’s Library, Dublin, in 1872.

In England, Maturin would have been merely a moderate churchman, but Irish evangelicals of the day pilloried him as an Anglo-Catholic or a ritualist.

After speaking of the great qualities of his sermons, Sir John Pentland Mahaffy, the Provost of Trinity College, Dublin, wrote of Maturin in the Athenaeum: “He was a grim Dantesque sort of man, with deep affection for his family and friends hidden under a severe exterior. He was perfectly certain and clear in his views – a quality rare in modern preachers and fatal to modern preaching; his simple and burning words reflected the zeal of his spirit … I saw him crush by his fiery words a mob of young men, who came to disturb his service on Protestant principles, and drive them cowed and slinking from his church.”

Thomas Drew also remodelled the interior along Tractiarian lines (Photograph: Patrick Comerford,2014)

During Maturin’s time at All Saints, the church was redesigned and renovated according to Tractarian principles. The chancel was added in 1856, Thomas Drew added the north aisle in 1865, and baptistery and south porch were added in 1887.

Drew also remodelled the interior along Tractiarian lines. The walls are lined with red and blue brick, and the pointed brick arches between the nave and the aisle are carried on limestone shafts with stylised Caen stone capitals.

Besides several pamphlets, single sermons, and addresses to the Irish Church Society, Maturin was the author of Six Lectures on the Events of Holy Week (Oxford, 1860), The Distinctive Principle of the Church (Dublin, 1867) and The Blessedness of the Dead in Christ, a collection of 24 of his sermons (1888).

Maturin died at 11 Alma Road, Seapoint, Co Dublin, on 30 June 1887. After lying in state for four days before the altar, he was buried in All Saints’ Church, Grangegorman, on 4 July. Three of his sons were ordained, including the Revd Basil William Maturin, who later became a Roman Catholic and died on board the Lusitania in 1915.

Canon Henry Hogan (1840-1923) was at All Saints’ Church from 1887to 1923 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

Maturin’s successor, Canon Henry Hogan (1840-1923) also spent many decades at All Saints – from 1887 to 1923. His portrait dominates the vestry in All Saints, and his influence is still remembered. Two of his curates, Davis Croghan and John Thomas Darragh, later became influential missionaries in South Africa, supported by SPG (later USPG and now Us), helping to shape the liturgy, ethos and values of Anglicanism in South Africa.

But perhaps the best-remembered incumbent is the late Archdeacon Raymond Jenkins, who was at All Saints from 1939 to 1976. He is still remembered affectionately as “Jenky” and has given his name to the Jenkins Room in the Church of Ireland Theological Institute.

Before moving to All Saints, he was Warden of the Divinity Hostel (1934-1939) and Dean of Residence at Trinity College Dublin, and while he at All Saints he remained a Lecturer in Divinity in TCD until 1970. One of his curates at All Saints, from 1966 to 1975, was Bishop Frederick Roberts Willis, who had been Bishop of Delhi (1951-1966) before returning to Ireland.

In the 1970s, All Saints became part of the Christ Church Cathedral group of parishes. A fire in the 1980s might have been disastrous, but the aisle was rebuilt, the interior was redecorated, and this was delightful church to serve for the past three weeks.

Mediterranean colours on the beach at Greystones this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

Later, two of us went to Greystones, Co Wicklow, for lunch in the Happy Pear.

The warm Midsummer weather has continue, and we enjoyed the bright summer sunshine, clear skies, and a sea that was filled in every shade of Mediterranean blue.

I am attending the annual conference of Us (previously SPG and USPG) for much of this week. While I am at this conference in High Leigh, near Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire, I shall keep in mind those SPG/USPG missionaries who were nurtured in All Saints as curates and inspired by its parishioners and clergy.

Summer sailing ... the sea at Greystones this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2014)

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