30 September 2016

Saint Margaret Lothbury, a Wren
church beside the Bank of England

Saint Margaret Lothbury, known as the Bankers’ Church, is one of the 51 Wren churches in the City of London (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Patrick Comerford

After visiting two Wren churches in the City of London – Saint Lawrence Jewry next Guildhall and Saint Olave Jewry – I decided to visit one other Wren church on Wednesday evening [28 September 2016] as I walking back to Liverpool Street Station to catch the Stansted Express to Stansted Airport.

Saint Margaret Lothbury is a parish church in the City of London, and the parish boundaries lie between Coleman Street Ward and Broad Street Ward. It is known as the Bankers’ Church, because of its proximity to the back door of the Bank of England. The church has many associations with Saint Olave, Old Jewry, which I had visited earlier in the day.

Lothbury is a short street that runs east-west with traffic flow in both directions, from the junction of Gresham Street with Moorgate to the west, and the junction of Bartholomew Lane with Throgmorton Street to the east. The area was populated with coppersmiths in the Middle Ages before later becoming home to a number of merchants and bankers.

The church is dedicated to Saint Margaret of Antioch, or Saint Margaret the Virgin. She is known as Saint Marina the Great Martyr in the East, is celebrated as a saint in the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches on 20 July and on 17July in the Orthodox Church.

Her historical existence has been questioned, and she was declared apocryphal by Pope Gelasius I in 494. But devotion to her was revived in the West during the Crusades, which explains why a church in London was given her name in the 12th century.

There has been a church on this site since the 12th century, and the earliest mention of Saint Margaret Lothbury is from 1185.

It was rebuilt over the Walbrook in 1440, when a stone arch was erected over the brook in 1440 so that the church could be extended. The work was completed mostly at the expense of Robert Large, who was the Lord Mayor of London that year. He is remembered as the Master to whom William Caxton, the printer, served his apprenticeship.

The patronage of the church belonged to the Benedictine Abbess and Convent of Barking Abbey, Essex, until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539, when it passed to the Crown.

Saint Margaret Lothbury was rebuilt after the Great Fire of London in 1666 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Like so many London churches, this church was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren between 1686 and 1690. It is one of the 51 churches in London rebuilt by Wren after the fire. However, the tower may be the work of Robert Hooke.

When the Church of Saint Christopher le Stocks was demolished in 1781 to make way for an extension for the Bank of England, the parish was united with that of Saint Margaret Lothbury.

The site of Saint Mary Colechurch, at the junction of Poultry and the south end of Old Jewry … one of the many parishes united with Saint Margaret Lothbury (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

In 1839 Saint Bartholomew by the Exchange was added when its church was also demolished. The parishes of Saint Martin Pomeroy, Saint Mary Colechurch and Saint Olave Jewry, which were united to each other in 1670, and Saint Mildred Poultry, which was united to them in 1871, were added in 1886.

The form of this Wren church is a simple rectangle orientated north-south with a vestry to the east and a tower to the west end. The south elevation is faced in Portland stone while the others are rendered with stone dressings.

The four-stage tower is topped with a cupola and obelisk.

The church has fine contemporary fittings. There are cracks externally between the tower and the body of the church, which are being monitored.

The floor of the nave is also undulating as a result of differential settlement.

Inside the church, the reredos is a sumptuous example from the 17th century. The texts of the Ten Commandments are on the two centre panels, while on each side are the words of the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles’ Creed.

The church has exceptionally fine 17th-century woodwork from other now-demolished Wren churches. This woodwork includes the reredos, the Communion rails and the baptismal font, which are thought to be by Wren’s carver, Grinling Gibbons. They all came from Saint Olave, Old Jewry.

The pulpit is the original pulpit of the Wren church, but the carved sounding board or tester and the rood screen, which was made in 1683-1684, both came from All Hallows the Great when it was pulled down in 1894.

Two paintings of Moses and Aaron flanking the high altar came from Saint Christopher le Stocks when it was demolished in 1781.

The monument to the alderman and Shakespeare Gallery founder John Boydell was among the memorials brought to Saint Margaret Lothnury from St Olave, Old Jewry, when that church was demolished in 1887, although his body was reburied in the City of London Cemetery in Ilford.

Other monuments on the walls and on the floor in the nave include memorials of early benefactors of the church.

Put on the whole armour of God … the late 20th century windows contain the coats of arms of the livery companies associated with Saint Margaret’s (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

The late 20th century windows contain the coats of arms of the City livery companies associated with Saint Margaret’s.

The ceremonial sword rests came into use after the Restoration in 1660 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

An unusual feature is the ceremonial sword rests. Sword rests came into general use in the City of London after the Restoration in 1660. When the Lord Mayor of London paid a ceremonial visit to city churches, his sword was placed in these rests. The two sword rests in Saint Margaret’s are fine examples of late 18th century hand-beaten ironwork.

The organ was built by George Pike England in 1801. It was restored in 1984, stands in its original case and contains nearly all its original pipework. Regular recitals take place at 110 p.m. on Thursdays, except in August.

The reredos in the south aisle chapel also comes from Saint Olave, Old Jewry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

The south aisle was turned into a chapel in 1891 following the demolition of the south gallery. An open screen was made by reusing a Communion rail from Saint Olave, Old Jewry, at the base, while new work by GF Bodley formed the upper portion.

The reredos in this chapel also comes from Saint Olave, Old Jewry. The central panels originally contained the Ten Commandments, but they were replaced in 1908 with a painted diptych of the Annunciation.

The Baptismal Font is thought to come from the workshop of Grinling Gibbons. It is carved with reliefs depicting Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark, the Baptism of Christ, and the Baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch by Saint Philip.

There is a small churchyard to the rear, where the notable burials include Hugh Clopton, (1440-1496), a Lord Mayor of London who was a benefactor of his home town of Stratford-upon-Avon, and William Copland, the printer and early publisher.

The church was designated a Grade I listed building on 4 January 1950.

Saint Margaret Lothbury still serves as a parish church in the Square Mile. It is also the official church of five Livery Companies, two Ward Clubs and two professional institutes. It also has connections with many local finance houses, all of which hold special services here each year.

Today, Saint Margaret Lothbury and Saint Mary Woolnoth form one parish in the Diocese of London in the Church of England.

There are no Sunday services, and the main services of the week are two informal lunchtime services on Wednesdays at Saint Margaret Lothbury and on Thursday at Saint Mary Woolnoth. Although they last from 12.50 to 2 p.m., they are planned so that people may come when they can and go when they have to. On Tuesday each week, there are more traditional Holy Communion services at 12.30 at Saint Mary Woolnoth and at 1.10 p.m. in Saint Margaret Lothbury.

The Rector is the Revd Jeremy Crossley, and the Rectory is in Saint Olave’s Court, on the site of the former Church of Saint Olave, Old Jewry.

Irish and Greek events mark the 2,400th
anniversary of the birth of Aristotle

The statue of the Greek philosopher Aristotle in Aristotelous Square in Thessaloniki (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

This year marks the 2,400th anniversary of the birth of Aristotle. To mark this unique anniversary, the Irish Hellenic Society is marking this unique anniversary at the inaugural meeting of its 2016 programme in Trinity College Dublin later next month (21 October 2016).

This inaugural lecture will focus on the subject of Aristotle’s life and works and on the celebration of his 2,400th birthday. The evening programme has been organised by the Irish Hellenic Society and the Department of Classics in Trinity College Dublin.

Four speakers will give short presentations on various aspects of Aristotle’s immense contribution to humanity: Paul Gregg, Aristotle’s Walk; Thomaë Kakouli-Duarte, Aristotle, Father of Biology; Eoghan Mac Aogáin, Aristotle’s Psychology; and Fran O’Rourke, An Aristotelian Approach to the World.

The American artist Paul Gregg’s exhibition ‘Inductive Probability’ is on view until 23 October 2016 at the Royal Hibernian Academy, 15 Ely Place, Dublin 2. He received a Fulbright Scholarship to Ireland, where he has lived since 1995, and is a lecturer at the Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design, and Technology. His Aristotle’s Walk (2012) is a columnar structure, the focal point of a memorial garden in the central courtyard of Saint Mary’s CBS, Portlaoise.

Dr Thomaé Kakouli-Duarte is, like Aristotle, from Macedonia in northern Greece. Following in Aristotle’s researches into parasitic nematodes, she is an international expert in the field of environmental nematology and one of the founding members and the current Director of enviroCORE, in the Institute of Technology, Carlow. There she researches innovative bio-environmental technologies with a view towards enhancing economic and social development in an environmentally friendly manner.

Eoghan Mac Aogáin studied philosophy at University College Dublin and psychology at the University of Alberta in Canada. He was a Research Fellow at the Educational Research Centre and subsequently Director of the Linguistics Institute of Ireland before his retirement. He has spoken to the Irish Hellenic Society on the Irish philosopher Iohannes Scottus Eriugena (ca 800–870) and, with his colleague Máire Nic Mhaoláin, recently edited a new Irish-English dictionary.

Fran O’Rourke, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University College Dublin, has recently published a volume of essays Aristotelian Interpretations. He will describe early personal experiences that inspired a distinctively Aristotelian approach to the world. He will explain why for James Joyce Aristotle was ‘the greatest philosopher of all time.’

More information on the evening, the speakers and the topics, are available on the website of the Irish Hellenic Society.

Mount Olympus seen from Thessaloniki (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

UNESCO has proclaimed 2016 as the Aristotle Anniversary Year. Aristotle can be seen as the founder of the concept of the democratic republic as the free, open political society of equal partners joined in friendship for achieving a just and qualitatively flourishing society. In his philosophy, he sought to bring into a unity all knowledge and all the arts for the practical possibility of human flourishing in democratic forms of government.

Greek archaeologists said earlier this year they believe they have discovered the lost tomb of Aristotle. Dr Kostas Sismanidis is almost sure that a 2,400-year-old domed vault he unearthed in ancient Stagira was the burial place of Aristotle.

Archaeologists have been working painstakingly for 20 years at the site where the philosopher was born in 384 BC in Macedonia. Dr Sismanidis said the architecture and location of the tomb, close to Stagira’s ancient square and with panoramic views, supported the assessment that it was the philosopher’s tomb.

Although little is known about Aristotle’s life despite many of his works surviving, two literary sources suggest that the people of Stagira may have transferred his ashes from Chalcis on the island of Euboea (Chalkida on Evia today) where he died in 322 BC.

The mounded domed tomb has a marble floor dated to the Hellenistic period. It is located in the centre of Stagira, near the Agora, with 360-degree views. The public character of the tomb is evident by its location alone. However, archaeologists also point to a hurried construction that was later topped with quality materials. There is an altar outside the tomb and a square-shaped floor.

The top of the dome is at 10 metres and there is a square floor surrounding a Byzantine tower. A semi-circular wall stands at two-metres in height. A pathway leads to the tomb’s entrance. Other findings included ceramics from the royal pottery workshops and fifty coins dated to the time of Alexander the Great. The tomb structure was destroyed by the Byzantines, who built a square tower above it.

Northern Greece has been the scene of several discoveries, though not all of them have been well received. In 2014, amid great fanfare, a tomb initially believed to be the long-sought burial place of Alexander the Great was found in Amphipolis, also in central Macedonia. But scholars later agreed this was not related to the Macedonian king.

Aristotelous Square (Πλατεία Αριστοτέλους, Aristotle Square) is the main square in the city centre in Thessaloniki (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Earlier this year [May 23-28 May 2016], this anniversary was celebrated appropriately when the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH) hosted an 250 Aristotle scholars from 40 countries at the World Congress ‘Aristotle 2400 Years.’

The congress was organised by the Interdisciplinary Centre for Aristotle Studies at the niversity uto mark the 2400th anniversary of Aristotle’s birth. It took place at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, in Stageira, the birthplace of Aristotle, and in Mieza, where Aristotle taught Alexander the Great.

The congress brought together scholarship on all aspects of Aristotle’s work, which spreads over the broadest range of topics, covering all major branches of philosophy and extending in an impressive way into areas related to all fundamental fields of science; a work whose impact is unique in size and influence in the history of the human intellect and which continues to be present in the intellectual evolution of Western civilisation.

Athens seen from the Acropolis (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Tertullian famously asked ‘What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?’, by which he meant ‘What has Greek philosophy to do with Christianity and theology?’ Aristotle’s principles of being influenced Anselm’s view of God, whom he called ‘that than which nothing greater can be conceived.’ Anselm thought that God did not feel emotions such as anger or love, but appeared to do so through our imperfect understanding. The incongruity of judging ‘being’ against something that might not exist, may have led Anselm to his famous ontological argument for God’s existence.

Aristotelian theological concepts were accepted by many later Jewish, Islamic, and Christian philosophers. Key Jewish philosophers included Samuel Ibn Tibbon, Maimonides and Gersonides. Their views of God are considered mainstream by many Jews to this day.

Islamic philosophers who were influenced by Aristotelian theology include Avicenna and Averroes.

In Christian theology, Thomas Aquinas is undoubtedly the key thinker influenced by Aristotle. Aquinas found his Aristotelian influence through the works of Avicenna, Averroes and Maimonides.

Through Aquinas and the Scholastic theology, Aristotle became academic theology’s great authority in the course of the 13th century, and his influence on Christian theology became widespread and deeply embedded. However, notable Christian theologians rejected Aristotelian theological influence, especially the first generation of Christian Reformers and most notably Martin Luther.

The year was also marked by a congress in Athens organised by the International Association of Greek Philosophy, the Greek Philosophical Society, the Philosophical Society of Cyprus and other societies, associations and educational institutions.

The World Philosophy Congress on the Philosophy of Aristotle, under the Auspices of the President of the Hellenic Republic and with the support of the International Federation of Philosophical Societies (FISP).

This congress took place in Athens where Aristotle lived most of his life. He studied and taught at Plato’s Academy for almost 20 years and later he founded the Lyceum where he taught and wrote his great works, and where the foundations were laid for philosophical and scientific research.

Plato’s pupil, Aristotle was enrolled at the court of ancient Macedonia as the tutor of Alexander the Great. He later travelled around the Aegean and Asia Minor before returning to Athens where he founded his own school, the Lyceum, in 335 BC. Remains of that complex were accidentally unearthed in Athens in 1996 during building work on a site then earmarked for a new museum of modern art. From beneath the unpaved parking lot the fabled Lyceum emerged, replete with a central courtyard and wrestling area, or palaestra.

In Thessaloniki, Aristotelous is the central and most famous square, linked to the seafront through Nikis Avenue. The square was designed by the French architect Ernest Hébrard in 1918, and the 12 buildings that encircle Aristotelous Square have been listed buildings since 1950. I have stayed here in the Electra Palace Hotel, and the square is also home to the Olympion Theatre cinema, the venue for the Thessaloniki Film Festival takes place, and many modern restaurants, cafés and bars, as well as street vendors and buskers. The square continues north as Aristotelous Street, a popular, pedestrianised, tree-lined street.

Sunset on the Gulf of Thermaikos in Thessaloniki (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

29 September 2016

Saint Lawrence Jewry, a ‘very municipal,
very splendid’ Wren church in London

Saint Lawrence Jewry, beside the Guildhall, is the official church of the City of London Corporation (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Patrick Comerford

Somehow, I manage to go for longer daily walks in England rather than in Ireland. During my working visit to London on Wednesday [28 September 2016], I managed to walk over 15 km, a distance surpassed in recent months only by a walk through the fields and farms in Comberford [19.11 km, 5 June 2016] and a day in Cambridge a month ago [16.02 km, 28 August 2016].

One of the pleasures of walking through the city of London, between Liverpool Street Station and Saint Paul’s Cathedral on the way to Southbank, Southwark and meetings of the Trustees of USPG, is topping to see the great churches designed by Sir Christopher Wren in the aftermath of the Great Fire of London in 1666.

On Wednesday morning, and again on Wednesday afternoon [28 September 2016] this week, I stopped to see two churches that once took their names from the former Jewish ghetto that once stood in this part of London: Saint Lawrence Jewry and the surviving tower of Saint Olave Jewry.

The Guildhall, London, across the square from Saint Lawrence Jewry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Saint Lawrence Jewry is a guild church on Gresham Street, in the City of London, forming a square with the Guildhall. It was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666, and was rebuilt to the designs of Sir Christopher Wren. It is now the official church of the Lord Mayor of London, and this morning [29 September 2016], for example, the church was the venue for the Lord Mayor’s Election Day Service at 10.45 a.m.

There has been a church on the present site since the 12th century. Before the great fire of 1666, there were 156 churches in the City, many with the same saint’s name. To distinguish them from another, another title was attached. The first church on the site of Saint Lawrence Jewry is thought to have been built in 1136 and was dedicated to Saint Lawrence, the Deacon of Rome.

The story of Saint Lawrence’s martyrdom is told in a painting above the main altar (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

The story is told that when the Emperor Valerian demanded that the Church had over its riches, Pope Sixtus II refused the imperial demand and was executed. The emperor then turned to Lawrence and made the same demand. In reply, Lawrence presented the sick, the weak and the poor of the city to the Emperor, and declared: ‘Here are the treasures of Christ’s Church.’ For this reply, Lawrence was executed on a gridiron and became a martyr.

There are two paintings of Saint Lawrence’s martyrdom in the church: one above the main altar dates from the 1950s and is the work of the architect of the church’s restoration in the mid-20th century, Cecil Brown; the second painting in the vestibule is a 16th century Italian work and survived both the great fire in 1666 and the Blitz in the 1940s. In addition, the weather vane of the church is in the form of his instrument of martyrdom, the gridiron, a symbol of Saint Lawrence.

Plaques and street names recall the presence of the mediaeval Jewish community in this corner of London (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

The church is called Saint Lawrence Jewry because it stands near the former mediaeval Jewish ghetto, which was centred on the street named Old Jewry. The Jewish community lived from 1066, when they came to England with William the Conqueror, until to 1290, when they were expelled from England by Edward I. There are still reminders of their presence and contribution in plaques and street names in the surrounding streets.

From 1280 until 1954, Balliol College, Oxford, was the patron of the church and had the right to nominate the vicars of the parish. This connection is commemorated in one of the south windows, which depicts Saint Catherine, the patron of the college, surrounded by coats of arms representing dioceses whose bishops had once been Vicars of the parish.

Sir Thomas More depicted in window on the south side at the east end (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) was born nearby in Milk Street, then in the parish of Saint Mary Magdalen, and was probably baptised there. One of his early mentors and tutors was the Vicar of Saint Lawrence Jewry, William Grocyn, the English Renaissance scholar credited with reintroducing Greek to the academic curriculum in England. Erasmus described Grocyn as 'the patron and preceptor of us all.’ While Grocyn was Vicar of Saint Lawrence Jewry (1496-1517), Thomas More lectured in the church in 1501 on Saint Augustine’s De Civitate Dei (The City of God), which was formative in his thinking on church-state relations. Appropriately, he is commemorated in a window above the pulpit.

In 1618, the church was repaired, and all the windows filled with stained glass paid for by individual donors.

But the mediaeval church was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. It was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren between 1670 and 1687. This was one of many churches rebuilt by Wren, and it was one of Wren’s most expensive City Churches.

The window depicting Saint Michael recalls the former parish of Saint Michael Bassishaw (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

At the time, the parish was united with that of Saint Mary Magdalene, Milk Street, which was not rebuilt. Later the parish was also amalgamated with the parish of Saint Michael Bassishaw in 1892.

The church is entirely faced in stone, with a grand east front, on which four attached Corinthian columns, raised on a basement, support a pediment placed against a high attic.

George Godwin, writing in 1839, described the details of this façade as displaying ‘a purity of feeling almost Grecian.’ But he points out that Wren’s pediment acts only as a superficial adornment to the wall, rather than, as in classical architecture, forming an extension of the roof.

Sir Christopher Wren is depicted in a stained glass window in the vestibule (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

This is said to be Wren’s most expensive parish church in London. Wren is honoured in a window in the vestibule that also with his master carver Grindling Gibbons and his master mason Edward Strong. A small cameo at the bottom of this window shows the architect Cecil Brown planning the 1950s restoration with the vicar. Sir John Betjeman described this church as ‘very municipal, very splendid.’ It was designated a Grade I listed building in 1950.The church is 81 feet long and 68 feet wide.

Inside, Wren’s church has an aisle on the north side only, divided from the nave by Corinthian columns, carrying an entablature that continues around the walls of the main body of the church, where it is supported on pilasters. The ceiling is divided into sunken panels, ornamented with wreaths and branches.

During World War II, the church was extensively damaged but not completely destroyed during the Blitz on 29 December 1940.

After World War II, the City of London Corporation agreed to restore the church because Balliol College had no funds to carry out the work. It was restored in 1957 by Cecil Brown to Wren’s original design. It is no longer a parish church but a guild church, and the advowson has been transferred to the City of London as its official church.

Saint Lawrence Jewry has an interesting list of past vicars and clergy (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

The present vicar is Canon David Parrott. Past vicars and clergy include John Tillotson, who became Dean of Saint Paul’s Cathedral in 1689 and the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1691, and who is buried in one of the vaults in the church.

Other past vicars include John Wilkins, who was a founding figure in the Royal Society and became Bishop of Chester; Ben Cowie, who became Dean of Manchester and then Dean of Exeter; John Wilkins, who was Dean of Ripon and Dean of Chester; and Edward Reynolds, who later Bishop of Norwich and who was the author of the ‘General Thanksgiving’ in the Book of Common Prayer, possibly inspired by a private prayer of Queen Elizabeth that was issued in 1596. This prayer was added to the Book of Common Prayer in 1662:

Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
We thine unworthy servants Do give thee most humble and hearty thanks
For all thy goodness and loving-kindness
to us, and to all men.
We bless thee for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
But above all, for this inestimable love
In the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ;
For the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.

And, we beseech thee, give us that due sense of all thy mercies,
That our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful,
And that we may show forth thy praise,
Not only with our lips, but in our lives;
By giving up ourselves to thy service,
And by walking before thee
in holiness and righteousness all our days;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord,
To whom, with thee and the Holy Spirit,
Be all honour and glory, World without end. Amen.

Saint Lawrence Jewry also has an interesting link with Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, through the mathematician, astronomer and bishop, Seth Ward (1617-1689).

Seth Ward was born in Hertfordshire, and entered Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge as a sizar in 1632, when he was only 15. His patron there was Samuel Ward (1572-1643), Master of Sidney Sussex (1614-1643). Samuel Ward was one of the scholars involved in the translation and preparation of the King James Version of the Bible. He was a member of the Second Cambridge Company charged with translating the Apocrypha.

After he graduated from Sidney Sussex (BA, 1636; MA, 1640), Seth Ward became a Fellow of Sidney Sussex College in 1640. In 1643 he was chosen university mathematical lecturer. However, he was deprived of his fellowship at Sidney Sussex in 1644 for opposing the Solemn League and Covenant.

He moved to Oxford, and in 1649 he became Savilian Professor of Astronomy at Oxford University, where he gained a high reputation by his theory of planetary motion. He received a doctorate in theology (DD) at Oxford in 1654 and at Cambridge in 1659.

Ward was engaged in a decades-long philosophical controversy with Thomas Hobbes, particularly after Leviathan was published. Ward was also one of the original members of the Royal Society of London.

He was elected Principal of Jesus College, Oxford, in 1657, but Cromwell installed another candidate. In 1659, Ward was appointed President of Trinity College, Oxford, but he did not hold the statutory qualifications and resigned in 1660.

King Charles II then appointed him to the livings of Saint Lawrence Jewry in London, and Uplowman, Devonshire, in 1661. He also became Dean of Exeter Cathedral (1661) and Rector of Saint Breock, Cornwall, in 1662.

Later in 1662, he was appointed Bishop of Exeter, and in 1667 he became Bishop of Salisbury. He died in London on 6 January 1689.

The piano in the church is a fine Steinway Concert Grand, which is used every Monday for a piano rectal in the church. This piano once belonged to the conductor Sir Thomas Beecham (1879-1961).

The stained-glass windows are among the glories of this church, and as I was preaching on the Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels this morning [29 September 2016], I found myself paying particular attention to the window depicting Saint Michael and recalling the links with the former parish of Saint Michael Bassishaw.

The tower and churchyard of Saint Olave Old Jewry survive in a laneway behind Old Jewry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Later during Wednesday’s visit to London, on my way back to Liverpool Street Station, I also visited the remains of a second Wren church whose ancient name is a reminder of the old Jewish quarter of the city.

Saint Olave Old Jewry, sometimes known as Upwell Old Jewry, stood between the street called Old Jewry and Ironmonger Lane. It too was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren after it was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. The church was demolished in 1887, except for the tower and the west wall, which remain today.

The name of Saint Olave, Old Jewry, recalls both the mediaeval Jewish community in this area and the 11th-century patron saint of Norway, Saint Olaf.

The earliest surviving reference is in a manuscript ca 1130, but excavations in 1985 revealed the foundations of an earlier Saxon church, built in the 9th to 11th centuries using Kentish ragstone and recycled Roman bricks.

Saint Olave’s was the burial place of Robert Large, Lord Mayor, mercer and master of William Caxton, in 1440.

After the church was destroyed in the Great Fire in 1666, the parish was united with the adjacent Parish of Saint Martin Pomeroy, a tiny church that shared the small churchyard of St Olave Old Jewry. Rebuilding began in 1671, incorporating much of the mediaeval walls and foundations. The tower was built separately, projecting from the west of the church. The church was completed in 1679, partly from rubble from the neighbouring, ruined Saint Paul’s Cathedral for rubble.

In outline, the church was shaped like a wine bottle on its side, with the projecting west tower a truncated neck, the angular west front its shoulders, tapering towards a narrow base to the east. The main façade was on Old Jewry and featured a large Venetian window with columns and a full entablature.

The Master of the King’s Music, Maurice Greene, was buried in Saint Olave’s in 1755, as was a later Lord Mayor and publisher, John Boydell, the founder of the Shakespeare Gallery, who was buried there in 1804.

The church was restored in 1879, but under the Union of Benefices Act, the parish combined with nearby Saint Margaret Lothbury, the body of the church was demolished in 1887, the site was sold and the proceeds were used to build Saint Olave’s Manor House.

The dead bodies were moved to the City of London Cemetery, Manor Park, Greene’s body was moved to Westminster Abbey, Boydell’s monument was moved to Saint Margaret Lothbury, and the furnishings were dispersed among several other churches. The tower, west wall and part of the north wall were kept and incorporated into a new building that included a rectory for Saint Margaret Lothbury.

The 88 ft (27 m) tower is the only one by Wren that is battered, in other words it is slightly wider at the bottom than the top. The door to the tower has a segmental pediment and is flanked by Doric columns. On top of the tower is a simple parapet with tall obelisks on each corner with balls on top. The vane in the centre of the tower is in the shape of a sailing ship, and came from Saint Mildred, Poultry.

The remains of the church were designated a Grade I listed building on 4 January 1950. The late Victorian building was replaced in 1986 by an office building, in a sympathetic style, designed by the firm of architects Swanke, Hayden, Connell. The churchyard survives as the courtyard to the office building, and is open to the public for a few hours each day.

From there, I had to visit Saint Margaret Lothbury before I caught the train to Stansted. But that’s a story for another day.

Liturgy 2016-2017 (Full-Time)
1.2: Field trip to Dublin churches

Christ Church Cathedral Dublin … how churches are shaped shapes our approach to liturgy, ritual and worship (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Patrick Comerford

TH8824: Liturgy, Worship and Spirituality

Year II:

Liturgy 1.2: Field trip to Dublin churches.

29 September 2016

9.30 a.m., Dublin city centre.


How churches are shaped shapes our approach to liturgy, ritual and worship. Ask a child in Sunday school to draw a church and she will probably draw a three-day barn-style church with simple Gothic windows, and with a tower and steeple.

We know all churches are not shaped like this. But if we grow up with this as a model of what a typical church should look like, how does it shape our expectations of ‘typical’ liturgy and worship in our churches.

I have chosen four ‘typical’ churches to visit this morning. They are inner-city churches, two Church of Ireland and two Roman Catholic. We might not get to visit each one of them. But we should enter each with similar questions:

How does the surrounding community see this church?

What is the first thing you see when you go into the church?

Why did the designer of the church want you to see this church?

What priorities are being expressed by the location, placing or visibility of the altar, pulpit, font …?

What is being said by the chancel arch, the screen, the windows?

Where is the presence of Christ to be found first and foremost … word or sacrament?


And … would you build a church/cathedral, like this today?

1, Christ Church Cathedral Dublin

Christ Church Cathedral dates back to at least 1030 and is in the heart of the former Viking and Anglo-Norman city of Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Christ Church Cathedral, in the heart of the former Viking and Anglo-Norman city of Dublin, is the diocesan cathedral of the United Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough.

The earliest manuscript dates Christ Church Cathedral to its present location around 1030. Dúnán, the first bishop of Dublin and Sitric, Norse king of Dublin, founded the original Viking church, which was probably subject to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

By 1152, Dublin was incorporated into the Irish Church and within a decade Archbishop Laurence O’Toole had been appointed. This future patron saint of Dublin began a reform of the cathedral’s constitution along European lines and introduced the canons regular of Saint Augustine forming a cathedral priory, which was to survive until the Reformation following the liturgical use of Sarum (Salisbury) in England.

Laurence O’Toole acted directly in diplomatic negotiations between the City of Dublin and the Anglo-Normans including Strongbow (Richard de Clare) after the capture of the city in 1170. It was due largely to John Cumin, the first Anglo-Norman Archbishop of Dublin, that the Hiberno-Norse cathedral was replaced with the Romanesque and later Gothic cathedral, parts of which survive to this day.

In 1395, King Richard II sat in state in the cathedral to receive homage from the kings of the four Irish provinces. In 1487 Lambert Simnel, pretender to the throne in the reign of Henry VII, was ‘crowned’ in Christ Church as Edward VI.

In the 16th century, reform again came and the Augustinian priory of the Holy Trinity was dissolved and replaced with a reformed foundation of secular canons. In 1541, Robert Castle (alias Paynswick), the last prior, became the first dean of Christ Church.

In 1562, the nave roof vaulting collapsed and Strongbow’s tomb was smashed. The current tomb is a contemporary replacement from Drogheda. The cathedral was in ruins and emergency rebuilding took place immediately. This temporary solution lasted until the 1870s. Since the collapse of the roof, the north nave wall has leaned out by 46 cm (18 inches).

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the crypt of Christ Church was used as a market, a meeting place for business, and at one stage even a pub.

The cathedral system virtually collapsed during the Cromwellian period, and Christ Church was given a new constitution in 1660. This has since been modified by the General Synod but remains the foundation for governing the cathedral.

In 1689, King James attended Mass here and for a brief period Roman Catholic rites were celebrated here. A year later, returning from the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, King William III gave thanks for his victory over King James II and presented a set of gold communion plate to the cathedral.

In 1742, the cathedral choir and with the choir of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral sang at the premiere of Handel’s Messiah in neighbouring Fishamble Street. The Church Temporalities Act of 1833 brought partial disendowment and impoverished what had been one of the wealthiest ecclesiastical bodies in Ireland. When Charles Lindsay, Bishop of Kildare and Dean of Christ Church, died in 1846, the Dean of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral also became the Dean of Christ Church. Not until 1884 did Christ Church have its own dean once more.

Meanwhile, the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in 1871 saw further constitutional change and financial disendowment at the cathedral.

The interior of Christ Church Cathedral today owes much to GE Street’s Victorian rebuilding (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The cathedral owes much of its appearance today to the extensive Victorian restorations and renovations by George Edmund Street between 1871 and 1878. This was at the expense of a Dublin whiskey distiller, Henry Roe, who gave £230,000 (€35 million in today’s equivalent) to save the cathedral.

A two-year restoration of the cathedral roof and stonework was undertaken in 1982. Kenneth Jones of Bray installed a new organ in 1984. Further work since 1997 has included the renewal of the heating and lighting systems and the restoration of the 12th century crypt.

The crypt houses the Treasures of Christ Church exhibition, with communion plate, manuscripts and artefacts that illustrate 1,000 years of worship in the cathedral and nearby churches.

2, Saint Werburgh's Church, Werburgh Street

Saint Werburgh’s Church is a Church of Ireland parish church in inner-city Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Saint Werburgh’s Church is a Church of Ireland parish church in inner-city Dublin, close to both Christ Church Cathedral and Dublin Castle. This is one of the three churches in the cathedral group of parishes (the other two are All Saints’ Church, Grangegorman, and Saint Michan’s, Church Street).

The first church on this site was built in 1178, pre-dating the arrival of the Anglo-Normans in the city, and named after Saint Werburgh, Abbess of Ely and patron saint of Chester who died in 699 AD. An earlier church serving this parish stood near the south end of Werburgh Street and was named after Saint Martin of Tours.

After Saint Werburgh’s Church was built it was popular with people from Bristol, who were among the earliest settlers in Dublin. It included chapels in honour of the Virgin Mary, Saint Martin and Saint Catherine.

The original church was burned down in 1311, along with much of the city, and was rebuilt. From the time of Archbishop Henry de Loundres (died 1228), Saint Werburgh’s was appropriated to the Chancellor of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.

By 1559, the nearby church of Saint Mary del Dam on Dame Street was closed and its parish was incorporated into Saint Werburgh’s, and so Saint Werburgh’s became the parish church of Dublin Castle.

Archbishop James Ussher was appointed to this church in 1607, and Edward Wetenhall, later Bishop of Kilmore, author of well-known Greek and Latin Grammars, was curate here. Dean Swift’s friend, Dr Patrick Delany (1685-1768), was the rector in 1730.

In the 17th century, there were conflicts over parish boundaries between Saint Werburgh’s parish and the nearby parish of Saint John the Evangelist, in Fishamble Street. At stake was the rates levied by the vestries on local houses in Copper Alley and around Essex Gate and Essex Bridge.

A new church was needed by the end of the 17th century, and an act of 1715 provided for building a new church. This was completed by 1719, at a cost of £8,000. However, the new church was damaged by fire in 1754 and it did not re-open until 1759. The present interior dates from this time, and was designed by John Smyth. One of the area’s old fire engines is still stored in the church porch.

The royal arms on the Vicergal pew in the gallery in Saint Werburgh’s Church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

In the 18th century, Saint Werburgh’s was a fashionable city church. The Lord Lieutenant and his entourage went to church here, and he had his own Viceregal pew inserted in 1767. The tower and spire were added in 1768.

In 1787, a commemoration of Handel was performed in Saint Werburgh’s by amateurs of the highest distinction, including Sir Hercules Langrishe, Lord Dillon, Surgeon Neale, Lady Portarlington and Mrs Stopford.

The spire overlooked the Castle Yard and it was removed around 1810 as a security measure, and the tower was removed 26 years later. The interior of the church was remodelled in 1877 by the architect William Welland, when the parish was united with the parish of Saint John the Evangelist.

The organ still has a space for someone to pump the bellows, a practice that was necessary until the organ was electrified in the 1960s. This space contains a number of historical pieces of graffiti. George Frideric Handel used this instrument for the rehearsal of his work Messiah, which had its premiere in the Great Music Hall, Fishamble Street, beside Christ Church Cathedral.

The old churchyard next to the church was used for centuries, and beneath the church are 27 vaults. Lord Edward Fitzgerald, commander-in-chief of the United Irishmen in the 1798 Rising, was buried in the vaults on 5 June 1798, while his captor, Major Sirr, was buried in the churchyard in 1841.

The former schoolhouse to the south of the church is being refurbished as the Deanery for Christ Church Cathedral.

3, Saint Augustine and Saint John the Baptist, ‘John’s Lane Church’

The Church of Saint Augustine and Saint John the Baptist or John’s Lane Church … described by John Ruskin as ‘a poem in stone.’ (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The Church of Saint Augustine and Saint John the Baptist in Thomas Street is more commonly known as ‘John’s Lane Church.’ This church, to the west of Christ Church Cathedral, is in the heart of the mediaeval city. The church opened in 1874, but has a much longer history, and stands on the site of Saint John’s Hospital, which was founded ca 1180.

The original hospital on the site was built by Aelred the Palmer, a Norman living in Dublin, after a safe homecoming from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land. He founded a monastery of Crossed Friars under the Rule of Saint Augustine. The friars also ran the nearby Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem. Their monastery was dedicated to Saint John the Baptist and stood outside the city walls, and so was known as Saint John’s Church without Newgate.

When Edward Bruce marched on Dublin in 1316, 700 years ago, Saint John’s Church was burned to the ground, along with the surrounding houses.

The friary was suppressed at the Dissolution of the Monasteries at the Reformation.

In the early 18th century, the Augustinians returned to the site when the Prior rented premises to use as a chapel. This stable on the west side of Saint John’s Tower was a surviving fragment of the Hospital. A small church was built on the site of part of the Hospital in 1740, and it was extended 40 years later.

In 1860, the Augustinians decided to build a new church. The project was seen through by Father Martin Crane from Wexford man, and building work began in 1862.

The architect was Edward Welby Pugin, son of AWN Pugin (1812-1852), the key figure in the Gothic revival in church architecture in Ireland. EW Pugin was assisted by his Irish partner and brother-in-law, George C Ashlin from Cork. The initial contractor was Michael Meade of Great Brunswick Street (now Pearse Street), who also built the O’Connell Monument and Vault in Glasnevin Cemetery.

The design of the church is 13th century French Gothic. John Ruskin (1818-1900), the writer, critic, artist and philosopher who is intimately associated with the Gothic Revival movement on these islands, called the church ‘a poem in stone.’

The remaining ruins of the mediaeval church were demolished, including the remains of the Magdalene Tower from the old church which stood where the high altar stands today.

Building work began at Easter 1862, but the church took 33 years to complete. It is aid the foreman and many of the workers were Fenians, and so the church was nicknamed ‘The Fenian Church.’ The spire, designed by William Hague, and roof were completed in 1874, when the church opened.

The exterior work was not completed until 1895 and the solemn opening took place on 15 December 1895. The interior was not completed until 1911.

The church steeple is the highest in Dublin, standing at over 200 ft (61.0 m). It was originally not designed to hold bells, but a spiral staircase was added later to provide access to bells. The Bell Ringers Company of John’s Lane was formed in 1872 and the bells were first rung on Saint Patrick’s Day 1873.

The 12 statues in the niches on the tower are the work of James Pearse, father of the 1916 leader Patrick Pearse. It is worth pointing out at this stage that James Pearse was originally a Unitarian from Birmingham.

John’s Lane Church remains an iconic landmark on the Dublin skyline, but we should not see it as a museum. It is a functioning inner-city church today, with daily Masses and confessions, regular weddings, funerals and the usual services of a busy parish church.

Inside, John’s Lane Church is decorated in the Victorian style associated with the Gothic Revival (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

John’s Lane Church is 50.29 meters long (165 ft) and 28.34 meters wide (93 ft). The nave is 19. 81 meters high (65 ft) and the columns, which were chosen for their strength and slenderness are of Cork red marble. The steeple is the highest in the city by virtue of its geographical location and is 67.97 meters high (223 ft). Its massive bell- tower holds 10 bells weighing almost 6 metric tonnes. The bell-tower has 12 niches for statues.

The white carrara marble high altar was sculpted by Edmund Sharpe who also sculpted the shrine to Our Mother of Good Counsel.

John’s Lane Church, Dublin ... described by John Ruskin as “a poem in stone.” (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Among the striking aspects of John’s Lane Church are the pillars, the soaring Gothic arches and the beautiful stained-glass windows, especially the three windows from the studio of Harry Clarke (1889-1931).

On the right-hand side going towards the altar the fourth window along is a Harry Clarke. Next to it, just outside the Shrine to Our Lady of Good Counsel, is a beautiful window by Michael Healy (1873-1941) who studied in Florence and who was a contemporary of Harry Clarke. It represents the major events in the life of Saint Augustine, and the rich colours of this window are seen in full splendour on a sunny summer morning.

The five windows in the apse are the work of Mayers of Munich, noted for the detail in the faces. From left to right they are:

1, Saint Patrick baptising King Aengus of Munster, with the Rock of Cashel, seat of the Kings of Munster, in the background.

2, Saint Thomas of Villanova, a Spanish Augustinian famous for his love of the poor.

3, Saint Augustine and Saint John the Baptist, joint patrons of the church.

4, Saint Nicholas of Tolentine, an Italian Augustinian famous for his devotion to the souls in Purgatory.

5, Saint Monica receiving the cincture and passing it on to her son, Saint Augustine.

The three windows at the Sacred Heart altar are the work of Earley and Son and show us: Christ revealing the secrets of his Sacred Heart to Saint Margaret Mary; Christ saying, ‘Come to me all you who labour and are burdened, and I will refresh you’; and Christ saying ‘Let the little children come unto me ...’

John Earley was born to Irish parents in Birmingham, and ran his business from Camden Street. At one time, he was an apprentice at Hardman and Company in Birmingham under the direction of Pugin.

There are a further two Harry Clarke studio windows in the church, one at the Shrine of Saint Rita and another immediately following. Harry Clarke’s glass is distinguished by the finesse of his drawing, unusual in this medium, and his use of rich colours which was inspired by an early visit to the Cathedral in Chartres. He was especially fond of deep blues, and he was innovative in his integration of the window leading as part of his overall designs. His work was influenced by both the passing Art Nouveau and the coming Art Deco movements.

The Great Window over the entrance, like the apse windows, is the work of Mayers of Munich and is best seen as a complete unit, with two rows of saints. In the upper row are Saints Catherine, William, Clare of Montefalco, Augustine and John the Baptist, Monica, Thomas of Villanova and Rita of Cascia. The lower row depicts Saints Gelasius, Limbonia, Lucy, Nicholas of Tolentine, Juliana, Patrick, Brigid and John the Apostle. The arch overhead is aflutter with angels’ wings.

Franz Mayer and Company was founded in 1848 by Joseph Gabriel Mayer. Originally they produced altars and shrines followed by the inclusion of stained-glass design work in 1856. Harry Clarke’s father, Joshua Clarke, was the Irish agent for Mayers. Mayers windows are noted for the detail in the faces of the figures. Their windows can be seen in more than 100 cathedrals world-wide, including Saint Peter’s in Rome.

Mayers windows include a rich array of ecclesiastical vocabulary. Saints are often shown with their personal symbols: Saint Peter with keys, Saint Luke as an ox, Saint Mark as a winged lion, Saint John the Evangelist as an eagle, Saint Paul with a sword, and so on.

4, Saint Catherine’s, Meath Street

Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Meath Street ... was this the work of McCarthy or of Pugin? (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Saint Catherine’s Church is a Roman Catholic inner-city parish church on Meath Street. The church suffered severe damage in an arson attack in January 2012, but has been restored beautifully since then. This is the second church on this site. The first church was an octagonal chapel opened in 1782. The chapel and a presbytery were knocked down to make way for a bigger church.

The history of this parish dates back to the 13th century, when a church dedicated to Saint Catherine is mentioned as a chapel of ease of the monastery of Saint Thomas which was founded in 1177.

The first post-Reformation Roman Catholic parish priest of Saint Catherine’s, a Father Donnagh, was arrested with many of his parishioners in 1617. For the next 100 years, or so the fortunes of the Roman Catholic clergy and people waxed and waned.

In 1630, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, Lancelot Bulkeley, gave accounts of a ‘mass house’ over a butcher’s shop in Thomas Street and of a Roman Catholic school in Thomas Street and Pimlico.

In 1724, the Roman Catholic parishes of Saint James’s Street and Meath Street were divided for administrative purposes. At that time, Saint Catherine’s Chapel was in Dirty Lane, which is now the top of Bridgefoot Street, and this chapel was extended in 1728.

By the end of the 18th century, the chapel was too small and a new octagonal chapel was built on Meath Street on the site of the present church. A red-bricked priests’ house stood in front of this chapel. In the 1820s, a new school was built beside the church. That school was the building that is now known locally as the ‘Old Bingo Hall.’

By the mid-19th century, Roman Catholicism had a new -found confidence following the legislation for Catholic Emancipation and a major building programme was spreading throughout Ireland.

The foundation stone of the new church was laid on 30 June 1852. The architect was James Joseph McCarthy, but I have argued elsewhere that McCarthy may have used designs that were the work of AWN Pugin.

Saint Catherine’s is, for all the world, like a poor man’s version of Saint Giles Church in Cheadle, Staffordshire, which Pugin regarded as his ‘perfect’ work.

Saint Catherine’s was designed in the Decorated Gothic style like the ideal English country parish church favoured by AWN Pugin. The original church was funded by the Power family who were intermarried with the Talbot family, Pugin’s own patrons in Staffordshire and Co Wexford, and the craftsmen who worked on it had all been engaged in Pugin’s own works in Ireland.

The main church was completed in March 1857, but the original design of the upper portion of the tower and spire were never completed. The church was dedicated to Saint Catherine of Alexandria on 30 June 1858, and was opened by Bishop Whelan of Bombay. The stained glass windows, a new porch and carvings in the nave were added later.

The impressive great East Window (1862) is by Frederick Settle Barff (1823-1886), a former Anglican priest who had converted to Roman Catholicism in 1852. The East Window was matched by an equally impressive West Window with perpendicular panelled tracery.

James Joyce’s first short story, The Sisters, is about a former priest of Saint Catherine’s Church.

The present church tower was completed in 1958 to mark the centenary of the opening of the church. The Augustinian Order has been running the parish since 1974.

Saint Catherine’s Church, Meath Street, Dublin … the beautiful interior has been restored to its original splendour (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

On 2 January 2012 an arson attack on the church started with a fire in the Christmas crib and caused over €5 million damage to the interior. The restoration and reconstruction project cost €4.1 million. Most of the cost was covered by insurance, with the additional €230,000 needed provided through local fundraising.

The church reopened at the end of 2013, when Bishop Eamonn Walsh celebrated the first mass in the restored church. A year later, the altar was consecrated by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.

The East Window by Frederick Settle Barff above the High Altar (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

The beautiful East Window above the High Altar by Frederick Settle Barff (1823-1886) was repaired in Germany. The organ, which everyone thought was completely destroyed, was salvaged; and the Stations of the Cross were removed and restored.

The ceiling boards and insulation above the ceiling boards were removed and replaced. The slates on the roof were replaced. All stonework was stripped back to the original stone. The walls and ceilings were cleaned and repainted. The electrical works were replaced, and a complete new lighting system was installed. All the floor tiles were removed and replaced. The altar and all the marble stonework was cleaned and polished.

The layers of paint melted away from the High Altar, revealing Caen stone (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

The High Altar is by Henry Lane, and for many years it was believed that this was stucco plasterwork. However, when the layers of paint melted away they revealed that the altar was made of beautiful French limestone, and all the pillars were made of the same stone.

Many of the Victorian, Minton-style Staffordshire tiles have been saved (Photographs: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

The butter-coloured stone from Caen in Normandy is inlaid with gold mosaic tiles. A parquet floor has been fitted to replace mid-20th-century linoleum. The wooden pews have been cleaned, varnished and reupholstered. And the stained glass windows have been restored and they now reflect patches of coloured light around the golden stone.

‘The Martyrdom of Saint Catherine of Alexandria,’ by William MacBride of Dublin, was in a similar position as the ‘Doom Painting’ in Saint Giles in Cheadle (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2010)

However, the painting in the architrave, separating the chancel from the nave, has not been restored. This painting depicted ‘The Martyrdom of Saint Catherine of Alexandria,’ and was by William MacBride of Dublin. It was in a similar position as the ‘Doom Painting’ in Pugin’s ‘perfect’ Cheadle, near Alton Towers, the Earl of Shrewsbury’s home in mid-Staffordshire.

The painting in the architrave was in a similar place to the ‘Doom Painting’ in Cheadle, but the space has been left blank in the restoration work (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Some of the unusual features in the church that have been retained though include a bust of Kevin Barry masquerading as a saint, which was installed in the early 1920s by a priest with strong nationalist views.

Next: Week 2, 06.10.2016:

2.1: Introduction to liturgy: ritual and symbol, meanings and language;
2.2: Ritual and symbol seen through the eyes of secular liturgy and ritual: evaluating experiences, e.g., drug culture, sports, theatre, &c.

(Revd Canon Professor) Patrick Comerford is Lecturer in Anglicanism, Liturgy and Church History, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute. These notes were prepared for a field-trip with Year II MTh students at the start of the start of the module TH8824: Liturgy, Worship and Spirituality, on 29 September 2016.

‘You do not come dramatically, with dragons
That rear up with my life between their paws’

Saint Michael slays the dragon … a sculpted image on the north wall of Saint Michael’s Church, Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Patrick Comerford

29 September 2016,

Saint Michael and All Angels,

8.15 a.m., The Eucharist,

The Chapel, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute.

Genesis 28: 10-17; Psalm 103: 19-22; Revelation 12: 7-12; John 1: 47-51.

In the name of + the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

There are few references to Saint Michael in the Bible (Daniel 10: 13, 21, 12: 1; Jude 9; Revelation 12: 7-9; see also Revelation 20: 1-3). Yet they have inspired great works in our culture, from Milton’s Paradise Lost to Jacob Epstein’s powerful sculpture at Coventry Cathedral.

But culturally, this has been an important day for the Church: the beginning of terms, the end of the harvest season, the settling of accounts. It is the beginning of autumn, we were told as children not to pick blackberries after this day.

In all our imagery, in all our poetry, Saint Michael is depicted and seen as crushing or slaying Satan, often Satan as a dragon.

Dragons on Chinese silk ties … our ideas of dragons are also culturally conditioned (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Our ideas of dragons are also culturally conditioned. For the Chinese, dragons symbolise gift and blessing, and represent the majesty of the imperial household.

In most European languages, the word for a dragon is derived from the same Greek word used for a serpent. In European folklore and mythology, legendary dragons have symbolised danger and evil. We are warned in the Greek classics against sowing dragon’s teeth.

Most of us know that throughout life we are going to meet our own dragons, and how they are going to ensnare us if we do not face them and slay them.

Because of the Blitz during World War II, the poet Philip Larkin (1922-1985) spent some of his late teen and early adult years living with his father’s family, close to Saint Michael’s Church in Lichfield, where generations of the Larkin family are buried. There, on the north wall of the church, in a large, looming sculpted image, Saint Michael is crushing the dragon under his feet.

Memories of this image and this churchyard may have inspired the imagery in at least two poems written by Larkin some years later. In his poem ‘At the chiming of light upon sleep’, first drafted on this day 70 years ago [29 September 1946], Larkin links Michaelmas and a lost paradise with chances and opportunities he failed to take in his youth.

In his poem ‘To Failure,’ written a year before he moved to Belfast, Larkin realises that failure does not come ‘dramatically, with dragons / that rear up with my life between their paws.’ Failure comes with more subtlety in those wasted opportunities and lost chances.

During your time here, you will have your own dragons to slay. Do not mistake them for old friends. You will have opportunities and chances to do that, as the days pass quicker than you can count, you will find you have neglected or even lost.

Know your dragons. You already know your own dragons better than I do or anyone else here. But also pay heed to the opportunities that pass far too quickly. And take the opportunities presented here, like Nathanael waiting beneath the fig tree, to prepare yourself for the next stage in your life and ministry.

There may be few dramatic conflicts with your inner dragons while you are here. But in the years to come, you may regret not paying attention to the little opportunities, the minor details of life here. Then you do not notice the changes, the days passing more quickly, and the years pass by.

Philip Larkin writes:

It is these sunless afternoons, I find,
Install you at my elbow like a bore.
The chestnut trees are caked with silence. I’m
Aware the days pass quicker than before,
Smell staler too. And once they fall behind
They look like ruin. (You have been here some time.)

Sitting under his tree, Nathanael was aware of the opportunities and did not allow them to pass him by. And when you seize these opportunities you may find yourself prepared to ‘see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man’ (John 1: 51).

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

No 33 Cherry Orchard, Lichfield… the Larkin family moved here in 1940 during the Coventry Blitz (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

To Failure, by Philip Larkin

You do not come dramatically, with dragons
That rear up with my life between their paws
And dash me butchered down beside the wagons,
The horses panicking; nor as a clause
Clearly set out to warn what can be lost,
What out-of-pocket charges must be borne
Expenses met; nor as a draughty ghost
That’s seen, some mornings, running down a lawn.

It is these sunless afternoons, I find,
Install you at my elbow like a bore.
The chestnut trees are caked with silence. I’m
Aware the days pass quicker than before,
Smell staler too. And once they fall behind
They look like ruin. (You have been here some time.)

Saint Michael slays the Dragon … one of four panels by Eric Gill on the War Memorial in Trumpington, near Cambridge (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)


Everlasting God,
you have ordained and constituted the ministries
of angels and mortals in a wonderful order:
Grant that as your holy angels always serve you in heaven,
so, at your command,
they may help and defend us on earth;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Post Communion Prayer:

Lord of heaven,
in this Eucharist you have brought us near
to an innumerable company of angels
and to the spirits of the saints made perfect.
As in this food of our earthly pilgrimage
we have shared their fellowship,
so may we come to share their joy in heaven;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Revd Canon Professor) Patrick Comerford is Lecturer in Anglicanism, Liturgy and Church History, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute. This sermon was preached at the Eucharist on the Feastday of Saint Michael and All Angels, 29 September 2016.

Liturgy 2016-2017 (Full Time)
1.1: Introducing the module

Patrick Comerford

MTh Year II

TH8824: Liturgy, Worship and Spirituality:

Module outline, including schedule for lectures and workshops, module content, learning outcomes, teaching and learning methods, learning outcomes, teaching and learning methods, assessment, essay titles.

Schedule of Lectures:

10 to 12.30 p.m., Hartin Room:

Week 1, 29.09.2016:

Introducing the Module.
1.2: Liturgical Field Trip (1), visit to inner-city churches.

Week 2, 06.10.2016:

2.1: Introduction to liturgy: ritual and symbol, meanings and language;
2.2: Ritual and symbol seen through the eyes of secular liturgy and ritual: evaluating experiences, e.g., drug culture, sports, theatre, &c.

Week 3, 13.10.2016:

The theology of space, and its implications for church buildings;
3.2:The use of church buildings in the mission of God expressed through the Church (Seminar with readings from Richard Giles).

Week 4, 20.10.2016:

Creation, Trinity and theologies of worship and prayer;
4.2: Traditions of prayer (1): seminar readings on Benedictine, Franciscan, prayer.

Week 5, 27.10.2016:

The development of the liturgical year and the daily office;
5.2: Traditions of prayer (2): seminar, readings on Reformation prayer.

Week 6, 03.11.2016:

The nature and theology of sacraments;
6.2: Traditions of prayer (3): seminar, patterns of prayer today (including all-age worship, participation of children in worship, worship and youth).

Week 7, 10.11.2016:

Reading Week

Week 8, 17.11.2016: *

Baptism and Eucharist (1) from the early Church to the Reformers;
7.2, Seminar: ‘Word’ and ‘Sacrament’ expressed in music and the arts.

* These lectures may need to rescheduled in consultation.

Week 9, 24.11.2016:

Baptism and Eucharist (2) liturgical renewal among Catholics and Protestants in the 20th century;
8.2, Seminar: homiletics and homiletics in history: readings may include Saint Augustine, Thomas Cranmer, Lancelot Andrewes, John Wesley, Martin Luther King.

Week 10, 01.12.2016:

Baptism and Eucharist (3) the contemporary life and mission of the Church. Worship and inculturation.
9.2, Theology of the whole people of God, the theology and rites of ordination; gender and ministry.

Week 11, 08.12.2016:

Rites of passage, e.g., Marriages, Funerals;
10.2, Seminar: Spirituality of ministry; readings on the minister as person, private, public and holy.

Week 12, 15.12.2016:

11.1 and 11.2,
Seminar: Sacred space and public worship in another context – visit to a public place of worship of another faith.

Module Content:

Offering time

1, The relationship between doctrines of creation/Trinity and Christian theology of worship and prayer.
2, The development of the liturgical year and the daily office.
3, Different traditions of prayer, e.g. Benedictine, Franciscan, Reformation, contemporary.
4, Patterns of prayer today (including all-age worship, participation of children in worship, worship and youth).

Means of grace

5, The nature and theology of sacraments.
6, Ritual and symbol.
7, The theology and development of rites of Baptism and the Eucharist in the early Church, the Protestant Reformers, liturgical renewal among Catholics and Protestants in the 20th century.
8, Ecumenical statements, e.g., WCC Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry.
9, Baptism and Eucharist in the contemporary life and mission of the Church. Worship and inculturation.
10, Rites of passage, e.g., Marriages, Funerals.

Making space

11, The Christian theology of space, and its implications for church buildings.
12, The use of church buildings in relation to the mission of God expressed through the Church.

Worship and the Word

13, The Ministry of the Word.
14, A critical grasp of the history of homiletics, including close study of examples, e.g. Augustine, Thomas Cranmer, Lancelot Andrewes, John Wesley, Martin Luther King.
15, Patterns and models of homiletics for the context of 21st century Ireland.
16, The ‘Word’ expressed in music and art.
17, The relationship between Word and Sacrament.

Ministers of faith

18, Theology of the whole people of God, and within that the theology of ordination.
19, How such theology is expressed in rites of ordination, historical and contemporary.
20, The minister as person, private, public and holy.
21, Spirituality for ministry; the practice of spiritual direction, in history and contemporary examples; gender, spirituality and ministry.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this module students will be able:

● To understand and appropriate the history, theology and liturgical praxis of Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry;
● To appreciate the significance of both time and place in Christian worship and mission;
● To be able to articulate the way in which liturgies can both reflect and challenge social norms.
● To engage critically with the history of homiletics in the creation and delivery of sermons.
● To display knowledge of the diversity of approaches to spirituality found in the history of the Church; to appreciate the theory and practice of spiritual direction against the background of the history of Christian spirituality; to show awareness of the relationship between different personality types and different paths in Christian spirituality; to demonstrate appreciation of the need for a minister to develop a personal spiritual discipline.

Teaching and Learning Methods:

This module will be taught through a series of lectures and student-led seminars.
Students are required to take part in and lead class seminars and also to take part in collaborative small groups and independent study.

There will be a joint seminar with each of the other two strands – Biblical Studies and Theology.

Semester: 1; Hours: 2 per week; 5 Credits

Assessment: 2,500 words of coursework (e.g. essay or project as agreed by the course leader).

Date for submission: Monday, 19 December 2016, 12 noon.

Essay titles:

1, Discuss the principal institution narratives in the New Testament and explain the liturgical problems and insights that may be gained from the narrative of the Last Supper in Saint John’s Gospel.

2, Identify the principal differences between Order I and II for Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer in The Book of Common Prayer (2004), and compare the advantages and disadvantages in using them in a contemporary parish setting on Sundays.


Discuss the three Eucharistic Prayers for Holy Communion 2 in The Book of Common Prayer (2004), comparing and contrasting the similarities and differences in emphases.

3, Outline the changes and reforms in Anglican rites of the Holy Communion (Eucharist) at the Reformation, and outline how they were influenced by changes and developments in the Continental Reformations.


Trace the background to the development of the Sarum Rite or Use of Sarum and discuss its relevance to the development of The Book of Common Prayer (2004) and Anglican liturgy.

4, Discuss the contribution of either John Keble or Charles Gore to the Anglican understandings of tradition and the sacraments, compare them with those of Charles Simeon, and discuss the relevance of their writings today.


Outline and compare the contribution to our understandings of Anglican spirituality made by two of the following writers: Evelyn Underhill, Dorothy Sayers, Cecil Frances Alexander or Elizabeth Canham.

5, Explain the importance of the Eucharistic chapters in the Didache and discuss their relevance for thinking about liturgy in the contemporary church.


‘The Apostolic Fathers and the Desert Fathers provided the inspiration for Christian spirituality throughout the Middle Ages and beyond.’ Discuss their relevance to the Christian tradition of spirituality.

6, Discuss the Service of the Word as outlined in The Book of Common Prayer (2004) and examine the principal opportunities and difficulties it provides in organising a Sunday service in (a) a traditional parish and (b) a new church plant.

7, Baptism has been described as the foundational sacrament of the church. Discuss how you understand the role of baptism in the life of a parish today.


Baptism and confirmation are generally used as two separate rites today. Outline the arguments both for and against maintaining the current practice.

8, Explain the opportunities and difficulties in trying to create a sense of ‘sacred space’ in a contemporary or modern building, discuss the liturgical problems that need to be faced, and explain how you would seek to overcome them.


Give three examples of what may be described as public or secular liturgies, draw comparisons between your examples and the conduct of liturgy in the Church, and discuss the lessons that can be learned and shared mutually.

Required or Recommended Reading:

P. Bradshaw (ed), The New SCM Dictionary of Liturgy and Worship (London: SCM Press, 2nd ed, 2002).
S. Burns, SCM Studyguide to Liturgy (London: SCM Press, 2006).
M. Earey, G. Myers (eds), Common Worship Today: an illustrated guide to Common Worship today (London: HarperCollins, 2001).
R. Giles, Creating uncommon worship (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2004).
R. Giles, Re-pitching the tent (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 3rd edition, 2004).
B. Gordon-Taylor and S. Jones, Celebrating the Eucharist, A practical guide (London: SPCK, 2005/2011).
C. Hefling, C. Shattuck (eds), The Oxford Guide to the Book of Common Prayer (Oxford: OUP, 2006).
G. Hughes, Worship as Meaning: a liturgical theology for late modernity (Cambridge: CUP, 2003).
C. Jones, G. Wainwright, E. Yarnold, P. Bradshaw (eds), The Study of Liturgy (London: SPCK, 1992).
H. Miller, The Desire of our Soul: a user’s guide to the Book of Common Prayer (Dublin: Columba, 2004).
M. Perham, New Handbook of Pastoral Liturgy (London: SPCK, 2000).
R. Thompson, SCM Studyguide to the Sacraments (London: SCM Press, 2006).

(Revd Canon Professor) Patrick Comerford is Lecturer in Anglicanism and Liturgy, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute. This module outline was prepared for Year II students on the MTh course at the start of the Module TH8824: Liturgy, Worship and Spirituality, on 29 September 2016.