12 June 2024

All Saints’ Church,
a former church in
Oxford converted
into a college library

All Saints’ Church, a former church on the north side of the High Street in Oxford, is now the library of Lincoln College (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

Patrick Comerford

I have been visiting many of the churches and college chapels in Oxford over the past two or three years. But one of the striking church buildings in the centre of Oxford is a former church that was converted into a college library half a centre ago.

All Saints’ Church is a former parish church on the north side of the High Street in central Oxford, on the corner of the High Street and Turl Street, with the Mitre on the facing side of the corner. The former church is now the library of Lincoln College and is a Grade I listed building.

The original All Saints’ Church was founded on the site in 1122. However, the spire of the church collapsed on 8 March 1700, destroying most of the building. After an appeal for funds, the present building, with a seating capacity of 350, was completed in 1720.

Four of the original church bells survived the collapse. The repairs to the church were expensive and donations were received from most of the Oxford colleges and from Queen Anne and the Duchess of Marlborough.

All Saints’ Church, Oxford, was designed by the Dean of Christ Church, Henry Aldrich (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

The church was designed by Henry Aldrich (1648-1710), the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford. Aldrich was a theologian, philosopher, architect and composer, and was the Dean of Christ Church from 1689. Evidence of his skill as an architect is seen in the church and campanile of All Saints’ Church and in three sides of the so-called Peckwater Quadrangle of Christ Church, which were built to his designs.

Nicholas Hawksmoor is thought to be responsible for the tower and spire of All Saints’ Church.

The altar piece, which was of stone, coloured in imitation of marble, was donated by Nathaniel Crew (1633-1721), 3rd Lord Crew, who was the Rector of Lincoln College from 1668 and Bishop of Oxford (1671-1674) and Bishop of Durham (1674-1721). Bishop Crew’s arms as Bishop of Durham are still visible on the south wall of the church, close to the south porch.

Nicholas Hawksmoor is said to have designed the tower and spire of All Saints’ Church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

Bishop Samuel Wilberforce wrote in his Diocese Book in 1857 and 1860, describing the Vicar of All Saints’ Church, the Revd WW West, as ‘a clever man. Strong head & not apparently religious or a pleasant man.’

When Saint Martin’s Church at Carfax was demolished, except for its tower, in 1896, All Saints’ Church became the official City Church in Oxford, where the Mayor and Corporation were expected to attend church services.

A Union flag that had been draped over the coffins of prisoners of war at Batu Lintang camp in Sarawak, was placed in the church in 1946 along with two wooden memorial plaques. They were later moved to Dorchester Abbey.

Bishop Nathaniel Crew’s arms as Bishop of Durham, beside the south porch of All Saints’ Church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

All Saints’ Church was declared redundant on 1971 and the City Church moved to Saint Michael at the North Gate. All Saints was then deconsecrated and offered to Lincoln College, immediately to the north of the church. The church was converted by Robert Potter, the architect also responsible for refurbishing the Radcliffe Camera in 1969. Since 1975 the building has been Lincoln College’s library.

The only major change to the interior of the church during its conversion into a library involved raising the original floor by over 4 ft to provide space for the lower reading rooms.

The upper reading room is known as the Cohen Room and has an elegant plastered ceiling. The decorations include the shields of the major donors who contributed to the cost of the 18th century rebuilding.

The lower reading room is the science library and the senior library, holding older books.

The science section is named after a former Lincoln College Fellow, Howard Florey (1898-1968), who was instrumental in the development of penicillin and for which he received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

The Library still has a full peal of eight bells that are regularly rung by the Oxford Society of Change Ringers, founded in 1734. They are also rung for special occasions, such as the election of a new Rector of Lincoln College.

There is another All Saints’ Church in the suburb of Headington to the east of central Oxford, on Lime Walk. It was consecrated in 1910, and there is also All Saints’ Church in Cuddesdon, which has close links with Ripon College Cuddesdon, the Anglican theological college five miles south-east of Oxford.

All Saints’ Church was converted into Lincoln College Library by the architect Robert Potter in the 1970s (Photograph © Lincoln College Oxford)

Daily prayer in Ordinary Time 2024:
34, 12 June 2024

The Church of the Holy Trinity, Templeglantine, Co Limerick, was built almost 200 years ago in 1829 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

This week began with the Second Sunday after Trinity (Trinity II, 9 June 2024). In the two weeks after Trinity Sunday, I illustrated my prayers and reflections with images and memories of cathedrals, churches, chapels and monasteries in Greece and England dedicated to the Holy Trinity. I am continuing this theme this week, with images and memories of churches I know in Ireland that are dedicated to the Holy Trinity.

Before today begins, I am taking some quiet time this morning to give thanks, for reflection, prayer and reading in these ways:

1, today’s Gospel reading;

2, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary;

3, the Collects and Post-Communion prayer of the day.

Inside Holy Trinity Church, Templeglantine (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Matthew 5: 17-19 (NRSVUE):

[Jesus said:] 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

The gallery and west end of Holy Trinity Church, Templeglantine (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

The Church of the Holy Trinity, Templeglantine, Co Limerick:

The Church of the Holy Trinity in Templeglantine, Co Limerick, is across the street from the community centre and the local school.

The name Templeglantine (Teampall an Ghleanntáin) means ‘the church of the little glen,’ although it is also known locally as Inchebaun or An Inse Bhán, meaning the ‘White River meadow.’ The village is on the N21 from Limerick to Tralee, five miles south-west of Newcastlewest.

Templeglantine is a chapel village that grew up around the church built almost 200 years ago in 1829 by Father James Cleary, who was Parish Priest of Monagea. Templeglantine parish was created in 1864 following the transfer of Father James O’Shea to Rathkeale. He had been parish priest of Monagea, and Templeglantine was a part of Monagea parish until this change.

The O’Macasa family ruled the area until the 12th century, when they were replaced by the FitzGerald family, Earls of Desmond. After the defeat of the Desmond FitzGeralds in 1583, this part of West Limerick passed to Sir William Courtenay and the Earls of Devon.

Westropp describes an old church ruin in Templeglantine. The site of this church is now surrounded by Templeglantine graveyard. The east end of the church was levelled before 1840. The remainder of the church was defaced and overgrown with ash and thorn.

The walls of the church were about 6 or 7 feet in height, according to Westropp. While the ruins of the church no longer exist, a small wall has been built to show the site of the west gable of the church. The church was originally about 70 ft by 30 ft.

According to Tadhg O’Maolcatha, there was a thatched Mass House at Roche’s Cross in Meenoline before 1829. Earlier still there was an Abbey in Templeglantine West.

Holy Trinity Church in Templeglantine is one of the oldest churches still in use today in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Limerick. An inscription on the wall says the church was dedicated to the Holy Trinity in 1829. The baptismal font and the holy water fonts in the porch are presumed to date from 1829, the year that also marked the passing of legislation on Catholic Emancipation.

This is double-height, gable-fronted church, with a three-bay nave and a later porch, built in the 1930s, a single-bay chancel, a two-bay single-storey sacristy, and a single-bay lean-to and flat-roofed extensions.

The church retains many attractive architectural features, including the dressed rubble stone walls with limestone quoins, and the numerous window styles, including unusual bipartite windows. The use of tooled limestone to the window surrounds and hood mouldings enhance the appearance of the church.

Inside the church, the well-maintained interior has a finely carved marble reredos. Behind the High Altar, the stained-glass window depicts the Holy Spirit and the Body and Blood of Christ.

There are stained-glass windows of Saint Patrick and Saint Brigid at the back of the church, and a stained-glass window in the gallery of Christ gathering or minding his flock.

The wooden medallion of the Holy Trinity on the north side of the nave was commissioned in 1999 to mark the millennium in 2000. The medallion is the work of the liturgical artist Fergus Costello at his studios in Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary.

At the centre of the medallion, a motif from the Book of Kells shows unending circles, without beginning or end, as a symbol of Divinity. The Father is represented by the all-seeing eye; the Son is represented by the Cross of Redemption; the Holy Spirit is represented by the Dove.

The Dove is carved in pine; the all-seeing eye and the cross are carved in bog oak and bog yew wood that is probably thousands of years old.

The Stations of the Cross date from around 1946, when they replaced the original Stations of the Cross. The church also has a silver chalice from 1796, predating the church.

The porch was built in the 1930s through a donation from parishioners who had emigrated to America.

Bridget (Sexton) Kiely of Glenshesk donated a bell to the church in the early 20th century, and it was mounted on the west gable. By the mid-1950s, the bell was taken down for safety reasons, a new free-standing belfry was built in the church grounds, and the old bell was sent to the missions in Africa.

A large stone statue of the Virgin Mary was erected in front of the church in 1995. It was sculpted from limestone and is the work of the sculptor Annette McCormack from Newbridge, Co Kildare.

A new graveyard behind the church opened in September 1983. Before that, the only graveyard in the parish had been in the grounds of the old church in Templeglantine West. That graveyard is said to have been in use for around 800 years, but the oldest headstone is from 1866, in memory of Michael Gallwey RM.

The community centre across the road was officially opened by Bishop Jeremiah Newman in 1977.

Today, Holy Trinity Church, Templeglantine, forms a pastoral unit with Tournafulla and Mountcollins.

The wooden medallion of the Holy Trinity by Fergus Costello (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Today’s Prayers (Wednesday 12 June 2024):

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 ‘Estate Community Development Mission, Diocese of Colombo, Church of Ceylon.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday with a programme update. The Church of Ceylon is one of USPG’s Partners in Mission (PIM).

The USPG Prayer Diary today (12 June 2024, World Day Against Child Labour) invites us to pray:

Lord Jesus, open our eyes to the reality of forced child labour. Help us to realise how precious each child is to you. May the awareness of modern-day slavery motivate us to act.

The Collect:

Lord, you have taught us
that all our doings without love are nothing worth:
send your Holy Spirit
and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love,
the true bond of peace and of all virtues,
without which whoever lives is counted dead before you.
Grant this for your only Son 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 Prayer:

Loving Father,
we thank you for feeding us at the supper of your Son:
sustain us with your Spirit,
that we may serve you here on earth
until our joy is complete in heaven,
and we share in the eternal banquet
with Jesus Christ our Lord.

Additional Collect:

Faithful Creator,
whose mercy never fails:
deepen our faithfulness to you
and to your living Word,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

The stained-glass window of Saint Patrick in Holy Trinity Church, Templeglantine (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The free-standing belfry in the church grounds (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version, Updated Edition copyright © 2021, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Holy Trinity Church, Templeglantine, is one of the oldest churches in use in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)