Pastoral letter, October 2014

Lady Chapel

Lady Chapel

Lots of small things have been happening at S Paul’s recently, and one big one. The big one is the Lady Chapel floor. This has been in the offing for quite a while, and I guess it will take a long time to be dealt with. John Woolley and Chris Hill have been hard at work taking up the tiles in such a way that they can be replaced correctly in due course. The Lady Chapel itself was furnished as a chapel by G F Bodley in the late nineteenth century, and it’s a lovely and intimate place for being still. It cries out for a votive candle stand, and I hope that we can have one there when the floor is finished. The candle stand at the foot of the statue of Our Lady outside the chapel is not well placed—it’s too public: you need to be able to sit or kneel a bit tucked away, and that is not a bit tucked away. But slowly, slowly, we will get there.

Slowly is not something that comes naturally to me. I am not a patient man. With the help of Peter, John and Mike, clutter has been dealt with. Vestments have been tidied up. The High Altar has been beautified with more candlesticks (it looks wonderful of a Sunday with 12 candles flickering), and others bought to replace those now on the High Altar. The large icon of S Paul has been hung on one of the tower piers. The All Souls chapel has been tidied up: the carpet has been stored elsewhere (I hate carpets in churches – they are the spawn of Satan – and they ruin the acoustics), tatty banners likewise, and stone statues that were a safety hazard are now in the crypt. There is more to do. Cupboards in the vestry are yet to be attacked. There are about 148 cupboards that contain flower arranging stuff. Come on, girls, you don’t need all that rubbish. If you haven’t dealt with all that before November, then I’ll deal with it. That’s a bargain.

S Michael with Pongo the Dragon (from old S Margaret's)

S Michael with Pongo the Dragon (from old S Margaret’s)

Back to the All Souls Chapel. This is a wonderful place for weekday masses, and with the Lady Chapel we are fortunate to have a choice. There is a beautiful banner which looks to me as if it might be by someone famous (I must get a colleague to give us an opinion). I see that there’s a window with an image of S Margaret. I see that there’s some furniture in church from the now closed S Margaret’s. I know that some of you came from S Margaret’s. I propose, therefore, that the All Souls chapel be rededicated as the Chapel of S Margaret and All Souls. I shall put this to the PCC (I shall tell them their opinion) and then if they agree I shall see if a bishop can come and splash a bit of water about and waft a bit of smoke and say a few words in a portentous voice. (Actually, I’ve already done that and the computer says yes, but we have to wait to fix a date). ‘Simples’ as the meerkats say.

What else has been happening? A few new posh frocks for clergy, daily Morning Prayer at about 8.15 (come and join me), church open from then until 2 pm. AND A NEW WEBSITE AND FACEBOOK PAGE for the three churches. It’s no good techoluddites saying that you’ll have nothing to do with such stuff: most of the rest of world does, and it’s passing you by. It’s not about you or me, but about living in the real world as it is, not as it used to be. Have a look at the website ( and tell me your ideas about what might be added. There are some wonderful photos by Rob Shephard that Fr Paul organised before he left, and Rob has given us permission to use these for postcards and Christmas cards that could raise a bit of money as well as raising our profile.

On a local level I’ve been hobnobbing with the YMCA, with Andrew Griffiths MP, with the local Imam and with various other worthies. We must get people into church to see this wonderful building. I would like the young folk in the YMCA hostels to use it, and us, for support and sustenance, and I’d like to get the politicians on board so that not only can they use what we have, but also we can prevail upon them to listen what we have to say.

You might not like what I’m doing but you can’t say I don’t care. S Paul’s is a wonderful building with riches that should be better known. That’s really what all this is about: if you’ve got it, flaunt it. I’m sure Our Lord said that somewhere.

God bless.

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