BY THE RESTORATION
COMMITTEE AND BY THE PAROCHIAL CHURCH COUNCIL
ON FEBRUARY 20th, 1930.
This meeting endorses the Appeal of the Rector in his sermon on
February 9th, 1930, requests him to print and circulate it, and to take
steps to provide funds and to appeal for Faculty as may be necessary
1. Erection of Sacristy in grateful memory of Edward Alfred Webb.
2. Installation of Electric lighting
3. Insertion of panels in Choir Screen, etc.
4. Removal of present Pulpit and the erection of another in the best
position acoustically and otherwise, as may, after consideration, be
thought a satisfactory solution. The new Pulpit to be associated with
the name of Charlotte Hart.
5. A new piano for Choir training
6. The extinction of outstanding debt of £900. Also, that the
Rector be the Honorary Treasurer of the Appeal.
Appended is the Estimate of our Architects. Sir Aston Webb and Son, for
works under consideration :
|To E. A. Webb Memorial
2,600 0s. 0d.
|To Electric lighting
700 0s. 0d.
|To erection of new Pulpit, removal of present one
and erection of Gates in Screen
400 0s. 0d.
|To Panels on Screen
320 0s. 0d.
|To Screen decoration
250 0s. 0d.
900 0s. 0d.
5,170 0s. 0d.
|To restoration of Gatehouse (special)
1,000 0s. 0d.
|To erection of another limb to Cloister*
* This last item not to be lost sight of, but in abeyance unless
opportunity be forthcoming.
On the day of my Institution by the Bishop of London I fully realized
three things to be tackled:
I. That the pulpit was
unsuitable and most inconveniently placed.
II. That the system of lighting was inadequate and wrong.
III. That the Gatehouse ought to be conserved, and so treated as
offices for the rector in order that he might be near his work.
Before the Bishop instituted me I mentioned I. and III. I urged his
Lordship to give his address from the Sanctuary and not from the
pulpit, so that his message might be best heard.
I stated how extremely anxious I was to make the Gatehouse sound and of
real use in the Rector’s work for church and people.
at the back of the house reveals its instability and unsatisfactory
condition. A peep inside shows no better state of things. Its needs are
a complete overhauling and reparation. I have never had any reason
whatever to change my mind. Added days bring added confirmation.
This deeply interesting Gatehouse ought to be made decently habitable.
Outside it is fair: within it smells of rats and rottenness, and is
quite unstable, partly through anno domini and neglect, partly owing to
the air-raid. Unquestionably, it might be converted into a suitable
pied-a-terre for the Rector, who would then be near his workshop.
This Gatehouse is not in the original scheme, but it is of real moment.
Who will come forward, in their kind interest and generosity, to make
it such, and to present a worthy gift which could be a real
In 1886, when the Revd. W. Panckridge was Rector, Sir Aston Webb called
attention to the great annoyance caused by the existence of the
boys’ school in the North Triforium, as well as the forge in
North Transept, which was a source of continual danger to the church
from fire. Both institutions have been abolished, but there is still
much to be done, for it is not that St. Bartholomew’s has
battered by the storm and stress of long centuries, but rather that
indifference and lethargy have wrought irreparable disaster.
For instance, the 12th Century Nave is now a disused graveyard and with
great offices standing on the site of the Western front.
Do we not to-day owe a present debt of monetary gifts and tender care
to make some reparation for a long spell of ignoble neglect?
SERMON OF APPEAL
CANON E. SIDNEY SAVAGE, M.A.,
Priory Church of St. Bartholomew the Great
Psalm XXVI. 8. "LORD, I HAVE LOVED
THE HABITATION OF THY HOUSE AND THE PLACE WHERE THINE HONOUR DWELLETH."
It seems almost
unkind, at this time, to make mention of Rahere in
connection with a Church. To-day it seems as though a Royal Hospital,
rather than a Royal Church, needs the monopoly of Rahere,
of a priest than a fool, and more of a wizard than either.”
Assuredly his is a name to conjure with in an appeal for the good work
of the poor, be they sick or sorry in body or soul.
The Authorities of the Royal Hospital of St. Bartholomew make a most
appeal for One Million Pounds. They do well to make full use of the
magic name of Rahere. They need every penny of the Million. May Rahere
stand by them and help them, until the desired sum be realised!
We, in this place, congratulate the Hospital which he founded on their
great venture of faith. May this appeal, launched by the oldest
hospital in the British Empire, come to a completely successful issue,
for, in every way, it is worthy and heartily to be commended.
Far be it from me to enter into any competition or to militate in any
way against their success. As a humble follower and most unworthy
successor of the valiant Rahere in this his Church, built for the glory
of God, I cannot be indifferent to the appeal of his Hospital. It is my
duty and privilege to serve that appeal as best I may and can. A
million pounds is a large amount, but surgery, medicine and reserves
demand that it be endowed not merely with antiquity, but with perpetual
youth and vigour. In every branch of hospital work its maintenance is
imperative. But little though I can do, that little I mean to do well.
One like myself, so near to it all, cannot fail to be drawn towards the
hospital which has carried on Rahere’s work so splendidly for
eight hundred years. Even if eyes were blind and ears deaf the heart
would still urge me to do that which inclination, conscience and
vocation most impressively demand.
Ich Dien. I cannot, and would not, do otherwise: those which God hath
joined together shall not by me be separated. Besides, the Hospital is,
I feel sure, generous enough, even in the time of stress and effort,
not to claim an exclusive monopoly of their Founder and ours. He is big
enough to be mindful both of his hospital and of his spiritual home for
the glory of God.
We, in his Church, have our needs too, and we venture to make a claim.
It is comparatively insignificant ; and we shall show restraint, so as
not in any way to be reckoned as rivals or obstructors.
I have a definite duty to perform. It is my privilege and burdensome
responsibility to be the successor of rectors who have given of their
best, at no little cost to health and strength, in conserving and
restoring the Church. The names of rectors Sandwith, Savory,
Panckridge, and others, are writ large and indelibly on the walls of
this ancient building.
After the inglorious spell of indifference, neglect and vandalism of
Georgian and Victorian days, the Church now raises our thoughts, as it
was ever meant to do, from the meanness of this material world to the
duty of man to his God. The Church to-day is resonant with thanks to
those to whom it owes its re-awakening. It is our part to see that, not
only there is no reaction to the appalling lethargy of those decadent
days, but that it is vocal with all good things to-day.
Memorial to Edward Alfred Webb
Another name there is which stands out resplendent in our long-drawn
history, and will shine so long as one stone is upon another. He is no
prior or priest, but a humble-minded layman who, with the exception of
Rahere and Prior Thomas, compares in full measure with any prior or
priest. I can only refer to Mr. E. A. Webb, who passed to his
well-earned rest last year. We can make a wholesome boast of godly
laymen who loved this Church and served with him. The association of
Webb and Irons was a timely and beneficent one. Our present Wardens,
Mr. W. E. G. Sparling and Mr. F. W. T. Hall, and their colleague, Mr.
E. W. Fearn, have had prolonged association in work and interest with
The backwash of our history for a long spell before then was prolonged
and unedifying. That London’s masterpiece in stone -- this
glorious architectural epic -- stands as you see it to-day, is due in
no small measure to Mr. E. A. Webb. Every stone he knew and loved with
a lowly reverence. If we lived in mean days and were in ourselves mean
and niggardly, it would suffice us to say that this Church itself is
his memorial. Such things are not enough for his own kith and kin, for
those who loved and respected him for his constant consideration and
monumental work for the Church he so devotedly loved. Nothing can be
more fitting than that the opportunity be given for a memorial of him
and his work, and, moreover, one which would have his whole-hearted
suggestion has been made that it should take shape in the erection of
the Sacristy -- clergy vestry. Is it needed? When I visit the
commodious and, in some places, the almost luxurious vestries of other
City churches, it is hard, when I think of the store-room vestry of St.
Bartholomew's, not to break the tenth Commandment. Our present vestry
is merely a passage from the verger's house to the church. It has just
room enough for one man to robe. One has a feeling of shame in allowing
any preacher to enter it, and one wearies of making monotonous
apologies. As a passage it is necessary. That let it be, and also a
spacious store-cupboard. But as an adjunct of the Church is it a vulgar
Fortunately, the ancient Sacristy and its position is not a matter of
controversy. There is no doubt that the primitive arched doorway, at
the junction of ambulatory and South Transept with the choir aisle,
near the font, is the entrance to the Sacristy destroyed by Henry VIII.
Its uses have been many and various. About 1600 it was converted into a
Dissenters' Meeting House. Complaint was made, at that time, of a very
antique sculpture representing "the figure of a popish priest with a
child in his arms...and the same sort of trumpery." In reality, it
represented the aged Simeon with the Infant Saviour of the World in his
arms. So blind and foolish is bigotry! The beautiful building was
apparently enriched with sculptured figures and wall paintings. In 1809
its use was a store-room for hops, logs and mahogany, etc. As a
carpenter's shop, it was destroyed by fire in 1830. It is now a
churchyard, and it has exposed to London's atmosphere the foundations
of an altar -- the work of Rahere himself. To cover Rahere's altar
foundations is urgent.
In very truth, St. Bartholomew's Priory Church is --
"An ancient pile
To various fates assigned; and where, by turns,
Meanness and grandeur have alternate reigned."
Still, thank God! it is London's pride, and London, at any rate, with
its myriad lives and interests, will not be untouchable or indifferent
to our commendable appeal for Rahere's church.
Uniform System of Lighting
In my first sermon here, I made complaint of the dim, unpleasing, and
quite unsatisfactory lighting of the Church. A midwinter can only
confirm a midsummer's dirge. Personally, I have only a very qualified
sympathy with candle-light infatuation which, so far as this Church is
concerned, is snuffed out on familiarity. It is neither artistic nor
illuminating. It obscures and does not reveal.
conceals the beauty
and glory of one of the most wondrous Norman choirs of England and does
not enhance. Thank God, we have eyes to see, and, where there is
beauty, we would see it. The sooty, blackening fumes of dear old London
have darkened and dimmed (and still do so) our fascinating
architecture. Ours is not the atmosphere of the translucent Acropolis.
In the earlier days the Church abounded in colour. Chiaroscuro obscured
in an absurdity. An increasing number of visitors come to see glories
of which they have heard from afar. On not a few days of the year the
Church is revealed as an opaque mass. A vivid imagination gives but
scant help. They have to go away believing what they do not see.
Moreover, our candles are so placed that, looking from west to east,
they mar lines, -- screen beauty. More than once, I have seen streaks
of candle grease from spluttering candles on coat and cloak. Our
so-called gas illumination is almost an abomination. The necessary and
scattered incandescent jets with unsightly globes obtrude themselves
with utter ugliness. Dark by night, and, too often, dark by day. You,
who know the Church, can only confirm my words.
St. Bartholomew's is not merely for sightseers. It is for worship. In
the services of the Church we desire to see, in order to be able to
read hymn-books, Prayer Books and Bibles. To do this by day is a rare
matter, by night an impossibility. When sermons are dull, it is right
to lift up our eyes and read and digest more inspiring ones in the
stones which, unconsciously teaching, publish sweet messages of comfort
and joy, of peace and faith, hope and love, garnered from this place.
They have published the story of the Cross through over 800 years, and
seem to say --
"In the Cross of Christ I
Towering o'er the wrecks of Time."
The weary world rests its gaze upon the crystal clear,
symmetrically lovely, ineffably magnetic life of the Son of Man. We
have the exuberance of joy bubbling forth from some of our carved
architectural gems which are only visible on a few days in the year.
The builder did his work with this exuberance for "he was glad in the
House of the Lord."
This church is rich in ambulatories and vistas so well adapted for
those processions which the Canons loved, and is almost unique. The
beauty of our ambulatories bewilders us. What memories they recall! As
one passes through them in procession, one feels that the spirits of
holy men hover around us and join with us in song. Every Sunday, as our
choir sings psalm and hymn through these dim, unlighted arches, unable
to read a word of the service, I regard their work as a real triumph.
In their choir stalls, the place where they sing, it often puzzles me
how they can sing at all, so darksome is it. Is is the same in the Lady
Chapel at other services. My parishoners say (what avails it to say?)
"We cannot join in the hymns or prayers for we cannot read a word."
They who know me would say (and it could be true) that I would rather
cease to be rector than be guilty of playing any tricks with this
building. My eyesight is extremely good and much above the average, and
I can rarely with love and comfort read the Services of the Church from
I say boldly that the present state of lighting this Church is
unsatisfactory, inefficient, harmful to fabric, unedifying and
unworthy. We need a uniform system of lighting. I am sure that
electricity could be so installed that the glory of our architecture
would be made manifest and enhanced, that it would tend to edification
in worship, to the cleanliness and conservation fo the fabric and
ensure much saving of profitless labour.
I am advised on very high authority, which cannot be ignored, that the
sooner electric lighting is installed and the Church thoroughly spring
cleaned from end to end, the better for our precious fabric, which is
more delicate than its rugged character indicates. The right place for
accumulated dust is outside the Church.
In mediaeval times, London's atmosphere was not what it is to-day. The
Church was rich in colour from painting and fresco. Each Canon carried
his taper, and was familiar with the offices. Our stones do not need
grimness to enhance their beauty. We prefer ancient days to dirt, and
cleanliness to stupidity. In a word -- "More light." If so, electric
light. Is the obstacle to such a need to be the cost? I cannot believe
Additions to Screen
Our Patron, Mr. Ivor Phillips and his forebears, whether priests or
laymen, have shown a generous interest in this wonderful Church. To
them, their friends, and our parishoners, we owe our handsome screen.
Members of our choir (for they are human and are not immune from
incapacitating chills) make some complaint of the draught from the
entrance porches which in greater or less degree forces its current
through the open panels. For our sakes, as well as theirs, it is well
to protect our singers from colds, coughs and sore throats. Can we help
the efficiency of our choir? I venture to suggest that we should do
this and, in so doing, add to the beauty and interest of the Church. We
mgiht insert glass panels; draughts would thus be excluded, but we
should still look through to a blank, ugly, and comparatively modern
wall, devoid of interesting features.
I should like to see the insertion of painted panels, which might
illustrate crucial incidents of the story of Rahere's strange, eventful
and consecrated life. The "Acts of Rahere" could be recorded: -- At the
Court of King Henry I, as Master of the Revels; the shipwreck; his
illness, agony and conversion; the vision of St. Bartholomew; his
meeting with the King; the granting of the Royal Charter; the building
of Church and Hospital.
Such panels would remind us of the sort of man our Founder was. They
might be an inspiration to us and to all who visit the Church, and
would serve to show modern builders, artists and architects what they
so lamentably need to learn, how utterly devoid of vision most of them
are in their handiwork. Thus we should not forget that it is to Rahere
we owe the beauty around us in the Church, beauty which points to God.
We hardly dare, walking through London to-day, to raise our eyes lest
we see atrocities in buildings and monuments, which shame and humiliate
us. We long for men of such vision as our Founder, to tell us how to
choose and shape stone, how to tool and how to place one upon another
with reverence, as a gift to God, for the goodwill of man.
I am not without hope, for I am no pessimist, that these panels may be
the gift of individuals. Possibly, memorial gifts. In some of these
stalls, there are small brass plates, marking the seat of the chorister
who took his part in leading holy song here, who served in the Great
War, and for whom the trumpets of heaven sounded, as he passed over to
the other side. Thank God, heaven will be heaven, for it is built out
of souls like these; and Rahere will be there -- all with the Christ
The organist and choir stand in sore need of a piano for choir practices, in place of the present instrument.
I, in conjunction with unanimous votes of the Restoration Committee and
of the Parochial Church Council, strongly urge a new pulpit. The
present one is unsuitable in more ways than one. It destroys the line
of the wondrous Norman arcading, it takes up some of the best space in
the Church, and it is in the worst possible acoustic position. It is in
harmony with nothing. We have decided to make appeal for a new pulpit,
to be associated with the memory of Charlotte Hart. It will cost as per
The architects, Sir Aston Webb & Son, fully concur, and their
proposal is to erect a new pulpit in a position which will enable the
preacher's voice and message to be heard clearly all over the Church,
which is far from being the case as present. We are taking counsel of
leading actors and singers in this matter.
I have one -- and only one -- unpleasant statement to make. There is a
prolonged outstanding debt of £900 consequent on the building of
the Cloister. The contractors have been more than generous in allowing
a silent and uncomplaining extension of our indebtedness, some years
overdue. It is unworthy to take advantage of such generosity, however
much we may appreciate it. We hate debt, and Church debt we hate most,
for it is a debt to God, to Whom we owe all good things. Debt is a
millstone; we must remove the burden as, otherwise, we cannot stand
[To be continued...]