From the Vicar
In the Catholic tradition of Anglicanism, it is common to speak of the “beauty of holiness”, echoing the great hymn of John Henry Newman. There is a related concept, perhaps more theologically difficult for some, which is “the holiness of beauty”. The idea that that which is beautiful can show us something of the mystery of God at work is appealing – certainly to an aesthete like me. This is not to deny that God is also present in the less-than-beautiful. The stories of Holy Week bring that home all too starkly. And there is no doubt that God is present even in the darkest places and aspects of life. Yet that divine presence is always to bring light and life – to bring beauty, awe, and wonder, even in the midst of tragedy, disaster or unspeakable ugliness.
With this is mind, one of the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of ministry in a place like St Mary’s is having the opportunity to engage in liturgies and related activities where beauty is valued and present. On Pentecost Sunday this year we unveil a new thing of beauty, not in the church but in the hall. Paul Kathner’s wonderful mural above the stage, pictured on the front of this edition of Parish News, reflects aspects of the history of the church and the hall itself, and will act as a beautiful focal point in an otherwise austere room. The Churchwardens, Parish Council and I all thank Paul for his generosity in painting this work for St Mary’s. It is a wonderful thing to have a major art installation by a parishioner.
- Fr Craig.
The new Art Work in the Church Hall:
About the Artist
Paul Kathner – creator of the Hall Mural
Article taken from “The Heidelberg Historian” August 2016
Paul Kathner was born in Sydney on July 17, 1935 and went on to study art at East Sydney Tech. He worked as a assistant to William constable and Elaine Haxton on ballet decors for the new Borovansky Ballet Company. Paul designed and painted sets for the Independent Theatre, the John Alden Company and the Elizabethan Opera Company in Sydney.
He moved to Melbourne in 1963 to become resident designer and scenic artist for St Martin’s Theatre in South Yarra. During this ten year period he worked on approximately 100 shows. Paul then joined J.C. Williamson’s Theatres painting scenery and in 1976 formed Scenic Studios with Ross Turner until his retirement from the Studio in 1998.
Paul has designed for the Australian Ballet, J.C. Williamson, Melbourne Theatre Company, Melbourne City Opera and Port Fairy Spring Music Festival. He has designed and painted 12 large velvet hangings for St Leonard’s College, East Brighton.
Paul’s exhibitions have been held at the Macquarie Gallery Sydney, the David Jones Gallery Sydney, the Contemporary Arts Society Sydney, the Roar Gallery Melbourne and has been artist of the month for the Victorian Arts Centre.
Recent Exhibitions include: Drawings, Stage designs, Paintings at Zab Gallery, Carlton, February 2004; A Double Life: Paintings, Stage designs at Gallery 69, Carlton, March 2011; Design for the Theatre at Victorian Arts Centre, August 2016 and Paintings at Tacit Art, Johnson Street, Abbotsford 2016
Paul received an OAM in 2014 for Service to the performing arts through scenic art and design.
Occasional Series: Churches dedicated to our Lady
Two St Mary’s
The English university city of Cambridge has two parish churches dedicated to Our Lady, both in the heart of the town. The smaller is St Mary The Less, usually known as Little St Mary’s. It was built ca 1340 and served until 1632 as the chapel of its neighbouring college Peterhouse. It provides a fine open space without aisles, not unlike Merton College Chapel in Oxford, with large windows with Decorated tracery, and there are remains of several chantry chapels; under one is a tiny rib-vaulted crypt or ossuary, where exhumed bones were stored to make room in the cemetery in the peaceful garden outside. It is a quiet and prayerful church, despite being by a main road. It has a tradition of Anglo-catholic piety and ritual practice, for which it is somewhat notorious. The Regius Professor of Divinity in my time, Dennis Nineham, worshipped there; he was a radical critic of the New Testament after the German manner, who was accused of maintaining his faith by a very high doctrine of the Church. His Pelican commentary on St Mark is still well worth reading.
Its counterpart stands on the edge of the city’s Market Hill, officially called St Mary The Great (perhaps after Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome). It is the University Church and principal parish of Cambridge, like the University Church of St Mary the Virgin in Oxford. There was a church on the site before the university arrived (1209-ish), but the present building dates from 1478-1519, much of the cost being borne by Kings Richard III and Henry VII. It is in the Perpendicular style, lofty and airy like others out in East Anglia; much of its original decoration was destroyed at the Reformation. The Reformer Martin Bucer, who became Lady Margaret’s Professor of Divinity under Cranmer was buried there, but under Queen Mary was dug up and burned in the market square; what remained of his dust, Queen Elizabeth I had re-interred. Many of the University’s public occasions, graduations and disputations, were held there until a Senate House was built in 1722.
In my day, the big event every Sunday night at 8.30 was the University Service, presided over by the redoubtable Canon Hugh Montefiore (‘we shall sing Hymn No. X, omitting the third verse, because we do not believe it’). The place was packed, nave and balconies. More than a thousand undergraduates and others sat to hear Michael Ramsey preach one night. He spoke for 45 minutes on Faith and Science, and held us spellbound. The custom was that the preacher returned to the pulpit after the recessional and took questions. A neat young man, begowned and holding on to his furled umbrella, stood up. ‘Sir,’ he began, ‘How can you, as Head of the Church of Jesus of Nazareth in this Nation, justify all this Pomp and Ceremony?’ The Archbishop of Canterbury had worn his episcopal robes and Cambridge doctoral hood (he had been a Regius Professor) – but nothing else notable. ‘Young man,’ he replied, beetling at him through his generous eyebrows, ‘I don’t think I am as pompous as some of you’.
From Hugh Montefiore, later Bishop of Birmingham, I learned much for my later roles in college chapels in Melbourne, of how to present the Christian faith in contemporary terms, losing no orthodoxy in telling. And Cambridge has so many beautiful places to sit and contemplate, to learn and be challenged.
2013, February 18, Cathedral of Notre Dame
Paris, 2 degrees. The cold is an unrelenting foe but we are well-wrapped and happy to be here. We are heading to Notre Dame, thankful for a safe arrival and the promise of the holiday ahead. This part of Paris is stone-on-stone and in the cold morning you feel the full weight of it. But Notre Dame seems less heavy somehow – grounded in earth but directed upward.
The square is dressed for a celebration. For 850 years Notre Dame has stood and withstood, at the centre of Paris and therefore also of France. And the response from the nation is apt. New bells to replace those melted down by the revolutionaries. Good bells to replace the inferior 19th century replacements.
Inside, we are gifted a purple Lenten scarf and then see the bells, lined up down the centre aisle. Each has been given a name and like newly minted saints they wait to be blessed and set in place and swung into action. At the head is the one remaining pre-revolution bell. This is the big bell Emmanuel, the tenor, the base of the peal. Brought down from the heights and set among the others to be blessed, or re-blessed, or perhaps pass on a blessing.
We take our places for the service. The church is busy but fortuitously we are right on the aisle, right next to the big bell and we wonder at the size and weight of it. It’s not often that you get close to a cathedral bell like that. It usually takes effort, hundreds of stairs, and some entrance money too, dollars or pounds or euros.
The service starts, a ‘Gregorian’ mass. The two cantors have fine voices and they echo and combine and re-echo . . . a beautiful sound in this space. A man appears next to our bell, takes in hand a suspended clapper and lets it fall . . . an awesome sound in this space. Any word I can think of is too small to describe the effect of that sound at one metre’s distance. It is around you and part of you and a response is unavoidable.
When we leave the day is warmer and we feel a little lighter.
Stories and News from around the Parish
The Ascension of our Lord
The incarnation reminds us of a central truth of our faith - that in Jesus, God is physically present among us. But the Feast of the Ascension takes us one step further, reminding us that the incarnation began with Jesus, and it has never stopped. Jesus’ ascension did not end, nor fundamentally change, the Incarnation. The incarnation was not some 33 year experiment by God in history, a one-off, physical incursion into our human realm.
Fr Ronald Rolheiser, a Roman Catholic priest, and spiritual writer, wrote this:
‘God’s physical body is still among us. God is still present, as physical and as real today, as God was in the historical Jesus. God still has human skin, and physically walks on this earth just as Jesus did. In a certain manner of speaking, it is true to say that, at the ascension, the physical body of Jesus left this earth, but the body of Christ did not. God’s incarnational presence among us continues as before.’
I love those words of Fr Ronald: ’The physical body of Jesus left this earth, but the body of Christ did not!’
This is obvious from Jesus’ parable about the sheep and goats in Matthew’s gospel: ‘Whatsoever you did to the least of my brothers and sisters, that you did to me.’ And again, when Paul (then still known as Saul) had set out for Damascus to arrest any followers of the Way, he encountered the risen Lord. Jesus then asked, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ Saul then asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the answer he received was: ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.’ Now as far as we know Saul had never seen or even met Jesus, so how could he have persecuted him? Jesus makes it quite clear. He is persecuted when his disciples are persecuted. In other words, we are the body of Christ. The incarnation continues into the present, in and through us. We are none other than the human skin of God.
St Teresa of Avila has left us some beautiful words which illustrate this point:
‘Christ has no body now, but yours. No hands, no feet on earth, but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ looks compassion into the world. Yours are the feet with which Christ walk to do good. Yours are the hands with which Christ blesses all the world.’
In her memoir, ‘Out of Africa,’ the Danish author Karen Blixen tells the story of a young man from the Kikuyu tribe in Kenya whom she had employed as a farm worker. After only three months he surprised Karen by announcing that he intended leaving her to go and work for a Muslim man nearby. She asked if he had been unhappy working for her. He assured her that all was well, but that he had decided to work for a devout Christian for three months to study the Christian way of life, and then work for a faithful Muslim for three months to study the ways of a Muslim.
I don’t know about you, but I find this story a little daunting. Why? Because I have wondered what decision a person might come to if they were to spend some time working with me.
When I was training for the priesthood, I had a supervisor who reminded me that when I became a priest, I was to be a living walking sacrament of God. That was a tall order, but it is what I am called to be - a living walking sacrament of God. But I don’t think it is just the domain of the so-called clerical elite. God forbid if it was. Aren’t we all called to be living walking sacraments of God?
The Feast of the Ascension reminds us that the physical body of Jesus is no longer with us, but the body of Christ is. We are the human skin of God - living, walking sacraments. We are the hands with which Christ blesses the world.
Theological Student / Country bumpkin
by Sam Miller
Most of you will know by now that I am by no stretch of the imagination a city person. In fact, I have never lived in a major city before. Needless to say, being catapulted into the heart of Melbourne has been a massive change from the slow quiet lifestyle of Casino. To give everyone a bit of perspective, I thought I’d throw out a few facts about my hometown, and the church that I am from.
Casino is located on the far north coast of New South Wales, approximately 200kms south of Brisbane. The council area that Casino is in is approximately one third the size of the Melbourne Metro area, and has 22000 residents, half of which live in Casino. Casino has Australia’s highest producing beef abattoir, which is why we call it the beef capital of Australia (ask me about Rockhampton’s claim on that title). Probably the most well known person ever to come from Casino is Jeff Fatt, the purple Wiggle.
The Anglican Parish of Casino has five centres, the main one, St Marks, is in the heart of Casino, and the other four in surrounding villages. For the past 18 months the parish has been without a Rector, but after a long search, it has been announced that a new rector will be coming in September! The parish has a thriving op shop and catering ministry as well as historical significance within the town, being the first church to be built in Casino.
The huge differences between Casino and Melbourne have certainly presented me with some challenges (I mean, I haven’t even seen a tractor in weeks!), but I am getting there, and the welcoming and supportive environment at St Mary’s has played a huge part in helping me to settle in to the city life, and for that, I am truly grateful.
In three more days my big old house will have been auctioned, and, hopefully, sold. I won’t miss rattling around, a single person in four bedrooms, two living areas and two bathrooms, all of which mysteriously fail to stay clean by themselves.
But I will miss my garden. I’ll miss my front garden with its roses and its lavenders and its thryptomene and its jonquils and hellebores and violets and salvias. I’ll miss my back yard with its pomegranate and fig tree and the feijoas and raspberries and the huge liquidambar tree that grows at the very back, the tallest tree in the street. I’ll miss the flowers, the fruit, the textures, the colors and the scent.
But above all I’m going to miss the life in the garden.
I’m going to miss the bees. Bees playing in the single roses, in the marigolds, around any veggies I’ve grown from one year to the next. I’ll miss the brown butterflies that I sometimes see, and the preying mantis (or are they praying?) that feed on the aphids that feed on the roses. Likewise, the ladybirds during spring when the roses are covered in sappy growth and hence sap sucking insects. I’ll miss the wattle bird that’s been around lately eating the late aphids on the late rose buds. And the spiders that come out at night and run around their big webs doing who knows what………… web repairs, or trapping small insects.
I’ll miss the big urban birds who flock into my big tree, dancing their dances, sitting up the top spying out the neighbourhood, calling and singing and saying “cluck”.
And the possums. Lots of little ringtails, and also big brushy tails who leap around the liquidamber, and all of whom eat my peach crop before I can get to it.
I worry for the future for all these creatures. I worry because I know that they are here, that they have a life in this patch in an urban neighbourhood because in my gardening I have provided them with habitat. I’ve given them shelter from predators, I’ve given them food, I’ve given them a place where they can meet others of their kind breed. And I know that if the new owners of my house decide on pebbles and spikes, or a big garden-obliterating renovation, many of them will no longer have a home. And as this neighbourhood is developed, with every second old house being demolished for townhouses or apartments, the available living quarters for all these creatures is diminishing.
Even here, in the inner suburbs of a big city, there can be lots of life apart from us humans and our dogs and cats. There can be all sorts of little webs of life, all sorts of other creatures feeding and procreating and probably being content and happy.
Does it matter? I think it does. It’s not just about our pleasure in seeing nature at work around us, important though that can be. It’s not just about having pollinators for the cucumbers and tomatoes. It’s about a diversity of life-forms on this earth. I think it’s about caring for all creatures great and small, about honouring Gods creation, or extending what the Buddhists call Metta (Loving-kindness) to all beings. And yes we did get the privilege, as humans, of dominion over all creatures. But with that privilege I reckon comes big responsibilities. Those responsibilities can be on a massive, world-wide scale. But they apply, I think, everywhere, even in a big city.
So in my new garden-making, I’ll remember this, and I will make sure that I plant a garden that will be life-giving for small creatures who find their way there, trying to find peace and a good life even in the urban environment we have created.
Singing the praises of a St Mary’s Chorister
Several Sundays ago some of you may have noted that Elsdon was absent from the choir, and may even have been concerned that this was for health reasons, but it was actually because he was interstate at a professional meeting, the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australian and New Zealand Association of Neurologists (ANZAN), to which he had been invited, to receive the ANZAN medal (pictured left) in recognition of his service to this organisation over a couple of decades, in his capacity of Associate Editor of their society’s scientific journal and as a Council Member, who has also contributed on a number of specialist subcommittees within this organisation. The occasion was an affirming one for Elsdon, and gave me great pride in my dedicated and hard working husband!
Doing God’s Work in Prisons – a personal reflection on Prison Chaplain John Silversides’ address at St Mary’s on Sunday 21st May
Many of us were very moved by John Silversides’ address during the 10am Service on Sunday 21st May. His address brought to mind my encounter with real people in the prison system during my medical course in the 1970’s. One of my colleagues and fellow member of the University of Melbourne Christian Union was a member of the Salvation Army. One of the Salvation Army Prison Chaplains requested that my colleague ask his fellow medical students to assist with a survey of the homeless who sought shelter at Ozanam House in Melbourne’s CBD. The survey asked about issues related to family background, educational attainment and involvement with “correctionals”. I was one of the volunteers. The experience had a profound effect on me. Having grown up in a very caring, loving and protected family environment, attending a private girls’ school, I had no idea about the abject misery of homelessness. The young men I was assigned to had tragic stories to tell. Many came from “broken homes”, exposed to violence, alcohol, financial insecurity, with poor education, and were about my age at the time. Some months later the Salvation Army Chaplain asked if some of the same medical students could join a group to give several concerts in various prison settings and I remembered being quite shocked at recognizing faces of some of those I’d interviewed at Ozanam House, yet at the same time it made me think how very unfair life had been on these young people.
Subsequently, as a paediatrician, I looked after children whose parent had been incarcerated. On one hand they were delightful children in my consulting rooms, yet on the other I was made acutely aware of all they must have experienced that they didn’t deserve.
Adolescence is a challenging time for most, and many can be grateful that “but for the grace of God”, the characteristic impulsive risk taking of youthful years did not have serious long-term sequelae. I find it heart breaking to see adolescents in my practice unsupported by family and community, battling drugs, crime and incarceration.
Repentance and forgiveness need to be at the heart of our criminal justice system. Just punishment needs to be counterbalanced with caring rehabilitation, to give responsive offenders a chance to turn around their lives, and to provide them with hope that they might be able to experience a loving family, satisfying employment and self-esteem. Australia, of all countries, with our history of European settlement being founded on the establishment of a penal colony, has demonstrated what is possible when people are given “a fair go”. Thank God that we have Prison Chaplains, such as John, to bring God’s love and care to those excluded by society at large within the penal system.
St Mary's Stitchers
At last, after what seems like years of planning, work has begun on the new hassocks!
The amazingly multi-talented Sophie Treloar has transferred the first two designs - the Jerusalem Cross from the centre of the sanctuary decorations and the crowned M representing Mary Queen of Heaven - onto graph paper and we've all practiced tent stitch. Now some stitchers have started to translate the graph paper design to real live tapestry.
Meanwhile knitting squares for this year's rugs continues - at home during June but back in the Small Hall on Thursday mornings in July. Rugs already completed were blessed by Dorothy Lee in the Easter 7 Eucharist before being collected by the Asylum Seekers Centre.
Willing hands and hearts always welcome.
St Mary's Gardening Group
James Osborne & Rhondda Fahey
There is something very special about getting your hands dirty in a garden. The St Mary's gardeners have been enjoying this blessing since mid 2016, meeting at 9.30 on the second Saturday morning of each month to maintain and improve the church grounds together.
A lot of the time we just weed. (It's very therapeutic!) We didn't start gardening together in time for last year's weeds so we're dealing with their produce now. But it will get better and the weed crop will become smaller and smaller each year. (So sayeth the optimist) . Our various other tasks include new plantings, the removal of old stragglers, thinning, pruning. If you look around you may notice the what we've been doing.
The group has a constant core and many others who drop in to help from time to time. We'd love you to be part of the group when you can. Jim says 'We're a bit short of those who bear the Y chromosome.'
We're a happy group who enjoy each other's company. As well as this fellowship, we gain lots of fresh air, and vitamin D, a few aching muscles and a huge sense of satisfaction. We meet next on the second Saturday in July. Why not join us and enjoy the special pleasure of getting your hands dirty too?
St Mary’s Book Club
The next monthly meeting of the St Mary’s Book club will be at “Lulu” 506 Queensberry Street on Sunday 18th June at 12pm. The book for discussion is “Divine Beauty” by John O’Donohue and will be convened by Susan Gribben. Please join us for a lively discussion.
Beauty: The Invisible Embrace “We are made Immortal,” Emerson wrote, “by the contemplation of beauty.” Immortality may be too elusive a promise, but beauty does work us over with the piercing immediacy of concrete vitality: we come alive in beholding beauty, intensely immersed in the here and now. Beauty beckons us – from Bach to Blake to the dramatic limestone outcrop on a Basque beach that unravels a billion years our planet’s story as a solitary spaceship in a vast and mysterious universe.” That is what the Irish poet and philosopher John O’Donohue (January 1, 1956 – January 4, 2008) explores – an enchanting meditation on how beauty lays its claim on the human spirit in such disparate realms as music, love, imperfection, death and desire.
Please join us for a lively discussion. Contact Winsome Roberts for more details.
St Mary’s Travels
A visit to France
Greg Reinhardt - May 2017
In September 2016 I was fortunate enough to travel to France for a short time principally to travel to the South West on private business. I did, however, have the opportunity to be in Paris and to undertake two day trips from Paris.
The first of the day trips was to Amiens and the battle fields of the Somme, principally to visit where my great-uncle, Albert Harvey, was killed in the First World War. He died 100 years ago, on 23 August 1916, at Mouquet Farm, near PoziŹres which is close to the town of Albert about half an hour from Amiens.
Mouquet Farm is today a fully-functioning farm. The Battle of Mouquet Farm was part of the battle of the Somme and began on 23 July 1916, being captured by the allies and finally re-captured by German counter-attack on 26 September. Mouquet Farm was renamed “Moo Cow” Farm by the Australian troops in the best Australian larrikin tradition. The body of my great-uncle, along with that of many others killed in the First World War, has no known resting place. Australians are now encouraged to register their DNA with the Australian War Memorial lest remains (which are continually recovered) can be matched with living Australians. Interestingly, my great-uncle wrote to his sister (my grandmother) on the eve of battle with a foreboding of his death. I have gifted that letter and others to the Australian War Memorial and would encourage those who have similar memorabilia to do the same so that it can be permanently preserved.
Those who visit the Somme will be impressed by the well-kept cemeteries (maintained by the Imperial War Graves Commission) throughout the area and the peacefulness of the region compared with the horrors of the First World War.
It was fortunate that, whilst in Albert, I was able to see the museum devoted to the First World War. This is housed in an underground passage, 250 metres long and 10 metres, below the centre of Albert and gives a wonderful impression of conditions suffered by soldiers during the First World War. Special attention has been given to it because of the commemoration of the centenary of the War.
Amiens itself is worth a visit if only to view the Cathedral, which is one of the finest Gothic cathedrals in France. It is the tallest Cathedral in France as is the surface area, the largest medieval interior in Western Europe. The Cathedral housed the reputed head of John the Baptist installed in December 1206 which was part of the loot of the Fourth Crusade and the sacking of Constantinople. (I think I have had occasion in these articles to refer to the fact that I have seen several reputed places of repose of the head of John the Baptist!) The reliquary in which the relic was housed was later lost and what is seen now is a 19th century replica. It is still a place of devotion and found in the north aisle. The famous 17th century statue of the Weeping Angel should also be seen. The Chapel dedicated to Australian and other allied soldiers to whom the preservation of Amiens is dedicated should also be the subject of a visit. The main Australian War Memorial is at Villers- Brettoneux, not far from Amiens where the names of all Australians killed in the War is to be found.
I embarked on another excursion from Paris, this time to Chantilly with its magnificent race course, home in 2016 to the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe which is normally run at Longchamp. In the background is the magnificent ChČteau de Chantilly which consists of two parts, the the Petit ChČteau built around 1560 for Anne de Montmorency, a courtier under Franćois I and Henri II, and the Grand ChČteau, which was destroyed during the French Revolution and rebuilt in the 1870s. After the death of Henri II, the Domaine de Chantilly came into the hands of the Le Grand Condé, Louis II de Bourbon, originally Le Duc D’Enghien (a descendant on his mother’s side of the Montmorency family) and a cousin of Louis XIV who fought in the Fronde, a series of civil wars which occurred between 1648-1653 during the Franco-Spanish War and which took place immediately after the Treaty of Wesphalia that ended the Thirty Years War. Le Grand Condé fought for the King and was responsible for a number of victories including the victory over forces commanded by the future William III of England at Seneffe in the Lowland (now Belgium). There is a wonderful painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme of Le Grand Condé wreathed in laurels at the foot of the stairs at Versailles with Louis XIV waiting to great him after the battle. He suffered badly from gout so I’m not sure how he mounted the stairs!
I was fortunate to see a wonderful exhibition devoted to Le Grand Condé whilst at Chantilly. MoliŹre’s play, Les Précieuses Ridicules was performed at the ChČteau in 1659 and there is the wonderful story found in the memoirs of Madame de Sévigné of the visit of Louis XIV in 1671 when Franćois Vatel, the maĒtre d'hôtel to the Grand Condé, committed suicide through fear that the fish would be delivered late! Such a French story! A total pre-occupation with food.
As noted, the original Grand ChČteau was destroyed in the Revolution. It was entirely re-built in 1875-1882 by Henri d’Orléans, duc d’Aumale, a son of Louis-Philippe, in the Renaissance style. The duc was a member of the Orléans family which maintains the title of Comte de Paris, pretenders to the French throne. The library in the chČteau is magnificent. The duc was a prolific author and a member of the Académie Franćaise.
Those visiting Chantilly must also visit to Grandes Ecuries (the Great Stables) which date from the 18th century- just amazing.
I hope this gives some idea of the type of day excursions which can be done from Paris. There are many more.
On Holiday with Pugin
I have purchased a fine piece of land about an acre facing the sea at Ramsgate close to the spot where blessed Austin landed. I shall not erect a Grecian villa but a most substantial catholic house not very large but convenient and solid and there is every prospect of a small church in the same ground, which will be delightful.
The author of these words, written in September 1843, was the great English Gothic revival architect and designer Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-1852). Today the “substantial catholic house” that he designed and built, The Grange in Ramsgate, Kent in South East England, is available as a holiday let from the UK architectural charity, the Landmark Trust, and Lindy, Eleanor and I enjoyed a five-day stay at this amazing and inspiring property in the company of some English friends.
Pugin is one of those people who make you wonder what you have done with your own life. By the age of 15 he had already produced drawings for furniture to be installed at the royal residence, Windsor Castle, and in the next 25 years before his death at the age of 40, he designed 3 cathedrals and dozens of other churches and houses, often including their interior furnishings: religious artefacts, furniture, ceramics, stained glass, jewellery, carpets and wallpaper. He worked with Charles Barry on the Gothic details of the UK Houses of Parliament (the Palace of Westminster) and was chiefly responsible for their lavish interiors and the design of the Big Ben tower. He was a tireless advocate for the Gothic style in both the written and spoken word and claimed, with some justification, that “my writings, much more than what I have been able to do, have revolutionized the taste of England”. Twice a widower, he married three times and fathered and nurtured eight children.
Pugin was convinced of the virtues and value of mediaeval Gothic style as against the Classical ideals of the eighteenth century, regarding the former as Christian and the latter as “pagan”. Thus, when he came to build his family home, he wanted no “Grecian” (i.e. Classical, “pagan”) villa but a “catholic” (Gothic) house. A convert to Roman Catholicism in 1845, it was a Catholic church, which was built on an adjacent plot and a Catholic monastery that was built across the road from it. The church was dedicated to St Augustine of Canterbury (the “blessed Austin” as Pugin calls him) who, at the request of Pope Gregory the Great, had landed at nearby Ebbsfleet in 597 CE on a mission to the Angles.
The house was a joy to stay in and explore. With three storeys (four if you count the tower), four bedrooms, three bathrooms, living room, kitchen, dining room, library and private chapel Pugin may have considered it “not very large” but it seemed very spacious to the Goldings and their friends. Perhaps it seemed less so with so many children. Pugin wrote of his “horrid mistake” in failing to create “nurseries cut off from the rest” resulting in “perpetual screams that proceed in succession from every room in the house” comparing it to living in a pig market and protesting how hard he found it to design in such trying conditions. He designed the interiors for the Palace of Westminster and the Mediaeval Court of the Great Exhibition at The Grange. Only think how much better they might have been had he been able to get a moment’s peace.
I was especially taken with the private chapel easily accessible from a small corridor at the side of the house. The original stone altar has been moved to the Church but there is an elegant wooden substitute adorned with simple altar cloth, candles and crucifix standing below a stained glass window depicting St Augustine and St Gregory with Pugin, his wife and three of his daughters kneeling in prayer. Minton tiles, a stencilled ceiling and a Gothic electrolier complete the effect. I made use of the chapel during my stay but not as often as Pugin who prayed there alone every morning at 6.00 and later in the day led the family devotions. He kept these short to match the attention spans of his children who soon began to fidget if he overran.
Most of the later additions to the house have been removed and so its built form is much as Pugin designed it but with a few exceptions the original furniture has been dispersed. The replacements are comfortable and in keeping but not outstanding. To quote the Landmark Trust’s guide, Pugin’s decorative themes include “a preoccupation with the family motto [‘en avant’ meaning ‘forward’] and arms [featuring a small, black bird, in a heraldic terms a martlet] use of text and colour [several quotations from Proverbs] and a striking diagonality of joinery and internal patterns”. Statues of Mary are also prominent.
The back of the house faces the sea and there are impressive views across the rolling lawns, especially from the top of the tower. The landscaping is quite simple. Pugin seems to have had no great interest in gardening. Eleanor turned a few handstands on these lawns but I did not, largely for reasons of self-preservation. We all enjoyed a variety of other, gentler pursuits: reading (an excellent library with books on Pugin or of local interest), board and card games, cooking, eating and talking with friends we do not see too often and visits to the surrounding sights and countryside. We joined a guided tour of the house, which is often open to the public, and visited the church next door. As a lifelong Anglican raised and educated in England I was taught my country’s history from a particular angle of perception. It was intriguing to see at St Augustine’s a very different perspective on the momentous events of the sixteenth century from the point of view of those to whom the English Reformation was a catastrophe from which England needed to be saved.
I cannot do full justice to all the wonders of the house but I hope that the editors can find space for some of the photographs taken by my friend, Lucrezia Herman. If not, doing a Google image search on “The Grange, Ramsgate” should yield some good resources and visiting landmarktrust.org.uk and selecting “The Grange” from the list of properties will also be fruitful and tell you how you can hire it yourself if you feel so inclined.
Main Sources: Caroline Stanford, The Grange, Ramsgate (Maidenhead: The Landmark Trust, 2006/8); Robin Fleet, Presenting Pugin: A Short Introduction to the Life and Work of A.W.N. Pugin for Visitors to Thanet (Ramsgate: The Pugin Society, 2013).
DATES FOR THE DIARY
Sunday 11 June 6pm Trinity Sunday Evensong
Friday 7 July Christmas in July Dinner
Tuesday 15 August 6.30pm Patronal Festival Eucharist
CONTACT ST MARY’S
Post: 430 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne 3051
Phone: (03) 9328 2522 Fax: (03) 9328 2922
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Vicar: Archdeacon Craig D’Alton 0407 443 909
The vicar’s day off is Monday
Clergy: The Revd Luke Hopkins
The Revd Canon Dorothy Lee
The Revd Philip Bewley
0412 584 690
Lay Ministers: Josephine Snowdon
Light Up! Ministry
email@example.com 0400 404 441
Children and Family Ministry
Theological Student: Sam Miller
Director of Music: Beverley Phillips 5286 1179
Parish Administrator: Kerry Dehring
Regular Office Hours: Monday 9.30am-3.30pm
The church is open during the day.
Morning Prayer is at 8.30am Tuesday to Friday.
All are welcome, and for coffee afterwards.
Wednesday Eucharist is celebrated at
12.30pm in the Mary Chapel.
The clergy are happy to be contacted to discuss matters of faith with anyone, and to prepare people for the church’s sacraments.
Any views and opinions expressed in this edition of the parish news are those of the individuals writing them and do not necessarily reflect parish policy or the views of the parish clergy.
This Edition of the Parish News has been printed in black & white to help save money. If you would like to view this edition of the Parish News in colour, please go to our website www.stmarys.org.au
MISSION AND VISION STATEMENT
St Mary’s Anglican Church, North Melbourne is an inner-city Christian community that strives to be faithful, inclusive and sacramental.
God inspires us to worship in daily celebration; to be caring, thoughtful and inviting.
In response to God’s call, in the next three to five years we aim:
• To grow substantially in faith and numbers
• To create an inter-generational culture that values all age groups - children and adults - equally
• To express our faith in active engagement within and beyond our own community
• To deploy our property and financial assets in strategic support of the ministry needs of the parish for the long term
• To become more open to change as we learn to grow