Thoroughly Brassed Off
Ron Rankin

The heading for this article was not of my choosing, but given my ambivalent feelings for Ornamental Brassware, it is most appropriate!

The Seven Sanctuary Lamps are the only brassware which is part of the original fixtures and fittings of St Faith's. Suspended from the roof timbers by a series of chains and counterweights, as needing to be for raising and lowering, they are very intricate in design. Starting life as oil burning lights, at some stage the inner workings were removed, when or why is not known, and they are now lit by candlepower. Legend has it that they were initially to be fitted in the church of St. Agnes, Ullet Road, another church founded by Douglas Horsfall. However a disagreement between Mr. Horsfall and people at St. Agnes resulted in them being sent to St. Faith's and fitted here.

Of the all the brass furnishings added to the church interior over the years, the brassware at the High Altar must be the most visible. Although the pieces did not all arrive together, but over a period of at least eight years, they are all of the same design, with a hammered effect surface finish. First to arrive, in 1948, were the six 23 tall candlesticks as the new vicar, the Revd William Hassall, set about refurbishing the sanctuary. They were followed shortly afterwards by the 33 tall cross, which was almost certainly a gift from the parents of George Smith. Then there was an obvious gap of several years before the appearance of two pairs of smaller 15 candlesticks. One pair bears the dedication: In memory James Howard Foy Priest Died March 1953.The other pair bears the dedication: In Memory Harriet Callender Died 3 May 1955. A much smaller pair of candlesticks with the same hammer effect finish is found in a side alcove and bears the dedication: In Memory of Eva Gerard May 17th 1959. On the floor is a recent addition to the sanctuary brass: what is known as a 4-chime bell, an alternative to the large brass gong  which is now on the Nave Altar platform. This large gong is somewhat peculiar in that the metal used for the dome seems to differ from that used for the base.

In the Lady Chapel is an altar set comprising, two candlesticks 16 tall and a matching crucifix 20 tall. There is a simple dedication on the base of the crucifix which reads: In Loving Memory of Agnes Bentley Smith. The set was a gift from the then vicar, the Revd Harold Bentley-Smith in 1917 on the formation of the Lady Chapel. There is another brass gong here, but in keeping with the size of  the Lady Chapel, smaller than the one on the Nave Altar platform.

The processional brass, by its very purpose, is basically seen only once a week and then not in its entirety, this would normally only happen on the major church festivals. An original processional cross has been replaced with a processional crucifix bearing the dedication: In memory of James Elliot Waugh 23 April 18882 September1954, on the ferrule. To accompany the crucifix in the procession there are a total of six acolyte candleholders all 24 tall. Though similar in style they can be separated into one pair and a set of four. As with the High Altar brass it is apparent that all pieces did not arrive together. No acolyte candleholders appear on any church photographs prior to 1960, which suggests that the Revd. William Hassall not only replaced existing brassware, but added quite a lot more objects. On a normal Sunday service only two of the acolyte holders are used, more appearing on special occasions. Two of these acolyte candleholders can now be found, unless required elsewhere, on either side of the Book of Remembrance display case, itself a fairly recent acquisition. Also used in the procession and during the service is the thurible in which is burnt the incense. Their very purpose means that they have a limited life. The most recent of these came in 1977 and, as with much of our brass, was a gift.

Another two items of brass which have been acquired since the arrival of Fr. Neil Kelley are the Sacristy bell and a Holy Water vat with ball sprinkler. The bell is fixed to the wall of the side passage adjacent to the vestry door and is rung to signal the start of the Mass. The holy water vat and sprinkler are kept in the sacristy. Finally, mention should be made of a new item, although not made of brass: a small holy water stoup, the bequest of the late Marion Ashworth, and situated near the south porch door.

Also in the sacristy are various candelabra which come out very rarely. They are principally used on Maundy Thursday as part of the lighting for the Garden of Gethsemane created for the Watch.

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