REGISTERING THE PAST
A leisurely look at the service registers of St Faith's Church, Great Crosby
An ever-lengthening sequence of articles published in our church magazine Newslink from June 2012 onwards.
The latest instalment is, annoyingly, added at the foot of the page. Scroll down or jump to it HERE
Episode 1 1900 -1901: Consecration and the beginning
Back in 1975, I published a history of our church, with extensive use of the entries in our service registers since Douglas Horsfall’s foundation of St Faith’s in 1900. The book is out of print now, but the full text may be accessed elsewhere in this website.
With the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic drawing near, interest in those distant years has been revived, and Maureen Madden unearthed three references to the sinking of that great ship and the tragic but heroic death of Joseph Bell, its Chief Engineer and, of course, a member of St Faith’s, remembered in the memorial tablet in the south aisle. These I added to the website pages already existing, featuring marine engineer Denis Griffiths’s piece about Mr Bell, and other assorted material and links. If you haven’t seen this, it’s at http://www.stfaithsgreatcrosby.org.uk/furnishtitanic.html
Needless to say, as the pages of that first volume turned, I was intrigued by a whole assortment of snippets of church and national history recorded in its pages: some I had used in the 1975 history, others I had not – and I felt a magazine article coming on! Now read on...
St Faith’s was consecrated by The Archbishop of York, Dr William Maclagan, on April 21st, 1900: 112 years to the day from my writing these lines. He did so despite a petition asking him not to consecrate ‘this Mass house’ – the first of many objections to what would today seem the very mild churchmanship about to be practised within our walls. The register, of course, reflects nothing of this, merely recording on May 14th, 1900 ‘Daily Matins and Evensong commenced’ There was in those early times an early Holy Communion, and at 11.00 am Matins and Litany (or occasionally Matins and Holy Communion. On May 20th at 11.00 am two verses of the National anthem were sung before the service and after evensong the Te Deum: both to mark the Relief of Mafeking.
There seem to have been only occasional services outside Sunday, and these poorly attended at times (‘S. Barnabas. H.C. 8.30 no communicants’ for example). The first vicar, the Revd Thomas Howe Baxter., read himself in (an official rite of passage), declaiming his at least nominal acceptance of the 39 Articles in two sessions on a Sunday in August; the week after ‘Part of Organ used for first time’ – and Rev C.C. Elcum preached at the ‘Opening of Organ’ service soon after.
Matins remained the chief Sunday morning service at this time, even on the first Christmas Day, although it was sandwiched between three Holy Communions, with 107 communicants in all. At Evensong on that Christmas Day there was ‘no sermon, - and no recorded collection.
There was Watch Night Service at 11.15 (presumably p.m.) on New Year’s Eve, and the new year saw the regular appearance of a Children’s Service at 3.00 pm on Sundays. Sexagesima Sunday 1901 saw writ large across the page ‘Notice appeared in the “London Gazette” that an order had been signed by the King in Council assigning a consolidated chapelry to the consecrated Church of St Faith’ Soon after, Ash Wednesday featured a Commination Service (you don’t see many of them these days!)
There were midweek Lent Services in the build-up to the first Easter. On Good Friday there was the traditional Three Hours from 12 – 3, following which we read: 8.0 ‘The Crucifixion’ – Church well filled. It was still Matins at 11.00 am on Easter Day, and 150 communicants between the three eucharists. In all there were 18 services between Palm Sunday and Easter Monday: in 2012 there were no fewer than 33 between our two churches.
The church’s first year ended with ‘Anniversary of Consecration of Church’ recorded on April 21st. The preacher at Martins was once again ‘C.C.Elcum, S Agnes, Sefton Park’ We know it as S. Agnes, Ullet Road, and it was Fr Elcum after whom our founder, Douglas Horsfall’s young son was named, and who laid the foundation stone still to be seen outside the church’s north doors. St Agnes was of course, a Horsfall foundation also, and its patron saint is one of the four whose carved figures adorn our chancel screen.
I had only meant to dip in and out of the register, but archives are absorbing stuff, and there is another century and more to go. Watch this space....
Episode 2 1901 - 1903: Gas and Gaiters
A few months ago I delved into the first service register of St Faith’s in search of references to the ‘Titanic’ anniversary, and found myself absorbed in the book as an archive and a social record. I decided to amplify the relatively brief extracts from our service books that were published in my 1975 church history (out of print but online via the church website) and dig further for buried historical treasure. The story thus continues from spring 1901, after the first anniversary of the church’s consecration.
June 2nd saw the first confirmation at our church, with 44 candidates from us and St Luke’s confirmed by the Bishop of Liverpool. On August 4th, the preacher at Evensong was, intriguingly, the chaplain of the prison at Castletown in the Isle of Man. On September 15th it is recorded that at morning and evening services a ‘Dead March’ was played to mark the assassination of President McKinley. More cheerfully, a few days later we read ‘Illuminated address presented to the Founder in Waterloo Town Hall by Canon Armour (Headmaster of Merchant Taylors’) from parish and congregation of S.Faith.’
October 4th saw the first funeral at St Faith’s (‘S.H.Lewis: full choir’) and on October 6th St Faith’s Day, falling on a Sunday is celebrated for the first time (‘Very stormy and wet’!) Then at what was obviously a special Evensong on Tuesday, October 15th it was a case of ‘Whole Nave filled’, the Te Deum sung, the Bishop of Liverpool in the pulpit and ‘The Founder of the Church was present.’ The collection that day came to £20.1.5, and on Christmas Day of the same year the total was £4.16.3 – for the ‘Food and Betterment’ Association, reported as ‘supplying halfpenny dinners to poor children.’ What would these sums be worth in 2012, one wonders.
There was a Watch Night Service at 11.15 pm on New Year’s Eve, and a sombre start to 1902, with the death on January 27th of the Rural Dean, Rev. C. De B. Winslow. His successor, Rev S.F.G.Smithwick, vicar of Seaforth, was soon appointed. Then on Monday February 24th we hear ‘Gas left on in church – church full of it Monday 8 am.’ This may refer to the gaslight chandeliers, evidence of which can still be seen in the chancel today, and which some hapless churchwarden or sidesman had perhaps extinguished but failed to turn off properly at Evensong the previous day...
On Good Friday the Three Hours Service was led by C.C.Elcum, no longer identified but obviously the priest who featured in the 1900 consecration and after whom Douglas Horsfall’s son was named. Easter Day saw 197 communicants between the 7.30 am, 8.30 am and 11.45 am communions – and the day also featured Mattins, a Children’s Service and Evensong. Then , in close juxtaposition in Mr Baxter’s neat, tiny writing, we read ‘Anthem ‘& Behold there was a gt. Earthquake’, followed by ‘Vestry Meeting. Wardens Appointed’ (!) Having come through these critical times, Mr Baxter records April 20th as being ‘Kept as 2nd Anniversary of Consecration.’
June 2th has, in larger letters than any feast day is recorded, ‘Coronation of King Edward VII. 9.0 am Litany and Holy Communion: Service of Holy Communion with special intercessions for the King.’ Nothing much happened then until Sunday, November 2nd, when the subject of the sermon at Mattins, recorded in minuscule lettering, was ‘The State of the Blessed dead.’ This innocent-sounding topic may hide something of the controversy between ‘high’ and ‘low’ wings of the C.of E. concerning prayers for the departed – one of the causes of real conflict in the early years of the Oxford Movement Catholic revival.
Tucked away in the pages of the old register is a printed letter from the vicar, which begins ‘There are many who attend St Faith’s Church who are not known to me personally, and I am most anxious to make their acquaintance.’ He goes on to ‘earnestly invite’ all such to a ‘SOCIAL GATHERING to be held in the Waterloo Town Hall’ on Wednesday, December 3rd.’ He is at pains to stress that in this venture he has ‘the hearty co-operation of the Church Council.’ Sadly, history does not record the success or otherwise of this grand gesture.
Interestingly, Ash Wednesday of 1902 featured, at 8.30 (presumably a.m.) a Commination Service. I must look that word up. The following Easter Day the total of communicants had risen to 203, and the Easter Offering, traditionally in those days given to the incumbent, came to £17.9.0. Holy Week and Easter were clearly celebrated in grand style in those early years, yet Maundy Thursday was marked by
just one morning communion service, with just 10 communicants.
On June 24th there is a lot squeezed into the margins of the book. ‘The Rural Dean – Rev. R.J.G.Smithwick, visited St Faith’s Church & recommended (1) that a table of marriage Fees be fixed in the Vestry (2) that an Inventory of the goods and furniture of the Church be made, signed by the Vicar and Wardens and placed in the Church Safe. (3) That a statement as to the position and number of Free Seats be put in the church.’ Three days later, a ‘Memorial Window dedicated at Morning Prayer – special prayers being sanctioned by the Bishop - in memory of Ferdinand Anderton Latham’.
Lest we should think that the current wet summer was a modern phenomenon, on three separate occasions of August, 1902, Mr Baxter was moved to provide meteorological annotations to the services: ‘Very Wet’ ... ‘Stormy’ ... ‘Very Wet.’ One line below the last of these gloomy records we read ‘Rev W.A. Reeves’ last Sunday at St Faith’s’. He was doubtless seeking drier climes.
More to follow, should you have read this far.
Episode 3 1903 - 1905: Matins and Mantles
A senior moment during the compilation of last month’s titbits from the first service book meant that several of the final events recounted were attributed to 1902, whereas they actually took place in 1903. It is hoped that any future researcher will realise that it was not ‘very wet’ for Rev. W.A. Reeves’ last Sunday as curate of St Faith’s in 1902 (although it may have been) but that the heavens actually opened on August 30th, 1903. Now read on...
The autumn of 1903 saw ‘F.J.Liverpool’ (the Bishop thereof) preaching at a September Sunday evensong, and attracting a bumper collection of £10.1.9. In October, St Faith does not get a mention in her day (6th) but the vicar of St Catherine’s, Liverpool came and preached. Was this the church in Abercromby Square, now no longer there, another foundation of our patron Douglas Horsfall and whose saint, complete with wheel, graces our chancel screen? He was followed into the pulpit a week later by the Archdeacon of Chester.
On October 25th, an annotation by Mr Baxter records ‘several pews were not collected from by mistake.’ Later on his sermon theme at an evensong service is ‘Prayer for the Departed’. November 23rd was ‘Showery and cold’ and those present will have rejoiced that St Faith’s was ‘heated with gas, new boiler being put in’. Preachers in the closing weeks of the year included the Vice-Principal of St Michael’s College, Aberdare, Glamorgan’ and the beguilingly-named J. Coke Norris.’ There were 140 Christmas Day communicants over three eucharists: there were also matins and evensong services on the day but as yet no Christmas Eve midnight celebration..
On January 3rd, 1904, Mr H.B.Wyatt gave ‘a Bible or Prayer Book to 39 children who had repeated 1Cor xiii’. Those were the days... Mr Baxter continues to record interesting events in nearby churches: January 24th was not merely ‘very cold and raw’ but was also ‘St Luke’s, Crosby, 50th Anniversary.’ Quinquagesima Sunday (14th February) has the marginal note ‘Wedding 7.45 am’ (!) and ‘The Bishop and Archdeacon Madden at St John’s.’ The preacher at our evensong that day was one S.J.Sykes – probably the long-serving vicar of St Mary’s, Waterloo.
Sunday early morning communicants in these months remained at anything from 7 to 30, apart of course from the seasonal boosts and great festivals. From the beginning, the regular and unvarying 8.30 am celebration had been augmented by a later celebration, following the equally unvarying 11.00 am Matins. This eucharist is variously recorded as taking place at 11.45 am, 12 noon or 12.15 pm: it is often bracketed with matins in the book, and may have followed it without a break. These services took place every two or three weeks, with no discernible pattern as to their occurrence, and attracted between 12 and 30 extra communicants. It was however, to be many years before the main Sunday service became a Sung Eucharist and matins dropped out. The equally unvarying service of evensong was always at 6.30 pm. Attendance figures are not recorded, but using collections as a guide (these being faithfully recorded for all services) evensong was significantly the best-attended act of worship, with matins not far behind; the sacramental services, although faithfully attended, were less profitable! Quite a contrast with the 21st century, at St Faith’s, with matins and evensong read for a handful of the faithful, and mostly mid-week at that.
Back in the summer of 1904, we see a rare weekday evensong on Friday 1st July, at the equally unusual hour of 8 pm; this was ‘taken by the choir of St Nicholas, Southport’ and raised the goodly sum of £5.17.5 for the Choir Fund. It’s not easy to find out how much that would be in today’s money, but more than one conversion website suggest a figure of £500. Can anyone update or correct this seemingly vast sum?
W.A.Reeves, who had left St Faith’s on that very wet Sunday in 1902, returned to preach at evensong on July 3rd. For three weeks that August J. H. Powell, took all the services, presumably during Mr Baxter’s absence. He followed the vicar’s example on August 4th, recording that it was ‘Very wet early, fine later’. St Faith’s day 1904 went unrecorded, save for the marginal note ‘Church Congress in Liverpool’. Soon after, the Chaplain to the Bishop of Lahore came to preach, while on October 17th A.E.Andrew, ‘a seatholder in St Faith’s from the first’ was laid to rest, and the following day Luke Bramwelll, ‘a regular attendant’ was buried, both at Anfield (the crematorium not the football field). To round off October, we hear of ‘new incandescent mantles’.
Clergy from 'The Training College Warrington’, Blundellsands and Knotty Ash variously preached in the final weeks of 1904; the year closed without the hitherto customary Watch Night Service.
In the early weeks of 1905 it is re3corded that a sermon was preached on ‘The Welsh Revival’, and that the weather successively featured ‘very severe hailstorm’, ‘stormy: showers’ and ‘very heavy rain’ – and at Septuagesima, ‘Plates used for the collection for the 1st time’. A Bible Class on Maundy Thursday attracted 22 people. More portentously, on March 19th, Charles Yeld of Grassendale preached, and tiny writing in the margin records ‘’The Rev. C. Yeld’s last sermon – he had a paralytic stroke on the Wednesday following and died soon after Easter.’
At a ‘Lent service’ on the following Wednesday, the text is recorded as ‘H.C. Names of Mass and Eucharist’, but it was to be many years before the former term was used in St Faith’s service books. Easter communicants held steady at 196 over the three celebrations at 7.30, 8.30 and 11.45. On Whitsunday ‘Litany to the Holy Spirit used after Evensong in accordance with request of Archbishop of Canterbury’. Thereafter, part from regular and usually gloomy meteorological reports, the next item to catch this writer’s eye was the replacement of ‘T.H.B’ by Thomas Robinson, M.A., who took t he services for a month from late July and whose spiky writing is incomprehensible.
With Mr Baxter back at the helm, the rest of the summer was plain sailing, with the interesting addition of a midweek Harvest Festival service 8.00 pm on Friday 22nd September. ‘John Wakeford’ preached, and the congregation parted with £4.7.10 on the plate. St Faith’s day passed unmentioned, but October 22ns was marked as ‘Nelson Centenary’ and the sermon intriguingly entitled ‘Thoughts – Discipline of Nelson’. And for the past few weeks and the next few months, numbers are recorded alongside the celebrant’s initials: they seem to be the hymns sung at each service, but with no record of the hymnbook used – possibly the English Hymnal?
Guy Fawkes Day 1905 was a Sunday, and we were visited by Arthur French (S.P.G) preaching on ‘Missions to Indian Teaching’. On December 7th, five St Faith’s adults were confirmed at Liverpool Cathedral. A Lantern Service was held on December 7th - a weekday – by ‘special permission of the Bishop’, but it only raised 9s 8d in the collection. There were 183 communicants on Christmas Day, but ‘no-one present’ for the planned service on St John the Evangelist’s day, two days later. New Year’s Eve was a Sunday, with the usual services taken this year by J.Coke Norris. There were only 8 communicants at the 8.30 service – one of the lowest recorded since the church opened in 1900, and again there was no Watch Night Service to see the old year out.
Next time, if you’re still with us, the weather worsens in January 1906...
Episode 4 1906 - 1908: Wet weather and an all-clear from the Bishop
‘Frost and east wind’ saw out 1905: ‘wet and stormy’ saw in 1906, and it was still ‘stormy and cold all day’ by Septuagesima. Names that will ring a bell with some, perhaps, were D.G Fee Smith and R.J Herring, who preached variously in the early weeks of the year. Mr Baxter’s preoccupation with the weather reached gloomy climax in mid-February: it was ‘wet’, ‘very wet’, ‘stormy and wet – very bad night’, very wet’ and ‘wet’ between 8th and 15th. Worship conti8nued, nevertheless, with a Three Hours Service conducted by R.G.Williams of Minsterley, Salop, recorded on Good Friday. Easter Day communions were down to 204. Nothing much else seems to have happened, if you don’t count ‘Imprecatory Psalms’ as a sermon theme on Easter 4, until the weather seems to have picked up in June (‘Slight shower’ on Trinity 3). The collection at Evensong on July 15th (£3.12.2) is earmarked for ‘Sunday School Treat’.
The vicar took a long break starting on August 5th, and J.W.Tyrer officiated all services. Mr Baxter was back on September 2nd to take the reins and note ‘great heat’. September 23rd has a crowded tiny annotation, reading ‘Ordination at Ch.Ch, Harvest F. At S. Luke’s, S. Nicholas and Sephton (the old spelling for Sefton). Box for Parish Room 9/8.’ This latter, less than 50p today, wouldn’t have gone far towards the plans for the parish hall.
Matins remained the central Sunday service, with Litany appended to it on October 14th. The next event of note, sandwiched between ‘wet’ and ‘very bad night, hail & rain’ was the opening, on Monday October 22nd at 8 pm, of the new Parish Hall. The Rural Dean, Revd C. Elcum (presumably he of the consecration ceremonies – had he moved into the Deanery, or was it larger then?) did the honours.
Sunday afternoon Children’s Ser4vices continued every three or four weeks, and on November 25th si recorded against one such service: ‘£5.8.8 collected by the children for the Children’s Porch in Liverpool Cathedral’. Christmas communicants showed an increase from the previous years, but just after we read ‘Dec. 26 &27 no one present for H.C. Snow.’
Apart from the ubiquitous weather (Hard frost...snow... fog... rough... wet) little is recorded in the first weeks of 1907 until a Wednesday afternoon is shown as ‘short service for members of the Sewing Meeting – every Weds. In Lent.’ St Mary’s features in March, as a confirmation is recorded there. After the Good Friday Three Hours is logged, there are 241 Easter Day communicants, although Holy Saturday is still not observed. On Easter 4 there is a Service for Men at 3.15 pm. Numbers are not recorded, but £2.9.2 was collected for the \British and\Foreign Bible Society. On May 31sy the margin records ‘Private Celebration’ but nothing more. Thomas Robinson, M.A. relives the vicar during August 1907 for the usual month’s break.
St Faith’s Day, October 6th, fell on a Sunday, and our patron is properly recorded as Virgin and Martyr, although the sermon at Evensong focussed instead on ‘The Diocletian Presentation’ (!). James Coles of Madagascar took Sunday School and preached at Evensong on October 13th, and five days later we read ‘Lantern Lecture by Rev J. Coles for \S.P.G. 16/-‘ A week later ‘Mr W.E.Taylor buried at Crosby. He was the 1st People’s Warden of St Faith’s.’ There was a Bazaar, presumably for our church, in ‘Blundellsands Assembly \Rooms on October 31st, Nov 1 & 2’. Then only brief weather reports adorn the ‘Remarks’ column of the register until on December 21st we read ‘Ordination in Cathedral. Rev P. Youlden Johnson ordained Deacon – to the Curacy of St Faith’s.’ He signed in and preached the next day at Evensong. The Watch Night Service at 11.15pm on New Year’s Eve ushered in the year of 1908.
January saw te Sunday School Prize Giving and the presence of our choir at St Luke’s for the funeral of (I think it says) ‘Mr Roger, Blundellsands Hotel’. Earlier, and oddly, Mr Baxter had celebrated Epiphany, on Monday, January 5th, with just five attending. D.G. Fee Smith is now recorded as coming from ‘St Paul’s, Liverpool’ – doubtless one of the many city churches which have since fallen by the wayside. A Bible Class for Young Women started on March 8th, while on 31st, at a confirmation at Christ Church, there were a healthy 25 candidates from St Faith’s. Fr Herring is now recorded as being from St John the Baptist, Toxteth and, thanks to Mr Baxter’s tireless recording of events in surrounding churches, we learn that ‘St Mary’s Church closed for 3 weeks from Mar 29th’.
A Fr Richardson from St Luke’s, Southport, dropped in to take the Three Hours on Good Friday. Whether his church’s churchmanship; was as extreme as is the case today is uncertain, but St Faith’s was yet to wear vestments and use incense, so he may have had to compromise. Easter Day saw 264 communicants. Soon after, Rev S.J. Sykes (St Mary’s, Waterloo) and our old friend Rev Charles Elcum (From Horsfall’s fiou8ndatioin of St Agnes, Liverpool) came to celebrate the Dedication Festival on April 24th. on the Tuesday and Thursday of Whitsunday week there was ‘no H.C. Vicar ill’; sooj afterwards the hefty sum of £29.12.0 is recorded as having been sent ‘as Thankoffering to the Pan Anglican Congress’.
A revealing marginal entry for 8th July reads: ‘Funeral at Smithdown Rd Cemetery, L’pool. Mrs W.E.Taylor’s old servant R Beezley’. She was the widow of the first warden of St Faith’s. On July 19th the Matins preacher was Fred. F. Grensted – a priest who taught at Merchant Taylors’ School – the first of several subsequent appearances. Thereafter there was little of note – not even weather – until an entry writ large across the book on Tuesday, October 20th, which reads ‘The Lord Bishop of Liverpool visited the Parish to inspect the Church and Parish Hall, & stated that there was nothing in the ornaments of the Church to which any objection could be made.’ This triumphant declaration was signed by Thomas Howe Baxter, Vicar and Chas. W.Huson and William Gay, Churchwardens (this latter, as Dr Gay, has a memorial plaque in St Faith’s in the south aisle.) The need for a visit, and for the statement, is evidence that beneath the calm surface of the register’s weekly entries objections from Protestant extremists were continuing; George Houldin’s 1950 history – text online in the church website – records the visit and its context. Mr Baxter addressed the congregation on the subject the nest Sunday evening after Evensong. Thereafter the weeks seem to have passed without incident. There was a ‘Guild Service’ (unspecified) on November 29th, 206 Christmas Day communicants – and £1.5.3. collected at the watchnight service which ended 1908.
Episode 5 1909 - 1910: a curate goes and many coins are counted
We take up this unending narrative on January 8th, 1909. There was a funeral at 10.30 am (a Mrs Allerton of Norma Rd), but more interestingly, it was preceded at 8 am by ‘H.C for mourners’ – clearly the practice of Requiems at funerals had not yet been started; equally clearly this was a devoted band of mourners. There soon follows the obligatory ‘heavy rain’ , a prize giving at the Sunday 3.15 pm Children ‘s Service, a ‘Guild Service’ after Evensong on another Sunday, and a sequence of ‘Private Celebrations’ in February. R.F.Herring signs in regularly during Lent 1906, as does P.Y.L – P. Youlden Johnson. There are several extra Children’s Services on weekdays in the run-up to Easter.
There were sparsely-attended daily Eucharists in Holy Week, but seemingly ’70 to 90’ present for a service labelled ‘Preparation for H.C.’ on the Wednesday. ‘F.J.Liverpool’ presided at a Good Friday 8.00pm evensong – no numbers recorded, but a bumper collection of £3.18.4. And Easter Day saw 137 at the 7.30am celebration, 104 at the 8.30, and 75 at the 11.45. However, there was’ no one present’ to greet T.H.B at 7.00 am on May 27th.
Things went on quietly for some time after this, apart from a tiny poignant marginal note on Friday 16th July: Funeral at Knotty Ash of Vasco Herbert Lazzolo, aged 22 months. Deaths pile up in succeeding months: 16th August sees ‘death of Mr.Hogg. Buried at Sefton by the Rector’, and a few days later: ‘Death of Mr Millar-Hughes, suddenly at New Orleans, USA.’ Little interrupts the even tenor of the weeks then until October. Saint Faith doesn’t get a look in on 6th, but the Children’s Service on the 10th is taken by J.A.Sharrock of Madras, and a Lantern Lecture (remember those, anyone?) on 14th is given by Rev E.W.R.Beale of Calgary and Saskatchewan.
November 1st (All Saints’ Day) saw ‘8.30 Meeting to start Branch of Church of England Men’s Society’. Later that month, on 23rd, is recorded ‘Presentation to Rev. P. Youlden Johnson in the Parish Hall on his leaving the Curacy of St Faith’s for St Peter’s, Birmingham’.
Shortly before Christmas, there are ‘4 from St Faith’s’ at ‘Adult Confirmation at the Cathedral’ – and, unusually, on Christmas Eve a ‘Private H.C. at the Vicarage’. There were no fewer than five services the following day.
In early 1910 ‘D.G.Fee Smith’ signs in more regularly, as from time to time does W.Wentworth Scott of St Thomas, Seaforth. The Met. Reports continue with equal regularity – usually ‘wet’ but occasionally ‘heavy snowstorm’.
Moving swiftly on, we gather that ‘This Lent a course of Sermons on the Lord’s Prayer was preached on Wednesdays at 8 pm.’ How many heard them is not registered. The Bishop of Liverpool conducted a Confirmation here on March 10th, but the collection only seems to have amounted to 13s.2d. The vicar of Seaforth took the Good Friday Three Hours Service. On Easter Thursday a ‘Musical Service’ is squeezed into the register, bringing in a handsome £10.16.3 for the Choir Fund. Minutely marginal writing records those performing as ‘Stanley Whinyates, St James’ Chapel Royal, late of St Faith’s Choir, Mr Tom Barlow and Tom Owen + the Choir’.
Preachers in April included Herbert A. Wadman, (St Thomas, Seaforth – a curate there?) Austin R.Taylor (St Margaret’s, Princes Road) and P.W.Pheysey (Hartley). Ascension Day was both ‘very wet’ and ‘wet’ – and the next day at 11.45 pm ‘King Edward VII died at Buckingham Palace’. Mr Baxter made the late king the subject of his sermon at the 6.30 evensong two days later, and preached to a ‘full church’. To close the chapter, Friday May 20th is registered as Funeral of King Edward VII of Blessed Glorious Memory’ and marked at 2.30 pm by a ‘Memorial Service. Litany and Burial Service No.II’ and at 8.00 pm by ‘Organ Recital’ by Mr J. Waugh (the current St Faith’s organist). The collections from the two commemorations amounted to £5.3.2, given to the Liverpool Hospital Sunjday Fund and the Whitehaven Fund.
D.G.F.S replaces T.H.B for a while in late June and earl; July; the former’s scratchy handwriting seems to record, on St Peter’s Day, ‘churching’ (presumably the old service of the Churching of Women, not likely to have attracted any early feminists!). Mr Fee Smith’s subsequent sermons on ‘The Valley of Humiliation’ and ’The dark river’ may also have done little to lighten the occasions when they were delivered.
More entertainingly, August 14th saw the return of Stanley Whinyates, (again proudly listed as being from St James’ Chapel Royal Choir) to sing a solo in the anthem ‘Peace I leave with you’ – Varley Roberts at the 6.30 pm Litany. Squeezed in below this cramped annotation we read ‘900 coins at 11 + 6.30.’ This careful counting (doubtless a real burden for wardens and treasurer!) is the first such computation recorded, although service registers some year later incorporated a column for ‘coins’ for a good many years. Doubtless also today’s collection counters would welcome a windfall of 900 coins...)
Stanley Whinyates performs again on Sundays in August: the second of these two events is ‘very wet’, but the collection amount to a generous £4.15.2, so he must have been quite a crowd-puller. October 6th falls on a Thursday, and there is a 7.30 Holy Communion but no mention of Saint Faith. G. Hardwick Spooner, and H.W.Campbell Baugh (splendid names!) sign in later in the month – and pencilled in empty spaces that same month we read of Pew Rents received from Clo Huson, Mrs Thomson and Mrs Kenrick. The rentals are recorded as £2.20, 10/6 and £1.1.0 respectively. It would be fascinating to know more about the charging of these rents (when they started and finished, and why they were charged) – and to understand why Clo Huson had to pay four times as much as Mrs Thomson for her seating!
Mr Fee Smith fills in much of the November register, his blotchy pen spattering the page; he faithfully records the weather as ‘much rain and wind’, until Mr Baxter’s familiar clear script takes over again for the last weeks of the year. S.J.Sykes must have borrowed Mr Fee Smith’s wayward pen to sing in messily on December 14th. There is no worship recorded on Christmas Eve (many years are to pass before Midnight Mass appears), but Christmas Day is ‘Fine and Mild all day’ and 226 of the devout make their communion at the three celebrations. It falls on a Sunday, so there is the usual Children’s Service in the afternoon and a well-attended Evensong (you wouldn’t get them out for that these days!)
There is no Watch Night Service recorded, and St Faith’s slips quietly into its second decade as 1911 opens.
Episode 6 1911 - 1912: Breakfasts for Men
For some time now, the main Sunday morning service had been registered as Mattins, with the addition on some Sundays of ‘with H.C.’ I have not been able to trace any obvious logic to the respective occurrences, but note that the pattern continues into 1911. We are still a good many years from the introduction of ‘H.C’ on its own as the main Sunday service, let alone anything so controversial as a Sung Mass, or even a Sung Eucharist. And there seems only to have been one weekday service – a regular Thursday Communion at 7.30 am, with some additional Lenten services on Wednesdays.
But on turning the page into Lent, the margin, usually the preserve of meteorological observation and financial records, is crammed with minutely recorded summaries of daily eucharists. Each is listed as 'S' or ‘B’ – which must be [Fee} Smith and Baxter, and numbers vary between 2 and 13. True to form, each has a collection recorded – those were the days! - with daily income ranging from 1s 2d from the two attendees and 6s.0d from the thirteen. By Easter Day these precise records have gone, to be replaced by the reassuring ‘showery’. There were 320 communicants between the three celebrations that day.
‘Low’ Sunday was also the dedication festival, marked by the Vestry Meeting at 8.00 pm. For some months then, little disturbs the even tenor of St Faith’s Days, apart from ‘Coronation Day on June 22nd. Mr Fee Smith runs the show during the vicar’s weeks off in July and August. His entries are sometimes abrupt – ‘Morng Pr’. and ‘Even Pr.’ occur – and he has still not mastered the art of using blotting paper to limit the spread of his ink-blotchy scrawlings. Mr Baxter is soon back and the careful archival script resumes. Whether his break had involved deep political thought is of course not recorded, but a week later at Evensong his sermon subject is ‘Socialism’.
A detailed tiny note on September 15th reads: ‘At 10 am a Commission consisting of the Rural Dean, Canon Dickson, Rev F.Bartlett met in the Vestry to enquire into the income of the Benefice and report to the Ecclesiastical Commissioner. The Commission was appointed by the Bishop.’ It would be good to have been a fly on the vestry wall. It was ‘cold and wet’ on 23rd Sunday after Trinity, and the mood would see to have been continued at least until 24th Sunday, when the Evensong sermon column reads ‘Malachi iii.8. “Will a man rob God?” Disendowment Bill.’
Money continues to loom large towards the end of 111: ‘Decr 8th + 9th. Sale of Work for Building Fund of Parish Hall. During Advent appears the large bold signature of John Nankivell, S.Columba’s Egremont’. Later there is recorded a weekday Lantern Service’, Christmas saw 224 communicants, despite it being ‘wet’ – but on Innocents’ Day there was sadly ‘no-one present’. 1911 slips quietly into 1912, with ‘The Circumcision’ opening the years’ festivals. The Epiphany seems almost an afterthought, squeezed in in Mr Fee Smith’s writing and attracting just 3 communicants and 3d on the plate.
A ‘Men’s Service’ on the afternoon of Epiphnay2 did better, with £1.3.6d accruing to the CEMS - the Church of England Men’s Society. For several weeks in the early months of the year there are no weekday services in the register, but the inclement weather gets several mentions. There is evidence of collections for the Curacy Fund, and a Commination service crops up again on Ash Wednesday. Although no daily services are specifically logged in Lent, there is a marginal note giving numbers for Daily Eucharists for some weeks.
Holy Week was crammed with worship: daily eucharists and two children’s services. The Three Hou8rs Devotion was led by H. Heriot Hill, of All Saints, Oxton, and that evening saw a performance of ‘The Passion’ by J.Varley Roberts, ‘sung by combined choirs of St Faith and St Luke, Crosby’, the latter providing the soloists and organist and our Mr Lewis conducting. Following this, Easter Day saw an impressive 353 communicants, with no fewer than 144 of them turning up at 7.30.am.
Just after Easter came news of the sinking of the ‘Titanic’. The events as seen through the pages of our register, with the particular poignancy of the death of Joseph Bell, Chief Engineer of the ill-fated liner and a worshipper at St Faith’s, are recorded in detail, with reproductions of appropriate parts of the register, in the pages of the church website. Concerns closer to home are reflected in a marginal note for April 30th: ‘Meeting of Protest against Welsh Church Bill in Waterloo Town Hall 8 p.m. Bishop of Liverpool in Chair.’ This clearly refers to the move to disestablish the Welsh Church, which culminated in the setting up of the Church in Wales two years later.
Thereafter men feature largely in the re4gister: on May 8th, at a C.E.M.S meeting, 23 new members were elected and 13 admitted.’ What they admitted to is not recorded, but there were 7 more admitted after Evensong a few days later. Then on Ascension Day at 7.45 am we read ‘Breakfast for Men in Parish Hall. 40 present and 4 ladies.’ These latter would doubtless have been spoilt for choice: there had been 54 communicants at the 7.00 am service preceding the meal, so presumably the other ladies went home un-breakfasted.
Mr Baxter took off during July, and the services were taken by E.B.Smith - as opposed to D.G.Fee Smith. The vicar took up the reins again on August 4th, in time to record the weather as being Very wet all morning. His sermon on August 14th is annotated ‘The house was filled with the odour of the ointment’ – presumably the nearest he could get to incense in these early years. Soon we read of ‘Self Denial Sunday’ with a collection of a mere 10/-, and another no-show Communion on a Thursday, A few weeks later there is an entertaining juxtaposition: a sermon on ‘The sons of Eli were sons of Belial’ and ‘Sunday School Treat’! September 16th saw ‘Blundellsands House Cadets Church Parade’, and soon after ‘H.C’ for Mrs Jackson of 33 Fir Road ‘previous to journey to New York’.
There were several visiting celebrants and preachers, including J.H.Astley of |New Brighton, Theo Madden, H.W.Campbell Baugh, C.E. Garrad of Mandalay, Burma, C.H.Hyatt and Frederick Jones, this latter delivering a Lantern Lecture, all during the early autumn. October 6th, St Faith’s Day, fell on a Sunday, but is still not marked for our patron saint. Late November saw ‘Divorce Commission Report’ and ‘Very Rough’ weather. December 11th is registered as ‘Adult Confirmation – Lady Chapel. 5 from St Faith’s.’ Given the size of our Lady Chapel, \Mr Baxter is clearly referring to that at the Cathedral.
Christmas Day saw 234 communicants, but no one present at 7.am two days later. After the traditional Watch Night Service at 11.15 pm on New Year’s Eve - with £1.6.1 in the collection - we enter the last full year of peacetime with the dawning of 1913.
Episode 7 1913 - 1914: The Titanic Memorial and the outbreak of War
The first major happening of 1913 has already been reported more than once in our magazine and elsewhere: the dedication, on the Feast of the Epiphany, of the memorial plaque to Joseph Bell, Chief Engineer of the ill-fated Titanic. The Bishop of Liverpool did the honours, and the plaque, in the south aisle of the church, has attracted a steady stream of visitors ever since, and never more so than in 2012, centenary year of the sinking.
Following this milestone, reality returns when at the Conversion of St Paul, there was ‘no-one present at 7 am’ to honour the event. It was ‘wet’ for Quinquagesima (splendid ancient name), and on the 3rd Sunday in Lent Mr Baxter annotates: ‘Mr Edward Sherwood died Feb 16 suddenly at Waterloo. A regular attender at S. Faith’s’
‘F.J.Liverpool’ returned Thursday, March 6th, to confirm1 candidate from Sefton, 19 from St Mary’s, 10 from Christ Church and no fewer than 44 from St Faith’s. Soon after there were services of Evensong and Reading during Holy Week weekdays – and a total of five services on Good Friday, including the Three Hours and an evening performance of ‘The Crucifixion’ (presumably Stainer’s) by the united choirs of our church and that of St Luke’s. Following this there were three separate Holy Communion services on Easter Day: at6.30 (46 communicants), 7.30 (126) and 8.30 (131), while at 11.00 there was Mattins and H.C. (72) – grand Easter Day total 372. Despite it being ‘Very wet’ early on, it cleared up later, and Mr Baxter proudly records ‘The largest morning congregation we have had was present at 11.00 am (and they parted with no less than £8.7.2).
There was a ‘Men’s Breakfast’ at 7.45 m in the Parish Room, following the 7.00 am celebration (52 communicants). June 10th records the death of Dr Gay – he is commemorated by a plaque near to the Titanic memorial in church. The splendidly named Harcourt Lightburne officiated twice around this time. The next happenings of note come in July. On the 6th, T.H.B. preaches a second sermon on The Holy Grail, this time focussing on Sir Perceval. On 11th, the ‘Choir went to Gladstone Dock, opened by the King’. In late August, the vicar’s holiday period, E.B.Smith takes over; his succession of services is entertainingly punctuated on St James’ Day by the appearance of D.G Fee Smith, a familiar name from earlier years, who inscribes at the 7.30 H.C. ‘tuned up by chance – took service – forgot collection’. Even odder is that there are no communicants recorded, and all the words save the last two are neatly crossed out, though clearly legible beneath. We may never know what happened...!
Mr Baxter’s return in August is followed by an orgy of housekeeping. On St Bartholomew’s Day it was ‘Organ cleaned – out of use on Aug 24th and 31st.’ Then it was Church cleaned and iron grids fitted Aug 25th to 30th’ – and, if this were not enough ‘4th Sept. Oiled the bell.’
There were interesting autumnal activities. At Faith’s Day passes unnoticed, apart from it being ‘wet’ around the time, but the Sunday Young Men’s Bible Class began anew in October, teaching about ’Betting and Gambling’ on 12th. A sad minuscule marginal note records at this time ‘2.15 Funeral. Mr Eves- infant boy’. More cheerfully, on October 27 ‘King’s Messengers started'. Preachers around this time include clergy from St Anne’s, Stanley, the S.P.G and St Catherine’s Tranmere.
All is quiet until the year’s end. There was an ‘Infants' Sunday School Party on December 27th in the Parish Hall. Christmas Day communicants totalled 245 (far fewer than at Easter), and four days later we read ‘8 pm Decr 29th. Meeting in the Parish Hall to welcome Rev. and Mrs T.R.Musgrove. The new curate had first celebrated on Christmas morning, and he was to see the turning of the year, taking the Watch Night Service on New Year’s Eve at 11.15 pm, followed by the first services of 1913: in his sloping writing he records ‘Jan 1st Feast of Circumcision 7.30 Holy Communion – 5 communicants, 7 present and on the same morning – 12 communicants – 17 present. Mr Baxter takes back control of the vestry fountain pen the next day, as 1914 begins.
The King’s Messengers crop up again on Monday, January 9th, when there is recorded a Commission Service for them at 7 pm. The day before the Sunday afternoon Men’s Service was taken by S.J.Sykes – was this the very long-serving local vicar of that name?
Ash Wednesday was ‘Very foggy’; at the 11.00 am Holy Communion Mr Musgrave enters 18 in the ‘No. of communicants’ column, adding in the right hand margin ’19 present one did not communicate’. Among signatures around this time and throughout Lent we read those of R.J.Herring, W.Harry Roberts, E.E. Marshall (marginal annotation reads ‘Church League for Women’s Suffrage’), Frank J. Powell and several repetitions of the indecipherable signature of the Canon Missioner of York.
On Good Friday evening the ‘Crucifixion’ performance was given by the 'United Choirs of Holy Trinity, Wavertree and St Faith’, while the four celebrations of the Holy Communion on Easter Day netted 388 communicants between them. At the Easter Vestry on April 20th it is recorded that J.Cook and S.R.Taylor were reappointed as Churchwardens, with the former joined by A.H.Thomas as Lay Representatives.
Thereafter the even tenor of weekly worship has few landmarks. E.R.Hayes of Halsall put in an appearance in May, there was a Day of Intercession for the Church in Wales’, it was ‘Very hot’ on June14th but ‘very wet’ on 21st. T.H.B. and T.R.M. soldier on through the early summer, with the latter noting on July 25th that it was ‘very stormy. Had ante-Communion service with collects’ for the 1 communicant (presumably Mr Musgrave means 1 in attendance, if indeed it was ante-communion). A few days later, J.B.Lee takes the Sunday afternoon Children’s Service and records the ‘Text or Subject’ as ‘St Faith’ – a rare outing for our patroness.
Then, almost incidentally, in the margin of the register for August 2nd – which is oddly entered by Mr Musgrave as being ‘8th after Sunday’ (rather than after Trinity) – we read the fateful annotation ‘War Declared’. The months that follow will see the prolonged absence of the curate, and the departure for pastures new of Mr Baxter. But that is another story...
Episode 8 1914 - 1915: from Baxter to Bentley-Smith
The first evidence that the world had changed in 1914 comes a few days later, with the annotation ‘Daily service of intercession at 8 p.m’. It is in fact only recorded once in the service records, when August 21st is labelled as ‘Day of Intercession’ and annotated as having ‘ Very good attendance’; doubtless the ‘Bishop’s Letter’ read at the services on the following Sunday would have been on the same ominous subject.
Again in the margin a few days later we read ‘H.C. Rev T.R.Musgrave’, after which his initials disappear from the book for a spell. October 1st, a weekday, is designated as Harvest Festival and £2.5.9 was given in the plate at Evensong, suggesting a good turnout, although the visiting preacher’s signature is indecipherable. Our patron saint is again not visibly honoured on October 6th, prominent mention again being reserved for several clearly exceptionally wet days in that month.
The pattern of Sunday services as 1914 draws to a close is now generally for an 8.30 am Holy Communion, an 11.00 Mattins (by itself or with H.C. tacked on) and Evensong. There are few weekday records, save for major feasts, until Christmas, although Mr Musgrave is back in the book at the end of September. The total communicants on Christmas day was 219; four days later Mr Musgrave inserts in his own handwriting ‘Holy Innocents... Just celebrant present’. After a collection for the Red Cross Society at the Watch Night Service, 1915 slips in quietly.
In the early weeks on 1915 collections are recorded for Liverpool Hospitals, Bootle Borough Hospital, the Melanesian Mission; the weather is frequently ‘Wet’ and sometimes even ‘Very wet’. On January 17th we read in bold script of the coming of a new organist: ‘J.W.Waugh, F.R.C.O’.
The weeks that follow see the register more than usually cluttered with collection details and marginal notes. For three weeks in early Lent Mr Musgrave enters, and indeed takes, all services. During this period ‘Litany and Commination’ features twice, once with ‘good attendance’ the other with ‘about 50 present. Daily services are squeezed into the margins, but faithfully recorded as to Time (usually 7 or 8 am), No Present (between 2 and 10, but averaging about 7) and Collection (between 1s 1d and 3s 10d).
The columns are less cluttered for Holy Week, which saw daily early celebrations, but just a 7.00 am on Maundy Thursday and an 8.00 am on Good Friday. Mattins that day reads ‘Very fair congregation. Very wet’ (!) Easter Day featured four different Holy Communions: at 6.30 (57), 7.30 (115) 8.30 (141) and 11.00 (with Mattins: 80) – grand total an impressive 393.
On the Sunday after Easter D.G.Fee Smith returned at evensong to dedicate ‘Brass in memory of Dr Gay’ (it’s near to the Titanic plaque in the south aisle), garnering no less than £7.1.7 for Waifs and Strays. Then on 25th April ‘F.J.Liverpool’ was present for Sunday Evensong on what is labelled ‘Dedication Festival’ – and he went away with £10.13.5 for the Bishop of Liverpool’s Fund. The spring weather remained predictably Wet, sometimes Still Very Wet – and on May 7th the Lusitania’s torpedoing is recorded marginally.
The regular pattern of worship, celebrants and collection figures continue with little of note in June, July and August: August 8th was a ‘dreadful night’ but 22nd Evensong had an ‘Excellent congregation’. Clergy from St James the Less, Liverpool, Prenton on the Wirral and the S.P.G. preached variously in September, Then, somewhat suddenly, on October 3rd we read writ large ‘The close of Mr Baxter’s ministry at S.Faith’s’. Equally notably, for the very first time, October 6th is marked down as ‘Festival of St Faith, V + M’, with the faithful Mr Musgrave recording 27 communicants at two celebrations. He is also clearly pleased to be able to record a ‘very good congregation’ at Mattins four days later, at the mid-point of what is certainly the shortest interregnum in the history of our church. We turn the page and read, on Saturday, October 16th at 3.0 pm ‘Institution of the Rev. H.B Bentley-Smith’ by F.J.Liverpool with the assistance of R.F.G.Smithwick, R.D.
Behind these bald announcements lies a story which is told in the first history of St Faith’s, and which will be recounted in due course. It concerns the aspirations of churchmanship and an exchange of livings, and heralds a somewhat more stormy period in the story of our church.
An Interlude Background stories
Those who have followed my prolonged delvings into the first service register of St Faith’s (and I am grateful to those who have said that they have enjoyed reading the unfolding story) will recall that we broke off last month at the point where our first Vicar, Thomas Howe Baxter, left St Faith’s and was within a few days replaced by Harold Bentley Bentley-Smith after an exchange of livings. The registers, to which we will in due course return, naturally reflect this unusual development with new signatures and style of entries, but they do not reveal the story of what seems to have been the most turbulent period in the history of our church. To tell this tale we need to look in the pages of the two earliest histories of St Faith’s. My 1975 history which, like the earlier ones, is online, used the registers, early magazines and the 1930 and 1950 histories as a basis: what follows to some extent recaps on that text with the benefit of further discoveries and researches since then.
The 1930 historian (name unknown) naturally writes from nearer the events he is describing. Speaking of Bentley-Smith’s innovations he writes Other changes were made of a more controversial character. That these changes had to come ultimately is no reflection on Mr. Baxter’s policy of delay. Rather the reverse, for the changes provoked (even so late as 1916) a considerable stir. The Sung Eucharist took the place of Morning Prayer. Vestments were introduced. Times for hearing confessions were announced. Reflecting what were obviously still controversial issues in 1930 he further says That these were right and proper moves no one holds more strongly than the present writer. Whether the time was ripe for them is another question about which those who were not in the parish at the time cannot form a right judgment.
George Houldin, long-serving Lay Reader at St Faith’s, will doubtless have read the 1930 writer’s account when writing his own much fuller booklet. He explains that the exchange of livings was made because Mr. Baxter felt that the time had arrived for further advances in the ceremonial to be made, which he was precluded from introducing by reason of his undertaking given nearly fifteen years earlier.
The controversies of the years that were to follow are flagged up by Houldin’s title of his chapter on the new vicar’s incumbency: CONTENDING FOR THE FAITH. The Rev. Herbert Bentley Smith was obviously unfamiliar with the Churchmanship of the Liverpool Diocese, and having read the Chancel inscription, was somewhat puzzled as to where to find Catholic Faith and Doctrine at St. Faith's. Some of us may recall hearing similar comments in later years. When he voiced this, there was antagonism, but contending for the Faith was what he enjoyed. He instituted a Sung Eucharist every Sunday at 10 a.m. and put Mattins to 11-15. As a compromise he left the sermon at Mattins, but this arrangement of two morning services was hard on the Choir. They rose to it, however, and loyally stood by the Vicar, who subsequently arranged for a short break between the Eucharist and Mattins, during which the Choir members were fortified by a cup of coffee.
The sparks now began to fly in earnest. Now the congregation was split into two camps and it is regrettable that ill-feeling often was evidenced. A protest meeting, with the Vicar in the Chair, broke up in disorder, no decision being reached. The congregation at the Sung Eucharist was somewhat smaller than at Mattins. Such was the position when, in 1916, the Guilds were formed and the younger people attached themselves to one or other of them. The members were invited to "wear their badges and join in the procession at the Sung Eucharist." Within a few months the congregation at Mattins had declined seriously, so seriously that, in the words of the Priest-in-charge, there would be no sermon to such a "miserably small" number, so the sermon was transferred to where ordered in the Prayer Book, and attendance at Mattins declined still further.
The attitude of St Faith’s Choir clearly played a significant part in what was to follow, and their demands became a catalyst for further change. By now the Choir felt they were not called upon to sing a second service to a mere handful of people and requested the Vicar to excuse them. He did. He decided that Mattins without music would precede the Eucharist at 10 o'clock and fixed the time for the Sung Eucharist with full choir and sermon at 10-30. Further protest meetings were held and the Vicar was accused of "disloyalty" by a certain faction. Tempers now thoroughly aroused, no settlement was possible. As was printed in the magazine in September, 1917, "at all the other churches in the neighbourhood Mattins can be had as the chief service; we shall be one where the Lord's Own Service is given its rightful place."
Having given us his ‘take’ on what seems now a sadly unedifying sequence of events, George Houldin concludes this bit of his history with a somewhat rueful statement. The split was fait accompli, many joining various neighbouring churches. The now united congregation which remained settled down.
This writer,and perhaps others with long memories at St Faith’s, may see echoes in later years of these events in their own lifetimes. From a purely historical perspective, I summed up my feelings in 1975 with these words:
"It seems strange, sixty years on, to imagine the heat generated by so relatively mild a stand; it is interesting to speculate, however, what might be the reaction today if an incumbent were to adopt similar tactics in an attempt to reinstate Mattins at the expense of sung Eucharist! Certainly the effect was deep and long-lasting; many of the congregation seem to have left for other churches, and those that remained were perhaps less representative of the parish than may have been the case before. From this period will have dated the formation of the image that St Faith's was to enjoy for the next half-century: distinctive and uncompromising, a party rather than a parish church. Reputations take a long time to build up, and even longer to die."
The service register, to which we will return later, will tell the story in terms of attendances and collections: it shows an unsurprising decline and , in terms of churchmanship, a move, as they say, ‘up the candle’.
Watch this space – and smell the incense being lit!
9 1915 -
1916: A new broom and the Mattins
1916: A new broom and the Mattins
We left the last trawl through St Faith’s first service register with the sudden (though planned) departure of the Revd Thomas Howe Baxter, who had steered the ship from the beginning, and his replacement , on Saturday October 16th, 1915, after what is surely the shortest interregnum on record, with the Revd Harold Bentley Bentley-Smith.
My earlier article recounted the tensions that this provoked, and the divisions that led to the departure of some folk, and the eventual unseating of choral Mattins. On the three following Sundays Mattins still reigns supreme at 11.00, despite the puzzling recording of 8 communicants at one of these occasions. By Advent Sunday the Choral Eucharist is at 10.00, followed by Mattins at 11.00, and a marginal note (Mr B-S sadly provides fewer of these than the archivist would have liked) reads ‘1st 10.00 Choral 105 present’. However, only 23 took communion. Henceforth, the pattern is established as a weekly sequence, with numbers attending marginally recorded as being in the 60s and 70s, and communicants more than once only in single figures.
Weekday celebrations begin to take on a new shape. The Monday 10.30 am celebration is instituted in November 1915, though with usually only between2 and 5 present; there are usually 7.30 am eucharists on Wednesdays and Fridays at this time.
Christmas Day saw ‘H.E.’ at 7.30 (88 receiving), 8.30 (an impressive 112); Mattins plodding along, now at 10.30 (no celebrant, preacher or collection noted!) and Choral Eucharist at 11.15 (30 communicants). Following a Watchnight service at 11.15 pm (£3.14.0 on the plate for the Red Cross) we move into 1916 and the second full year of the Great War.
January 2nd is marked as ‘Day of Intercession for the War’ – and by the odd timing of 11.40 am for the Choral Eucharist (35 communicants: no record of Mattins at all) There are Catechism Services at 3.30 on several Sundays in the next weeks and months, and communicants at the 10.00 am Choral Eucharists often in single figures. The 8.30 celebration on Sundays moved to 8.00 am, where oit remained until its disappearance many bears later. There are fewer interesting marginal oddities now, although on February 16th Evensong moves from 6.30 to 5.15 pm ‘in obedience to lighting reg’ns’. One i9magines this was to reduce the risk of passing Zeppelins homing on a lighted church at the later hour
Easter Day 1916 boasts no fewer than 7 separate services: at 6.15, 7.00, 8.00, 10.30 and 11.15 am, and 3.30 and 6 pm: the total of communicants for the day was 330. Low Sunday (so named) had a mere H.E at 10.00 (choir holiday?); thereafter the frequency of daily celebrations is very notable, with a daily ‘H.E.’ for the six weekdays following Easter 2, attracting 32 communicants overall.
Episode 10 1916 - 1917: 'Contending for the Faith'
This latest in the sequence of trawls through the church’s service registers attempts to see how these major and sometimes disruptive events are reflected in the pages of Register No.2, opened on Whit Sunday (lovely old name), June 11th, 1916.
There were 125 communicants that day and the freewill offering went to the assistant curate. The marginal note reads ‘Linen Vestments first worn’. This presumably means a chasuble and all the trimmings: it would be interesting to know what earlier celebrants had worn - or been allowed to wear. A week later the vicar presided and preached at the first recorded Masonic Service; the marginal note reads ‘Roll of honour week’ and the collection was an impressive £20.8.5.
Wednesday 29th June sees ‘Chapel Dedication’ (presumably the Lady Chapel/) and the preacher looks like Archdeacon Spooner (or it might be Sponger!) Thereafter the book starts to settle down to a sequence of minimally annotated daily and weekly service taken by ‘V’ and ‘M’ (curate Mr Musgrave), until July, when for a long spell only ‘M’ signs in, perhaps because of the aforementioned indisposition of the Vicar. With just the odd gap there are daily services – and when Mr Bentley-Smith rejoins the register in August the frequency is maintained, and we see no sign of ‘M’ (perhaps enjoying a well-earned month off) until early September. There are fewer visiting preachers now: W.Shaw, C.G.Wicks and S.G.W.Maitland are recorded but given no titles or locations. Nor is there any comment when Charles C.Elcum presides at evensong on Trinity 14, labelled as ‘Harvest Fest. Procession with Banner: he is of course the priest who was present at the consecration in 1900 and frequently thereafter, ands after whom Douglas Horsfall’s son was named.
And now for the first time our esteemed patron gets proper recognition: on Friday, October 6th, her feast day there are three services, mustering62 communicants. At the first there are ‘Silk Vestments for first time’, and at he last (evensong) ‘Cope used for first time’. The following Sunday is ‘in the Octave’ (another first for this nomenclature).
At the end of the month, V.Spencer Ellis signs in for a Quiet Day, and the stately-sounding S.Gladstone Stanton takes the helm on the following Sunday. The Vicar records ‘Vespers’ (another first?) on All Saints Day and presides at two celebrations of H.E. on All Souls Day.
Mattins made a brief comeback on November 12th at 11.15 am for ‘M.T.S. Cadet Corps Parade’ (£2.18.2 on the plate), but the 10.00 Choral Eucharist is billed as the main service of a Sunday, and the numbers attending are regularly logged (the new register, S.P.C.K. issue, has a column for attendances) at between 68 and 103 souls. ‘National Mission Week’ now makes its appearance, with S.G.W.Maitland (who he?) taking mission services at 3.00 and 7.45 pm from Monday 13th to Thursday 18th – and an extra one at 4.30 on the Friday. S.G.W.M. is earning his keep, signing in no fewer than 26 times, climaxing on Tuesday 21st November with a 7.00 pm Thanksgiving Eucharist, with 48 communicants.
Thereafter, the even tenor of events is restored, though from November 23rd to December 21st only the faithful M (Musgrave) is at the helm. The pattern established, seemingly by Mr Bentley-Smith, of only the celebrant and one or two other officiants communicating at the now well-established 10.00 am Sunday Choral (sometimes ‘Sung’)Eucharist continues, as it did indeed right up to the arrival of Fr Charles Billington many years later. This writer recalls being disconcerted on first arriving at St Faith’s in 161 and making his communion at what was then the 10.45 am service and finding a notice in the porch which said ’persons desirous of making their communion at the 10.45 am service should register their wish with the priest’ – or words to that effect!
Christmass Day is now thus spelt in the records: 221 communicants at 4 of the day’s 6 services – even though it was a Monday and there had been a full array of Sunday services – although not a Christmas Midnight Mass - the previous day. Whether as a result of the Mission, or the vicar’s efforts, St Faith’s register now looks like the record of an unapologetically old-style Anglo-Catholic church at worship, with four services of a Sunday and a celebration of the eucharist every weekday morning. We thus break off in mid-January 1917 with the Great War still ongoing and the lesser conflicts within St Faith’s not yet fully resolved. When we return, we will be chronicling the unannounced departure of Mr Bentley-Smith, and the arrival of John Brierley, third Vicar of St Faith’s.
Episode 11 1917 -1918: Moving up the Candle
We left off our trawl through the second service register of St Faith’s in January 1917, noting the continuing progression towards the new pattern of Sunday worship instituted by Father (would anyone have used the term then?) Bentley-Smith. A full account of the services on Sunday, January 21st – Epiphany III – serves as witness to the shape of the liturgy in the last full year of the Great War.
There were 33 communicants at 8.00 am (9s 0d collection), 5 at the 10.00 Choral Eucharist (111 actually present and £1.9.4 on the plate). At 11.15 there is no record of attendance – but £1.6.0 taken in collection, suggesting that numbers were fairly evenly split at what were at this stage more or less competing main services. There was ‘Catechising’ at 3.00 pm: although no attendance is recorded, a marginal note reads SS 9/-, making it fairly clear that this was the Sunday School session. Evensong at 6.00 pm saw the day’s biggest collection: £2.7.0, and a long day for the clergy ended with a 7.15 pm Organ Recital, netting £2.5.2.
In the following weeks the pattern is sustained, with spasmodic recording of the attendance at Choral (or Sung) Eucharist recorded as between 64 and 120. In the build-up to Easter 1917, Mattins collections seem to be falling off; in addition there is a liberal sprinkling of Mission Services recorded on Thursday evenings. Holy Week saw four or five services daily, including a 7.30 Evensong on ‘Maunday Thursday’ (sic). There were no fewer than six services on Good Friday – and interestingly no eucharist, merely an ‘Ante Communion’. Not to be outdone, ‘V’ and ‘M’ laid on seven services on Easter Day: there was ‘H.E.’ at 6.00 am (20 communicants), 7.00 am (150) and 8.00 am (144). At the 10.00 am Choral Eucharist there were another 26 communicants, making a recorded total of 340 – a record number to date. Collections totalled £39.19.3 for the day, with £17.4.6 at the 10.00 am topping the bill by a large margin. The devoted clergy even laid on a Catechism Festival (an early Sunday School party?) at 3.00 pm.
The next entry of interest in the minimally-annotated register in on April 29th, logged as DEDICATION FESTIVAL as well as Easter III. 17 years from the opening of St Faith’s, there is that relatively rare occurrence for these months, a visiting preacher – G.W.Hockley – at evensong. Thereafter attendances at the Choral/Sung Eucharist (no obvious clue as to the significance of the terminology) are on the rise, with 150 on Easter IV and 130 the following week. Ascension Day sees a 6.30 am Choral Eucharist (85 communicants, 104 early risers present) and later that day at 11.15 ‘M.T.C. Parade Service’ (MTS CCF), with a collection of £1.0.4 for ‘chapel debt’.
The following Sunday there is but 1 communicant registered at the Choral Eucharist; daily celebrations are maintained, with communicants in the week before Whit Sunday ranging from 1 to 12. Whit Sunday itself saw 70 communicating at 7.00 am, 90 at 8.00 am and 5 at 10.00. Collections for the day totalled £10.18.3 and are recorded as going to ‘Rev T.R.Musgrove’ – the Pentecostal equivalent of the traditional Easter offering to the vicar, although this has yet to feature in the registers. The diligent curate will have been glad of this boost to his stipend, especially in view of the burden he was soon to be undertaking.
Throughout June and July the pattern is unvarying, with ‘V’ and ‘M’ alternating at the altar and pulpit, but no visiting celebrants or preachers recorded. Marginally, ‘Corpus Christi’ is annotated on June 7th, but no special worship appears to have been scheduled. ‘M’ is absent for a fortnight later (presumably a well-earned holiday) – then on August 1st (‘Lammas Day’) the register entries are again penned by the curate, who presides solo until September 10th. Presumably this is one of the spells of illness recorded in our church’s history. V.S.E (Spencer Ellis) helps out from time to time, and ‘M’ provides a few more explanatory annotations than of late: ‘ Anniversary of Declaration of War’ on August 5th being one of the more interesting. The heavy schedule of services is sustained throughout and Sunday communicants average about 40 at the 8.00 am celebration, and just 1 or 2 at the Choral Eucharist, where attendances average just over 100, with collections now consistently bigger than at Mattins.
The vicar is back in harness in early September, whereupon recorded numbers for the Choral Eucharist are much less frequently logged. During September there is a service for ‘Girls’ Guild’, but a few days later the astonished eye lights upon the entries for September 23rd, Trinity 16. Beneath this orthodox entry is added, in Bentley-Smith’s hand, ‘Feast of St Pumpkin’ (yes, really!). As if this were not sufficient, the preacher at Evensong is W.Walsham How. Assuming that this was the eminent bishop of that name, writer of the words of ‘For All The Saints’, your scribe checked his entries in online sources, only to discover that he died in 1897! There are no others of that name recorded by Google, so the mystery remains unsolved, and the full story of this red letter day for St Faith’s (the day of the pumpkin and the deceased bishop) must remain untold.
October sees a major celebration of our patron saint on her feast day. Saturday 6th saw 92 communicants at a 6.30 am Choral Eucharist. That day and the Sunday immediately following saw three visiting preachers: C.E.Sidebotham, Herbert.George and A.E.Cornibeer. Searching Google for the latter, as the signature is hard to decipher, I was asked electronically ‘Did you mean acorn beer?’ (!)
After these heady and intriguing days, things settle down, and the old firm of V and M take us to the end of the year. November sees the ‘Anniversary of Mission’ with S.G.W.Maitland taking a sequence of Mission Services. Sunday December 3rd features a Preparation Service before Christmas, but there is nothing special on Christmas Eve. ‘Xmas Day’ (sic) saw 190 communicants at three celebrations, before 1917 gives way to 1918.
The opening weeks of this, the last year of the Great War, give no indication of what was soon to be happening at St Faith’s. ‘V’ and ‘M’ alternate services for a couple of weeks, until ‘V’ takes what turns out to be his last service here on Tuesday, January 15th. Amazingly, Mr Musgrave is the sole celebrant or officiant right through until October. Presumably this is triggered by Mr Bentley-Smith’s further illness, or even breakdown, but no mention is made of this, nor of any official end to his ministry at St Faith’s. Presumably there was an interregnum, but not until the appearance of the third vicar of St Faith’s (of whom, of course, much more anon) on October 19th, 1918, is there a priest to share the burden so manfully shouldered by the faithful ‘M.’
Back-tracking momentarily, on Sunday November 25th, 1917, the order of Sunday morning services changed. The long battle between Matins and Choral Eucharist was settled by scheduling the former at 10.00 am and the latter at 10.30 am. Mattins was obviously now a said service, and numbers and collections are rarely recorded. Mr Musgrave continued this pattern when he took over, and for several weeks no figures are appended to either service. Communicants at the regular 8.00 am ‘H.E.’ vary between 12 and 50+, and averaged about 30 at a rough estimate. Regular help on weekdays was given by Herbert George. The clearly very busy Mr Musgrave now, during Lent and after, sometimes forgets to enter any statistics, but maintains the full range of services. He will have been please to have administered the sacrament to 248 communicants on Easter Day, with an impressive 152 of them at the 8.00 am celebration – and even 27 at the Choral Eucharist.
Thereafter the highlight of the next few weeks is the labelling of the 10.30 Sunday service variously as ‘Choral Celebration’ and just ‘Holy Eucharist’: the overworked curate, who took no fewer than 40 services during the month of August, clearly had better things to do than worry about what archivists of the future might winkle out.
Mr Musgrave got up early again on Ascension Day, where he was joined by an impressive 80 people; three days later the regular Children’s Service (Sundays at 3.30 pm) has the marginal note ‘all children present’. Thereafter the regular flow of services takes us through the spring and early summer, with Herbert George and T.H.Florence helping out quite regularly. For several successive summer Sundays, neither attendance nor communicant numbers is recorded: maybe the curate was too busy running the show. Weekday Saturdays begin to see a 9.30 am Children’s Eucharist being held, with numbers attending varying between 5 and 11. August 4th is marked as ‘Anniversary of the declaration of war’ (which, had they known, had but a few months more to run).
The restrictively narrow margins of the ‘Date’ column meant that increasingly, the names of saints (Margaret, Mary Magdalene, Anne) appear alongside other descriptive words and phrases (Transfiguration, Holy Name) as well as a welcome return to occasional meteorological reports (variously rain storm, very hot, very wet). In September Mr Musgrave at least seems to have had a holiday: from the 9th to the 19th other initials prevail in the register. Then, after a brief reappearance of ‘M’, from October 1st the visiting initials and names crop up again (T.H.Florence, V. Spencer Ellis, S.A. Barrett, A.F.Ritchie and Herbert George inter alia). Saturday October 5th, the Eve of St Faith’s Day, is not so labelled, but was marked by a rare occurrence for these days of ‘Festal Evensong’. On the (unacknowledged) Patronal Festival the next day, the 3.30 pm Sunday School service has the significant marginal note ‘S.S. postponed owing to illness of Rev T.R.M’. Thereafter and until 17th stand-ins prevail until, suddenly a bold line is slashed diagonally across the unfilled part of the register page and the next page is headed, portentously, ‘October 19th, 3.30 pm, Institution of the new vicar, Rev. J .Brierley, M.A.
The arrival of Canon Brierley, as he eventually to become known, ushered in the third chapter in our church’s history. With the ending of the Great War, a new era was about to begin.
Episode 12 1918 - 1919: John Brierley and a new era
We left this long-running look at the life and history of the early years of our church in 1918, with the arrival of John Brierley, the third incumbent of St Faith’s.
To flesh out the closing events of the previous incumbent, and by way of introducing the post-war era about to begin, a few extracts from George Houldin’s invaluable 1950 history of St Faith’s may prove interesting and revealing, especially to any new readers.
“During the Patronal Festival in this year (1917), some forty clergy and leading officials of local churches were invited to attend one of the week-night services (with refreshments afterwards), but none accepted. It was in this year that news was received that the son of the Founder of S. Faith's - he whose name is on the Foundation Stone - had laid down his life at Cambrai.
Early in 1918 Mr. Bentley-Smith's health (never too good) broke down and for nine months the whole burden of shepherding the parish fell upon the Rev. T. R. Musgrave, the curate. Great as was the work of this truly faithful priest, the congregation appeared to lose heart and became dispirited. Added to his, came Mr. Bentley-Smith's resignation (seemingly in April, 1918. Ed), and for the next five or six months the parish was without a Vicar.”
The degree of what can only appear as hostility felt towards St Faith’s is all too apparent from the rejection of the invitation: we might at least have expected a few local clergy to turn up, if only for the free refreshments! Robert Elcum Horsfall’s death is documented elsewhere – see the Horsfall Connection and Forces pages of this site; his memorial was to appear in the form of the inscription on the chancel screen. The devotion of Mr Musgrave has been thoroughly recorded in the previous instalment: it seems even more remarkable that he provided so much continuous spiritual sustenance in the face of dwindling congregations and resources.
“On 19th October, 1918, came as Vicar (not factually) a young vigorous man of some thirty-two years of age, who had been Vicar of Greatham, Durham, Rev. John Brierley. Never did courage and determination mean more to any priest, for he found no Vicarage, no verger, no money, no coke, no magazine and practically no congregation”
This bluntly honest analysis shows just how great a task awaited the new vicar – not ‘factually’, as Houldin declares, because as a new parish St Faith’s would not have a vicar until all the incumbents of the surrounding parishes from which our parish was carved out had retired or died off. Houldin calls his John Brierley chapter ‘Consolidating the Parish’...
The register takes up the story again. Mr Brierley’s institution was performed by ‘F.J.Liverpool’, and there are 11 signatures below his. The Diocesan Ordination Candidates’ Exhibition Fund’ (whatever that was) reaped £6.11.4 in the collection. The next day was a Sunday: 39 took communion at 8.00 am, but no numbers are recorded for the rest of the day at 10.00 Mattins, 10.30 Choral Eucharist, 3.30 Sunday School or 6.30 Evensong. That day the new vicar signs in as John Brierley: thereafter he appears as JB alongside the still faithful M.
The latter, however, is soon to disappear from the annals; the laconic ‘M’ appears for the last time on Friday 8th November, after which JB presides alone until January 1919. Mr Brierley sells the records short in terms of revealing marginal annotations, but the very full schedule of daily services which marked the closing period of the interregnum is well sustained in the opening months of the new regime. There are eucharists on Mondays at 10.30 am, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7.30 am and, slightly oddly, on Thursdays at 7.00 am. Weekday communicants are small: anything from 1 to 4 or 5 except on what are presumably Saints’ days. But a feature not commented on before continues to be of interest to those who find such obsessiveness of interest. The communicant figures are, unsurprisingly, always logged in the register column headed ‘No. of Communicants’ – but alongside are two columns, under the heading of ‘Attendances’, labelled ‘Morn, Serv.’ and ‘Even. Serv’. The latter is never used, but the former, increasingly during 1917 and now constantly in 1918, is carefully filled in with numbers invariably significantly in excess of the preceding communicant figure. Typically we read 1/14, 2/7, 3/9, 4/10 on weekdays, the first figure being the communicants, the second the morning service attendance. In two sample weeks of the Brierley incumbency there are 13 and 14 of the former in total and 41and 38 in the latter. Unless the larger figure refers to Mattins attendees (unlikely), these numbers suggest a regular attendance of congregations who do not take communion. This is of course the pattern for the main Sunday Choral Eucharist, where the recorded number of communicants is now between 1 and 5 on most weeks. This writer’s short-term puzzlement at this apparent omission was relieved when a more careful scrutiny reveals that from soon after Mr Brierleyt’s arrival the numbers of bottoms on seats are actually written in tiny figures on the edge of the ‘Remarks’ column. See the end of this instalment for an anyisis of the trend these figures reveal.
This regular service pattern continues, sustained exclusively by the new vicar, with Mr Musgrave now off the scene. The anonymous 1930 history booklet (q.v.) reports that ‘within three weeks of the new vicar’s arrival, Mr Musgrave was stricken down with serious illness, which incapacitated him for three years. He is given his full name of Thomas Randolph Musgrave, B.A. and an eventual destination as vicar of St James, Oldham, Manchester. There are occasional signings-in of visiting priests and preachers, and just one meteorological observation (‘very cold and wet’) to break the even tenor of the records as 1918 gives way to 1919, without a Watch Night service, incidentally. Christmas Day had seen 173 communicants at three celebrations.
Things began to change on the 1st Sunday after the Epiphany, with the signing in of Herbert G. Purchase. After a week or so sharing duties with JB, he takes over and signs in for every service for three weeks. Thereafter, and through to May 21st, the two share all services, until HGP, unheralded, and by initials only, officiates for the last time. There is little to excite the archivist during those weeks and months. The daily weekday eucharists attract communicants in low single figures, with, as before, larger numbers faithfully recorded in the attendance column alongside. The Sung Eucharist number varies between 1 and 4, and the preceding 8.00 a.m. eucharist sees numbers in the low 30s. Ash Wednesday saw 33 at the 7.30 am communion, which was followed by a Mattins and Commination service.
Holy Week sees small attendances until Maundy Thursday, which featured Evensong and Preparation for Easter Communion at the unusual time for those days of 8.00 pm. There were four services on Good Friday, with the Three Hours taken by what appears to be S.R.P.Moulsdale, but no figures are supplied. Easter Day was well attended: 29 at 6.00 am, 140 at 7.00 am, 96 at 8.00 am and 23 (presumably non-communicants) at Mattins, before the usual Choral Eucharist (no figure supplied): a total of 265 in all. Monday in Easter Week is marked in miniature as Dedication of the Church Anniversary.
And then HGP bows out, and a week before, B.Scholfield signs in, in large handwriting, and takes up the shared reins. It looks as if he is ensconced as curate, although there is no announcement of this or any other such developments. Again, we rely on the 1930 history to declar4e him as such, and to record his eventual destination as vicar of Kentmere in the Lake District. He is soon kept busy, and would have had to get used to early rising: he was there at Ascension Day for the 6.30 am Choral Eucharist, as were 70 of the faithful.
Numbers at the Sunday early eucharist begin to pick up now, with rarely fewer than 35 and often as many as 65 recorded communicants. On 22nd June, Percy Youlden Johnson , curate in the early days, reappears for the day, he is now vicar of St Mary at Elms, Ipswich. Another remembered name, W.H. Moysey, is present now and again in the following weeks, but the most noteworthy visitor is none other than T.H.B, annotated as Rev. T.H.Baxter, Vicar of Coatham, Yorks; this is of course the first vicar of St Faith’s – although the current vicar seems to have been on his summer holidays at the time.
On September 14th, F.J.Liverpool preaches at Evensong (it would be many decades before a bishop of Liverpool would be present, let alone preside, at a eucharist): the collection was a healthy £12.14.0.
Mr Brierley’s red ink pen is getting more frequent use. Interestingly, it is not used to delineate Sundays, unless these are also red letter days, but these latter stand out in the register. In particular they highlight the first full celebration of the feast day of Saint Faith, which fell on a Monday in 1919. The day is marked with two eucharists and what I think is the first recorded Festal Evensong, certainly on a weekday. Signatories over this period, some of them in red, include C.S.Hulton (I think), H.G.Thompson, Ralph Clayton, S.Phillimore, Basil R Tucker, Charles Wright and J.B.Lancelot – a plethora of preachers signing in as congregations and collections seem steadily to increase.
And now for the minuscule logging of attendances at Sunday services. In the months after Brierley signs in and starts to record numbers, the 10.30 am Choral Eucharist attracts somewhere between 100 and 125 people. Easter Day saw this rise to 220, after which regular numbers rise to between150 and 170, occasionally topping 200. Even more remarkable are the Sunday evensong figures. From a standing start of over 200, attendance climbs by April 1919 to nearer 300, a temporary peak of 432 on Easter Day, to regularly exceed 300 on the following Sundays. Mr Baxter’s return, noted above, attracted 413 souls to hear their old vicar. But when the Bishop preached on September 14th, a staggering attendance of 1008 is carefully noted (and confirmed by a mention in George Houldin’s history). There seems no reason to dispute these amazing figures, even though for the bishop they must have been hanging from the rafters and standing several deep in the aisles and side chapels. Our seating today accommodates 250 or so, and the extra pews at the front and back in those far-off days might have seated as many again, but as for the rest...?
As 1919 draws to a close Mr Brierley would have had every reason to rejoice at what had been achieved. As we plough on through the registers, we shall see that such growth was no mere flash in the pan. Clearly this was an age of fashionable attendance, and the starkest of contrasts with today’s social and religious climate, where churches in general will count themselves fortunate to be able to lay on evensong at all. From the standpoint of our tradition, though, the large turnout for Sunday eucharists shows the depth of the sacramental teaching achieved here in what was for many years the only church for miles around to offer so rich a diet of the Lord’s service on the Lord’s day. Patterns of worship come and go – but will we ever see the like of those glory days again?
Episode 13 1919 - 1921: up go the attendances
Last month’s meander through the closing pages of the first service register of St Faith’s ended with the continuing evidence of growth in 1919. Weekday and Sunday worship is increasingly well-attended, Festal Evensong seems well established, and visiting preachers seem almost to be queuing up to grace St Faith’s pulpit, six feet, as they say, above contradiction. Collections are equally faithfully registered, with those at the Tuesday Holy Communion regularly going to ‘Rescue and Preventive Work’ (although with takings between 1s.1d and 3s 7d on typical days, it is unclear how much Work this would have bought.)
As 1919, the first full year of peace, draws to a close, Messrs Brierley and Scholfield faithfully maintain the fabric of daily worship, with twelve services recorded in an average week. Little else is logged of special interest, although it is just possible to see squeezed in, on Thursday 11th December, a service labelled ‘Service and Address’, conducted by JB, with the provocative address title of ‘The Church and Romanism’. 88 attended, and coughed up 16s.2d. This seems to have been one of a short series on various denominations: for the record, there were 66 present for ‘Congregationalism’ but only 39 for ‘The Baptists’!
On the second Sunday in Advent, there were 194 seated for the Choral Eucharist, 104 at the Children’s Service and 317 at Evensong. Christmas Eve featured and 8pm Festal Evensong (stiull no sign of a Midnight Mass!), and Christmas Day (a Thursday and ‘Very Wet’) attracted 351 communicants for three services. St Stephen (Boxing Day) saw a 9.15 am ‘Sung Eucharist’ (subtle distinction perhaps?) with 56 present but just 9 communicants.
The turning of the year saw a distinctive change. Flagged up as Festival of the Circumcision of Our Lord, there was the first recorded ‘Mid-Night Sung Eucharist’ with 184 present and no fewer than 66 communicants. It is interesting to speculate as to the way the fasting rule was applied: this was the highest figure for some time for a service other than the early Sunday eucharists. It is also interesting to note the replacement of the Protestant Watch-night/New Year’s Day terminology with the uncompromisingly Catholic Circumcision (as it were!)
Numbers hold up as 1920 begins – 200 at a Sunday Sung Eucharist – now regularly so termed, so perhaps the distinction between ‘Sung’ and ‘Choral’ is of no significance - and 357 for Evensong. That Sunday is recorded as being ‘Very Wet – All Day’, yet there seem to have been well over 600 attendees over the course of the day. Clearly they were made of sterner stuff than their modern day counterparts.
The vestry red ink bottle, seemingly empty for many weeks, gets a refill for 1920, to provide the rubrics for Sundays and the Festival of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Ash Wednesday see four services, including a well-attended Evensong and Sermon. Gerald E. Jones preached that one, and on the following Sunday evening M.L.Warrington (the bishop) preached to 473 devotees, making just under 900 worshippers for the day in all.
During Lent there is an extra early Sunday Holy Communion, although one of them only yielded 9 pence on the plate! R.F. Bradley took a C.E.M.S service one Sunday, while the splendidly-named G.Hardwick Spooner spoke to 377 Evensong attendees. In between there is a collection given to ‘S.Chad’s College, Durham’ – one of the relatively infrequent references to our patrons and Douglas Horsfall’s creation. C.L.Elcum, still going strong since his presence at the church’s consecration 20 years before, preached on Lent 4. Amazingly, on Tuesday 23rd March at 8.00 pm, there were 297 present for a Service and Address given by a certain Wakeford (initials unclear) The next day the aforementioned M.L.Warrington signs in for a confirmation service (no further details given), followed the day after by a red-letter minuscule ‘Festival of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.’ Three days later Palm Sunday, with just under 700 total attendees, and a sermon by the Vicar of St Peter, Rock Ferry, ushers in Holy Week.
As might be expected, there were even more eucharists in Holy Week – two or three per day as well as evening addresses. Maundy Thursday has yet to develop its current pattern, but featured an evening Preparation for Easter Communion. Likewise Good Friday saw no communion, but there were 196 present for the Three Hours to hear the Rector of Sefton, and 130 in the Parish Hall at 8.00 pm for the first recorded Lantern Service. No vigil or the like on Easter Eve – but no fewer than seven services on Easter Day, starting at 6.00 am and ending at 6.30 pm. In all there were 321 communicants on the day, but a very impressive total attendance of 1,167 – 460 of them at Evensong. Low Sunday belied the name, with 355 at Evensong.
Emerging from this welter of minute detail, it is sufficient to say that in the weeks that followed the pattern is sustained, with regular attendances of well over 200 for the Sunday Choral Eucharists, and anything from 280 to 350 in the evening. At Whitsun (still so labelled) the hard-working Assistant Curate reaped a Whitsun Offering of £17.8.10 (850 bottoms on seats for the day). On June 13th Alfred B. Edlestone signs in, and officiates regularly until July 2nd: the curate is away, perhaps spending his £17.8.10. P.Youlden Johnson (a name from the past) is around twice in July, otherwise the services, attendances and collections roll on through the summer. ‘A.B.E.’ is back, this time seemingly giving JB a break, from mid-July to late August. The next landmark comes with the familiar date of Wednesday, October 6th.
Definitely a red letter festival in 1920. The eve is marked by Festal Evensong (134 present); the day starts with an unusually time 6.45 am Choral Eucharist (75) and another Festal Evensong (121). Over the Octave there are five visiting clergy signing in. One of whom (A.E.Crowder) preached to 435 folk on the Sunday within the octave. This was easily beaten a few weeks later when G.H.Jobling preached to 619 souls at Harvest Thanksgiving Evensong. U.M.C.A. (Universities’ Mission to Central Africa, a High Church organisation) was the focus for St Andrew’s day.
Suddenly – shock, horror - we read that Evensong on December 12th pulled in a mere 149 people, whereas there had been 151 for the morning Choral Eucharist. The reason is clear – SNOW is reported for the evening. Christmas Day saw 261 communicants and 445 attendees – and still no Midnight Mass. December 31st ushered in 1921 with another midnight Circumcision special, and another year settles down to the familiar pattern of wall-to-wall services.
As we rush through the last few pages of this first register and enter Lent, there seem for a while to be fewer huge evensong turnouts, although there were 490 on the second Sunday in Lent, oddly annotated as SELF-DENIAL SUNDAY. The final page of the book records a daily weekday Holy Communion, with between 3 and 8 communicants, 667 bottoms on pews for the final Sunday – and one final meteorological observation on almost the last line before the register runs out. It is WET.
Episode 14 1921 - 1923: over a thousand on Good Friday!
We ended the last thrilling episode (!) in this long-running saga with the final entries in St Faith’s Service Register No.2 (June 11, 1916 to March 5, 1921). Book 3 is another bog-standard SPCK register, with the same inadequately narrow columns for recording anything more interesting than ‘Offertory’ and ‘Object’. Mr Brierley might have been expected to buy a rather more generously spaced register: nevertheless he dutifully signs in as ‘John Brierley, Vicar’, followed by Basil Scholfield, Assistant Priest’. For them both, the weather on this Fourth Sunday in Lent was ‘very wet’, which may explain why the splendidly-named G.Hardwick Spooner, Archdeacon of Liverpool, attracted a (mere!) 357 to Evensong that same day.
Thereafter, the familiar process of 5 or 6 Sunday and one or two daily services sets in again. Palm Sunday and Holy Week see goodly numbers attending: nearly 700 in all on the former, and an average of 90 on the first four days of the latter. No special services yet on Maundy Thursday, but 261 came to the God Friday Three Hours. No Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday, but 373 communicants and some 1,363 attendees over the 7 services on Easter Day itself (492 of them at Evensong).
The next highlight occurs on Thursday, 21st April, at 7.30 pm: the ‘Unveiling of the Memorial Screen’. 11 clergy signed in, there were 434 in church, and Earl Haig’s Disabled Officers’ Fund ended up £11.4s.0d the better. The priests were from St Margaret’s Anfield, St Agnes, Ullet Road (Fr Elcum’s signature now looking rather shaky), St Luke’s, Crosby, St Mary’s Bootle, St Michaels’ Great Crosby and St John’s Waterloo.
Normality returns as the weeks unfold (149 at the Ascension Day 6.30 am Choral Eucharist being worthy of note, as is the sloping signature a week or so later of Isaac Dunedin (a New Zealand Bishop?)). Tiny script on 21st June records the day as bheing’62nd Anniversary, E.C.U.’ (the English Church Union, who raked in a mere 3s.0d on the day. St Peter’s Day, a Wednesday, saw ‘F.J.Liverpool’ conducting an 8.00 pm Confirmation.
A decline in Sunday attendance is evident through the summer months of 1921, with Evensong numbers now rarely exceeding 300 and often dipping to nearer 200. In the autumn, however, numbers increased somewhat. The 1921 Patronal Festival saw 142 at Festal Evensong on Wednesday, October 5th, 115 at the unusually-timed 6.30 am Choral Eucharist and 184 for Evensong, at 8.00 pm as on the previous day. Throughout the following Octave numbers are good, there are several visiting clergy recorded, and when Revd T.R.Musgrave, faithful labourer in the vineyard in former years, return on 16th October, he attracts 606 to Evensong. And soon after, 641 turn up for Harvest Thanksgiving Evensong. A sampling of that day show just 32 communicants at 8.00 am, and just 1 (the celebrant) at the Choral Eucharist: the pattern is now firmly established.
Otherwise, there is little to highlight, apart from an interesting collection for the Russian Famine Fund. Armistice Day (a weekday) features a ‘Service of Remembrance’ and a ‘Merchant Taylor’s School Service’ (yes, the vicar misplaced the apostrophe!). St Andrew’s Day (Wednesday 30th November) is billed as ‘Continuous Prayer for Missions all day’, while the following Saturday is the first recorded Quite Afternoon, , with addresses by one P.A.Miller at 3, 4,30 and 5.15 pm (attendances not logged).
Christmas Day, a Sunday, was ‘Very Wet’ – 280 communicants and a total of 746 attendees. Notably, there were rather more at the Choral Eucharist (248) than at Evensong, when only 210 shook of post-prandial sleep to turn out. AQs 1922 began, the pattern resumes, with no special celebration of the turning of the year or, subsequently, of Epiphany. Attendance figures were lower in the following weeks, not helped by the cancellation of a Children’s Service due to ‘Influenza Epidemic’.
Ash Wednesday saw another Commination service; by contrast the Second Sunday in Lent featured the first recorded Masonic Service, with 278 in attendance. The Bishop preached to 638 at Evensong of Lent V, and we move into Holy Week., and a big surprise.
Good Friday had five separate services, but the Children’s Service was at 9.00 am – and the vicar records an almost unbelievable 1002 present. Since the collection (for Waifs and Strays) amounted to £9.7.8 – more than double than the takings at Evensong, this seems to reflect a large, if not record-breaking attendance. With a total of 1,111 recorded attendances (and 329 communicants) over the Easter Day services, that must have been an impressive Triduum.
The Anniversary of the Dedication of the Church was celebrated by Fr Scholfield on Friday, April 21st; he was the only communicant. May 24th, the Eve of the Ascension, was a Day of Continuous Prayer for the Anglo-Catholic Congress, with T.R. Musgrave returning from Hawarden to lead 152 at Evensong and 127 at 6.15 am the next day. At 9.15 there was the first recorded ‘Merchant Taylor School for Girls Service (another incorrect variant on the name).
The familiar initials of B.S. have been appearing less frequently since the spring, and seem to disappear completely after May 6th. Instead, T.H.F. (Florence) signs in and shares the services fully thereafter, until joined by A.M.Fosbrooke in July, while J.B. seems to be missing for the whole of July, apart for one solitary entry, and not thereafter until he resurfaces on 20 September. Mr Youlden Johnson reappears for the day on 27 July, while for much of September all services are taken by T.C.Dale and Gerald E.Jones. The reasons for these clerical manouverings are unclear at this time.
Passing (relatively) swiftly on, the Patronal Festival, a weekday, was (relatively) well-attended, and soon after there were 442 for Harvest Festival Evensong. JB and THF continue their regular ministry through Advent, with the early Sunday communion seeing between 30 and 50 in the pews, Sung Eucharist numbers around the 200 mark, and Evensong probably averaging the same: the days of very big evening attendances seem to have passed. Christmas Eve still of course has no Midnight Mass, even though it falls on a Sunday, while the Day itself sees 460-odd at the services. Interesting to note the big difference between numbers at Christmas and Easter, very much to the advantage of the latter, compared to today’s trends.
And so to 1923, and the next sampling. This writer, aware that at the current rate of covering two year a month will mean that he will not reach 2013 until after his 80th birthday, will attempt to use a broader brush in future...
Episode 15 1923 - 1925: the first Christmas Midnight
The latest in the endless sequence of extracts and comments culled from the service registers of our church picks up the story in 1923. This writer’s promise to flit more rapidly through the pages is helped by the paucity of interesting comments: the clerics continue manfully (no women priests are even contemplated, needless to say) to serve the congregation and the parish with the full array of services. Sundays continue to see the early celebration at 8 (anything between 25 and 60 attending), Mattins at 10 (seemingly just the officiant present), Sung Eucharist at 10.30 (usually just the celebrant communicating, with anything from 150 t0 200 attending), a similar number at the3 pm Children’s service, and Evensong at 6.0 pm (still the best-attended service of the day, but now attracting around 250 to the pews.) There are daily weekday celebrations, usually in the early morning, mostly with single-figures recorded as present. All these are served by vicar ‘J.B.’ (Brierley) and curate ‘T.H.F.’ (Florence). There are few marginal comments, and the weather features less frequently now.
As we move into Lent, the pattern is sustained. J.O.Coop and D.G.Fee Smith are among the few visiting clergy, with a striking appearance by the splendidly-named A.G. De la Pryme’ one Sunday in Lent. ‘F.J.Liverpool’ confirms one Lenten weekday, and there are extra ‘Lenten Services’ appearing.
Palm Sunday saw a commendable total of nearly 700 attendees, and during Holy Week there were extra daily evensongs, with Gerald E. Jones preaching, and attracting between 70 and 210 people. There were 1777 at Maundy Thursday evening’s Lenten Service, 163 at Good Friday Three Hours’ Devotion, and on Easter Day 350 communicants and a total of no fewer than 1163 total attendances. And, almost unnoticed, at the Good Friday 9.00 am children’s Service, the vicar records 902 present!
Resisting the temptation to probe deeper, we move swiftly through a succession of weeks and months to the 1923 Patronal Festival, fully celebrated through from the eve of the feast day, to the Sunday within the octave and the days following, with eight services recorded in red. Later, the familiar name of C.C.Elcum (of the foundation days and often subsequently) is seen on Harvest Thanksgiving. All Souls’ Day was ‘very wet’. St Andrew’s Day (November 30th) is a Day of Continuous Intercession. And so Advent leads on into Christmas and another ‘first’. There is a recorded midnight Holy Communion on Christmas Eve, with 163 present.
After this heady event, there is no watch night service as 1923 becomes 1924. For most of the succeeding weeks and months, the margins are filled with the painstaking record of collections, and the faithful logging of ‘Preventive and Rescue work’. However, the monotony is broken on March 11th when Albert Liverpool signs in for the first time. Albert David succeeded F.C Liverpool (Francis Chavasse) the previous year. 666 people (no, not the Mark of the Beast!) are recorded as hearing him that Evensong.
Nothing special stands out during Lent and Holy Week, apart from the name of C.C.Thicknesse (a familiar name, but I’m not sure why) at the Good Friday Three Hours. There are over 1,1100 in church for the 7 Easter Day services, but only (!) 370-odd communicants, as the 10.30 service is still non-communicating. The Easter Offering (a key part of the incumbent’s stipend in those days) totalled the respectable total sum of £42.0.11.
An entertaining juxtaposition occurs on June 3rd. Bootle Deanery Chapter Holy Communion at 8.00 am is followed by ‘Reception of the Fiery Cross’ at7.15 pm. This latter turns out not to be a Chapter of the Ku Klux Klan but the beginning of a DAY OF INTERCESSION FOR THE CONVERSION OF ENGLAND TO THE CATHOLIC FAITH; however, it is unikely that the Bootle worthies would have been impressed, if their present-day counterparts are anything to go by... Incidentally, there is also a ‘Midnight Holy Communion’ that night, with just 11 present. Heady days again!
Then, on June 26th, we read of a United Corpus Christi Service at 8.00 pm: it is not a communion, and attracts 309 stalwarts. Soon after, on July 3rd. G.Hardwick Spooner (Archdeacon?) is present for the ‘Unveiling of the James Jones Memorial Window’. Two days later, our first incumbent, T.H.Baxter, presides at an unspecified Requiem: he had himself just two years to live before his death in 1928.
Nothing else is deemed worthy of annotation in the months that followed: visiting preachers and g celebrants sign in, often unintelligibly, but are not explained. The Patronal Festival, falling on a Monday in 1924, attracts just over 200 bottoms on the pews. The year’s final highlight ison the Third Sunday in Advent, when 198 people are resent at the 10.30 am Sung Eucharist to witness ‘James Walthew Waugh Window unveiled and dedicated’.
There was another midnight service on Christmas Eve, although still not called a Mass. 146 communicated and 186 attended. Because the service occurred in the first hours, presumably the strict fasting code didn’t apply; the next two morning Sung Eucharists had just the one communicant each.
1925 slips quietly in with the unvarying worship pattern maintained. Once into Lent, we read of a ‘Parochial Mission Celebration’ service at 6.30 am on Wednesday March 4th (41 turned up). It is Lent, and the subsequent weeks featured a series of Thursday night ‘Service and Address’ entries.
It is easy to overlook another new name recorded on Passion Sunday, when alongside the officiants at the afternoon Children’s Service is recorded the name of Mr Houldin – George Houldin, a great name in the story of St Faith’s, and about whom the records will have plenty to say in subsequent years. His appearance on the scene seems as good a place as any to end this trawl.
Episode 16 1925: a bumper Parish Mission
We paused last month to record the discreet arrival of ‘Mr Houldin’, who was to be a stalwart and mainstay of the lay ministry at St Faith’s for very many years. Taking up the ongoing narrative, Messrs Brierley and Florence meticulously but uneventfully record the continuing sequence of daily and weekly worship. Holy Week 1925 sees three or four daily acts of worship, five (including 190 at the Three Hours Devotion) and no fewer than seven services on Easter Day, with a total of 360 communicants. It is worth noting again that the 10.30 Sung Eucharist saw 254 in the pews and just the one communicant: the fasting tradition is still strong at St Faith’s.
Wednesday 22nd April is marked as ‘E.C.U. Liverpool District Union Service (the English Church Union: a very ‘High’ Church gathering.) A few days later a Saturday is red-lettered as First Quiet Day in Preparation for the Parochial Mission: there were addresses throughout the day, but as so often, the Missioner’s signature cannot be deciphered and is unannotated. Then, apart from a Parochial Mission Celebration on Wednesday May 5th there is, annoyingly, no clue as to what took place.
Ascension Day sees red recording of ‘Merchant Taylor’s School for Girls Service (possibly the first such to be logged; apostrophe still misplaced. ). A few days later, the decipherable signature of C.F.Twitchet is seen (who he? Must look him up). Thereafter the pattern is resumed, with Sunday attendances now around 150-180 and evensong somewhat higher, but usually now under 200; the daily weekday eucharists are usually in single figures. Almost unheralded, on August 2nd Sunday morning Matti9ns at 10.15 am is slipped into the regular pattern, putting the Sung Eucharist back to the new time of 10.45 am, where it was to remain for many years.
The earlier uncertainty about the Parish Mission is clarified on Saturday 18th |July, labelled as Second Quiet Day in Preparation for the parochial Mission, with a full menu of addresses throughout the day. Then all goes quiet until Tuesday, September 15th, when no fewer than 210 communicants attend a 7.15 am eucharist prior to departing on ‘Pilgrimage to the Cathedral’. The collections that day (there was a 7.30 pm Evensong on return) amounted to a healthy £10.15.8 for the Cathedral Building Fund.
The Eve of St Faith’s Day, a Monday, saw 81 at Festal Evensong, and the day itself saw a respectable 101 at the (very) early 6.15 celebration. Later that week a visiting priest is both legible (H.G.Thompson) and identified (St Luke’s, Southport), preaching at the 10.30 am on the Sunday in the Octave of St Faith; 228 turned up, and a further 323 at Festal Evensong. And then, at last, the much heralded Mission is upon us at the end of the month.
The next page is portentously headed ‘MISSIONERS Canon Peter Green + Rev T. Grigg-Smith. PAROCHIAL MISSION (Saturday October 31st to Sunday November 15th.’ On the Saturday there was a well-attended (483 present) Service of Commendation, with Bishop Albert Liverpool, the Missio0ners and the two parish clergy signing in. At once the attendances shoot up. The following day, Sunday, there are 245 present |(218 communicants) at an early 7.45 am celebration, with 274 at the Sung Eucharist (still just the celebrant communicating) and an impressive704 at the 6.30 pm Mission Service, despite JB recording one of his infrequent weather reports: ‘WET’. And at 3 pm, when the Children’s Service occupied the church, there had been a Service for Men in the Parish Hall.
Thereafter there is recorded a very impressive sequence of daily and Sunday services. For the former there are two successive early morning eucharists, and regular services for ‘Women’, ‘Young People’ and ‘Children’. A Deaconess Siddall takes one of the women’s services, the Parish Hall is frequently used, and each weekday and Sunday concludes with a Mission Service, numbers for these sometimes upward of 250, and the one on Sunday attracting 636 bottoms to seats. These latter services were non-eucharistic, and not billed as evensongs, and it would be interesting to know the format and content. The Services for Men feature also on Sundays, but how many Men were there we cannot tell. But an average of 6 services per day is indeed formidable, and as the fortnight ended, and 648 filled the pews for a final Evensong of Thanksgiving, all concerned would have looked back on a job well done – and, minutely recorded at the foot, to a total of £77.6.3 ‘Received from Mission’ during the period.
This register has just three pages left to record a return to the regular procession of daily eucharists and Sunday services. The final entry is fittingly in red: Festal Evensong for the Fourth Sunday in Advent: 232 present to see JB and THF perform their usual acts of worship. And the very last words, squeezed in below: ‘also £3.4.10 Flowers’.
Episode 17 1926/7: 'Woodbine Willie' in the pulpit
Book 4 in the sequence of St Faith’s service registers is another unremarkable small ledger-like affair, with more space available to record collections than attendances, not to mention the cramped allocation for the date and festival details.
T.H.Florence, Assistant Priest, heads up the first page, closely followed of course by John Brierley, Vicar: the date is December 21st, 1925, it being ‘Festival of S. Thomas, Apostle + Martyr’. There was a midnight eucharist with 212 present, and 166 communicants, but thereafter in the following weeks and months the regular pattern reasserts itself: an 8.00 am Holy Communion with between 40 and 60 present, and a Sung Eucharist averaging 150 (but only one communicant) and evensong with between 200 and 250 turning up – solid attendances but down significantly on the giddy days of a few years earlier. During those same sampled weeks there were daily offerings of the eucharist with single-figure attendances the norm.
Ash Wednesday 1926 featured Mattins and Commination service, and 85 at the 7.00 am early communion, but no sign of ashes. Albert Liverpool breaks the near-monotony of worship by preaching, on Lent 2 at 3.00pm. at a Masonic Service, assisted by the Revs E.C.Collier, O.E.Jones and C.W.Macready. No attendance is recorded, but the oddly round figure of £12.0.0 was raised for S.Mary’s Shelter Building Fund. That same episcopal dignitary returned on 22nd March to conduct a confirmation. Canon Coop surfaces from time to time, and in Holy Week B.Selwyn Smith gives weekday addresses .
Easter Day’s seven services see 1191 bottoms on seats in total, with 383 communicants. Interestingly, at the early celebrations (6 ,7 and 8 am) there were a total of some 75 non-communicants attending. Then from 26th April to 17th May, Mr Florence took every service (vicar’s holiday?), although on successive Sundays he was assisted at the afternoon children’s service by Mr Bagshaw, Mr Crossman and Mr Seldon. Merchants’ Girls held their now customary Ascension Day; earlier the Sung Eucharist for the day, at 6.15 am, attracted 70 communicants.
Nothing worth noting now until July, when ‘Mr Houldin’ logged in again for a children’s service. On the same uneventful page there is a Tuesday evening ‘Evensong and Mothers’ Union Enrolment’ recorded. Numbers on Sundays and weekday stay fairly steady in August and September. The presence of a visiting preacher back on April 22nd (it looks like J.M.Buckmaster at an E.C.U. Festal Evensong) was followed by a surprising period of five months before another visiting preacher (S.R.P.Moulsdale, it looks like) signs on September 26th: the number of sermons preached by the resident duo over that period must be awesomely large.
Some relief from pulpit duty arrives in the closing months of the year with visits from Arnold Prichard, T.Grigg-Smith, C.C.Thicknesse , F.H.Keatch and H.Leonard Puss (surely it should have been Pass?). The Patronal Feast on a weekday featured a 6.15 am Sung Eucharist (78 at the rails). Meticulous as to his rubrics, the vicar inscribes the first services of Sunday, October 31st in black as Harvest Thanksgiving, Twenty Second Sunday after Trinity, then switches to red on the same afternoon and declares it Eve of All Saints, with a handsome 352 to hear S.A.K.Sylvester preach at Festal Evensong.
There is a Service of Remembrance at 10.45 in time to mark the 11th hour of the 11th day, with the collection fittingly going to the Earl Haig’s Fund. Advent Sunday saw a Service of Dedication (Baxter Memorial) at 12 noon. The Eve of St Andrew is marked down as Day of Intercession for the Church Abroad, when the preacher was J.Howard Foy.
There are 175 communicants at the 1926 Christmas Midnight (though the dreaded ‘Mass’ still has not crept in!); 330 communicants in all at the Nativity celebrations, then 1926 becomes 1927. All is uneventful in the weeks that follow, apart from the exotic signature of Cathrew Nyasaland, who attracted 350 to the Sung Eucharist and 367 to evensong. His unusual Christian name is hard to decipher, but Wikipedia helpfully identifies him as Cathrew Fisher, and tells us that he was killed in a motor accident a couple of years later.
All is calm henceforth, apart from a tiny marginal note at the 7.30 am communion on Friday 4th March, which reads ‘Hilda Belsham (possibly. Ed) S.P.G .Mandalay, Service of Commendation’. Later that month, which featured several visiting preachers, the bold signature of G.A.Studdert Kennedy appears, preaching at a Thursday afternoon service for women, and attracting 645 to the pews. As this writer was already aware from an earlier trawl some years ago, this is the famous ’Woodbine Willie’. Wikipedia fills out the story.
Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy, M.C. was an Anglican priest, a poet and, most notably an army Chaplain on the Western Front during the Great War. A Christian Socialist and later a pacifist, he gained his nickname from his habit of handing out cigarettes along with spiritual counsel to soldiers caught up in the war. He died in Liverpool just two years after preaching at our church.
Dipping in and out of the following months, here are a few highlights. There were 277 in church for Good Friday’s Three Hours, 410 communicants on Easter Day, 267 attending the Sung Eucharist and 312 at Festal Evensong: an impressive total attendance for the day of 1154. On the 5th Sunday after Easter, Bishop Albert, a surprisingly regular visitor to St Faith’s, preached at the Sung Eucharist to 422 souls. Numbers were not always as high: Festal Evensong for the Eve of Whitsunday attracted 27 folk, including presumably choir and sanctuary party.
In July 1927, a change of curates would appear to have taken place. T.H.Florence signs in (or rather out) in full at evensong on July 3rd, and J.Howard Foy signs in the next morning at the Monday eucharist, now at its familiar time of 10.30 am. However, the latter cleric only signs in once more (on August 15th) until early October, and a range of services are taken by G.Woodcock, taking the pressure presumably off John Brierley. And then on Tuesday August 16th R.A.K.Kellett takes over, and his bold initials are the only ones recorded until September 17th, although interestingly, though RAKK fills in all the financial columns – and spatters the pages with blots and scratchy writing! – the details in the services column are unmistakeably written by J.B.
There is no more RAKK to behold henceforth: JB shoulders the burden alone until October 2nd, when ‘J.Howard Foy’ reappears and the familiar pattern of vicar and curate resumes. And as we approach St Faith’s Day, 1927, it is time for a break from these heady archival pleasures...
Episode 18 1927/8: 942 women in church on a Wednesday
We take up this endless narrative as St Faiths’ Day 1927 approaches. The Eve of the Feast was a Wednesday, and a Festal Evensong at 8 pm saw an impressive 224 in the pews. At 6.15 am on the Day there were 77 communicants at a Sung Eucharist. Equally impressive were the attendances on the following Sunday: 136 at 8.00 am, 315 at 10.45 am, 153 at6 a ‘Special Children’s Service at 3.00 pm and 355 at Festal Evensong. Those were the days!
The5re were quite a few visiting preachers around this time, most with illegible signatures; the preacher on Harvest Festival Sunday evensong soon after spoke to 506 souls (‘English Church Union’). Thereafter all goes quiet, apart from St Andrew’s Day being DAY OF INTERCESSION FOR THE CHURCH ABROAD, with a total of £2.7.11 going to UMCA (Universities’ Mission to Central Africa’).
Christmas sees what seems to be the first recorded Blessing of the Crib at evensong on Christmas Eve. There were 268 at the midnight a few hours later, and soon we are into 1928, with January 1st red-lettered as Festival of the Circumcision of our Lord: in the afternoon there is SNOW.
In February there is a collection for The Bishop of Liverpool’s Fund for Building Churches (these days it would be more likely to be a Fund for Closing them. Ed.). Lent gets under way, and the signature of G.A.Studdert Kennedy (‘Woodbine Willie’) appears, intriguingly, at a Wednesday afternoon Service for Women. No fewer than 942 turned up (almost all women, doubtless) and parted with £11.13.3 for ‘Industrial Christian Fellowship’. Two weeks later Albert Liverpool preached at a corresponding service: his Lordship addressed a mere 300 women.
Holy Week saw the usual extra services (4 per day), with T.Hannay, N.C.R. (not National Cash Registers, surely?) taking more than half of them. On Easter Day, there were a total of 972 attendees. Henceforth, in tiny pencil figures, a running total of communicants appears at the foot of each page: the Easter page records 2123 for the year to date.
By mid-April the clergy had clearly got their flock well-trained: the communicant average at the 8.00 am Sunday eucharist averages 50-60 of the unbreakfasted, while of the 220 or so in the pews for the10.30 am Sung Eucharist, there is but the one communicant. Later on, the curate holds the fort for a couple of weeks, with a healthy 87 partaking at the Ascension Day 6.15 am Sung Eucharist, and another48 at the 7.30 am celebration. Corpus Christi (June 7th) sees two said eucharists. Sunday evensongs at this time rarely top the 200 mark.
Trinity 14, in September 1928 sees one-time curate B.Scholfield signing back in at 10.30, while in the afternoon the first actual signature of George Houldin appears, officiating at Mattins. The entire Octave is logged in red (apart from a black entry of RAIN!); preachers include G.Hardwick Spooner.
A week later, and for the first time. Attendances at a Sunday evensong fell below 100: the record says ’91. Torrential Rain’. The weather was obviously better for Harvest Festival evensong a few weeks later, when 440 gave thanks. The English Church Union, in the shape of F.W.Cooper, held a quiet Day at the end of November, closely followed by a sequence of services for the benefit of U.M.C.A.
St Thomas’s Day, Friday 21st December, was a’ Day Of Intercession For The Ministry Of W.L.M.Way, with no fewer than seven separate opportunities to pray for him. Mark Way signed in on December 23rd, and, clearly serving his title here and at that stage only a Deacon, took only Matins and Children’s services. He was to rise through the ranks in later years to the episcopate in Africa, but that is another story. There were 320 Christmas communicants as the year drew to a close. The running total of communicants at 31st December was 6,739. Looking ahead to the end of 1929, the year’s total was 6,782. But that is also another story...
Episode 19 1929/1930: 1,130 for Easter
The story recommences in January 1929, with 33 communicants starting the year on Tuesday January 1st, the Festival of the Circumcision. Thereafter the steady and faithful parade of daily services sets in again, with J.B. (John Brierley), J.H.F (J. Howard Foy) and W.L.M.W. (Mark Way) sharing the honours.
In the first months, Sunday sampling produces communicants at the 8.00 am celebration between 50 and 90; attendances at the 10.45 Sung Eucharist between 220 and 290 (still just the one communicant) and evensong broadly the same. The exotically titled Thomas, Bishop of Zanzibar, signs in for several services at Sexagesima, as we move into Lent. ‘Woodbine Willie’ (Studdert Kennedy) comes back to preach to 553 women on a weekday afternoon at the end of February, and garners a respectable £7.6.7 for the Industrial Christian Fellowship. The power of the name is strikingly evident: other visiting clergy at these fairly regular events at St Faith’s rarely get above three-figure attendance.
Easter Day produced a record of 252 communicants (and 310 attendances) at the 8.00 Holy Communion, topping the 261 present for the Sunday Eucharist, but still below the 405 at evensong. In all, exactly 400 received the sacrament that day, and 1,130 attended! What’s more, on the traditional less well-attended Low Sunday a week later, there were as many as 293 at the Sung Eucharist.
The eye is caught by the fact that for four pages of the register (10th May to 7th July) there were no visiting preachers or celebrants signing in. The daily pattern of eucharists continues unfailingly: Monday at 10.30 am, Tuesday and Friday at 7.30 am, Wednesday at 8, Thursday at 7 and Saturday at 9.30; a weekday average would at a glance appear to be about 7 at each, with at least two more actually present but non-communicating.
In July there is a burst of legible signatures, featuring appearances by F.H.Keatch, G.Woodcock, C.F.Twitchett and Chas Budden. In late August J.H.F (Foy) holds the fort alone for 29 successive services before JB reappears. Nothing much of note happens until there is a Special Service for Children and Parents on October 3rd (252 present).
The Patronal Festival for 1929 falls on a Sunday, and is marked by the usual array of acts of worship. 941 in all attend over the course of the day: a record up to then and almost certainly not beaten to this day. Interestingly the early celebration (227 communicants) was staged at 7.45 am on that occasion. The octave ended the following Sunday with 327 attending at 10.45, when the preacher was H.G.Warrington: there were just under 800 in church during the course of that day.
The careful, even immaculate, recording of the daily parade of services continues in the closing months of the year. There were 438 at Harvest Festival evensong to hear Walter E Harston Morris, while in the following week, which encompassed All Saints and All Souls, here were 11 weekday services, including Vespers for the Dead on the evening of the former to mark the latter. The total communicants for those 11 celebrations was exactly 100; intriguingly the total attendances was 160, meaning that 60 non-communicants turned out for what were mostly 7 am services.
On the Eve of St Andrew’s Day, Thursday, November 29th, a ‘Day of Intercession for the work of the Church abroad, there were 6 services – three communions, two ‘intercessions’ and the usual Festal Evensong. On Christmas Eve there was an 8 pm Festal Evensong, and a mid-night Sung Eucharist -still not a Mass! - with 156 communicants. There were 323 for the day’s total. Easter, it will be remembered, brought out 1130: a striking imbalance that certainly doesn’t occur these days.
C.E.Twitchett was the final guest preacher of the year, at the Children’s Service on December 29th; 1929 bows out with the final entry of 6782 communicants for the year. The dedicated team of priests could be quietly proud of another year of unbroken worship, with attendances maintained at so enviable a level.
This fourth service register has but a few pages to run: time to record ‘Torrential Rain’ on the evening of the first Sunday after Epiphany, 1930, keeping evensong numbers down to a (mere!) 155 of the doubtless bedraggled faithful. Little else of note, save that the regular weekly notification of ‘Bishop’s Fund 1/-‘ becomes ‘Bishop’s Fund 6d’.
The final Sunday in this tome is Quinquagesima: a total of 748 in attendance overall , but only 65 communicants. J.P.W.Lovett preached in the morning and G.Hardwick Spooner in the evening. Then, two days later, and with several unused pages beyond, JB enters the book’s final record: Tuesday 7.30 Holy Communion, 5 communicants and 7 present, 1s 0d garnered for the continuing ‘Preventive and Rescue Work’. The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on to another register.
Episode 20 1930/1931: even more at Easter - then an ordination
The delay in promulgating this episode in the story of St Faith’s, as seen from the entries in a succession of church services registers, is due to the belated unearthing of the fifth register, eventually found submerged in a sea of fusty assorted ecclesiastical documents. Register No.5 , opened on March 5th 1930, is a substantial tome, heavily embossed with the church name on the cover, including, or rather not including, the vital apostrophe. The first pages are crumpled and torn, and one has a corner neatly sliced off, so that can’t be the work of the church mice.
Anyway, the first services see John Brierley (vicar), W.L.Mark Way and J.Howard Foy signing in before the initials set in thereafter. A curiosity is the presence throughout of a printed column headed ‘No. of coins’, alongside the conventional column headings of ‘No. of communicants’ and ‘No. present ‘. This writer has pondered this wording over the years and still finds it a mystery. It is immediately obvious that the figures faithfully recorded under this heading cannot be actual numbers of coins but are attendance figures; yet the attendances column is also used, though never both at the same time. A theory that the ‘coins’ column is used for attendances at non-eucharistic services more or less holds water, except on the significant number of occasions when this rule does not apply! And in any case why purchase a register with this column printed thus? What church would faithfully record coin of the realm but never expect paper money? Readers of an equally obsessive mind are more than welcome to peruse the register pages and seek to unravel these puzzles. Or just read on...
...Meanwhile, back on the first page, we begin with Ash Wednesday, with no fewer than seven services between 7 am and 8 pm and 230 bottoms on seats overall. Sampling attendances at the Sunday morning Sung Eucharist at 10.45 and Evensongs at 6.30, the latter usually still pulling in bigger crowds, but the gap is narrowing, and there are some weeks when the morning wins out. Ther are between 15 and 18 services in each week, and a scattering of visiting celebrants and preachers. (J.A.Lichfield, J.A.Jordan, Francis Underhill, D. Railton and R.W. Howard inter alia). There are still midweek services for women, usually attracting 200 o0r so of the fair sex.
Towards the end of Lent, the Bishop of Warrington confirmed 42 from St Faith’s on a Wednesday evening. On Palm Sunday the total attending was some 740. Curiously, the following Maundy Thursday is simply called Thursday before Easter, with modest numbers only in church. Good Friday did much better, with 235 at the Three Hours Devotion. Easter day saw an impressive 1,440 attending during the day, with half of them to witness Albert Liverpool (A.A.David) presiding at Festal Evensong and Baptism.
Easter week is celebrated in red throughout, headed by Easter Monday, 21st April, the 30th Anniversary of Consecration. There was an 11.15 Sung Eucharist, with some familiar signatures (Charles C. Elcum still at it, albeit shakily), ex-curate Mr Musgrove, and Messrs Twitchett, Barratt and Thicknesse (splendid names for a firm of solicitors or undertakers?) Neither coins nor communicants were entered: just the one communicant, but there was a good collection.
The week continued in style, culminating in no fewer than 840 total attendances on Low Sunday. Thereafter the set pattern is re-established, with highlights such as the Ascension Day 9.15 am Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ serviced, presided over by S.J.Sykes. Whitsunday, still of course so termed, saw 217 communicants but 688 attending: the established social pattern of attendance at non-eucharistic services is still very noticeable, in contrast with today’s pattern. The ‘fringe’ if we can thus term it, has effectively disappeared as a regular feature today, as indeed has weekly evensong.
And so the summer of 1930 rolls uneventfully on. July 13th is flagged up as ‘30th Anniversary of the Diocese of Liverpool’, while JB fails to sign in between July 30th and September 3rd, presumably on vacation. Numbers are somewhat lower now, although with strong attendances at the Sunday 3pm Children’s Service, and the Patronal Festival week is diligently observed. With the autumn numbers grow again (435 and 355 at two Sunday Evensongs).
Oddly, the vicar finds it necessary to mark December 24th as ‘Eve of the Nativity of Our Lord, commonly called Christmas Day’: the crib is blessed at Festal Evensong at 8pm, with 59 present, there are 268 at the midnight Sung Eucharist, and about 550 in all in church during the Day (and three days later, 661 on the First Sunday after Christmas).
Something of a boom on Sunday, January 11th – 882 in all attended St Faith’s, but only 59 took communion. Sexagesima (February 8th) sees a Mirfield man amongst us:, as T. Hannay, C.R (Community of the Resurrection) preaches: he had appeared a year or two previously, labelled as N.C.R, when this writer made a feeble joke. Perhaps the N is for Novitiate, he now wonders. Shortly after, without explanation, Robert L. Hudson, Rector of Wolverhampton, delivers addresses at 3, 5 and 6 on a Saturday: numbers addressed do not figure, but he takes three services the following day
Ash Wednesday, with its now traditional Commination Service, ushers in Lent, with ‘Litany’ being recorded this year (1931) at 12 noon on Wednesday and Fridays throughout. On Lent 5, ‘Canon Wells’ is written up as preacher, but does not sign in. As ever, there are a multitude of daily services throughout Lent and in Holy Week. Maundy Thursday is again merely called Thursday before Easter and only lightly attended, but the Rector of West Derby spoke to 235 at the Good Friday Three Hours, and total attendances on Easter Day for the 8 separate services was a formidable 1,229.
Not long after 106 attended the 6.15 am Ascension Day service, with another 61 having a lie-in until the 7.30 am eucharist – and there were over 800 in church on Whitsunday. Then on Wednesday June 24th, there was a ‘Festal Evensong and Dedication of Memorial’ (no, this writer doesn’t - yet – know which one).
J.Howard Foy, Curate, seems to have signed in for the last time on 20th September, 1930, leaving Messrs Brierley and Way to service all the many services for a full year. During that year, J.B. was at the helm alone for July, and W.L.M.W. likewise for five weeks in August and early September. Then, on September 20th, at 10.45 am, we come across ‘ORDINATION SERVICE’ – possibly the first such event at St Faith’s, and entered in sober black ink. The Bishop is A.G.Warrington, the attendance a meticulously accurate-sounding 905, and the candidate is not named! However, at Festal Evensong that same day, the modest signature of Herbert William Cockett is squeezed in, so it will have been him kneeling before the Bishop. And so, on a day seeing over 1,500 in church, begins the ministry of a young curate whose life was to end tragically in the missionary fields of Africa. And on this thoughtful note, this episode ends, with a mere two years of entries covered. Must try harder.
Episode 21 1931/1933 - 1,100 in church for Epiphany 1
We pick up the story with the beginning of the ministry of Herbert William Cockett, ordained at St Faith’s on September 30th, 1931. As a deacon, his functions are naturally limited to non-eucharistic services, taking children’s worship and evensongs and assisting where he cannot yet celebrate. He is there at Festal Evensong on the Eve of St Faith’s Day, and throughout the following octave. The Patronal Festival fell on a Tuesday, and there was a 6.25 am Sung Eucharist (possibly the first at this early hour?) with 68 communicating before breakfast and work took over. The following Sunday saw an impressive total of 722 attendances and, as the Festival Octave drew to a close, the Tuesday Festal Evensong saw 154 coming to listen to9 ex-curate T.R.Musgrave preach once more.
The next page features two events of interest. The vicar celebrates the anniversary of his institution with a ‘special celebration for those confirmed 1918-1931: 143 attended on that day (Monday, October 19th at 7 am). Then on All Saints’ Day, November 1st, at the Sung Eucharist, we read ‘’Dedication oif the windows to the memory of Charles Rowley Whitnall. These are the second and third windows, counting from the font, dedicated to St Francis and St Catherine: Charles Whitnall was a churchwarden. The dedication speaks of him as’ for many years a constant worshipper in this Church who passed beyond the veil November 25th 1930. This window is given by his fellow worshippers in thankful remembrance of his character and example. R.I.P.’ There were 299 in church for the occasion, boosting the day’s total to 939.
The normal pattern of worship continues, with goodly numbers at Christmas, including 340 present for the midnight Sung Eucharist (still no use of the inflammatory ‘Mass’ terminology!) As 1931 gives way to 1932, the steady pattern of devotion continues, with little or no marginal comment. Bishop Albert Liverpool preaches to 267 women on a Thursday afternoon in February. Shortly after this, JB appends a brief meteorological observation (‘hail + rain’); a page or two on J.Howard Foy comes back to preach at a Sunday evensong and speaks to 341 people’. The same page shows a more exotic visitor, as John, Glasgow and Galloway comes to preach to the Women – possibly the first Scottish Episcopal bishop so to do. Easter 1932 sees no fewer than 1,469 people in church over the seven services, all taken by the home team. There were even about 800 in the pews for Low Sunday. Moving on, we note the 32nd Anniversary of the Consecration of the Church flagged up on April 21st.
Spring and summer roll by, with immaculate and consistent logging of services, attendances (or ‘coins’- see last month!) and a scattering of visiting priests, although most sign illegibly and their names are not otherwise recorded. One legible and noteworthy entry, taking 10.00 am Mattins on August 28th, is that of G.W.Houldin, (Licensed Reader). Another milestone is reached on Wednesday, September 28th, when ‘Rev H.W.Cockett celebrated Holy Communion for the First Time’, presumably following his priesting elsewhere.. The 1932 Patronal Octave has a succession of red letter entries for services and visiting clergy; the services are well attended.
All Saints Day has Vespers of the Dead at 8 pm, then November 11th, flagged up as Armistice Day, has a Service of Remembrance, with the collection for Earl Haig’s Poppy Fund. Soon it is Christmas, and the steady growth of attendances at the Midnight continues: 327 present, with 227 communicants. It was a Sunday, and the total attendances were 939. Someone had been totalling the year’s communicants in pencil, and has recorded a total of 7,001 for 1932.
1933 got off to a good start when the Bishop dropped in again on Epiphany 1 and attracted 484 to the 10.30 Sung Eucharist. As a result the day’s attendances added up to a mighty 1,132 – yet there were only 59 communicants during the day.
Saturday, February 25th saw a series of three addresses by J.M.Buckmaster, with no explanation and no figures recorded. Google reveals that he was in fact a vicar from Wigan. A more exalted figure preached at a Service for Women on Thursday, March 2nd, when no fewer than a fo0rmidable 805 women listened to William Ebor, who is William Temple, Archbishop of York, and a much-revered name in the annals of Anglicanism. The collection (a regular preoccupation of these registers) was £10.7.7. (which Google estimates at about £500 today!)
On Thursday, March 2nd, Woodbine Willie (Studdert Kennedy) addresses the Women, with a mere 3330 female personages present. At the end of the month Albert Liverpool signs in yet again, for an evening confirmation. The margin records that there were 37 St Faith’s of a total of 86 candidates, but there is no record of attendances, let alone collections, so maybe the service was elsewhere. A further episcopal presence was logged at the April 6th Service for Women: this time it is the splendidly named Claude Petriburg (Bishop Claude Blagden, Wikipedia declares) – but there were but 212 present to listen to Claude.
Good Friday saw 298 at the Three Hours, and no eucharists on the day. Easter boasts 461 communicants over the day, and 1,450 attendances: well above the Christmas figure. Sand there were nearly 1000 attendances on the traditionally less well-attended Low Sunday.
Thereafter all is routine. Corpus Christi is celebrated as a red letter day, but none too well attended. Interestingly, J.B., the vicar, has a fortnight away early in the year, and then is absent from the register for a further five weeks in August and September. Upon his return, the three priests share the duties of the autumn, with the Patronal Festival duly celebrated and faithfully attended. Not the same three priests, though. Harold C Stewart, seemingly a deacon, signs in quietly on September 24th, and the next day sees the modest final signature of H.W.Cockett.
Moving (relatively) swiftly onwards, Christmas Eve fell on a Sunday, and attracted 715 in all, while the Day itself, beginning with the midnight service (342) totalled slightly fewer at 678. This somewhat unusual reversal of numbers is a prelude to the final days of 1933: as the year ends, the pencilled total of communicants reaches 7,503 – well up on the previous year.
Episode 22 1934/1935 - Mark is on his Way and Brierley Bows Out
Devoted followers of this protracted saga will be aware of the mysterious register column headed ‘coins’ and of its use for certain somewhat arbitrary logging of attendance figures, despite the existence of the preceding column labelled as ‘No. Present’. From 1934 a certain pattern emerges, with the ‘coins’ column used only for Sunday attendances.
J.B. (John Brierley), H.C.S. (Harold Stewart) and W.L.M.W. (Mark Way) sign in regularly and faithfully over a sequence of otherwise unremarkable months. Sampling the Sunday attendances over the first 8 week of 1934 we see that the 8.00 am Communion has between 58 and 124 attending, with an average of 90. For the 10.45 Sung Eucharist the figures are 221-307, averaging 270, for the 3.00 pm Children’s service 179 – 231, average 195 and for the 6.30 pm Evensong 151-246, average 225. It would seem that the glory days of huge evening attendances are no more.
In contrast to the pattern in earlier years, between mid-February and the end of April there were no fewer than 13 decipherable signatures of visiting preachers or celebrants, and a few more indecipherable ones. They were, for the record: J.P.N.Potter, D.Railton, G.B.Goodliffe, Spencer H.Elliott, Archdeacon Howson (I think), Bishop Claude Petriburg, H.G.Warrington, Stuart Morris, H.P.Barsley, R.L. Hodson and Edwyn C. Hoskyns. Weekday morning communions were at 10.30 on Mondays, 7 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7.30 on Fridays and 9.30 on Saturdays. During Lent there were several additional celebrations, including the services for women again. Attendances on ‘ordinary’ days were usually in single figures, but larger on Wednesdays and Saturdays. There were Mattins and Evensong on Sundays, but no record of daily offices.
Throughout Lent Basil Oddie, S.S.M. (Society of the Sacred Mission, Kelham, I guess) preaches at Wednesday 8 pm evenings, listened to by 100 or so on average. Following the usual multi-service schedule for Holy Week, Easter Day’s 8 services saw 457 communicants and an impressive total of no fewer than1,406 total attendances. And there were as many as 883 in church over the traditionally quite Low Sunday a week later – and just over 1,000 on Whitsunday, as they called it in the good old days.
The summer is uneventful, with only E.C.Dearne’s visiting signature to break the long sequence of ‘hone’ initials. These include mention of Mr Bebb and Mr Houldin (who actually signs in once) taking Sunday Mattins and Children’s Services. J.Howard Foy returns twice to celebrate in August.
The 1934 Patronal Festival was well celebrated, with the Festal Evensong on the Eve having as its preacher one F.W.Dwelly. This will be the then Dean of Liverpool, whose cathedral became known among the faithful as ‘God’s Dwelly House’! Then on October 10th, the initials of M.L.M.W. are crossed out and replaced by the fuller version of W.L. (actually Wilfrid Lewis) Mark Way – a sure sign that he is signing in for the last time before following an upward career that was to lead him via a curacy at St Bartholomew, Brighton, to become Bishop of Masasi.
There were 449 at Harvest Sunday Evensong – more like the good old days. The next event of note is for once fully annotated in the register: ‘From Sunday November 25th to Saturday December 1st a School of Prayer was held conducted by Canon. J.F.L.Southam, Residential Canon of Chester.’ He celebrated and preached frequently over the period, with some extra services. Attendances on the opening Sunday totalled 827, and the following Sunday 863. It would be interesting to know the impulse that led 230 to communicate on that second Sunday (Advent 1), the day after the Canon had presumably gone home, and no fewer than 317 to attend at the earlier time of 7.45 am.
On December 23rd, Maurice B.S.Godfrey joins the team as second curate and deacon. Christmas Eve saw an 8 pm Festal Evensong and Blessing of the Crib, with just 98 present, closely followed by the Midnight Sung Eucharist with 343 in church. The Day itself attracted 416 communicants and 762 attendees. JB’s faithful logging records a total of communicants for the year as 7,981.
As 1935 opens, Harold Evans, C.R. (Mirfield) puts in an appearance, and on Saturday, March 2nd, C.E.Jarman delivers three sermons for no explained reason. He would seem to be a Canon of Chester Cathedral if Google has got the right man. Little of note now until Lent, with no fewer than 7 services on Ash Wednesday (still including Commination). For the duration of Lent, extra Communions were provided on Mondays and Wednesdays, and the weekday Services for Women resurface. Decipherable preachers include several appearances by J.Howard Foy, and one each by W.J.Phythian Adams, Stuart Morris, Robert W.Howard, D. Railton, H.G.Thompson and E/G.Selwyn.
The Sunday before Easter, not graced with the name of Palm Sunday, saw a healthy 424 at the Sung Eucharist but no recorded communicants at all. There were 947 in church that day, and goodly numbers throughout Holy Week. Easter Day, 21st April, with the bold accompanying rubric ‘35th Anniversary of the Consecration of Saint Faith’s Church’, saw total attendances of 1,327 over 8 services between 6 am and 6.30 pm, but, interestingly, almost 100 fewer at the main Sung Eucharist than had turned up for the previous Sunday’s service.
Monday, May 6th is marked down as ‘King’s Jubilee: Dedication of Carpets, Rugs and Curtains for Lady Chapel’. This was at a well-attended 8 am Sung Eucharist – an unusual occurrence, and C.F.Twitchett preached. One assumes that these furnishings are the ones in use today.
The nest item of interest is on Monday June 3rd, when three red-lettered services (First Address at 2 pm, Second Address at 3.30pm and Evensong and Third Address at precisely 5.50 pm) are bracketed as CANCELLED. The margin declares that was to have been a QUIET DAY FOR CLERGY: it would seem to have lived up to its name.
John Bebb appears at Festal Evensong on Trinity Sunday, Rev F.H.Keatch presides on July 9th and Arthur C.Elliott on July 21st. John Brierley is away from August 1st to September 11th, with H.C.S. celebrating throughout, with deacon H.S.B.G. taking non-eucharistic services and doing some preaching.
On Wednesday, October 2nd, 24 are in church for a ‘Special Mass on the departure of Eileen Gill to Africa (U.M.C.A.)’ Unless this writer has missed something, this is the very first time the term has appeared in the registers of our church.
St Faith’s Day falls on a Sunday, and 1,123 turn up for it over the course of the day. At the afternoon Children’s Service we read of ‘Children’s Banner, made and Dedicated by Miss Hamilton’ being dedicated. The Sunday within the Octave, a week later, attracts1,026; there are 412 at Evensong, to hear Mark Way paying a return visit.
On October 30th, a Wednesday, an extra service is squeezed in and is ‘Requiem – Mabel Delano Osborne’. It is worth noting that there are few if any recordings of funerals or baptisms in the registers. On November 3rd 238 attendees at the Sung Eucharist listened to a reading of The Bishop’s Pastoral Letter.
On November 17th, only 156 attend for Sunday Evensong – but it is ‘Very Wet and Cold’. Then, on the next page, Friday November 30th is marked as ‘Day of Prayer – Church Abroad’. There are six services, at the first of which, the 7.00 am Holy Communion, the full signature of John Brierley appears for the last time as he celebrates the end of a distinguished incumbency . A day later, across the page is solemnly inscribed Close of Vicariate of Canon John Brierley (October 19th 1918 to November 30th 1935) An era has closed in the annals of Saint Faith’s Great Crosby. Fittingly, the rest of the register page is left blank.
Episode 23 1935 - 1937: Enter John Schofield
Advent Sunday, December 1st, 1935 was the first day of interregnum at St Faith’s following the departure of Canon John Brierley. Services were in the hands of Senior Curate Harold C. Stewart, , assisted by Maurice Godfrey, still a deacon, but not for long. There is no record of his priesting, but a marginal note on December 23rd reads ‘ ‘Rev M.B.S.Godfrey first celebration of Holy Communion’. The full pattern of services instituted under JB’s reign is maintained for the rest of the year and thereafter. Christmas Day saw 327 communicants and 552 attendances during the day. The year ends with no evening service, but a helpful pencilled note records ‘1935 tot. communicants 7603’. This makes an average of just over 20 per day thro0ghout the year – quite an achievement.
In January and February 1936 Sunday numbers remain solid: 60-80 at the 8.00 am, between 180 and 250 at the Sung Eucharist, 130-150 at the afternoon Children’s Service and anything from 170 – 250 at Evensong. Mr Stewart’s neat writing records little of other interest apart from, oTuesday January 28th, Requiem for King George V. R.I.P.’ (60 over two communions).
The this writer turns a page, wondering how things would shape up during the interregnum, and finds, on Tuesday February 18th a large announcement: 8.0 INSTITUTION OF REV JOHN SCHOFIELD BY THE RT REV THE LORD BISHOP OF LIVERPOOL . 575 doubtless relieved people attended, and parted with exactly £8.00 on the plate.The next day reads THE BEGINNING OF THE VICARIATE OF REV JOHN SCHOFIELD, marking the end of an interregnum that lasted just 2½ months.
By way of an interlude, here are a few paragraphs from George Houldin’s 1950 history of St Faith’s. They shed further light on the events chronicled above, as well as anticipating some of the story in the following few years.
'The tragic death of Rev. H. W. Cockett, who had gone to the Mission fields in Africa, occurred in 1936. This tragedy influenced a former assistant Priest of S. Faith's (1928-34) and colleague of Fr.
Cockett, Rev. Mark Way, then at S. Bartholomew's, Brighton, to offer himself for the Mission field, and so there went out to the same station this keen priest, who is even yet doing wonderful work under the U.M.C.A. banner. A stained glass window to the memory of Fr. Cockett is in the South Aisle of the Church.
In this year Rev. John Schofield was appointed to S. Faith's. He was a saintly man of great charm, but unfortunately was not very robust. He came from Yorkshire's hills and dales, and the air in this
neighbourhood was not suited to him. The news of the death of Mr. Douglas Horsfall caused widespread regret, and as he would have wished, the life of the Church went on steadily, and no other memorial is needed to the memory of this devoted son of the Church than the magnificent edifice he so generously provided for us. May he rest in peace.
In 1938 Canon Sykes, Vicar of St. Mary's (out of whose parish part of S. Faith's was carved), retired, and S. Faith's became a Parish Church, Rev. John Schofield being inducted as first
Vicar three years after his institution.'
Mr Schofield seems to have carried on in the same pattern of worship and record-keeping as had been the case over the years. In his careful, lighter handwriting the regular pattern of Sunday and weekday worship is logged. Bishop Albert came to confirm on a weekday Lenten evening. Total attendances on Palm Sunday (still not so labelled) were 1,039, an dove the 8 services on Easter Day a healthy1,395. A Festal Evensong at 8pm o Monday 20th April is recorded as ‘36th Anniversary of Consecration’, with 110 attending, while Easter 2 is recorded as ‘in Octave of Dedication Festival’.
The ‘Remarks’ column records income and its destinations in minute, even tedious, detail, together with details of Communions of the Sick: of more interest perhaps is the logging of Sung Eucharist with Athanasian Creed’ on Trinity Sunday. It was VERY WET a fortnight later, then on July 1st the full signature of Harold C. Stewart appears for the last time, signalling his departure for pastures new.
On August 3rd the vicar’s pen would seem to have leaked, and he blotted our copybook. September 13 is marked as ‘King George V Memorial’. Then, squeezed marginally in on September 20 we read ‘David Ford ordained priest at Ormskirk’ – presumably in the morning, since he signs in, in read to assist at St Faith’s Evensong that same Sunday. He does not appear to have served his title with us, as this is his first mention in the registers, but he is henceforth celebrating, preaching and acting as second curate alongside Mr Godfrey.
Among an assortment of visiting clerics, John Brierley returns in mid-August. All Saints Day features a Vespers of the Dead; next Day, All Souls, there are three eucharists, all labelled ‘Requiem’. There are 287 at Christmas midnight, and the day totals 623 attendances. Sunday, December 27th, has an unusual entry: Festal Evensong with Carols, with 314 present. And so ends 1936, with another pencilled and helpful annual total of 7445 communicants for the year. There had been 7981 the previous year.
1937 seems to have seen a shortage of blank ink in the vestry: from the previous December 24th to the New Year’s January 11th, every entry, even the Toy Service on January 3rd, is in red. Normal two-colour recoding then resumes.
This writer is pleased to see that on Thursday March 11th, 1937, the preacher at the 3 pm Women’s Service is a Bishop: ‘William Sodor and Man’ (as in the Isle of). As this was your scribe’s actual day of birth, it seems as good a point as any on which to close the book for this month.
Episode 24 1937 - 1939: The ex-Archdeacon of Wagga Wagga drops in
Your archivist begins with a confession: he has just spotted, back in February 1936, an important marginal note. The services on 9th and 12h of that month are marked ‘Requiem of Howard Douglas Horsall - Founder’. An era had come to an end for St Faith’s.
The pattern of daily and Sunday services is, as we have come to expect, faithfully maintained in 1937 at St Faith’s, with J.S. assisted by M.B.S.G. and D.F. On Passion Sunday there were 80 at the altar rail for the 8.00 am Communion, and as many as 124 in the pews – a far cry from the later pattern when only communicants (and increasingly few of these) would turn up at this early hour. There were 233 at the Sung Eucharist, with just the celebrant receiving the sacrament – again a world removed from present day practice. There were 142 for the afternoon children’s service, and 201 to hear R.A.Rostron preach at evensong. Ernest R. Bell took Wednesday Compline and D.Railton Thursday’s women’s service.
On Palm Sunday afternoon the pattern is broken for ‘Sacred Cantata’ performed for 103 people. For the first three days of Holy Week John Bebb provides an 8 pm Compline and address; this is replaced by ‘Preparation’ on Maundy Thursday. On Good Friday evening there were 167 to hear Stainer’s ‘Crucifixion’. Easter day totalled 777 attendances and 378 communicants.
Wednesday 7th April sees a ‘requiem for Joanna Brierley’, Canon Brierley’s mother. Soon after, April 21st is celebrated as ‘Feast of Dedication’. The next event of note is the Sunday after Ascension - Coronation Sunday: evensong is brought forward to make room for a Service of Dedication. Coronation Day itself, the following Wednesday, saw an impressive 218 monarchists present at an 8 am Sung Eucharist.
After these heady excitements, things settle down again. The vicar’s shaky writing is replaced from late June to early August by Mr Godfrey’s firm hand: as the only priest he takes a long run of eucharists: actually some 40 in 30 odd days. We also see the first reference to the ‘Guild of S Faith’ on 30th June.
JS returns as scribe from early August. Quiet weeks follow, with only the unusual labelling of a Monday morning 10.30 am eucharist as ‘Vigil’. Later W. L. Mark Way and J. Howard Foy make return visits in early September. On September 21st (‘St Matthew A.E.M.’) the 10.30 am Eucharist is ‘Rev D. Ford’s first Celebration’ – he had been ordained priest the previous day. A few days later, both John Brierley and Mark Way were present. The marginal note explains all: ‘Dedication of windows in memory of Joanne and John Michael Brierley (Canon Brierley’s mother and son: she had died on 4th April and he, aged only ten, on 3rd February). Three days later, true to the traditions of the register, Maurice B. S. Godfrey signs in full prior to departing the parish.
St Faith’s Day, a weekday, was marked as usual, as were All Saints and All Souls, with Vespers of the Dead and Requiems. The eve of St Andrew was a Day of Continuous Intercession for Church Abroad’. G.S.Howarth, a new curate and evidently already priested, signed in on December 21st. On Christmas Eve, there was Festal Evensong with Blessing of the Crib, followed by 312 in church for the midnight Sung Eucharist (still not ‘Mass’!) Boxing Day (St Stephen) featured a 3 pm Scholars’ Toy Service (153 scholars) and soon after the year ended with a recorded 6904 total communicants: an impressive figure, but about 100 down on the totals for the two preceding years.
Turning a few pages into 1938, we see the somewhat shaky signature of W.A.S.Kennedy (Woodbine Willie again) on midweek Women’s Service duty on March 17th His place the following Sunday is filled by the flowery signature of J G MacManaway. On Tuesday5th April there were 238 present for a Confirmation. The presiding cleric was W.F.Wentworth Shields. Wikipedia tells us that he was an Australian bishop, having risen through the ranks from being Archdeacon of Wagga Wagga. How splendid!
Palm Sunday saw ‘Evensong + Cantata’: Holy Week addresses were by Aidan Elliot There were in total 1,116 folk in the pews on Easter Day, then, on Easter III, an unusual entry for an organ recital in the evening. There was another on Trinity Sunday, likewise unattributed.
Corpus Christi is again well celebrated as a red letter day (there is a plethora of such red lettering at this stage in the story of our registers, not all for significant occasions). Not in red, but a notable day nonetheless, is June 19th, the first Sunday after Trinity, when the Bishop of Nyasaland presides at the Sung Eucharist over some 425 souls for ‘Dedication of Window in Memory of Herbert William Cockett’, who had succumbed to illness while working in the mission field. There was, as usual, just the one communicant: probably the biggest ever discrepancy in the history of our church.
J.S’s initials are missing for the month of July – holiday or ill health one wonders. Things are quiet during the summer and into the autumn. It is ‘wet and stormy’ on the Eve of St Faith’s Day. A rare attribution tells us that D.N.Spifford, preachig at Festal Evensong in the Octave of St Faith, is in fact Rector of Walton. A few weeks later Bishop Wentworth Sheilds (this is indeed how he spells his own name) preaches.
A closer look at the attendances for the four Sundays in November tells us that the 8 am Communion averages 93, the 1045 Sung Eucharist 208, the Children at 3 pm 124 and evensong 178 (this latter now regularly below the morning numbers). And so to Christmas, with 695 bottoms on seats overall, and the tail end of 1938, with the year’s pencilled total of communicants given as 6539 (down from 6904).
And so to the fateful year of 1939. Nothing in the early months breaks the even tenor of the pattern of worship at our church: until on Ash Wednesday David Ford signs in in full – a sure sign that he is about to depart for pastures new. He is almost immediately succeeded by W.W.Honner who, as Bob Honner, was known to several present-day members of our church – a sure sign that we are passing from history to memory. Soon Basil Oddie, SSM, and Bishop J.G.Kempthorne pay visits on the same day; the former is to reappear on several other Lenten occasions, on one of them alongside the now very familiar figure of ‘Woodbine Willie’.
We have to pause somewhere – and where better than on Thursday, March 30th, when the bold scrawl of William Sodor and Man takes the women’s service. The very next entry reads Confirmation: Albert Liverpool. But what looks like a rare episcopal procession is an illusion. The date for Albert is in fact listed as the previous Tuesday, 28th. Did Mr Schofield forget to log the service down in its proper calendar sequence? If so, how did he get the Bishop back two days later to sign retrospectively. Of such trivia is your archivist’s day made up. Time for World War Two...?
Episode 25 1939 - 1940: Definitely a bombshell (or two?)
Our last dredging ended in April 1939 as the Second World War loomed. Sunday April 2nd was billed as Sunday Next Before Easter, rather than Palm Sunday: there were 257 at the 10.45 Sung Eucharist, and three priests, but just the one communicant. After a full Holy Week, John Brierley came to take the Three Hours on Good Friday, following which there was an impressive total of 1,094 attendances at the seven services on Easter Day.
Low Sunday is so termed for what seems to be the first time; in the weeks succeeding, the even tenor of worship and statistics is maintained, with little to catch the browser’s eye. Ascension Day boasts four Holy Communions, and a week or so later ‘S. Faith’s Guild’ is squeezed in on a weekday, although what form the service took, then and on another occasions, is unrecorded. There are three celebrations of Corpus Christi; the Guild makes another appearance, and in early July a service simply bears the name of C.E.M.S (Church of England Men’s Society, one supposes).
On Sunday July 30th, the vicar entered ‘D.F.(p)’, and David Ford scratched this out and signed his name in full to enshrine what was presumably meant to be his last service at St Faith’s. However, he then signs in again as celebrant a fortnight later, before being seen no more.
War was declared on September 1st, but the fact is not reflected in the registers. In fact little of any note is reflected hereafter. St Faith is remembered on her day, a Friday, with communions at the early hour of 6.45 am and later at 8 and 10.30.
Amidst the carefully logged but un-illuminating succession of autumnal and winter worship, this writer almost missed a unique entry on the second Sunday in advent. Squeezed in between the now usual ‘Children’ at 2.15 (led by the faithful Reader George Houldin) and Evensong at 3.15, Mr Schofield officiates at a clearly very brief service at 3.00 pm, intriguingly labelled merely as ‘Decorators’. Pausing to look at communicant and attendance figures for that and surrounding Sundays, we find that the traditional 8.00 am celebration now pulls in far fewer than was once the case (between 35 and 80), as does the 6 pm evensong (usually not much above 100 and sometimes lower). The 10.45 sung eucharist attracts somewhat larger numbers, but is still well down on the glory days. The Houldin church history (‘Fifty Years’ – text on the website) puts this down to the effect of the war, which was also responsible for stopping the Christmas midnight service (blackout restrictions). Whatever the reasons, Christmas Day (including the substitute Christmas Eve Festal Evensong at 3.15 pm, with 251 present) had a total of 505 attendees over the daytime services and but 286 communicants.
As the first year of the war ends, Mr Schofield records a total of communicants for 1939 as 6,026: down by nearly 1,000 over two years. The high water mark for any recorded year would appear to have been 1934, with a grand total of 7,981 logged.
And so to 1940. A familiar name appears for the first time on Wednesday, January 10th, when the preacher at an afternoon ‘EMS’ service is H.M. (Hyam Mark) Luft, eventually to become headmaster of Merchant Taylors’ School.
At Easter, there were 365 communicants and a respectable 868 attending at the day’s services. The steady and unremarkable procession of worship continues, until the signing in of Eric Olaf Beard on May 1st – a new curate, arriving already priested, he took his place as a regular celebrant at once.
J.S. is away for all of August; soon after he returns he makes a rare marginal entry for a very significant event on September 23rd: ‘St Faith’s damaged by high explosive bomb.’ George Houldin’s history tells the story of this happening and our narrow escape from more serious damage.
“In 1940 the fabric had a most miraculous escape, for a bomb fell a yard or two from the north wall of the Nave, buried itself in the soil and blew up the heating-pipe gratings, dislodged one or two pews and the flooring thereabouts, upset the foundations supporting the north wall and damaged the pulpit. Outside all looked well, for not a window was broken and only the cross on the roof at the west end was missing, which fell so complete that the impression is there in the asphalt below to this day. Tribute for the careof the Church during these anxious days must be paid to the Vicar and Rev. Eric Beard, the assistant priest, who were out at all hours during an "alarm." Both they and Jim Burgess must have put in countless hours of overtime before the coming of 1945 and of peace.”
Apart from the bomb, and a later passing note of a collection for Earl Haig’s Fund, you wouldn’t know there was a war on nationally or at St Faith’s (‘Don’t mention the war!’, as Basil Fawlty might have said). The pattern of faithful daily worship never falters, although the slow but steady decline in attendances continues. So it comes as a real surprise (even a second bombshell) to your scribe to see, as 1940 ends, Mr Schofield recording the year’s attendances as 7565. An increase of some 1,500? Surely not!
Next time: creative accountancy unmasked as a discrepancy of nearly 2,000 is uncovered through diligent and somewhat tedious ferreting.
Episode 26 1941 - 1942: Figure it out!
Readers sharing this writer’s obsession with the minutiae of the entries in St Faith’s service registers over the years will doubtless (!) recall the suspiciously high total of communicants for Anno Domini 1940. Mr Schofield, or one of his minions, has helpfully pencilled in totals at the top of each page and at the year’s end, with the latter registered as no fewer than 7,565. This unlikely high figure prompted closer investigation. It soon transpired that on two occasions, the pencilled page totals were at variance with the actual total of the daily logged communicants. One page exaggerated by some150, and a second by a staggering 1,760. Other errant additions may exist.
Obsession has its limits, and I cannot claim to have checked every page over the months and years, but what seems certain is that the total for 1940 should have read more like 5,655 – a far more realistic figure, given the general decline in attendances, and marking a drop from 1939’s figure of 6,026.
There is surely no suggestion of malpractice here: probably just carelessness. It simply prompts, not for the first time, the reflection that errors can so easily harden into history.
Wake up at the back there! 1941 rolls onward into light. Mr Schofield starts the year with three celebrations of the Circumcision (cutting short rather than enlarging, one might say) before the faithful record of services, attendances, collections, but few other comments resumes. Ex-curate David Ford returns for the day on Epiphany III.
While weekday attendances are almost invariably fully recorded, gaps begin to appear in Sunday number logging. A sample of the fully-detailed figures for Lent 1 gives 82 for the early communion, 157 attending the sung eucharist, and 104 at evensong – this latter showing that days of large evening turnouts are over, even allowing for the war. Preachers turn up during Lent: B.P.Robin, Gerald E Jones, Walter E. Harston Morris, A. Norman Ellis, V. Spencer Ellis, C.F. Russell (was he the Headmaster of Merchant Taylors?) to name but a few. And Albert Liverpool preaches to the women on a Thursday afternoon, with no record of how many women he addressed.
J.S. and E.O.B are the home team: R.R.H. (curate Robert Honner) disappears unheralded from February 1st. They are joined by Douglas Cestr (i.e. the Bishop of Chester) for a weekday women’s service, and by Albert Liverpool for a confirmation on Palm Sunday afternoon, with 408 in church. No figures are recorded for Good Friday attendances, but Easter Day communicants total 307, and attendances 788.
On May 1st the name of J.F. (Joe French) Parker is writ in red as celebrant; he takes two further services but then is seen no more, apart from two appearances in late August. On Tuesday May 6th minuscule writing states: ‘Priest 15 mins late: No congregation’. Thereafter the even tenor of daily worship continues, although still with intermittent omissions of Sunday attendance figures, mostly for evensong. Maurice B.S.Godfrey returns and boldly signs in for a couple of services in mid-July.
The Patronal Festival on October 6th, a Monday, sees no more than 42 communicants over three morning services. Basil Oddie, S.S.M., J Howard Foy, H.S.Warrington and Sidney Singer are among visitors in the closing months of 1941. November 23rd is written up as Mayor’s Sunday, with Alderman H.Y. Bramham in attendance. No attendance recorded, but the collection, a whopping £37.3.3 for Waterloo and Bootle Hospitals suggests a good attendance and deep pockets. At Advent III, the collection is earmarked for ‘Russian Red X’.
Christmas Eve (labelled as ‘Vigil’) sees only one service and 6 present. The Day itself sees 231 communicants and 304 attending over two services. 175 of them are at the 9.30 am Sung Eucharist , which is followed by the equally unusual time of 4 pm for evensong.
The pencilled total for 1941 is 5,411: an acceptable figure this time and a predictable point on the gently declining graph line.
Hastening through the early months of 1942, we pause to note the unusual logging of ’48 present’ for a Sunday afternoon children’s service. Palm Sunday is subtitled National Day of Prayer and has a healthy 264 at the 10.45 Sung Eucharist and 169 at evensong. Prayers seem at least on this occasion to have been answered.
What looks to be Thomas Elsam (as far as I can make out - surely not Elsan?) delivers daily addresses in Holy Week; the great Day sees 508 in church and 297 communicants. Festal Evensong is held but no numbers appended. M. and O. Oliver’ (who they?) take three weekday children’s services soon after. Trinity 1 sees an amazing 158 at Matins; undoubtedly a bifocals problem from the empty space for the Sung Eucharist immediately below!
A sample from Trinity 6 shows 451 in church that day, but just 87 communicants. A further sample of Trinity XIV has 306 and 35 respectively. H.M.Luft preaches at evensong on September 13th. John Brierley, one-time vicar, returns at Harvest Thanksgiving: for that Sunday there are a healthy 501 in the pews, but still only 40 communicants: the gap seems constant if not widening.
The 1942 Patronal saw three morning celebrations with 49 communicants between them. On the following Sunday (within the Octave) the memorably- named Archdeacon Twitchett of Liverpool preached at Festal Evensong: it was at the odd time of 3.30 pm, presumably to meet the Archidiaconal timetable. There were but 110 to hear him give forth.
The initials of E.O.B. (Eric Olaf Beard) appear for the last time, without the traditional signing out, on November 6th. J.S. soldiers on alone for most of the rest of the year, although Sidney Singer, who had appeared, possibly on trial, on one occasion in late November, signs in full time on 21st December: he is self-evidently a time-served priest who will share the continuing burden of daily eucharists. These are now invariably at 8.00 am, and the 3.30 pm Sunday evensong is also a regular feature.
Christmas Day has 231 communicants and 361 attendees: slightly up on the previous year. The year ends in a flurry of red ink and a pencilled (and again accurate-seeming) yearly communicant total of 5,578 – a small but significant increase on 1941.
Episode 27 1943-1945: 'Don't Mention the War!'
As 1943 begins at St Faith’s, the ship sails on, with little or nothing to suggest that the second World War is reaching a critical phase in the wider world outside our walls. J.S (John Schofield) and S.S. (nothing sinister – just Sidney Singer) sustain the daily pattern of worship. Your scribe has just spotted that, whereas John Brierley had logged ‘Mattins’, Mr Schofield prefers ‘Matins’ – a distinction which escapes this writer.
These days the early Sunday communion attracts between 40 and 70, with more on major feats. Numbers at the main 10.45 service are spasmodically logged: they vary between 140 and 190, with more on big occasions. Evensong attendance is rarely if ever accounted for, but the overall impression is of a small decline in Sunday attendances. Daily eucharists are all now at 8 am and more fully logged. Communicant numbers are invariably in the range of 3 – 8, but, interestingly, there are often two or three more present and non-communicating – something we would rarely find today.
Lent sees the reappearance of the Thursday afternoon Women’s Services, taken by assorted visiting clergy (including J.M.Buckmaster) and attracting some hundred or so women. The vicar offers Wednesday evening Compline and Address, with 30-50 attending. There were six services on Good Friday, ending with ‘Sacred Music’ at 7 pm. Easter numbers held up well, with 305 communicants and 555 attendees in total. Ranging further ahead, it is interesting to note that total attendances the following Whitsunday were as many as 584.
The hypnotic succession of entries for May, June and July is broken by a rare and unique entry on Thursday 8th July: ‘S.S. unable to get to church owing to flooded road’! He is more or less in residence at church during that September, however, with J.S.’s initials missing for nearly a month.
The 1943 Patronal sees little made of the Day itself (October 6th, of course), but a flurry of red the following Sunday in the Octave. There are nearly 500 in church, and three visiting clergy. One of these appears at first sight to be J. Machinery, but is probably Mackinlay.
Thereafter the ordered sequence of daily worship runs to the year’s end, where the vicar logs the 1943 communicant total as 5,689: another small increase.
1944 kicks off with the traditional Circumcision services; then from January 14th to February 12th S.S. alone signs in. Mr Schofield’s variable health is a matter of record, and this may well have been the cause. Little of note in the year’s early months, until Holy Week, when H.M. (Mark) Luft takes three daily Complines. Easter Day comes as a surprise: over the 8 services there are 312 communicants but no fewer than 731 alleged attendees. Laus Deo!
Through the spring and summer period there is no break in the pattern, few if any visiting signatures and little variation in the attendances. This writer’s doubtless familiar obsession with the ‘No. Of Coins’ column in this service register surfaces again. It is now again clear that at this stage this latter column is used to record the attendance figures for Sundays, but not weekdays. Why this should be remains one of life’s mysteries, as of course does the heading itself: was there no record of paper money kept...?
Moving on to the autumn, a bold signature stands out. On September 17th, the preacher at evensong is one H. Wilde. No puzzle as to who this is, since he appends ‘Late Tristan da Cunha’. A long way to come for one service: no wonder he is ‘late’ (sorry!). Mark Luft presides at Harvest Thanksgiving a week later, when the evensong preacher is Joseph F (for French) Parker. A few days later ‘S. Faith’s Guild’ pops up for a weekday evening service. Then it is time for the Patronal Festival, and the Octave Sunday, although merely termed as Trinity XVII, sees 240 communicants and a healthy 517 attending, 154 of them to hear J.M.Buckmaster preach at Festal Evensong.
Sunday attendances are rather more frequently logged again now: on two successive November Sundays we see 40 and 76 at the early celebration, 73 and 198 at the 10.45 and 136 and 96 at Evensong.
Christmas Eve is labelled ‘Eve of Nativity’: there are 167 at the Festal Evensong and Blessing of the Crib, then 252 attending the 11.30 am (midnight) Sung Eucharist. The year ends quietly with 5,723 pencilled communicants recorded: another small increase, and a tribute to the sustained and faithful efforts of the parish clergy.
1945, the last year of the war, opens quietly. S.S. holds the fort for two weeks in February, entering service details himself. This even includes recording ‘Quinquagesima’ rather than the house style of ‘QUINQUAGESIMA’. Of such things are the archivist’s day made, especially when he spots a similar lower case downgrading of ‘First Sunday in Lent’ – and not even in red!
A few days before this dreadful lapse, John Brierley returns to take a women’s Service; the following week Bishop Clifford Martin of Liverpool does the same honours.
Most register pages at this period are devoid of visiting priestly signatures, but the pages from February 26th are different. In the space of a month we have James C. Knowles, Stanley Bundy, Walter E Harston (I think) Morris, E.O.Hughes, W.W.Wilson (possibly) J.V.Culkey (‘Waifs and Strays’), H.P.Barsley, and D,N.Spofford. But the prize goes to the episcopal presence at a confirmation on the evening of Tuesday March 13th. This is John R. Weller, Bishop in Argentina. Wikipedia tells us that this post also included the Falkland Islands: those watching the recent ‘Island Parish’ BBC TV series will be familiar with the Cathedral there and the priest now serving it.
How many attended is not recorded, but at the collection the princely sum of £8.2.6 was raised for ‘Missions’. Soon it is Easter, and the recorded total communicants is 359 (312 the previous year) and attendances 736 (731 last year). Of interest is the total of 27 communicants at the sung eucharist, where normally, because of the fasting interdict, there would have been but one or two.
Whatever the reason, they would all have seemed in generous mood and appreciative of their clergy: the Easter Offering, still a ‘perk’ of the priests, came to £43.15.1. Good old Google tells us that this would be some £178 today – a happy note to leave the register, and the priests, for this month.
Episode 28 1945-1947: Post-war - the Grand Chaplain of England helps out
We left the clergy enjoying their 1945 Easter Offering. During Easter week the familiar initials of W.L.M.W. reappear. Mark Way, one-time curate, who would at some stage in the future become Bishop of Masasi in Africa, takes a variety of services between April 6th and 11th, attracting a respectable 223 to Festal Evensong on Low Sunday. After which the home team of J.S. and S.S. hold the fort, although the former is missing from April 16th to May 6th.
He reappears in time for two services of thanksgiving marking the end of the Second World War: one is on May 7th, a Tuesday evening, the second is a 10.45 am Sung Eucharist the following day. Each is marked as ‘Thanksgiving for Peace in Europe’, with collections earmarked for ‘Reconstruction of Churches in Europe’; between them they raised just over £11.00. Thanks were still being offered on the Sunday (‘After Ascension’): there were 548 in church that day, with 202 of them at 6.30 pm, labelled as Thanksgiving rather than the usual Evensong.
Normal services, with very few visitors (apart from Mark Way on Trinity II) and little of note for a stretch, although the modest of signature of Joseph F. (for French, remember?) Parker appears once on Trinity VIII. The summer slips uneventfully by, until September16, Trinity XVII is designated Missionary Sunday, with H.G.Warrington and W.Haydock making appearances. Later that month another familiar name features, as Eric O. (for Olaf, as you will recall) pops up for the Patronal.
St Faith’s Day, October 6th, is a Saturday, graced by four services; the day after Bishop Clifford (Liverpool) preaches to 352 (but not a single communicant) at the 10.45 Sung Eucharist. Attendances for the day total 632, and there are exactly 100 communicants at the 8.00 celebration.
Back to routine, and so little to report that the spelling on one November weekday of ‘Evevsong’ (sic) stands out (how trivial can you get, I hear you ask). Christmas comes and goes, with 231 at the ‘midnight’, and the year ends with the pencilled annual communicants tally of 5804 (up a little from 5739 for 1944).
Here we go into the first year of peace. Tallying and averaging five successive January and February Sundays we come to an average of 51 communicants and 270 attendances per week: the discrepancy is of course accounted for by the celebrant being the only communicant at the Sung Eucharist: a state of affairs not to be changed until Fr Charles Billington’s time.
During Lent a succession of visiting preachers see to the Wednesday afternoon women’s services, then on Passion Sunday J.Howard Foy drops in for Evensong.
Backtracking for a moment to the last days of 1943, this writer noted a modest and hard to decipher signature which looked like E.S.Urwin. The initials E.S.U. appear now and again in the following months, but he is clearly not a full-time member of the St Faith’s staff. Research uncovers this sentence from George Houldin’s ‘Fifty Years’ book: ‘One of our parishioners, Canon Urwin, Diocesan Director of Religious Education, who had given and still gives much clerical help, was elected a member of the Parochial Church Council.’ So that’s that solved.
One ‘H.Bradshaw’ takes three weekday services during Holy Week, and ‘H.Gresford Jones, Bp’ took the Good Friday Three Hours. Googling him reveals that he was Bishop of Warrington, and a prominent Freemason. ‘WBro Gresford Jones’ was at one stage the Grand Chaplain of England’, no less.
Easter Day numbers were solid: communicants at 341 down just a little from last year, but overall attendances up to a respectable 809. Hereafter little breaks the pattern of J.S., E.S (and E.S.U intermittently) for a succession of weeks and months. Joseph Parker and Eric O Beard drop in, J.W.Garnett taking sundry services at thgis time.
For a long time, the initials of G.H. (George Houldin, Lay Reader and biographer) have been familiar. The first records of E. (for Emily) Conalty and C. (for Caroline) Mountfield alongside him at the Sunday afternoon Children’s Service bring us ever closer to names fondly remembered by a few of us today.
Another name bridging the gap of years is that of Frank Sampson, taking Festal Evensong at the end of September. He was vicar of St John’s Tuebrook, from 1946 to as recently as 1994.
St Faith’s Day 1946 was a Sunday, and the day saw 511 attendees – probably a record for our patroness. Boshop Gresford Joines returned, and C.R.Warrington and E. Buckmaster also appeared.
The year is drawing to a close now. H.M. (Mark) Luft signs in for the first of a sequence of Wednesday evening Compline and Address in Advent – other signatories seem to be C.F.Russell and Paul Nichols.
There are 330 communicants in all on Christmas Day including the ‘midnight’, and a few days later the total of communicants for 1946 is given as 6328 – another annual increase. 1947 dans, and it is to be John Schofield’s final year at St Faith’s – but that’s another story...
Episode 29 1947: John Schofield's last year at St Faith's
S.S (curate Sidney Singer) and J.S. (vicar John Schofield) launch the new year of 1947, with the latter’s writing somewhat more shaky than it once had been. January 1st is ‘The Circumcision’, with E.S.U. (Urwin – see last month) helping out at one of the three celebrations that Wednesday.
The Epiphany sees just 19 in church for the two Communions. Attendances and communicants are less meticulously recorded at this stage: for the first three month of the year only five Sundays have attendances fully logged. Over these five your correspondent worked out an average attendance at the 8.00 Holy Communion of 66, at the 10.45 Sung Eucharist 151, and at Evensong 109. Assuming these to be a fair approximation of the unrecorded Sunday services, the drop at the early celebration is significant, the main service shows a smaller decline, and the evening drop is very marked. The post-war era has set in.
S.S. appears more often than J.S., and E.S.U. helps out frequently. When Lent starts, Bishop Clifford Liverpool takes a Thursday afternoon women’s service; subsequently H.F.Barsley, H.Gresford Jones (Bishop) S.A Barrett and Walter E. Harston Morris do likewise. Mark Luft took some Wednesday evening Complines, and W. Chipping an Evensong – quite a flurry of signatures, mostly legible, what’s more.
Good Friday saw an 8 am Litany and Ante-Communion, a 9.30 Children’s service, 10.15 Mattins, the Three Hours from 12 - 3.00 pm and finally a 7.30 pm Evensong. The only recorded figure is that of 45 children. On Easter Day there were 320 communicants in all, but no attendances logged at all, other than a handsome £9.1.10 at the 8 am for the Easter Offering.
On Ascension Day H.J.Graham (see below!) took a service, as did Norman J Blow: this latter labelled as M.U. (Bootle Deanery – a Mothers’ Union event. May 28th, the Wednesday after what was then called Whit Sunday, featured two services at the same time. J.S. logged an 8 am Holy Communion and an 8.00 am Missionary Service in church, but characteristically without further annotation. Then, from May 30th to August 1st, S.S. is the sole signatory. He faithfully records attendances and collections at all weekday services, but rarely Sunday numbers, the exception being on July 13th, when there were 86 communicants at the early celebration, and 210 recorded at the 10.45 (with as always still just the celebrant communicating).
The Vicar reappears on August 1st, accompanied around this time by E.S.U, W Stanley Walker (Mersey Mission) and Harry Bradshaw. Thereafter vicar and curate continue together, and on August 21st they are seemingly joined fairly regularly by H.J.Graham.
John Schofield’s poor health is recorded in George Houldin’s 1950 history of St Faith’s, as well as being evidenced by his intermittent appearances in the register. Mr Houldin, who of course has continued to feature regularly conducting children’s services and the like, says:
In 1947 the Vicar had to resign because of ill-health, and the Rev. Sidney Singer, who had been Assistant Priest since 1942, manfully shouldered the burden of administering to the congregation, but in spite of his efforts things did not seem to go too well. He left us in the early days of January, 1948, to take charge of New Springs, near Wigan.
The register records the final days of his incumbency. On Wednesday, September 24th, ‘J.S.’ celebrates for the last time at St Faith’s at 8 am: there are 4 communicants and six present. Two days later, ‘ante’ is squeezed in above the 8 am Holy Communion: only S.S. apparently was there. The following Sunday was Trinity XVII, Harvest Thanksgiving. Whether Mr Schofield was there the records do not show, but there were 79 at the early communion and 199 for the 10.45. Oddly, against the intermediate entry of 10.15 am Mattins, we read ‘J.S.G. (p)’: an unlikely scenario or a pardonable clerical error. Either way, a few days later, across the register is written, in what seems like Mr Singer’s writing, CLOSE OF VICARIATE OF REV.JOHN SCHOFIELD. Alongside it in a different hand are the bracketed words: (18 Feb 1936 to 30 Sept 1947). Mr Houldin’s date of John Schofield’s departure quoted above would seem to have been in error, or perhaps he remained in the area after his vicariate closed. Whatever the dates, his incumbency seems to have ended as the poet said, not with a bang but a whimper.
When the story resumes, we will hear of interregnum happenings, and the imminent arrival of William Hassall, still remembered by a few at St Faith’s, and the first incumbent to be known as ‘Father’. A new era was about to begin.
Episode 30 1947/8: Not with a bang but a whimper
Our last delvings into the church register’s recorded the departure of vicar John Schofield, after a period of ill health. From Wednesday, October 1st, 1947, the interregnum will have begun, with Rev Sidney Singer, the curate, shouldering the daily burden of services, assisted regularly by retired priest Revd H.J.Graham. The first Sunday in this limbo saw no figures recorded for any service, apart from 40 at the early celebration. Evensong is in red since it was the eve of St Faith’s Day.
SS presided at the 6.30 am Sung Eucharist on the Patronal day following, administering to 37 people then and another 24 over two later said eucharists. Thereafter the steady pattern of daily and weekly worship continues. Over the next few Sundays the communicants at the 8.00 am are 70; 52; 37; 44, 99 and 39, averaging 56. Interestingly, at nearly all the faithfully sustained daily eucharists (all at 8 am except Thursday, which is at 7 am) there are one or two more attending the service than communicating – a phenomenon which is hard to explain and certainly not typical of later years.
H.J.G. (Graham) and E.S.U. (Urwin) continue to do sterling service at the altar and in the pulpit. Weekday attendances range from 2 to 8, and the pattern is unchanged as the year draws to a close, apart from the scheduling of some Advent Wednesday evening offerings of Compline, one taken by Paul Nichols.
As has been the case for some years now, there are rarely any ‘Remarks’ made in the register, not even meteorological ones, and your scribe is reduced to spotting such trivia as the recording of ‘Sung Charist’ one Sunday (later with the missing ‘Eu’ squeezed in above). Of such things are the researcher’s life made...
Christmas Eve, a Wednesday, sees Festal Evensong celebrated, and 230 communicating a few hours later at the ‘Midnight’. The Christmas morning Sung Eucharist sees 3 communicating rather than the usual one: whether the other one or two had fasted since Christmas Eve or had slipped in under the ropes we may never know. Unsurprisingly, after the rush at the Nativity services, there are but 26 taking the Blessed Sacrament on the 1st Sunday after Christmas: together with 2 at the 10.45 that morning. One suspects that this may well be the lowest number recorded on a Sunday since records began.
1947 ended quietly a few days later, with the pencilled total of communicants for the year shown as 5,365. The contrast with the 6,328 logged for 1946 is clear evidence that this has been a difficult year for St Faith’s, and all credit is due to the faithful priests who sustained the daily worship during these months of decline.
The register has but two pages to run before it closes, and they cover the month of January 1948. Nothing of note is to be seen, apart from the signature of one-time vicar John Brierley, who returns once again to celebrate and preach on January 18th, the second Sunday after the Epiphany. What turns out to be the penultimate service of a mercifully brief interregnum was on Friday 30th of the month, when H.J.G. gives communion to 3 of the faithful while one extra seemingly looks on.
The last page turns and on January 31st H.J.G. communicates 7 of the 9 present for the early communion. Below is inscribed, at 3.00 pm of that same day INSTITUTION OF THE REV. WILLIAM HASSALL L.T.H. A new register and a new era are about to open for St Faith’s.
Episode 31 1948: Enter the First Father!
There have clearly been a number of landmark dates in the story of our church, and Saturday, January 31st, 1948 is certainly one of them. After a difficult few years, the arrival of Fr Hassall marks the beginning of a new era – and this is certainly the case with the service register. This sixth register is of a different shape (upright, for one thing) and lacks the mysterious ‘No of coins’ column. More significantly, there is no column for attendances, so that the only statistical record, for Sundays at least, is that of communicants.
However, from here on, major occasions are marked by decorations and embellishments in the registers, beginning with large elaborate lettering marking The Institution of The Rev William Hassall by Clifford, Lord Bishop of Liverpool and Induction by the Ven. The Archdeacon of L’pool. It was at 3.00 pm, and there is no record of attendances, other than that of more than 20 priests. Clifford Martin heralds the signatures, then Archdeacon Twitchett (a name to do Trollope and Barchester proud, although he was to die within two years, says Wikipedia). Among the legible signings are Sidney Singer, Charles Nye, H.J.Graham, W.J.Tulloch, Harry Bradshaw, Allan Whittaker, Colin Wood, Kenneth Warren, Paul Nichols and a Musgrave-Brown. A nice footnote records that ‘The Archdeacon of Salop and several others forgot to sign’ – and so, it appears, did the new Vicar and Canon Urwin)!
After the doubtless heady delights of what is possibly the biggest concatenation of clergy since the foundation of St Faith’s, Fr Hassall (for as such he would be named, for the first time in our story), settled down to his ministry. The day after was Sexagesima Sunday (not a name much heard these days), and he communicated 90 at the 8 am service. Thereafter we bed down to the regular pattern of daily eucharists: six days a week at either 7 or 8 am. Communicants for these vary between 2 and 8, with a handful of non-communicants also recorded (e.g. 8+4; 6+6; 3+1, 2+3) Fr Hassall also notes ‘Evensong daily at 6pm’.
Lent is now upon us, and W.H. shoulders the burden of daily services, aided only by occasional appearances of E.S.U. Bishop Clifford took a midweek women’s service on January 19th, and C.R.Warrington, Colin Wood and Kenneth Warren put in appearances. The vicar offers Compline on Wednesday evenings during Lent.
The lettering now used for entries is distinctive and somewhat ostentatious: what it records evidences a new priest determined to make his mark. He provides three daily services in Holy Week. The Good Friday Three Hours is taken by what looks like John Brierley (yet again); then Holy Saturday sees the first appearance of ‘Table Prayers’ at 8 am and at 6.30pm Solemn Evensong with Blessing of Paschal Candle. Beneath this is writ ‘Processional Torches introduced – given by Mr G Houldin and Mr G (Gerald, Sacristan) Laybourne’
Easter Day has a flamboyant red double page wording. There are Holy Communions at 6.15 am (15 present), 7.00 am (62), 8 am (211), 9 am (48) and 10.45 (the Sung Eucharist with, unusually 12 communicants). W.H. adds them up for us and declares a total of 348. There are also a Children’s Service at 3 pm and Solemn Evensong with Procession at 7.30 pm. Despite the lack of attendance figures for the main services, we may infer that the morning’s income of £11.5.7 indicates more in the pews than the evening tally of £9.11.6. The Easter offering is logged at a handsome £37.0.0. Two weeks later there are ‘Two more Processional Torches given’.
Subsequent Sundays see the numbers communicating at the 8 am celebration logged successively as 62, 104, 70, 66 and 69. The vicar has logged the running totals of communicants at the foot of each page: by early May he records 2,063 since his arrival.
Ascension Day, Thursday 6th May, sees an impressive 60 communicants at the 6.15 am Sung Eucharist with Procession. Then comes Whit Sunday, again emblazoned in red, and a marginal annotation. ‘Six new Candlesticks for the High Altar given by Captain and Mrs Danson, Mr and Mrs Elliot Waugh, W.H. and Mrs Holmes. (Te Deum)’ the latter presumably signifying that the canticle was sung and the candlesticks dedicated at Evensong.
Corpus Christi is given top red-letter billing, and a week later we notice a distinctive entry: ‘Vespers of the Dead 7 pm. Miss M.Robinson’. At this point, the running total of communicants ceases at 2,300: this writer has yet to engage upon the long slog of taking it forward into June et seq!.
Little of note now to embellish the faithful, spiky record of worship and income. There is a Requiem for Canon Barrett, and later, on July 8th, Kenneth W Warren signs in for a service entitled Guild of the Servants of the Sanctuary’. Then a name jumps from the page, at the early celebration for St Swithun the priest is W.L.Mark Way. Our ex-curate would in 1952 become Bishop of Masasi in Tanzania, where he was succeeded, incidentally, by Trevor Huddleston. Presumably on leave from Africa, he celebrated again two days later.
Something new appears in late July. Squeezed in at the foot of the page, and a few days after its proper position, we read the bold statement July 22; 10pm Vigil of... (on the next line, equally boldly) July 23rd; and Investiture of Rover Scouts; 9.30. Signing in are J.McD.Hunter, Robin Smallwood, A.Clawson, David E.W.White, G.W.Houldin and, of course, William Hassall. To add to the excitement, your scribe has just spotted the cardinal sin of giving the wrong date to several days on the same page. Then for the weekend following, August 1st, the services are taken by H.J.Graham, E.S.U and G.W.H, while a hitherto unique bracketed interpolation reads ‘Scouts in Camp (Barmouth). 8 am Holy Communion – in the Parish Church – All the confirmed present,’ and beneath ‘10.30 Sung Eucharist – In Camp – All the troop present.’ There were 17 for the early service and the usual 1 at the second. The memorable day was rounded off by Evensong.
We turn the page and more novelty appears. Centred on August 28th. A marginal note readers ‘Cubs in Camp – sung Mass 7.am W.H.’ I think this is the first recorded appearance of the dreaded term! And there’s more. The 8.am Holy Communion (67 present) is signed off by E (Eric) Parker, who thereafter shares the services with W.H. The latter is back in St Faith’s for the 10.45 Sung Eucharist, and doubtless to celebrate the presence of what was in fact his new priested curate.
Equally unexpected are two episcopal signatures in September. At Harvest Festival Solemn Evensong the preacher is’ +VincentWindwardIslands’. Wikipedia names him as Horace Norman Vincent Tonks, and further informs us that the current bishop in this far-flung corner of the West Indies is the equally splendidly named Calvert Leopold Friday. A week later the preacher is ‘+Gething Melanesia’, who turns out to be Sidney Gething Coulton, a product of St Chad’s, Durham, the patrons of our living (which may explain his appearance at St Faith’s.)
In much less than a year, Fr Hassall has clearly already done much and already left his stamp on the life of St Faith’s. There may not have been any great growth in attendances (although the lack of figures for the main Sunday services make it hard to tell) but the register seems to give off an air of youthful vigour and strong commitment, as future months and years will continue to show.
And of course there was that first admission of a Mass!
Episode 32 1948-1949: A Colourful Year (or two)
We paused in September 1948 and, as the archival magnifying glass is again focussed on the autumn months, further evidence of Fr Hassall’s trademark activities emerges. In August we find a marginal ‘Guides go to Camp’, and a week later ‘Cubs in Camp – sung Mass 7 a.m. W.H.
The same day, August 28th, a new signature appears, as E. (for Eric) Parker signs in. No explanation is provided, but E.P. a priested assistant curate, now joins W.H. to share the services. He will have been present on Sunday 5th September when the new Children’s Corner was dedicated at the 10.45 Sung Eucharist, with E.S.U. (Canon Urwin) the celebrant. The vicar provides a service labelled as ‘Servers’ Devotions’ (good to see a vicar in command of his apostrophes. Ed.) on a Wednesday evening, while the curate presides over a 3.00 pm Mothers Union (sadly, no apostrophe this time!) on Thursday, September 4th. It is also worth noting that ‘Children’s Service’ on Sundays often now gives way to ‘Sunday School’(s).
The first Patronal Festival of the Hassall era sees Eric Beard returning to preach at Solemn Evensong on the Eve of the Feast., while on the Sunday in the Octave F.F.Gledstone, S.P.G. and A.M.Whitehead (St Michel’s Wigan) preach respectively at the Sung Eucharist and the Solemn Evensong with Procession (lots of processions now!) The Day itself (October 6th) was a Wednesday, and featured a 6.15 am Sung Eucharist with Procession, with 54 communicants. Amidst a page of red, Friday, October 8th sombrely records an 8 am Requiem – and a flyer in the register amplifies this as ‘Requiem for all departed Priests, Benefactors and worshippers at S. Faith’s’. Finally, the following Wednesday, October 13th, we see a series of three red-lettered services to celebrate the ‘Octave Day of St Faith’. Fr Hassall has celebrated our patroness in style
After this flurry of activity things settle down, with just a few passing entries of interest. On All Saints’ Sunday Joseph F (for French) Parker preaches, while on the Last Sunday after Trinity it’s A.Norman Ellis at evensong.
In a rare departure from the logging of worship, Fr Hassall flags up, on Friday, November 26th at 11 am. ‘R.D.Visitation, Paul Nichols, Rural Dean of Bootle.’ Soon Advent comes over the horizon, with an unusually large total of 102 communicants at the 8 am Advent 3. Soon comes a weekday evening performance labelled ‘Nativity Play in Church by S. Katharine’s College.’ No attendance is recorded, (just as is still the case for most regular services) but the recorded collection of £10.6.9 is slightly larger than the sum of most Sunday takings at this time. The programme survives: it is described as ‘The Chester Play of the Salutation and Nativity of our Saviour Jesus Christ.’
As Christmas approaches yet another Parker (‘W.J.’) delivers a Sunday sermon on the Mersey Mission to Seamen. Then our scribe turns the page and lo! a fine double-page colourful spread announces NATIVITY OF OUR LORD and a parade of quasi-Gothic lettered services.
Christmas Eve is proudly paraded as Blessing of Crib and MIDNIGHT MASS (another innovation). The Day itself is oddly not emblazoned in red, but St Stephen gets the full flamboyant works. The aforesaid Midnight (starting at 11.45 pm) attracts 250+94, and the vicar writes ‘Full Church’ and, lower down, ‘Total for Christmass Day Communicants – 322.’ A goodly total and, I think, the first such spelling of the word.
Soon after, 1949 dawns in a flurry of red. There is no marking of New Year’s Eve, and January 1st is labelled Circumcision of Our Lord (feel the pain vicariously. Ed.) The weekly parade of eucharists passes by, with a daily celebration. Fr Hassall loves his saints: one week in January honours in turn SS Anthony, Prisca, Wulfstan, Fabian, Agnes and Vincent, one of which at least is new to this writer. Communicants are almost invariably in single figures, but on most there is a ‘+’ added to the figure, with 1,2,3, or 4 non-communicants appended. All weekday communions are at 7 or 8 am. There is still no enumeration of attendances at Sunday services, apart from the early celebration.
Just before Lent there is a Saturday Quiet Afternoon, with what looks like C.E.Jorman, Canon of Chester, presiding. Ash Wednesday has a noontide Mattins and Litany, while the following day Henry Ellis conducts a Service for Women. There are Complines, seemingly with sermons, on Wednesday evenings.
And lo! once more. The archivist turns the page to find a splendid double page spread for Wednesday, March 30th, recording The Sacrament of Confirmation or laying on of hands upon those that are baptized (sic) and come to years of discretion. Administered by The Lord Bishop of Liverpool.
Bishop Clifford Martin signs in, as do the vicar and seven other clergy: Eric Parker. Jonathan G. Edwards, William B. Woolley, Colin G.W. Woods, A Norman Ellis, Harry Bradshaw and Edwin S. Urwin. The only other entry is, needless to say, the collection - £8.11.5. There is no time noted, but it will have been an evening affair. No mention of the candidates either, but our records (which, together with baptisms and weddings, are all on the website, by the way) show no fewer than 27 of them.
The elaborate record is reproduced online at http://www.stfaithsgreatcrosby.org.uk/confirmation1949, where the carefully created and colourful illuminated lettering may be admired. There is no record of who did the work, but the care lavished upon it is clear evidence of the new spirit infusing St Faith’s.
Episode 33 1949 still: A home service on the Home Service
Our last delvings ended with the Confirmation service of March 30th, 1949, and the colourful register page recording what was clearly a big event. Fr Dennis Smith tells me that this and presumably other such decorative works, were by the vicar’s sister, Vera Hassall, a frequent visitor to St Faith’s during her brother’s incumbency.
We are now in the late stages of Lent, and Bishop Clifford returned to preach at evensong on Passion Sunday. No record of attendance, but the goodly sum of £9.13.11 accrued, accompanied by a large blot, presumably from the pen of bishop or incumbent. Palm Sunday sees ‘Blessing and distribution of palms and Sung Eucharist’ – and marginal addition of ‘With procession’. There was but one communicant, as per usual , but £6.6.10 was collected at that service, and £6.17.9 at evensong,. The latter had as preacher H.Gresford Jones, whom Wikipedia tells us was Bishop of Warrington and once Rector of Sefton.
There were four services a day in the first three days of Holy Week, then a 6.15 am Sung Mass wit Procession on Maundy Thursday, with 54 communicants at this early hour. Good Friday saw at 8. pm, an unspecified service declared as ‘It was the Preparation’.
Easter Day is decoratively inscribed, beginning with the Holy Saturday evening celebration of Solemn Evensong, Procession and Blessing of the Paschal Candle. Easter Day itself sported a Low Mass at 6.25 am (28 communicants), 7 .00 am (95), and 8.00 am (213 – possibly a record for an early celebration). No further numbers are recorded apart from 7 at the Sung Mass later, but the day’s total was an impressive 346. Fr Hassall was surely pleased with this figure, as he records this figure himself later, adding the weekday total for the following days at 63, making by his reckoning 409 in all.
Coming down from the heights, the faithful record of daily celebrations of Low Mass rolls on. The vicar now abandons the use of ‘Holy Communion’, nailing his colours unequivocally to the Angle-Catholic mast. Ascension Day sees 105 at three celebrations; these and all other services post-Easter taken by W.H. and E.P (Parker), with no visitors to be seen. Trinity Sunday and Corpus Christi are given the big red treatment; following this latter W.H. has a break and E.P holds the fort. On Sunday June 19th (‘In the Octave of Corpus Christi’) he is twice joined by one L.E.Viner, about whom the only clue is the notation ‘for U.M.C.A’. A week later one Frank Wain takes an early Low Mass. Wikipedia has a person of this name labelled as ’25 year old native hip-hop artist’, but that probably isn’t our man. Lay Reader G.W.Houldin , after being absent from the signatories for a good while, signs in to the Sunday Schools service on 25th June.
Fr Hassall returns in time for the next landmark, a BBC broadcast of a ‘morning service’. This took place at 9.30 am on Trinity IV – Sunday 10th July, 1949, and the preacher was Canon Bernard Iddings Bell, Chaplain of Chicago University, USA. There are four separate press cuttings pasted into the double-page register spread. There are no attendance figures, as usual, but an interesting sentence in one of the aforemention ed cuttings deserves reproducing. Remarking on the ‘impressive and inspired service, outstanding for the beauty of its choral singing’, the reporter says: ‘There was not an exceptionally large attendance at the Church, but those who were not present no doubt hear the service “on the air” before taking part in the usual 11 am service.’
The service, almost certainly the first to be broadcast from t Faith’s since its foundation more than half a century earlier, clearly caused quite a stir at St Faith’s and locally. But for the archivist the most interesting entries are the signatures of each of the choir members who took part. There were no fewer than 22 boys (no girls yet, needless to say!) and 8 men, making a splendid total of 30 voices. And Fr Hassall also records the fact that ‘The other 5 Choir men were away on holidays.’ Beneath them Ernest Pratt signs as Organist to complete the roll of honour.
The thirty names, almost all of which are clear and legible, are a treasure-house of history and memories, and will in due course form a separate article, with as many back stories as can be uncovered. At least one signatory choirboy, Graham Bell, provided us some years ago with a serialised account (entertaining and even controversial) of his time in the choirstalls, and in so doing mentions more than a few of hi contemporaries who signed in on that day. Watch this space.
Back off air the story moves on more uneventfully. Ex-curate S. (Sidney) Singer returns for a couple of services towards the end of August. Thne suddenly, a page is turned and the red lettering springs up once more. September 23rd (a Friday) is proclaimed as ‘S.Chad’s College Durham; Re-union Festival’. It is an 11.30 am High Mass, with but the one communicant and no other attendancerecord, but Fr Hassall’s useful annotations show him signing in as Priest, attended by T.S.Wetherall (Principal of the College). Two uncertain signatories as Deacon and Subdeacon look like Kenneth W.Warren and J.W.Wilkinson – presumably visiting priests. The home team provide the M.C. (Robin Smallwood), the Thurifer (David E.W.White) and even the Boat Boy (Derek Clawson).
It would be good to know more of this rather special occasion. St Chad’s College, Durham was of course endowed by our esteemed Founder, H.Douglas Horsfall, to train priests of our tradition for the ministry. Subsequently it became an academic college of Durham University, but from its inception it held the Patronage of St Faith’s living, presenting successive clergy to the incumbency of St Faith’s. Of late its function has been mainly a symbolic one, but our links remain, and were clearly strong enough for St Faith’s to host this spectacular occasion in 1949.
Less than a year covered this time, but 1949 was full of red-letter days, and we will strive to get into the 1950s next time.
Episode 34 1950: Holy Smoke!
We broke off last month after recording what will doubtless be the only authenticated signature of a Boat Boy (incense carrier , not Captain Pugwash’s cabin boy) on September 25th, 1949. The next big event was the Patronal Festival, with Charles Warrington preaching at Solemn Evensong on the eve of the feast,, a 6.15 am Sung Mass on the day (52 communicants) and a flurry of red for the rest of the week. Unusually, the names of those visited for sick communion are logged down: Mr S.Laybourne, Mr Lenthal, Miss Dyson, Mrs Pickup, Mrs Ellis, Miss Markham and Mrs Peat are the visitees. J.M.Buckmaster preached at evensong on the Sunday in the Octave, and few days later the word was given by H.J.Carpenter, Archdeacon of Salop (=Shrewsbury)
On All Saints Day Eric Parker signs in i full as he celebrates Low Mass at 10.30 am. As has been the case more than once before, this is s signal of departure: neither name nor initials reappear. Fr Hassall soldiers on alone (apart from E.S.U’s help) until the following February, of which more anon. Twice that November week we see a marginal note of Vespers of the Dead – one being for Miss Markham, whom we encountered earlier. Miss Pilkinton (sic) also passed away, and is granted both the Vespers and a Requiem Mass.
On 8th December an inserted printed programme records the presentation of a Nativity Play by St Katharine’s College, Liverpool, presumably in church. Then on 19th a marginal note records ‘3pm Merchant Taylors’ School. Carols.’ CHRISTMASS DAY 1949 is then boldly emblazoned in red. Beneath it the vicar records 295 communicants art the 11.4 pm Midnight Mass, with another 85 at 8.00 am on the Day.
An unusual annotation records the arrival of New Chairs in the Lady Chapel – plus 3 in the Sanctuary, as the year draws to a close (without an annual total of communicants to be seen) and Anno Domini 1950 begins.
January 1st was a Sunday: ‘in the octave of Christmass’ – and it ended at 6.30 pm with a flourish: ‘Solemn Even: with Procession and Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.’ No record of attendance or collection (although a prominent marginal note reads Total for GIFT DAY BOXES £100) – and no explanation of the somewhat unusual date for what is usually a pre-Christmas event.
A few days later on the Feast of the Epiphany the vicar records, for the first time that can be recalled, ‘Communion from Tabernacle’, distributed to 6 at 10.30 am. Another interesting marginal note records ‘New white Vestments given by Surgeon Capt and Mrs Danson.’
For the next few weeks nothing breaks the full pattern of worship provided faithfully by W.H, apart from the signature of Colin Wood on the Conversion of Paul, followed soon by a Requiem for Mrs Pickup. Then on February 8th the Guild of the Servants of the Sanctuary celebrate at St Faiths’ with Kenneth W. Warren and William B.Woodley signing in. On February 18th, Rev A.S.Picton, of holy Trinity, Preston, conducted a Quiet Afternoon.
Fr Hassall will have been delighted on February 19th to have been joined by his new (and priested) curate L. St J. Milne Laurence Milne gets straight down to work, sharing the altar with the vicar henceforth.
Suddenly in Lent there is a flurry of signatures, some more legible than others: they include Robert Nelson, G.W.Evans, K.W.Warren (St Paul’s, Stoneycroft), A Gresford Jones, Bp, Paul Nichols, Dr. W.W.Longford, S.E.Woods (Holy Trinity, Southport) and Canon H.P. Barsley).. The Litany is sung in procession on several occasions, what’s more. Mothering Sunday features ‘Mothering Sunday Ceremonies’ – whatever they may have been, and Clifford Martin, now Bishop of Liverpool, presides at a midweek Women’s Service.
Just before Holy Week, we read ‘Confirmation at S. Mary’s. 20 candidates from S.Faith’s’. The use of the Catholic ‘S’ rather than the traditional ‘St’ is another subtle sign of our church moving gently upwards in its churchmanship.
Holy Week saw the usual impressive plethora of assorted acts of worship; unusual items include 9 pm ‘Servers (no apostrophe!) Devotions on the Wednesday, ‘It was the Preparation’ at 8 pm on Good Friday and Mattins and Ante-Communion at 8 am on Holy Saturday. The day became Ester Eve for the 7 pm Solemn Evensong, Procession and Blessing of the Paschal Candle’ – with a rare marginal annotation: ‘Incense’. Was this a first?
There were two Low Masses on the great day: 82 at 7 am and a healthy 242 an hour later - but of course no attendance figures at any service., merely a total Easter Day collection figure of £36.2.3.
Easter week passes in a splash of red letters. Then your scribe turns the page, and lo! After two Low Masses the entries cease on Thursday, April 20th, 1950, with half the book unused, and a clear statement:
FOR LATER RECORDS SEE BOOK VII. So that is what we’ll do.
Episode 35 1950: Lovely Jubbly!
In ‘Seventy Five Years’, a slim volume published in 1975 by this writer, and telling the story of St Faith’s through its parish magazines, I wrote the following, based on the entries in the 1950 register, and which may serve to illustrate the epic style of this very special occasion. This record is reproduced in its entirety HERE
The ‘Church Times’ article is very informative about the events of the week. Canon Brierley returned to preach and to recall the penniless state of the church upon his original arrival at St Faith's. 'There were no funds to buy boiler fuel; and he remembered how a few stalwart young parishioners helped him load coal on to barrows and hauled it to the church so that we might have at least the semblance of warmth for next morning'. The article also reports that the laity of the parish had distributed two and a half thousand leaflets in a visitation to every house in the parish.
'On the day of the festival itself (Friday 21st April, 1950) priests from many neighbouring parishes attended the Sung Eucharist, and took part in the procession. The choir, which has a reputation for being second only to that of the Cathedral, sang the Mass to Merbecke's setting. The men of the congregation were necessarily at work; but the women turned out in force. Even so, most of St Faith's fifteen servers had made arrangements to be present and the organist, Mr E.H.Pratt, who has held the post for 25 years, took his yearly holiday at the time of the Jubilee. The Right Rev. H.N.V.Tonks, formerly Bishop of the Windward Islands, who had presided on the previous evening, preached. Afterwards, fifty guests sat down to a jubilee luncheon in the parish hall.'
Their signatures adorn the next page of the Register. And finally, on a more homely note, the local press records the fact of the presentation of a 37 foot flagpole, at a cost of £12, the gift of the Choir of St Faith's.
Lodged among other leaflets in the register is a
4-page flyer for the Golden Jubilee Festival, inviting
the parish to join the fun and games. Avoiding
triumphalism, the clergy humbly proclaim ‘Of course
should you be attached to some other church or
congregation, we shall understand that you may not wish
to join us.’ The fourth page lists the then current
church organisations: Wolf Cubs, St Faith’s Fellowship,
Junior Dramatic Society, Scouts, Senior Scouts,
Brownies, Boys’ Club, Guides, Choir Practice and
Mothers’ Union. And it advertises the presence, apart
from those already mentioned above of the Archdeacon of
Warrington, His Worship the Mayor and Mayoress and
Bishop E.W.Sara. (Assistant of Liverpool). The hope is
finally expressed that the Baroness Ravensdale will
address this latter band of good ladies during the
Festival. Whether she ever materialised, history fails
So much, then, for a great milestone in our church’s travels. ‘ Lovely Jubbly’ as Del Boy would doubtless have said. Life was to resume as normal soon, and we will hope to move more rapidly down the months and year from next time onwards...______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Episode 36 1950/1 : 'Evengong' and poorly ladies
After the heady delights of the 1950 Golden Jubilee celebrations, church life, as faithfully recorded in the service registers, continued. Vicar William Hassall and Assistant Curate Lawrence Milne presided over five services each Sunday and daily eucharists each weekday. ‘Low Mass’ and ‘Sung Mass’ are the invariable names recorded, as St Faith’s creeps up the candle. The Sunday 8 am has attendances of between 60 and 80 or more, with weekday figures usually in single figures. There is now a regular 10.30 am Monday celebration.
Before leaving the first post-Jubilee page, your diligent scribe feels bound to record that on May 4th, the vicar entertainingly records the 6.30 pm service as EVENGONG.
As the weeks unfold, E.S.U. (Urwin) reappears and on 8th July, after a prolonged absence from the records, G.W.Houldin D.R. (Diocesan Reader?) appears in a full flourish of a signature A variety of saints have their days marked around this time, with what is probably the first appearance of ‘St Peter’s Chains’ on one occasion. Google reports that this, February 3rd, is a distinctly Roman Catholic feast day and church dedication, and that the reputed chains in the bible story are preserved in St Peter ad Vinculum basilica in Rome. Just thought you’d like to know).
Fr Hassall was strong in his support for the uniformed organisations of St Faith’s. Among the otherwise sparse marginal annotations at this time we read variously in August: ‘Scouts go to camp ... 18 Communions: Scout Camp ... Guides go to camp ... Week end Camp for Cubs. Mass at 8 am Sunday. 10 communicants, all (21) present.’
Red letter days see the entertaining addendum ‘with Procession’ added to the Sunday afternoon Children’s Services. One of these is on the 1950 Patronal Festival; the vicar records ‘Complete set of new kneelers. New Red Chasuble. New silver Wafer-box’. Paul Nichols, Colin Wood and J.M.Buckmaster sign in – the first ‘outsiders’ for some months.
Wednesday October 11th featured ‘Requiem Mass for all departed priests, and benefactors and members of our congregation’; later, on All Saints’ Day evensong (in red) is followed (in black) by Vespers of the Dead.
St Andrew’s Day, 30th November, is marked as ‘Day of Continuous Intercession for Missions’. Then ‘CHRISTMASS 1950’(sic) in page-wide florid lettering comes into view: the highlight on record is an impressive 320 communicants at the midnight mass.
The year ended with a promising page with bold headings of ‘Total Communicants 1950’, ‘Total Collections 1950’and ‘Gift Day Boxes 1950’. Sadly, no figure accompanies the first of these, but the second announces £919.19.4 and the last £106. The year ends with a note: ‘The money from the Jubilee Gift Boxes was used to buy new Altar Frontals (Purple and White)’
And so to 1951, fanfared by striking red calligraphy. The first annotation reads ‘more snow’ on New Year’s Day. Two days later Fr Hassall informs us that ‘A very severe epidemic of Influenza swept over the Country for several weeks.’ Life at St Faith’s carried on, with Charles Warrington conducting a Quiet Afternoon on the feast of St Anskar (which, as everyone knows, is on February 3rd in honour of a famous early apostle to the Scandinavians)
S.M.Gibbard, SSJE (Society of St John the Evangelist) puts in some appearances around Quinquagesima. Not long after this, a note declares ‘Vicar ill’ and L.M. takes over for a fortnight or so. Fr Hassall will have missed the appearance of Bishop Clifford Liverpool for a midweek service: no attendances recorded, of course, but £2.10.6 on the plate.
Among the more frequent visitors’ signatures in mid-Lent we see Robert Nelson, J.S.Bezzant, J.M.Buckmaster, Bishop Gresford Jones and W.J. Phythian-Adams – and, once again, John Brierley dropping in. And then Holy Week comes round once more.
Four services a day were provided, including a 4.30 pm children’s Service and an 8.00 pm Compline and Address. Kenneth Warren took the Three Hours on Good Friday, and Holy Saturday saw ‘Solemn Evensong with Procession and Blessing of the Paschal Candle’ at 7.00 pm. Then, below a handsomely emblazoned red headed Easter Day inscription six services are logged in, with 84 taking communion at 7.00 am and an impressive 240 an hour later.
Marginal entries log £40.11.7 for the Easter Offering for the clergy. And we end with a conscientious detailing by the hard-working clergy of the Sick Communions variously taken out to 14 named members of the congregation, 12 of whom were female. Some things haven’t changed.
Episode 37 1950/1951: A Gong is given
Still with his archivist’s nose in the massive tome recording our past, the editor sees that masses are offered in honour of SS Ambrose and Leo soon after Easter 1951. Then we turn to Sunday April 22nd, designated as Dedication Festival in the morning and First Evensong of St George in the evening. The latter worthy has a Te Deum, and a week later the Litany sung in procession on the occasion of his Octave. Then comes Ascension day, with a total of 107 early birds at three celebrations before breakfast.
As this writer writes, it os the Feast of Corpus Christi, and it is raining gently. On that same feast day in 1951, there was a ‘Very Heavy Storm’. Soon Saints Boniface, Columba and Alban make their mark, together with the ‘Translation of St Edward'By now the registers are somewhat monotonous for the archivist, since he has no abiding interest in the faithfully logged collections and instances of sick communion. The full and dedicated procession of worship continues, with Fathers Hassall and Milne filling page after page. There are few visiting signatories – D.V.Welsh and C.S.Jones around the Patronal time being exceptions. It is not until early November that the pattern is broken.
On Saturday 10th the 8 am low mass is scored out and ‘see next page’ appended. And lo! another striking full page records THE MISSION –‘ The Key to Happiness’ Conductor Father S.M.GBBARD, S.S.J.E. This stands for Society of St John the Evangelist, a male Anglican monastic order, known as the Cowley Fathers, after their Oxford base.
From 10th to 18th there are three daily weekday services, two early masses and an evening Instruction. Fr Hassall announces at the end ‘Total number at the Early Masses 529.’
Things return to normal in the run-up to Christmas, with one informative footnote on December 23rd: ‘Blessing of the new Bible for the Lectern at Evensong. In memory of Mr George Turner.
Then it is boldly proclaimed that CHRISTMASS – 1951 is here, with a goodly 324 communicants at the Midnight. Soon after the year ends with full totals recorded. There were7,189 communicants for the year, £957.2.11 collected and £55.12.3rd in the Gift Boxes. I don’t know how reliable Google tables are, but one equivalence calculator says that £957 in 1951 equates to just under £30,000 today.
1952 has little out of the ordinary (apart from the solemnities of St Prisca, that is) until King George VI dies, marked by three weekday requiems and a Sunday Vespers of the Dead, then on Friday 16th February his funeral is marked by a 1.45 pm Service of Commemoration. Life goes on, and a few days later there is a New Purple Frontal for the High Altar. In the next few weeks two Archdeacons appear: one or Stoke-on-Trent and H.S.Wilkinson from down the road.
A nice personal touch in late February records that ‘A new Gong for use at the High Altar has been given by Mrs Martindale in memory of her husband... We shall often remember ‘Tim’ at the Altar which he served so faithfully when he lived her.’
A few more visiting signatures appear, including Bishop Gresford Jones, and a concentration of Cnons (Urwin, Ewart, Buckmaster and Barslsy, to name but few – and two more Archidiaconal appearances (Carpenter of Salop and White of Warrington.) Then in the lead up to Easter two more Canons sign in: Phythian-Adams and Bezzant.
Holy Week is of course fully serviced, graced once with the presence of the Vicar of Upholland, before Easter dawns. It is prefaced with the red-letter proclamation, on Holy Saturday, of Solemn Evensong with Procession and blessing of the New Fire and Paschal Candle. Easter Day saw a total of 394 communicants, including 231 at the 8 am.
The Octave Dedication Festival (April 27th) features a 3 pm Children’s Service with Procession and Parade of Scouts, Guides, Cubs and Brownies. Spring moves into summer, with little of note in the bog book, other than the return of W.L.Mark Way for a week in mid-July, and an indecipherable bishop in early August.
Unheralded, L.M seems to have departed for pastures new after his initials on 4th August; thereafter W.H sustains the full pattern of daily worship alone. An appearance by Reginald Parker (Nigeria C.M.S,) relieves the pattern for several weeks, until H.J.Graham signs in on 2nd September, and regularly takes services thenceforth. Charles S. Nye preaches at Harvest Evensong, and on the next page, somewhat unusually, a pasted-in magazine article records the vicar’s pleasure at the raising of an impressive £670 ‘clear profit’ at the two-day Bazaar, when ‘more than 600 people came to the Hall over the two days.’ Google says that this would be £16,999 today, which seems excessive. The cutting also records the efforts of many in the year leading up to the event.
Soon Mark Way becomes a bishop – tune in again next month.
Episode 38 1952/1954: The Way of Faith (!)
Messrs Hassall and Graham carry the flag onwards and upwards in the latter months of 1952. In the days following the October Patronal Festival, the vicar lays on a Friday 7 am Requiem Mass for all Departed Benefactors and worshippers: it attracts just 7 communicants. In the Octave of All Saints the Sunday Solemn Evensong with Procession, in red, is followed by Vespers of the Dead, in solemn black.
On St Luke’s Day, October 8th, 1952 in Westminster Abbey, one-time St Faith’s curate Mark Way was consecrated as Bishop of Masasi, Africa. Fr Hassall pasted in a couple of paragraphs from the magazine to record the great occasion. He notes that ‘several’ St Faith’s people would be present. ‘It was on Wednesday, October 19th, 1934,’ the vicar records, ‘that he brought to a close a very successful ministry here, to take up work in Brighton, from which place he later went out to Africa. Those of us who cannot be present in London will remember him here at the Altar where he offered the Holy Sacrifice for the first time, praying that God will abundantly bless him in the important work to which He has called him.’
On Remembrance Sunday a retiring collection for the Earl Haig funds nets £8.9.7. Then, on the Sunday before Advent, and for reasons that escape this writer, all services are marked by carefully inked-in vertical lines of varying thickness, either in black or red, between the second register column (‘Day’) and the third (Hour of Service’) – a practice that continues at least to the end of the current vast tome.
There is little else to disturb the even tenor of the weeks as the year slips away. There is the first record of a ‘Merchant Taylors’ Boys’ School Carol Concert’ just before Christmas. Then comes Christmas(s) itself, with 354 midnight communicants, before the year ends with a recorded total of 7,605 communions.
The first 13 days of 1953 are all inscribed in red, especially the service of 1st January, pleasingly recorded, in a hand not the vicar’s, as CIRCUMCISSION.
On Saturday, January 31st, the vicar pastes in a couple of paragraphs from the current newsletter. He recalls that it was on that day and date that he took over at St Faith’s, and thanks everyone for their ‘loyal support and affection’ support over those five years. ‘If during these years,’ he goes on, ‘anything worthwhile has been accomplished, and in all humility I venture to think that something has, let me say at once that it is due far more to you good people than to me, - and in the confident assurance of your ever generous help I look forward to much greater things for God and for His Church .’
With these stirring words we move on into 1953. J.M.Buckmaster takes a pre-Lent Quiet Afternoon, and assorted visitors, including regular visitor Bishop Clifford Martin of Liverpool, preside over weekday women’s services. A new departure was the Mothering Sunday afternoon ‘Clipping of Church with Presentation of Flowers’, laid on for the Sunday School children, and explained in another pasted cutting, this time from the local press. ‘Despite the nip in the air, the sun shone through brightly, gleaming on the golden Cross, which, held on high, took its rightful place at the head of the procession.’ Such fulsome coverage would be less likely today!
‘+Charles Warrington’ takes a confirmation just before Holy Week, Then on each Holy Week evening we read, enigmatically, ‘Compline followed by Film Strips’. Good Friday features an 8 am Mass of the Pre-Sanctified’ with, uniquely just 1 communicant recorded. Equally uniquely, there is a large space left for the usual flowery ‘Easter Day’ banner, but no red lettering inscribed. Nevertheless, there were 363 communicants at the three masses of the day.
Easter 2 sees ‘Crosby Boy Scouts’ Association Saint George’s Day Parade’, with the collection of £10.09 ‘given to Scout Hostel’. A few pages later, Trinity Sunday is ‘Coronation Sunday’ with another unique entry at 3 pm – ‘Coronation Drumhead Service’. The following day is one of ‘Continuous Intercession for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, and the actual Coronation day, Tuesday 3rd June, attracts a goodly 189 communicants to two early celebrations.
Summer becomes autumn, the Patronal events occur, and now it’s winter. No variations from the norm, no visiting preachers, no noteworthy services – and lo! ‘Christmass’ is upon us once more, with 397 communicants. The year ends with 7,438 communions totalled: a slight drop from 1952.
1954 begins with Circumcision correctly spelt. Everything else will have to wait.
Episode 39 1954: Not that Elizabeth Taylor
Excising further reference to the Feast of the Circumcision, we venture out into 1954 and find little to disturb the faithful pattern of masses low and sometimes high. Uncurated, Fr Hassall manfully offers a daily celebration and evensong, as well as five Sunday services. Towards the end of January, a signature clearly reads W.H.Wutterson. Google surprisingly offers us a reference to one thus spelt, but later signatures reveal that it is of course Watterson.
Lent is prepared for with a quiet afternoon, then on Sexagesima Sunday Evensong is followed by Vespers of the Dead, followed the next day by the ‘funeral of Father Sidney Singer’ – an erstwhile curate at St Faith’s.
Ash Wednesday, March 3rd, provided three low masses. The third, at 10.30 am, is recorded as having 27 communicants – a surprising number considering the importance still presumably placed on fasting.
It is some time since the clergy offered meteorological data, so it is pleasing to note ‘intense cold with snow all week’. By Lent the weather was doubtless back to normal, and we welcomed the usual collection of outside preachers for evensongs and women’s services: among the legible signatories are F.W.Dillistone (Dean of Liverpool), Bishop Clifford Martin, H.Gresford Jones and Douglas Cestr (Bishop of Chester).
Unexpectedly, the turning of the page reveals a bold legend: BISHOP OF LIVERPOOL’S HELPERS FROM S.FAITH’S who visited S.Margaret’s Anfield on Saturday 27th March, 1954 on the occasion of the BISHOP’S LENT MISSION. There are 21 bold signatures beneath the headlines, including Ernest Pratt, George Houldin, Caroline B Mountfield, Raymond Clark, Lilian Henderson, Madge Palmer, Lilian Carter , Barbara Skinner, Beryl Turner, Dorothy Carter, K. Armstrong and the vicar. Finally there is one Elizabeth Taylor in attendance, which may have caused something of a stir (apologies. Ed!).
On Palm Sunday the Archdeacon of Liverpool preached at evensong, and the day after the vicar recorded an 8 pm performance of ‘I Beheld His Glory’ at the Scala, Liverpool (a unique entry, I think). Holy Week saw three evening Schools of Discipleship, while there was an 8 am Mass of the Pre-Sanctified on Good Friday. There were no fewer than seven Easter Day services, all taken by W.H. and a goodly total of 364 communicants.
In the weeks after Easter W.H.Watterson appears more frequently: doubtless his presence will have been some real relief to the diligent Fr Hassall in the absence of a regular curate. And now once more the turning of a leaf reveals a colourful double page spread featuring the events of Thursday 10th June, emblazoned strikingly as LIVERPOOLL DIOCESAN MISIONARY FESTIVAL. Some 21 clerics assembled for a 3 pm meeting, followed by 4.30 pm Tea in the Church Hall (writ large!), a 5.30 pm Evensong and Sermon (this latter delivered by the exotically titled Leonard Mombasa (Bishop thereof) and a further meeting from 8 to 9.30 pm. Sounds like quite a day.
Soon after a Requiem for Mr H. Schofield is attended by ’Nicolas N.S.S.F’ (novitiate Franciscan, would that be?) – and Eric O(laf) Beard appears for a Low Mass. Otherwise the weeks and months roll on with W.H. shouldering the daily burden, until a marginal annotation on St Matthew’s Day notes ORDINATION AT THE CATHEDRAL OF CYRIL H TELFORD. The new curate starts at once, but clearly only a deacon, can only preach and take the offices.
He was of course present for the usual junketings surrounding the Patronal Festival of October 6th, and was clearly thrown in at the metaphorical deep end in the weeks following, not least in late October. Interestingly, there are no entries at all for Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd October (possibly a unique occurrence), and W.H.’s initials are absent for a week thereafter until he signs in again on Friday 29th. For the interim, there are no weekday eucharists, and stand-in celebrants on the Sunday. Was it an illness or a sudden holiday?
Normal service is resumed for the remainder of the year. A pasted in cutting, presumably from the church newsletter, records the 100th birthday of Mrs Helen Duggan on November 7th. Then Christmass (spelt thus as usual now) comes up, with 302 midnight communicants. Fr Hassall adds (+120) making no fewer than 422 in church. Then there but a few days to go before the year ends, and the diligent vicar records a total of 7,411 communicants for 1954. There had been 7189 in 1951, 7605 in 1952 and 7438 in 1953, so things are still pretty healthy, and a credit to priests and people alike, not least the indefatigable William Hassall, in whose company we shall journey onwards in the months to come.
Episode 40 1955/1956: Registering R.A.K.Runcie
The year of 1955, as recorded in St Faiths’ service registers, begins with the established pattern of worship maintained. Fr Hassall tackles all eucharistic celebrations (daily at 7, 8 or on Mondays 10.30 am) while Cyril Telford, still to be priested, takes the Sunday and weekday daily evensongs. In the first few months of the year weekday communicants are in single figures, except for red letter days, early Sundays vary between 65 and 80, while the 10.45 has, as always, just the celebrant taking communion, with one or two occasional additions.
Lent comes upon us, with extra services, and some noteworthy weather (‘very heavy fall of snow’... ‘Intensely cold’... ‘more snow’ and ‘still more snow’) over a five day period. ‘Women’s Deanery Service’ and ‘Sung Eucharist with instruction’ feature in Lent; the latter, held on Saturday mornings, attract a few fasting communicants and between 2 and 29 under instruction.
Holy Week sees daily Stations of the Cross with Tableaux right through to Good Friday. Maundy Thursday features a 6.30 am Sung Eucharist with Procession, with 88 (+) communicants. The only recorded attendance figure for Good Friday is for the 8.00 am Mass of the Pre-Sanctified: just the vicar there by the look of it. Easter Day saw 388 communicants in all, bringing the total for the year up to 2,460. The Feast of Dedication, 21st April, added 35 to the total: it marked 55 years from the dedication of St Faith’s in 1900.
For the inside of the first week in May, Fr Hassall is noted as being ‘away in retreat’ (‘on’ might have been a less ambiguous preposition to have employed); consequently there were, possibly uniquely, no eucharists for four successive days. Pentecost Sunday sees an interesting marginal note alongside the 8 am celebration: (‘+ Scouts in camp for visit of Lord Rowallan). Then, from 2nd to 18th June, W.H. is without the services of C.H.T. – the vicar conducts no fewer than 38 services during that time.
The summer months are entirely unremarkable, until on Saturday, October 1st at 8.00 am Cyril Harry Telford, clearly now priested, takes Low Mass with 40 (+15) receiving from him. Hereafter he shares the altar with the vicar, and the weeks roll on to Christmas(s). It is thus spelt throughout the season, with 323 at the ‘midnight’ and a further 77 on the Day.
The year ends with the total recorded communicants being 7,676; the year’s final record reads: ‘ELECTRIC LIGHT SCHEME 1955 £1,159.9.0 (all paid immediately the bill was received)’.
Anno Domini 1966 kicks off with a Carol Service with Procession on the evening of January 1st (The Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord, and a Sunday). Apart from one or two gloomy weather annotations, the next entry of interest is on 12th February (Quinquagesima Sunday – those old names roll off the tongue!), when the preacher at Evensong is Reginald B. Parker, Principal of Igobi College, Lagos, Nigeria.
We move into Lent, with a scattering of visiting signatures, some of the legible ones including Charles Warrington, J.M.Buckmaster, Bishop H.Gresford Jones, F.W.Dillistone and, on Mothering Sunday, Clifford Liverpool (Bishop thereof). Holy Week saw daily evening Mission Services, for which the vicar records those present as being 50, 61, 83 and 61.
Easter Day saw 411 communicants over four masses, plus the afternoon Children’s Service (where your pedantic scribe is delighted to see that a stickler for accuracy – not, not this writer - added a black apostrophe to the red-letter ‘Childrens’). Of much greater interest is the signing in of R.A.K. Runcie, celebrant at 7.00 am, and preacher at the Sung Mass and at Evensong. Fr Hassall makes no comment, but this is of course Robert Alexander Kennedy Runcie returning to the church where his pilgrimage to Canterbury started. He would in 1955 have been Vice-Principal of Westcott House theological college, his Cambridge alma mater. In 1956 he would be elevated to Principal at Cuddesdon College, whence he went to become Bishop of St Albans and finally Primate of All England. Most readers will be aware that Robert Runcie never forgot his roots in Crosby and St Faith’s, and visited us on several memorable occasions as Bishop, Archbishop and finally as Lord Runcie of Cuddesdon. We will always honour his name and thank God for his life. An extensive archive of his life, achievements and local connections is on our website at
Fr Hassall would of course have no way of realising that he was entertaining an angel unawares on Easter Day, 1956. In the months that followed there is even less to disturb the registered life of St Faith’s. Charles Pakenham preaches, the weather is ‘very stormy’ for July. An early mass is Votive of the Holy Spirit’, there is a requiem for ‘R.W.Jones (warden)’ and a ‘Retiring Collection for Hungary’. Suddenly it is CHRISTMASS 1956 with 412 communicants, a Fall of Snow and a plethora of red-letter notes as the year ends. For the record the communicant total is 8,078 (the highest for some years) collections £22.214.171.124, gift boxes £53.11.9 and Talent Scheme £336.50. This last is news to your archivist, who was unaware of such a scheme until he ran one such some fifty years earlier.
Two years covered this time. What excitement beckons in 1957?
Episode 41 1957 More Runcie - and a flu epidemic
Among the crowds who eagerly await and devour these monthly excitements, none seem to have spotted the un-deliberate mistake at the very end of last month’s episode. Your scribe spoke of having organised a Talents Scheme some 50 years earlier than the one registered as having been staged in 1956. Ancient he may be, but not that much: later was what he intended to write.
1957 opened with the Circumcision celebrations, and featured in the same week two weekday evening Nativity Tableaux. After this cutting-edge activity, we settle down to the steady procession of worship, presided over by Frs Hassall and Telford. Then on February 14th, St Valentine is honoured by just two romantic communicants, followed the next evening by A Recital of Music By The Crosby Musical Society (who they? Ed.).
Sexagesima Sunday comes round once more, with a Baden-Powell Thanksgiving Service in the afternoon. Alongside the entry Fr H. has pasted in a magazine cutting, recording his gratitude for a series of practical gifts to the church. There is a vestry hot water system, and a bowl to replace the ‘Nasty, cracked one’ hitherto in use. Mr Gerald Laybourne (‘my excellent Sacristan’) will be delighted. Nearly 60 years later, Gerry the Sacristan Bear has been installed to perpetuate his memory. Confused? See www.stfaithsgreatcrosby.org.uk/bearnecessities.html and all will become clear.
The vicar goes on to thank the donor of two oak candlesticks in memory of ‘the Reverend (not Father) Sydney Singer, who for a good many years served this parish well.’ But despite an earlier appeal, Fr Hassall wonders why more people have not funded one of the new chairs that are needed. ‘Surely there are people who can afford £3 as a thankoffering for blessings received!’ he says sternly. Finally there are gifts for the Children’s Corner and the Lady Chapel: the former two candlesticks funded by Miss A. Simpson of St Christopher – a one-time children’s home with which St Faith’s had connections for many years.
We hasten on through Lent (featuring a series of Compline Followed By Question Time). The Church is duly Clipped on Mothering Sunday. Until now there have been few visiting signatories to break up the long succession of WHs and CHTs. Then, as the pages turn, we come in Holy Week upon no fewer than 10 signings-in of our most distinguished Old Boy, Robert Alexander Kennedy Runcie. In his journey from St Faith’s to Canterbury, he is by now Dean of Trinity College, Cambridge. He took a series of Complines with Address, the Good Friday Three Hours’ Devotion and a series of masses high and low. There are 407 recorded communicants on Easter Day, including exactly 200 at the 8 am celebration.
The routine returns for the succeeding weeks and months. On Trinity Sunday, 16th June, a marginal note reads ‘Peter Ryan (server) ordained priest, Carlyle (sic) Diocese’. A few years later he became a Roman Catholic and, as Monsignor Ryan, has more than once subsequently returned to the church where his faith journey began.
Six Sundays later, Evensong is recorded as being followed by Hallowing of the Garden of Memory – a unique use of the verb. On August 25th, ‘Severe Storms swept through the Country for 48 hrs.’ On the feast of St Michael and All Angels, the aforementioned Peter W Ryan calls in and worships and celebrates with us.
Fr Telford, having seemingly been away for a while, signs in on 8th October for what appears to have been his penultimate service, although no mention of this apparent fact is ever recorded.
Backtracking a few days, Fr Hassall recorded, in the margin of 29th September, ‘Severe influenza epidemic.’ Possibly as a result of this, just after St Faith’s Day, a series of weekday services (between October 10th and 12th , between 14th and 19th and variously for four further days a week later) were cancelled – 13 days in all, probably the longest period in our church’s history. The Sundays were covered by Paul Nichols, T.W.A. Sleight (UMCA), Joseph F Parker – and CHT, putting in a solitary and final appearance.
The vicar recovers and takes the reins again, but hereafter there are no weekday Tuesday or Thursday services recorded. W.H. ploughs a solitary furrow into the winter; on Wednesday December 11th he presides over an unusually timed Ceremony of Light (Toc H) at 8.45 pm. A week later a Carol Service for Merchant Taylors’ is presided over by T.W.Silkstone (from whom, if it is any interest at all, this writer bought his house a few years later!)
December 23rd is ‘very foggy’ but it doubtless lifted for CHRISTMASS 1957. There were 301 communicants at midnight, out of 402 for the day. The Sunday in the Octave saw a Service of Nine Lessons and Carols as the year drew to its close.
For the year, the devoted Fr Hassall logs 8,011 communicants (slightly down from the previous year’s 8078) £1408.9.3 in collections (well up from £1153) and £48.16.2 in Gift Boxes, as 1957 moves into 1958. Given a fortnight without services towards the end of the year, the figures do the indefatigable parish priest continuing credit as St Faith’s faces a new year.
Episode 42 1958: Daily Mattins begin
Without a partner priest, Fr Hassall devotedly sustains alone the full pattern of worship, eucharists and offices alike, for many a page in the register. For the record, Sundays see him shouldering the burden of five services. The day begins with the 8.00 am Low Mass, with anything up to 90 communicants in the first few weeks of 1958. No numbers are ever logged for Mattins at 10.00am, Sunday Schools at 3.00 pm or Evensong at 6.00 pm. For the 10.45 am (non-communicating) Sung Eucharist, where a few years earlier only the celebrant received, we now see numbers creeping up to double figures.
Weekdays see a daily Low Mass (Mondays at 1030, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays (variable) at 8 am, and Wednesday and Friday at 7 am). Evensong is said daily at 6 pm; communicant figures are almost always in single figures. Fr Peter Ryan pops up on two January weekdays, and Fr Harold Cawley begins to help out in the pulpit as the weeks go by.
There are New curtains in Vestry in February, 104 communicants over three Ash Wednesday eucharists, a visit from H.J.Carpenter, Archdeacon of Salop and, shortly after this last, ‘heavy falls of snow’. Among those signing in in Lent, we see Messrs Urwin, Harry Bradshaw, J.Mockford, Harold E Crewdson, Gwyn Rogers, A White, C.H Telford, W.W.Langford, T.S.Wetherall and Clifford Liverpool. This last is of course the diocesan bishop: most of the others are known only to God, as neither they nor the vicar adds illumination.
Weekday attendances reach double figures as Holy Week draws nigh. Good Friday sees The Liturgy at 8 am, the usual Three Hours at noon and Passion Tableaux at 8 pm. Holy Saturday at 7.30 pm provides Solemn Evensong, Procession and Blessing of the New Fire and Paschal Candle.
Easter Day, suitably emblazoned is headed by a musical line (O let the song of praise be sung) from ‘The Strife is O’er’. Not so for William Hassall, taking services at 7, 8, 9, 10.45, 3 pm and 6.30 pm. 420 communicate at the three fasting eucharists (223 at 8).
Thereafter the routine continues. The next notable entry is the signature of +Mark Masasi – none other than one-time curate Mark Way, now a bishop, dropping in for a short stay. Then in early May there are four successive worship-less days, with the entertaining caption VICAR IN RETREAT. Thereafter we spot a collection earmarked for New Heating System, two masses from Peter Ryan. And then, as if the vicar didn’t have enough to do, we read on Monday June 2nd: ‘With Effect From This Day – Mattins is said Daily before The First Low Mass’. The office is not recorded daily, but it makes a total for a full week of no fewer than 23 services, and sometimes more.
It must therefore have been a great relief when, a week or so later on June 15th, T.S. (Tom) Stanage signs in. The new curate is still only a deacon, but he takes the offices and other appropriate acts of worship, as well as preaching duties, thenceforth. It’s not long before he is more or less running things: from August 30th Fr Hassall is absent for two weeks, doubtless on holiday, and until he returns there are several days without eucharists and stand-in celebrfants (Frs Cawley and Lancaster) signing in.
After the vicar’s return Peter Ryan celebrates on a fair number of weekdays, with the vicar taking two requiems (one for Canon Storer, the other for Mrs H.Duggan, at the ripe old age of 104, followed by a visit from what looks like Frank Hamburey (S.P.G. Area Secretary). St Faith’s day and late autumn come and go, with what is possibly a unique service time shoe-horned inon November 2nd, when Vespers of the dead are offered at7.35 pm precisely.
On Friday December 12th Peter Ryan presides over a requiem for Ernest Ryan. Now Christmas is coming, and the congregations are getting fat. There are 320 (+60) communicants at the Midnight; this and all remaining services until the New Year are taken by W.H. The old year ends with 7,947 communicants recorded (a small drop from 8011 in 1957), as the good ship Saint Faith launches out into the deep of 1959. The captain will be missing from the helm for many weeks at the start of the year – but that’s another story.
Episode 43 1959: A stroke of ill fortune for St Faith's
We ended 1958 with advance notice of Fr Hassall’s impending absence from the helm. His last service was on January 4th 1959, the 10.45 am Sung mass for The Second Sunday after Christmass. He doesn’t sign in again until Monday, April 27th. He presides over evensong then and for some time to come, not celebrating again until May 7th.
The unhappy reason for this prolonged absence is told in brief in the 1975 history of St Faith’s, as reproduced below:
“Fr. Hassall suffered a slight stroke and, after January 4th, his initials are absent from the book until April 27th, and then he took only Evensong until May 7th. 'T.S.S.' (the Revd. Thomas Stanage, his Curate now) was still only a Deacon, and the maintenance of regular Eucharists was in the hands of the Reverends E.W.Pugh, Peter Ryan, H.Cawley and others, with the Rural Dean, Canon Nichols, also assisting. A Requiem had to be cancelled, and in its place T.S.S. provided AnteCommunion and Communion from the Tabernacle: the first recorded entry of this. Canon Naylor, the Bishops of Liverpool and Whitby, the Vicar of St Agnes, Ullet Road and 'Thomas S.S.F.' were among visitors during this period.”
The registers record the admirable maintenance of daily worship in the first months of 1959, with extra services in Lent. In Holy Week Brother Thomas, SSF (Franciscan friar) took daily Compline and the Good Friday Three Hours Devotion. Easter is boldly emblazoned as in previous years, with a total of 402 communicants for the day. There were services on the following Monday and Tuesday, but none for the rest of the week. There were the usual services on Low Sunday, then offices only for the rest of that week, and most of the following week.
Then, in the week of the Octave of the Dedication Festival, Fr William Hassall returns to duty. He takes only evensongs for a while, presiding again at the altar at 10.30 on the morning of Ascension Day, Thursday, May 7th, when there were 36 communicants, out of a total of 118 for the day. In the days that followed. W.H. celebrated the eucharist sparingly. He did however insert extra services in the margin of May 9th (6 pm. Vespers of the Dead) and 10th (Requiem at 9 am and Funeral at 3pm) marking the passing of Mrs Eva Gerrard.
The vicar was on his own during that week: an absence explained by a surely most welcome return of his curate to preach on Trinity Sunday and, on the next day to celebrate ‘First Mass of Rev. T.S.Stanage’. In the weeks that followed, the daily eucharists resumed, with the newly priested curate celebrating most of them. Indeed from June 17th to July 3rd Mr Hassall’s initials are entirely missing again, possibly through incapacity or maybe on holiday.
But he is clearly well enough to take up the reigns again soon after, and indeed from July 20th to August 15th TSS is now absent on a well-deserved break and the vicar is omnipresent. There are few marginal notes or explanations these days: one that is on record is a ‘Low Mass ‘Comm(emoration) of all faithful departed’, offered by Fr Stanage before his summer break. Fr Hassall notes on Saturday August 8th that the congregation at the 8 am eucharist consists of ‘9+ 23 Scouts who go on camp today’. And there is an unusual entry on the day of the Falling Asleep of the B.V.M.: ‘Sacrament of Unction and Communion’ – the first use of the term this writer can recall.
And at this point in late summer of 1959 we call a halt. But there is a footnote following for those suffering from possible statistical withdrawal syndrome.
Thanks to Fr Colin Oxenforth for providing these two snippets of information about priests who have cropped up in the course of this long-running saga. Nice to know someone reads it... Ed
T.S. Wetherall was the principal of St. Chad's College, Durham and was my own first principal there. He was a good model for conventional holiness, was kindly and strict but with a wonderful humour when it slipped out! His elderly mother was regarded as a secondary relic by some as she had been catechised by the famous Fr Stanton at St. Alban's Holborn. He never sought preferment as it was then called, and was a faithful parish priest, and that he trained us to try and be.F
Fr Telford, a curate at St. Faith's, prepared me for confirmation in 1955. He moved on to St. Anne's, Cazneau St. This parish was later absorbed into Liverpool Parish Church.
The last chapter of this epic saga drew to its close in mid August A.D. 1959. As we resume all is calm and still, with W.H. celebrating on Sundays and weekdays and T.S.S. taking all non-sacramental services. But from August 31st T.S.S. is absent, and W.H takes everything, including an evensong for St Giles (has he cropped up before?) and an unusual entry of an Adult Baptism at a later weekday evensong.
Two weeks later TSS reappears, celebrating Low Mass on Sunday, September 13th. Presumably he had been priested at some stage during his two weeks away, but no acknowledgement is made. What is flagged up after the 6.30 pm evensong that day is ‘Recital by (church organist) Mr George Pratt – music by Bach. Retiring Recital for Church Refugees Fund £15.’
September featured a Vespers for the Dead for Mr Harold Costin and a Harvest Sunday evensong sermon by R. Preston Thomas. Soon it was Patronal Festival time: 78 communicants on the weekday celebration and, as usual, an unspecified number at the Octave Sunday services. It’s worth noting that the number of communicants at the 10.45 am Sunday (still theoretically non-communicating) sung masses has crept up from 1 (the celebrant) to as many as 16 on some occasions, and is still rising.
For the record, our faithful clerics have been laying on daily weekday eucharists (except Tuesdays) and evensongs (no exceptions) come rain or shine for some months now. For the curious, communicants over six weeks in November and early Decemberof 1959 averaged 11 on Mondays at 10.30 am, 9 on Wednesdays at 7, 6 on Thursdays at 8, 5 on Fridays at 7 and 8 on Saturdays at 9.
As Christmas approaches, school services crop up. On Monday December 14th at 3.00 pm we read ‘Merchant Taylors Boys School Carols.’ Presiding was T.W.Silkstone, priest and head of R.E., from whom, collectors of trivia will want to know, your scribe purchased his house not many years later. Notice the two missing apostrophes: a third is likewise absent the following day for the somewhat oddly labelled 7.00 pm ‘M.T.S. Carols Parents Service’.
The next page is headed by another striking painted banner proclaiming CHRISTMASS 1959. The vicar records an impressive 335 midnight communicants and proudly notes ‘church very full’. There were 80 at the early mass on the Day (a Friday), and no fewer than 20 communicants at 10.45. The year closed with a recorded and record total of 8663 communicants (not to mention collections totalling £2,345.9.9) as St Faith’s, incense ready and lit, moved in to the Swinging Sixties.
There are few, if indeed any, signs of the eventful decade in the sedate pages of the register. At 8.00 pm on the evenings of Monday January 4th and Tuesday 5th there were performances of ‘Morality Play – “He came unto his own”.’ A little later we read ‘Confirmation Class every Sunday till Passion Tide’; later again Peter Ryan celebrates a Saturday morning Low Mass. Preachers and celebrants signing in include old friends Frs Cawley and Urwin, as well as new ones in the shape of Charles Walker, Frank E. Jones, J.C.C. Pepys, H.M. Bates and (possibly Reginald) Lindsay. There was a Requiem for Andrew Jones and Alan Gale (any relation to Jessie of blessed memory, I wonder), and a rare annotation of the Annual General Meeting on March 10th.
The preacher on Mothering Sunday was Charles Warrington, and at the ‘W.Deanery Service’ on the last day of March Clifford Liverpool addressed the congregation.
Holy Week is upon us, and it was the traditionally busy time for clergy and people. We have earlier noted the slow increase of communicants at the Sunday 10.45 service, but of particular note is the Sung Mass at 8.00 pm, with no fewer than 99 taking the sacrament: surely very few would have fasted! J.C.Brooks took the Good Friday Three Hours; soon after there were an impressive 364 Easter Day communicants: 252 at 8 am, 77 at 9 am and 35 at the 10.45.
Easter Day is lettered with the usual exotic penmanship, but this is nothing compared what is soon to follow. The Diamond Jubilee Festival is all but upon us, but its splendours must wait for the next instalment.
Episode 45 1960: Such a jolly entertainment
St Faith’s Church Register entries in the late 1950s had boasted relatively few colourful highlights, being rather a faithful record of devoted service by priests and people month upon month and year upon year. In particular we have noted a distinct lack of marginal annotations: not even the traditional meteorological observations.
In May of 1960 suddenly there is an explosion of entries, photos, signatures, press cuttings and more, marking the Diamond Jubilee of St Faith’s, turning the register for a week into something of a scrapbook.
It begins with an anomaly. The vicar includes among the memorabilia a leaflet, presumably given out to the whole parish, announcing the Festival as marking ‘the 60th anniversary of (St Faith’s) consecration by the Archbishop of York ... on Thursday 20th April, 1960’, and inviting everyone to ‘our rejoicings and thanksgivings’ during the week beginning 1st May. This is a cardinal error: the actual consecration took place on Thursday 21st April, the date celebrated correctly over the years as our Dedication Festival. To add to the puzzle, neither 20th or 21st April 26th is identified as being of ny significance, nor is either date so identified or marked in the registers for the next two years at least.
Enough of your archivist’s pedantry – what’s a day between friends? The week of celebration kicked off in style on May Day 1960, with the Bishop of Whitby standing in for the Archbishop of York, who was abroad. There were 114 communicants at 8.00 am and 28 at the 10.45. Canon Wetherall, Principal of our patrons, St Chad’s College, Durham, preached at Solemn Evensong on Wednesday and presided at the altar the next morning. Later that same morning Canon John Brierley, now Rector of Wolverhampton, preached. Fr Hassall’s handout had promised that the Bishop of Liverpool would preside at this latter service, but the register has TSS in his place.
Friday evening saw a Parish Social, and the week ended with the real presence of Bishop Clifford on the Sunday morning, and Charles Claxton, Bishop of Warrington, preaching at Evensong. Your persistent pedant notes that the vicar’s leaflet refers to the latter worthy as ‘Lord Bishop’. Only diocesan bishops, this writer believes, are thus addressed: lordship is denied to mere Suffragans.
So much for the actual details of services. What makes these pages of more interest are the cuttings and the photographs: five of the former and nine of the latter, spread over several pages. The cuttings are not identified, but doubtless come from the parish newsletter and the local press. A few extracts, with a few editorial comments’ give the flavour of the Grand Occasion.
‘On April 21st, 1900, after a few vicissitudes, the church was consecrated, and the district had a visit from an Archbishop of York for the first time in its history.’ (The Archbishop was Maclagan, and one vicissitude(!) was a petition to him by local worthies begging him not to consecrate this popish temple.)... ‘It is on record that three times in its first year the church, which holds 920, was full.’ (People were a bit smaller then, but the figure still seems somewhat of an exaggeration.) ... ‘The great central service was held on the Thursday morning. The preacher was Canon John Brierley, whose text was ‘Let us now praise famous men’. He spoke of the life and devotion of Howard Douglas Horsfall, who built not only St Faith’s but two other lovely churches in the Diocese – St Agnes, Toxteth and St Paul’s, Stoneycroft.’ (the latter is no more, but the former (St Agnes with St Pancras, Ullet Road) is alive and well and has just appointed a new vicar). ... On Friday evening the Congregational Social took place in the Parish Hall, which was crowded. The members of the branch of the Mothers’ Union took responsibility for the refreshments and variety entertainment was presented by ‘The Magpies’ – the concert party consisting of the young people of the Church. ... It must all have been rather splendid: elsewhere the vicar refers to the show as ‘ such a jolly entertainment.)
So ended a major milestone in our church’s colourful history. It seems now like something of a high water mark for St Faith’s. We seem by 1960 to have been accepted by the surrounding churches and assorted diocesan dignitaries, with a splendid festival mixture of historical recollection, a pageant of thanksgiving and much fitting junketing. Douglas Horsfall’s foresight and generous sponsorship had, in an area not known for its ecumenical tolerance, planted the flag of the Oxford Movement in Liverpool’s soil. In 1900 and for a good many years St Faith’s was beleaguered and embattled. Now in 1960 it is more or less accepted and the barricades could mostly come down.
Life returned to normal after the Festival. Fr Stanage took every service for the next ten days or so, as Fr Hassall presumably took a well-earned rest. Your archivist will now follow his example.
46 1960-1961: High Water
Our last trawl through the annals of our church paused for breath at the conclusion of the prolonged and clearly splendiferous jubilee junketings of May, 1960, with Curate Fr Tom Stanage taking up the baton for two weeks or so while the indefatigable Vicar, Fr William Hassall, presumably took a well-deserved rest.
During his absence and indeed after his return (on May 22nd) the full pattern of weekday and Sunday services was sustained. The schedule at that time saw daily weekday evensongs at 6.00 pm, with eucharists at 10.30 am on a Monday, 7.00 am on Wednesdays and Fridays, 8.00 am on Thursdays and 9.00 am on Saturdays. Communicants for these weekday masses were almost invariably in single figures, but rarely cancelled though non-attendance. Sunday saw the usual 8.00 am low mass celebration, with anything from 70 to 120 taking the sacrament, matins at 10, the sung mass at 10.45, now often with over 20 communicating, continuing the slow climb upwards. The Guilds service was at 3.00 pm, and evensong at 6.30. Regrettably, attendance (as opposed to communicant) figures remain unrecorded.
Ascension Day Eve (Wednesday, May 25th) saw a ‘Mothers (sic) Union Festival Service’, and a marginal note records ‘500 present’. Clerics present were W.H, and Messrs Jones (in the pulpit), Robinson, Thomas, Lewis, Chipping and Bolton (looks like Bottom, but probably not). The Feast the following day attracted a healthy 114 communicants to masses at 7, 8 and 10.30 am.
Corpus Christi 1960 seems to have been a low-key affair, with just 37 communicants at two morning services. Thereafter little disturbs the even tenor of the days and weeks. Fr Peter Ryan celebrates at the end of July, and the Tuesday evensong is dropped. From August 18th to September 1st T.S.S. alone signs in, including on August 9th marginal mention of funerals for Lilian Henderson and W.R. Outram.
Two signatures break the monopoly of the parish clergy at this time: Charles S. Nye preaches at Harvest evensong, and J.S. Tilston at solemn evensong on the eve of St Faith’s Day. The Day itself (Thursday October 6th) is marked by low masses at 7,8, and 10.30 am, with 29, 19 and 18 respectively communicating. The following Sunday (‘in the Octave’) saw Thomas.F. Robinson preaching at evensong: he was last seen at the Mothers’ Union service in May.
All Saints’ Day evensong featured ‘Vespers of the Dead (Mrs E.Smith – Funeral 2pm)’. Remembrance Day (Sunday November 13th) raised £3.15.0 retiring collection for ‘Earl Haighs Fund’ (sic). These momentous events apart, nothing stands out until Christmas, apart from there being no fewer than 28 communicants at one December Sung Mass - surely not all fasting? It is just possibly worth noting that Sundays are no longer red-letter days in the St Faith’s register; this distinction is granted to most, but not all, saints’ days.
And so to Christmas – colourfully emblazoned with a nice little pen and ink drawing. It is scarcely worth noting that the banner has one terminal ‘s’ but the service entries have two for the feast. Far more important to note the presence of 340 communicants at the midnight and another 86 on the day, totalling a respectable 426. Evensong is said at 4 pm, then for the last few days of the year, times but no descriptions of the daily services, nor indeed dates, are inscribed, making it tricky trying to work out what happened when. It’s all in red, apart from a squeezed-in black entry for Vespers of the Dead at 6.15 pm on the feast of the Holy Innocents. It was for a Miss C. Fry.
The year is done, and a full page proclaims 1960 Total Communicants 8,629: scarcely down on 1959's total.. For the record, totals over the preceding decade were
The figures tell an encouraging story. The ten
years tabulated saw an increase of just over 20% and are
an impressive tribute to the devoted work of the clergy.
After taking two instalments of this saga to cover one year, we should at least dip a toe into the water of 1961. At a cursory glance, the dedicated parade of Sunday and weekday worship continues in unbroken succession. Jumping ahead to the closing pages of 1961 and 1962, however, reveals a significant falling off of numbers, and the likelihood that 1959 and 1960 will prove to be the highest points of a century of worship at St Faith’s. Watch this space.
Episode 47 1961: Numbers going down
The New Year starts quietly and uneventfully. January 1st, a Sunday, is flagged up as ‘New Year’s Day – Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord’. There only 50 8.00 am communicants, the ret doubtless sleeping it off, but 20, fasting or otherwise, took the sacrament at the 1030 am Sung Mass.
Epiphany, a weekday, was marked with said celebrations only, and the feast presumably honoured on the following Sunday. This latter day has a sad footnote inserted: ‘ pm Vespers of the Dead – John Holt aged 15 years.’ The marginal note for the following day reads ‘Funeral of Master John Holt’. (At what age would the term ‘master’ seem inappropriate, this writer wonders.)
W.H. takes nearly a fortnight off; during his absence T.S.S. On January he insert in the ‘remarks’ column on successive lines ‘Vespers of Dead’ ‘Requiem’ ‘Funeral of ‘Carrie’ Goodwin’. In the weeks that follow, the early Sunday mass more than once dips below the 50 mark, but the steady procession of daily masses and evensongs is maintained. Charles Walker visits to preach on Sexagesima Sunday. And Ash Wednesday is well attended, with 109 at three celebrations. The Sundays in Lent see the 100 mark topped more than once, and decipherable signatures include Reginald B Parker and C.S.Urwin (long time no see for the latter)
Mothering Sunday features a 6.30 pm entry of Confirmation, and the familiar signature of Clifford Liverpool, but no indication of attendances, candidates or even collection. Also of interest is the provision throughout Lent of a Saturday 9.00 am Children’s Mass. Recorded numbers show a handful of adult communicants and some twenty or so children attending.
On Passion Sunday there were a healthy 132 early communicants, but only 72 on Palm Sunday. The first four days of Holy Week saw 4 daily services, ending at 8 pm on Maundy Thursday with the distinctively entitled ‘The Lord’s Supper’ (‘sung’, says the marginal note). Good Friday has R.Lancaster for the Three Hours, and Litany and Table Prayers (a new one, this) on Holy Saturday morning. That evening there was Blessing of the Paschal Candle + Festal Evensong – but no attendance details, and of course no masses on these two days.
Easter Day, 2nd April and the week following receive striking emblazoned lettering and lots of re. Communicants on the day totalled 370. The rd pen seems to have run dry on Easter 2 with only faintly pencilled flagging up of the day, although Laurence Washington signs in for evensong.
Little or nothing disturbs the even tenor of subsequent weeks or even months until your diligent page turner notice that W.H’s initials are absent between July 19th and August 16th – apart, that is, from the vicar’s writing recording for Saturday August 12th ‘Scouts to Camp – All Scouts Present at The Mass.’ Not long after, on Sunday September 4th, Fr Hassall appends marginal notes: ‘The Senior Cubs were in camp + 4 leaders. Celebrant W.H’ - and on the following line ‘8 communicants in Camp’. On the same day George Houldin, Lay Reader signs in as preacher at evensong.
After so many occurrences of the distinctive initials of T.S.S., it comes almost as a surprise to read, following his last signing in for preaching at evensong on October 1st, the legend ‘Presentation for Fr Stanage in Church Hall after Evensong - £57.10.6.’ The total church collections for the rest of the week ending that day came to £42.12.11 – a clear token of the esteem in which Tom Stanage was held.
Henceforth, and for many months to come, the indefatigable Fr Hassall shoulders the considerable burden of the great majority of Sunday and weekday services (some 15 per week) with help from a few visitors from time to time.
Dipping in and out of the rest of the year, Remembrance Day’s 10.45 service is logged as Sermon, followed by a Solemn Requiem. The unusual sequence will probably have been to accommodate the two minutes’ silence at 11.00 am. The signatures of Messrs Cawley, Bates and Houldin feature regularly in support of the vicar as Advent comes and goes.
The fourth Sunday in Advent fell on December 23rd, so it is no surprise to see a mere 38 communicants at 8.00 am. Things were far better over the actual Christmass (sic) celebrations:335 at the Midnight Mass, and a total for the day of 409 (cf 426 in 1960). The page is colourfully illustrated once more, and the vicar unusually appends three meteorological reports: one ‘foggy ‘ and two of ’snow’.
Here endeth 1961, with a recorded 8170 communicants (8629 in 1960) and £2472.18.11 total collections. The drop is marked, and the decline will continue for the next few years, despite the gallant efforts of clergy and readers. Peering a few years further into the future, however, and the arrival of Fr Charles Billington, a renaissance is in sight.
Episode 48 1962: 'The Old One Is Too Large'
The new year at St Faith’s began quietly, at least as far as the service registers are concerned. Fr William Hassall soldiers on faithfully: he celebrates every eucharist until 25th January, and almost all the others in the days and weeks that followed. H. Cawley, Charles Walker and M.H Bates (this letter being Mansel Harry Bates of St Luke’s) help out, but it’s very much a one-man band into the spring.
Collections are still far more regularly logged
than anything else, although we learn that Sexagesima
Sunday was very cold. That Sunday saw 59 at the Low Mass
and 15 at the (still generally non-communicating) High
Mass; surrounding Sundays score about the same.
The weekday pattern is maintained: invariably a 10.30 eucharist on Mondays, no celebration on Tuesdays and Fridays, a 7.00 am on Wednesdays, an 8.00 am on Thursdays and a 9.00 am on Saturdays. Attendances at this stage are in low single figures, although the Monday mass sometimes makes double figures. Weekday evensong is now for a while held at the earlier time of 4.00 pm.
There are a total of 88 communicants on Ash Wednesday, despite a ‘bitter E wind’ Friday eucharists reappear as Lent begins, and B. R (Basil) Howell, vicar of St Nicholas, Blundellsands, signs in to preach in March.
During Lent, attendances pick up. The Lent
leaflet for 1962 has survived, saving your scribe the
task of deciphering initials and marginal notes. It
details a full schedule of daily celebrations, with the
Friday 7.00 am reinstated, and Compline fitted in on
Wednesday evenings. In addition to the vicar, Rev H.
Cawley features regularly, with appearances by Canon
Lindsay, The Archdeacon of Liverpool (Hubert Wilkinson),
the Chancellor of Liverpool Cathedral (Canon Naylor) and
the Dean of Liverpool (F.W.Dillistone) – an impressive
Mothering Sunday sees a distinctive act of
worship at 3.00 pm: ‘Clipping of the Church, Blessing
and Distribution of Flowers to Parents’. More
distribution features on Palm Sunday at the Sung Mass,
and there had been a healthy 130 communicants at the
Moving on to Maundy Thursday, an 8.00 pm
eucharist, billed as The Lord’s Supper, is attended by
75 folk, and is written up in red after weeks of
monochrome logging of services. The Good Friday Three
Hours’ Devotion is led by Canon Ellis, and the following
day is boldly marked as Holy Saturday and recorded as
Blessing of New Fire and Paschal Candle (though probably
not outside church as in recent years?) and Festal
Evensong. The leaflet has ‘Procession’ as well.
Eater Day is headlined in striking Gothic
lettering in a fetching shade of green. It attracts 326
communicants over three celebrations, with a possible
record 45 of them at the Sung Mass (either a lot of very
late breakfasts or further erosion of the fasting
In an attempt to move things along, your scribe
nearly missed three days at the end of May, annotated as
‘Vicar away’ when seven or more weekday services were
not manned. In following weeks the registers more than
once feature crossings out, seemingly random use of red
and black pens and entries in different writing and
spacing. On August 11th ‘Scouts go to camp at
From 13th August to 8th
September, W.H. is absent: during that time weekday
eucharists are pruned to the 10.30 on Mondays and an
8.00 am on Thursdays – a hitherto unprecedented
occurrence. With Fr Hassall’s return, the Wednesday
celebration is reinstated. Further aberrations appear:
large unused spaces on two successive pages leading up
to the Patronal Festival Octave are left blank, possibly
due to the absence of the regular calligrapher.
The services thus unheralded are modestly
attended: 32 communicants on the Day itself (a Saturday)
and only 58 at the 8.00 am the following day. The next
item of interest occurs on Trinity 18 (21st
October), when a small newspaper cutting of the services
for the day has the unusual combination of Children’s
Instruction and Baptism at 3.00 pm and, at 6.30 pm,
Evensong with Organ Recital by Mr E (Ernest) Pratt,
A.R.C.O.; solo Mr Peter Howarth. As ever there is no
The pages turn and lo! The vicar has pasted in
substantial illustrated cuttings from The Liverpool Echo
and Evening Express of Thursday, October 4th.
The bold heading reads ‘VICARAGE FOR ST FAITH’S,
CROSBY’’ the entertaining sub-heading is ‘Old One Is Too
Large’. The column of text explains that the old
vicarage is indeed too large and old-fashioned and,
according to the Diocese would cost up to £3,000 to make
fit for purpose.
An appeal has been launched and ‘On Saturday,
officials of the church and the vicar. will sit at the
porch of the church to accept donations.’ The new
vicarage will cost £8,080 (which Google says would be
about £173,000 today), but diocesan grants, fund-raising
activities already under way and the sale of the old
vicarage (a possible £3,500) will leave the parish with
some £3,200 to raise.
There is a photo of Fr /3Hassall opening daily
donations and an artist’s impression of the proposed new
building – which is substantially the edifice we have
Whether this archive was intended to occupy one
of those empty spaces noted earlier we may never know
(or care, do I hear you say?) but, anomalous though the
habit of pasting press cuttings in an official church
service register may seem, the indefatigable vicar,
suffering as he was from ill-health, deserves much
praise for leaving this record and, of course, far more
for his sterling campaign to secure for us the vicarage
we have today.
49 1962/3: Heavy Reading
We left this continuing saga with the discovery of newspaper
cuttings trumpeting the success of the appeal for new
vicarage for St Faith’s. Back in the soothing routine of
daily worship, communicant figures and, of course, generated
income, we scan the entries from late October 1962 onwards.
Fr William Hassall, devoted as ever and unaided by any
priestly presence, other than the occasional but regular
presence of Fr Cawley, presides throughout.
On weekdays, there is as before Low Mass at 10.30 am on Mondays, 7.00 am on Wednesdays, 8.00 am on Thursdays and 9.00 am on Saturdays. Nothing happens publicly on Tuesdays or Fridays unless either happens to be a red-letter day. A study of non-special weeks between November and Christmas yields average of 15 for Mondays, for Wednesdays, 6 for Thursday and 5 for Saturdays.The normal Sunday offers Low Mass at 8.00 am, Mattins at 10.00 am, Sung Mass at 10.45 am, Children’s Instruction at 3.00 pm and Evensong at 6.30 pm. For these two months, the early service averaged 60, with a peak of 95, while the Sung Mass saw an average of 21.
There were 286 communicants at the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass, and 61 at 8.00, celebrated by Canon Naylor. The December weather was obviously worth recording: once it was ‘biterly (sic) cold with snow at first’, later it was ‘very cold’, while, fittingly, on the Feast of Stephen Good King Wenceslas would have looked out on ’snow’! The year ended with yet ‘more snow’, and a total of communicants for the year of 7,263. This is well down from the record of 8663 in 1959.
1963 opens with five days when no worship is recorded; the register jumps from 31st December, 2017 to 6th January, when Epiphany Sunday is celebrated. Laurence, Bishop 9
of Warrington, presides at the Sung Mass, and at 3.00 pm there is a ‘Gift Service’. Canon Bates took the service the next day, with but three present; thereafter there is another gap until the following Sunday, when Fr Hassall makes his first appearance of 1963. Meteorological observations are quite plentiful around this time, with low temperatures and a lot of dense fog around. Despite this, Bishop Clifford Martin found his way to preside at the Sung Mass that same Sunday.
Fr Hassall, whose continuing poor health will have accounted for the gaps mentioned above, signs back in now, but without a curate and relying on faithful friends priestly and episcopal as he is, it is no surprise that weekday celebrations are cut back. For a few weeks there are Monday and Thursday services only, but soon Saturday (at 9.00 am) is restored. Communicant numbers are smaller, not helped by the weather, which is recorded variously as ‘severe snowstorm’, ‘deep snow’ and, on February 2nd an all but indecipherable recording of ‘blizzard all day’.
On Sexagesima Sunday at 4.30 pm there is an organ recital, raising £3.1s.0d for the new vicarage fund. The weeks roll on into Lent, which sees the provision of two Wednesday services: a 7.00 am Low Mass and an 8.00 pm Compline, taken by faithful Lay Reader George Houldin.
The even tenor of the weeks and days is broken on Wednesday 13th March by large and colourful calligraphy proclaiming CONFIRMATION BY THE LORD BISHOP OF LIVERPOOL AT 7.30 PM. Bishop Clifford’s signature is clear enough, but two supporting clerics remain unidentifiable. Likewise there is no mention of the candidates or the attendance figures, merely the collection of £9.19s 0d for the Bishop’s Building Fund. The page was clearly adorned some days before the event, as Fr Hassall has to shoehorn in the routine weekday services above and below the banners!
The following Sunday £6.6s.0d is garnered in a retiring collection for the ‘Mayor’s Hunger Campaign’: surely enough to keep him fed for a goodly time. Soon it is Mothering Sunday and the Clipping of the Church’ as Holy Week is upon us. Unannounced, the small signature of ‘Edward S.S.F.’ heralds the arrival of the Franciscan monk who is to take services throughout the Week: these include the ‘Pageant of the Sacraments’ on the Wednesday, ‘The Lord’s Supper’, with 83 communicants, on Maundy Thursday evening, and finally the Good Friday Three Hours’ Devotion.
Easter Eve has Solemn Evensong with Blessing of the Paschal Candle and Procession. No mention of attendance of course, but a cryptic marginal note says ‘E.O. Your scribe can only assume that was shorthand for Easter Offering, whereby Easter collections were traditionally given to the incumbent. If so, this represents a rare omission in the continuous sequence of incoming monies.
There were 296 communicants in all on Easter Day. The usual big red banner heading precedes a sequence of 14 services up to Low Sunday Solemn Evensong, all but one taken by the indefatigable ‘W.H.’ He will have been happy to have presided over the Low Sunday afternoon Crosby and District Scouts Annual S. George’s Day Service and Parade, and to have Bishop Laurence addressing the troops. And the vicar’s Paschal diligence is finally evidenced by a list of 17 parishioners whom he has visited to give sick communion. Perhaps we deserve a break now, and can skip a few weeks and months until the closing of the year. Not that Fr Hassall did, for once more the pages record a now unbroken succession of the vicar’s initials. Should anyone feel deprived of archival detail, your scribe hastens to reassure you that little of special note breaks the surface during this time. There is a rare instance of a Nuptial Mass squeezed in on 20th July, when John Gerard’s marriage to Sylvia Newby is recorded: weddings are not otherwise logged in the service register. And on 24th September Bishop Clifford formally blesses the new vicarage, in the presence of local Reverends Cawley, Howell, Bates and Pakenham. Space is left for press cuttings, but none are attached this time. Suddenly, on 23rd December, 1963, entries cease, as there is but one leaf left in this weighty tome. The final service is the 10.30 Low Mass on that day, it being a Monday. Neither signature nor communicants is recorded, merely at the foot of the page a running total of 6124 communions made. Christmas, the year’s end and what 1964 reveals must wait until your chronicler staggers back from the church safe with the next lot of heavy reading. For the record, according to his bathroom scales, this book weighs in at 1 stone 5 lbs.
50 1963/4: William Hassall
the closing years
The last of the exceedingly weighty service register tomes bears the embossed cover ‘1963 –‘ but that year was almost done when the new book opened. The first entry is made below the still traditional emblazoned red banner CHRISTMASS 1963; it records 276 communicants at the usual 1.45 pm Blessing of the Crib and Midnight Mass, followed by 58 more at the next morning’s services.
1963 gives way almost unnoticed into 1964, with a small marginal note reading ‘Communicants for 1963 6465.’ – some 800 down on the 1962 total. On into a new year and the faithful W.H takes every service until M.H.Bates steps in for a weekday Low Mass on January 20th. although Lay Reader George Houldin preaches from time to time. A few days later there is the possibly unique occurrences of a Sunday (Quinquagesima) with services shown but neither signatures nor communicants recorded. Four days later W.H takes four services on Ash Wednesday, three of them morning Masses with a total of 87 communicants.
Fr Hassall also records the preacher at 10.45 on the first Sunday in Lent as being ‘The Archdeacon of Liverpool’, followed the next Sunday’s Evensong by ‘The Archdeacon of Liverpool’: neither worthy leaves a signature.
On into Lent, with eucharists on Monday at 10.30, Wednesday at 7 am, Thursday at 8 am and Saturday at 9 am. This last is transfigured into Sung Mass with Instruction for the season.
Holy Week sees Compline and Address from Monday to Wednesday, with D.G.Clawson officiating and George Houldin preaching. The Lord’s Supper eucharist on Maundy Thursday sees 75 communicants; then the Bishop of Warrington takes the Good Friday Three Hours. Easter Day communicants total 268.
Things go quiet for a few weeks now, the more rapid turning of page brought to a halt when your scribe notices a marginal note on Monday, June 10th ‘Requiem for JOHN BRIELEY, one time Vicar of S. Faith’s’ – a fitting memorial but an unfortunate mis-spelling of Canon Brierley’s name.
The steady flow of services continues, until mid-August. Various clergy (mainly D.C.Ellis actually) take all services between 20th August and 6th September, when Fr Hassall returns, whether from holiday or illness is unclear. There may be some connection with the marginal note the day after, which reads ‘Requiem for my father’.
In the run up to the Patronal Festival there are several weekdays with no services, while a marginal note on one such day reads ‘1 Holy Unction’ – the first recorded use, if my srchival memory serves me aright, of the phrase. The eve of St Faith’s Day, a Monday, sees Bishop Mark Way preaching at an 8.00 pm Solemn Evensong, while the day itself attracts only 32 communicants at early Low Masses.
The Sunday within the Octave has H.M.Luft, headmaster of Merchant Taylors’ School, preaching at the Sung Mass. The weeks that follow see him celebrating and preaching at a Sunday Sung Mass, while Paul Nichols makes several appearances. Advent leads into Christmass (still the invariable spelling), with 276 at the Midnight. The vicar resumed meteorological observations in Christmas week, when there is clearly a lot of snow about. Probably as a result, the attendances on the following Sunday, 27th December, register what is probably an all-time low, with just 18 at the 8 am and 4 communicating at the main service. There is a service on Holy Innocents (28th) and that’s it for the year, ending not with a bang but a whimper. Communicants for the year total 6049, down substantially again.
Thus ends the last full year of William Hassall’s long and ever faithful time at the helm. Rather than bewail the steady decline in attendances, it is surely better to laud the steadfast achievements of a priest who, against the odds and in failing health, gave so much to the church he clearly loved and helped to shape.
But he is still with us as 1964 becomes 1965: he will depart in October and an interregnum will pave the way for Fr Charles Alfred Billington and a whole new chapter in our story. Watch this space.
Back in 1965, we take up the story at the beginning of a momentous year: one which was to see the end of an incumbency and the countdown to something entirely different.
But the record of the opening months of the year look more like a continuing story, with Fr William Hassall , without the services of a curate, sustaining a full and demanding succession of eucharists. The first eight days of the new year, indeed, show him celebrating no fewer than 13 communion services.
Friday, January 1st (‘Circumcision’) had Low Masses at 7 and 8 in the morning, with 7 communicants between them. Two days later, on ‘Christmass 2’ there were 40 communicating at the early celebration and 35 at the Sung Mass with Procession. Three days later and W.H. provides three celebrations for Epiphany, with 28 communicants between them. Reverends M.H.Bates, Laurence Brown, Bishop of Warrington (twice) and D.C.Ellis preside for a few days, then we are back to Fr Hassall going solo for the rest of the month and into February, with the full Sunday provision and four weekdays masses (usually Monday at 10.30, Wednesday at 7, Thursday at 8 and Saturday at 9) following. The Sunday 8.am now averages somewhat under 40.
As Wednesday, celebrated amidst several seemingly snowy days, is now upon us , with 59 communicants at three eucharists. On the first Sunday of Lent, an indecipherable signature carries a rare annotation by Fr Hassall: ‘Dean of Liverpool’. Wikipedia provides the answer: it was Edward Patey.
Fr Hassall’s last Lent at St Faith’s maintains the full quota of services, with a few extra itmes. On the second Wednesday in Lent there is an evensong conducted by H.M. (Mark) Luft, with the annotation ‘Merchant Taylor’s Choir’. Your pedantic scribe notes that a new hand has been providing the register entries for a while (since Sexagesima, if anyone is interested) . This recorder is not strong on punctuation and spelling. The misplaced apostrophe in the name of the school is one example: a much more prominent one will follow in due course.
An assortment of preachers during Lent include Frank Hambrey, U.S.P.G., Derek Clawson, and ‘Christian, N.S.S.F’. Just before Holy Week the vicar notes a Requiem for Arthur Smith. During Holy Week there are 65 Maundy Thursday evening communicants, while H.Ellis addresses the faithful for the Good Friday Three Hours.
Easter Day, emblazoned in red, attracts 177 to the two early eucharists, and 55 (numbers still creeping up) at 10,45 . Thereafter the steady pattern resumes over the weeks and months, with a pause as your scribe notes that the feast on June 7th is described in a unique aberration as ‘Corpus Christe’.A regular preacher adn celebrant now is A.J.Osborne.
July 18th sees the first signing in of Nigel McCulloch, preaching at the Sung Mass; soon after ‘+Anthony Lancaster ‘ preaches while Mark Luft celebrates for the ‘M.T.S. service’. Moving on again, a inor landmark occurs on Harvest Thanksgiving, when the communicnants at 8.00 am are outnumbered by those at 10.45 (34 and 36 respectiely).
Sunday evensong on October 3rd has the annotation ‘Organ Recital SOLO’: the soloist is not identified. Then it is Patronal Festival once more, The services feature the reappearance of C.S.Urwin and B.R. (Basil) Howell in the pulpit, but relatively few at the celebrations within the octave.
The page turns and an era ends. Fr William Hassall’s final Sunday sees 60 at 8 and 40 at 10.45 . The following day he celebrates for the last time. It is All Saints’ Day; there are masses at 7.00 am (10 +1 communicants and celebrated by Bishop Laurence), 8.00 am (8+1, celebrated by Revd M.L.Bates) and finally 10.30 am (W.H. at the altar and 25+2 in the pews) Fr Dennis tells me that he was present at all three serces, which probably accounts for two of the non-communicants noted.
On the following day, Wednesday 3r November, 2018. There is the usual early celbratin at7.00 am receiving from the Bishop, but beneath the entry and spanning the page is a bold black banner reading END OF INCUMBACY of the REV W.HASSALL 31JAN 1948 NOV 1965.
The unmissable mis-spelling of #incumbency’ is a bizarre finale to the 18 years of William Hassall’s tenure of office at St Faith’s. This writer recalls the last few years of the ministry of a diligent priest: a man clearly in decline but faithful to the last. His name is of course engraved on the boards above the font, and on a plaque in the south choir stalls recording work in his memory on the organ above.
W/H/ was the last of the old school, maintaining and embellishing the traditions established in 1900 and thereafter. His successor’s story will be one of change and challenge, but as we end this chapter interregnum is upon us as St faith’s treads water and awaits an epiphany.
'The Story of St Faith's'