Project Canterbury

Consecration of St. Augustine's College, Canterbury.

From The Illustrated London News, July 8, 1848, pages 5-6.

Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown
Bishop of Malaita, Church of the Province of Melanesia, 2007



THE fine old City of Canterbury was, on Thursday week (the 29th ult.), the scene of an event of immediate interest to every member of the Christian community, as well as of prospective importance to far distant lands, whereon the spirit of our holy religion has not yet shed its beneficent light. Such was the consecration of the new College of St. Augustine, which has just been reared upon the site of the magnificent abbey dedicated by the piety of our ancestors to that Saint. The locality has been for ages hedged, as it were, with divinity. Twelve centuries and a half have rolled away since Augustine and his forty companions, nigh upon this very spot, met the incredulous King Ethelbert, chanting the Litany, and praying earnestly for the Divine blessing and protection:--

"For ever be this morning fair;
Blest be the unconscious shore on which ye tread,
And blest the silver cross which ye instead
Of martial banner in procession bear;
The Cross preceding Him who floats in air--
The pictured Saviour! By Augustine led,
They come; and onward travel without dread,
Chanting in barbarous ears a tuneful prayer.
Sung for themselves, and those whom they would free!
Rich conquest waits them. The tempestuous sea
Of ignorance that ran so rough and high,
And heeded not the voice of clashing swords,
Those good men humble by a few bare words,
And calm with fear of God's divinity."--Wordsworth.

The Abbey has flourished and fallen in this long interval; but its church is now the cathedral of Canterbury. Though the structure is of date long subsequent to the age of Augustine, it retains its original consecration; "and venerable as the fabric appears to the eye, it acquires a greater title to our respect, when we recollect how long the spot has been hallowed by the worship of the Lord." How auspicious, then, is such a site for the new foundation, seeking to become "a humble instrument in the hands of God and the Church for the encouragement of sound learning, for the promotion of religion, and for the dissemination of Christian truth." Such is the New College at Canterbury, devoted to the training and educating of clergy for missionaries in the service of the Church of England, to the dependencies of the British Empire.

The institution, which is incorporated by Royal Charter, is founded on the general plan of the universities. It will be governed by a warden and a subwarden, who is to be a master of arts in priest's orders; and there are to be six fellows, to whom will be entrusted, under the superintendence of the warden, the instruction and tuition of the students. The officers of the college are all to be appointed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and the Bishop of London, for the time being; and with those bishops, selection and appointment will exclusively rest. The office of visitor will appertain to the Archbishop of Canterbury for the time being.

The candidates for admission into the College will not, under ordinary circumstances, be eligible under eighteen, nor above twenty-two years of age; and they must belong to the Church of England, show certificates of their religious and moral character, and will be subjected to an examination previous to being [5/6] admitted. The course of instruction will be completed in three years, and the expense to each student will not exceed £35 per annum.

The spot in the city of Canterbury appropriated to the College is the site of the once famous Monastery of St. Augustine; and the only remaining portion of the monastic buildings, the beautiful entrance gateway, has been with great taste and judgment brought into the plan of the College as its entrance. In our first view of the College, this fine specimen of ancient architecture is a prominent object, its embattled towers and exquisite ornaments rendering it a very striking feature. In this View also are shown portions of the dining-hall and kitchen, the chapel, and next to it the wardens' and fellows' apartments.

The buildings form a quadrangle in plan, and are of very interesting design. The walls are of flint, with coigns and dressings of rag-stone; and the style is the decorated of the fourteenth century.

Passing through the archway of the gate, to the left hand is a long range of buildings rising from a broad raised and paved walk. This line of building contains the apartments of the students, and is two stories in height, the roof tiled and crested with ridge-tiles. Two staircase turrets divide this pile of building into three portions; by the side of them are the doors of entrance into the edifice; and one of the towers is fitted up as a bell-tower. A portion of the lower story of the long range serves for a cloister, and has windows of exceedingly good design and character. Into the cloister, which is 151 feet long, about twenty apartments for students open; and in the upper story above the cloister there are about thirty apartments more.

The apartments for the students are all alike in arrangement. They are each 15 feet by 8 feet 6 inches, and being divided by a partition, form two small rooms. The furniture consists of an iron bedstead, a neatly arranged fixed washhand-stand, a fixed table, having on one side drawers for clothes and on the other a drawer for writing materials, and above this table shelves for books are fastened to the wall; an elbow chair, and two others, complete, the furniture. The rooms are well ventilated. On the same level with the building containing the students' apartments, but at right angles with it, is the library, a very elegant pile, 78 feet in length by 39 feet wide. It stands upon ten pillars forming a crypt, with a centre and two side aisles of equal width, paved with red tiles; and this crypt it is intended to use as a museum. A flight of fifteen steps, in a porch lighted by four windows, forms the approach to the library. The apartment is a very noble one, and is lighted by thirteen windows, each divided by mullions and transoms into four lights, the arches having trefoiled heads, and trefoils filling the heads of the windows; the windows are ranged six on each side of the room, and a large one is at the north end; and this contains stained glass representing St. Peter, Paul, and Augustine.


Descending from the raised walk in front of the cloister and library, the chapel attracts attention, the entrance being beneath a porch by a flight of fifteen steps. At the head of the stairs is a very elegant window, containing a representation of Ethelbert in stained glass; and over the entrance is a corresponding window, having, in stained glass, the figure of Bertha, Ethelbert's Queen. The interior of the chapel is of admirable character, and has stalls and seats of oak. The stalls are sixty-four in number, with misericords. A litany stool is placed in the centre of the floor.

The windows, all containing stained glass, are of different designs. The east window displays figures of St. John the Baptist, St. Augustine, and St. Gregory, several subjects from Scripture; and, in five trefoils in the head of the window, are angels playing on different musical instruments. The south window has four prophets, and scriptural subjects in it; the north contains figures of the four Evangelists, besides subjects from Holy Writ; and the west window, which is lancet-headed, has thirteen subjects from the life of St. Peter and Paul, in it. The roof is open timber-work. The chapel is about 60 feet long, 17 feet 6 inches wide, and 30 feet high, with a crypt below it; and we must not omit mentioning, it is paved with red tiles of various patterns. The dining-hall is a very spacious apartment, being about 60 feet long by 30 feet wide.

The warder's house contains handsome dining and drawing-rooms, a study, and eight bedrooms, with offices. The warder is the Right Rev. Bishop Coleridge, and the sub-warder the Rev. Mr. Pearson.

The whole of the buildings have been designed and carried out by Mr. W. Butterfield, of Adam-street, Adelphi.

The site of the College was purchased and given by A. J. B. Hope, Esq., M.P. for Maidstone; and, in addition to presenting a very large donation to the general fund, the same gentleman has most munificently defrayed the entire cost of erecting the chapel.

One of our representations of the College shows the entrance gateway, as we before mentioned; another, the interior of the quadrangle, displaying the long range of building in which are the cloisters and apartments for the students, the library, &c., and a massive and picturesquely designed well or conduit in the centre of the quadrangle, the gift of J. C. Thorpe, Esq.; the third gives the interior of the cloisters; and for the initial letter we have employed the handle to the bell at the entrance-gate.

The ceremony of consecrating the new institution took place on Thursday week; when there was present a very large assemblage of the dignitaries of the Church and of the inferior Clergy, besides many ladies and gentlemen, who, as members of the Church, evinced a laudable anxiety for her prosperity.

His Grace the Lord Primate arrived by an early railway train. Amongst the nobility, clergy, and gentry present were the Bishop of London, Oxford, Brechin, Lichfield, Fredericton; the Deans of Canterbury, Hereford, Chichester; Archdeacons Thorpe, Manning, Harrison, Merriman; the Warden of Winchester College; the Rev. Dr. Jelf, Principal of King's College, London; Doctors Mill, Vaughan, Moberly, Dodsworth, Wordsworth, Russell, Spry; the Reverends Lord J. Thynne; Lord C. Thynne, J. B. Murray, G. Wallace, R. Eden, T. Bowdler, W. J. Cheshere, J. Mills, T. L. Claughton, Ernest Hawkins, F. Faithful, T. Bloomfield, W. Vallance; the Earl of Powis, Earl Nelson; Alexander Beresford Hope, Esq., the founder; Mr. Justice Patteson, Mr. Justice Coleridge, Baron Alderson; W. Forbes, Esq.; C. Fullen, Esq.; H. Bowden, Esq.; G. Gipps, &c.

At eight o'clock the Archbishop of Canterbury, attended by the Bishops and the clergy, proceeded to the College Chapel, where the ceremony of consecration was gone through.

The time thus consumed rendered it necessary to postpone the commencement of the usual morning service in the Cathedral until half-past eleven o'clock, when the doors were opened, and every part of the sacred edifice was simultaneously filled.

At the conclusion of the service the Archbishop left the throne, and preceded by the vergers and clergy, entered the pulpit. His Grace selected for his text Ephesians, iii. 10, "To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known, by the Church, the manifold wisdom of God"

The Archbishop divided the discourse into three parts: first, the meaning of the manifold wisdom of God; secondly, his Grace illustrated the proposition by referring to that spiritual regeneration which arises from the paternal supervision of God over his creatures; and, thirdly, he showed that the Church was the medium through which that spiritual regeneration was administered and maintained.

At the close of his eloquent discourse, the Archbishop said--" Persons brought up at this institution, like the Apostles of old, will go forth with the authority of the Church, and with a zeal becoming their high mission. They will carry the Word of God to the heathen. The occasion reminded him of that passage in our history when, in commiseration of the natives of this island, England was relieved from heathen darkness by those pious and holy men, who, braving every difficulty, fearlessly made their way to these shores. The building then appropriated to the worship of the true God was once more, by an act of munificence that deserved imitation, raised from its ashes." The Archbishop said that those who then heard him had but a comparatively easy duty to perform, namely, to complete the work that had been so munificently begun. The Lord Primate concluded his discourse by enforcing upon the congregation the duties incumbent upon them as members of the Church, in furtherance of the objects of so noble an institution.--The offerings realised I upwards of £900.

After the services, an elegant luncheon was served to a large number of invited guests, in the crypt and cloisters of the new college. The repast was served with great taste by Messrs. Bathe and Breach, of the London Tavern. During the afternoon, the visitors promenaded within the precincts of the College until the special railway train was in readiness to convey a great number of them to town.

Thus terminated an event memorable as the commencement of a great work, which, by the blessing of Providence, will prove of inestimable value in many an age long to come.


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