S. Mary's, Cardiff
The town of Cardiff was built, it is said, in 1087. In 1102 there was only one parish church in Cardiff, and that was the old Parish Church of S. Mary's. This church seems to have been the mother church of all the churches in the neighbourhood of Cardiff, for in 1146 we find the following conventual chapels in existence, all being subservient to S. Mary's--namely, S. John's, S. Thomas's, 1 S. Denys's of Kibur, 2 Raht, 3 Lifferium, 4 S. Edern, 5 Llanboida. 6 As time went on the burgesses built their walls round the town, and S. John's became a separate parish, Cardiff.
[1 This chapel appears to have been one structurally with the parish church. 2 Llanishen. 3 Roath. 4 (?) Lisvane. 5 Llaneilarne. 6 Lanbordan. (Rev. C. A. H. Green's "Notes on Churches in the Diocese of Llandaff.")]
Cardiff (says Mr. Green, the Vicar of Aberdare) had only one parish church until the fifteenth century. When did the Priory of Cardiff finally disappear? and when did S. John's Chapel become a distinct parish? Was it about A.D. 1473, when the present tower of S. John's Church was erected?
The record of A.D. 1563 says:
The Town of Cardiff hath a Parish Church called S. Mary's, with a chapel annexed to the same in the said town, called S. John's, which hath christening and burial as the Parish Church hath.
In 1535, however, both are spoken of as vicarages--i.e. the Parish Church of Cardiff, S. John the Baptist, and the Parish Church of Blessed Mary, of Cardiff. In 1603 mention is made of Cardiff Vicarage, S. John's, and S. Mary's.
Among the prominent Nonconformist ministers mentioned in 1034 occur the names of William Erbery, Vicar of S. Mary's, Cardiff, and his curate, Walter Cradock, both young men at that time, the latter, in the opinion of Bishop Murray of Llandaff, "a bold, ignorant young fellow." Erbery resigned his living and Cradock became a Separatist. Note that as ministers at S. Mary's they were Nonconformists, and that afterwards they were Dissenters.
In Spede's map of Cardiff there are represented two churches, one, S. John's, toward the north, and another, a cruciform church, situate in S. Mary Street, and close by the River Taff. This was the mother church of Cardiff. S. Mary's parish, as a parish, can be traced back to the eleventh century, when it was connected with Tewkesbury Abbey, and is mentioned in an old writing as a church "of some religion." In connection with this statement an amusing mistake occurred in a letter written to The Western Mail by one of Father Jones's opponents at the time; not knowing that the term "religion" was used as synonymous with a religious order, he observed that even then it was doubtful whether S. Mary's was a Christian church or not, as it was described as "of some religion." The Church of S. Mary depicted by Spede was destroyed by a flood, through the overflowing of the river Taff, on Jan. 20, 1607. The disaster has been commemorated by two poets, Wordsworth and Montgomery, who have thus written--Wordsworth in a poem, dated Rydal Mount, Jan. 23, 1842:
When Severn's sweeping flood had overthrown
S. Mary's Church, the preacher then would cry:
"Thus, Christian people, God His might hath shown,
That ye to Him your love may testify.
Haste and rebuild the pile." But not a stone
Resumed its place. Age after age went by,
And Heaven still lacked its due; though Piety
In secret did, we trust, her loss bemoan.
But now her spirit has put forth its claim,
In Power, and poetry would lend her voice.
Let the new work be worthy of its aim,
That in its beauty Cardiff may rejoice!
Oh, in the past if cause there was for shame,
Let not our times be halting in their better choice.
Montgomery composed a long poem specially for the appeal that was put out at the time; in this he writes:
"Nine generations in their haste have passed
Where stood that Church of old."
Here stood a Church, a House of God--
An earthly temple built with stones.
Its courts our fathers' footsteps trod:
Its graves received our fathers' bones.
The hymn of praise, the voice of prayer,
The gospel trumpet sounded there;
And ransomed spirits in heaven's bliss
May round the throne remember this.
But earthly temples must decay,
By slow or swift destruction fall;
And time or tide will wear away
The stateliest tower, the strongest wall:
Here both conspired, in one dark hour
To sap the wall, bring clown the tower!
To storm the sanctuary and sweep
Its very ruins to the deep.
The appeal above referred to mentions the town of Cardiff of that date, 1840, as consisting of "two parishes having a population of above 10,000, with only one church, capable of containing not less than 1,200. The parish of S. Mary's, with a population of nearly 6,000, has got no church."
In the year 1872, when Father Jones became Vicar, the population of S. Mary's was over 20,000. For more than two hundred years, then, it would seem that no efforts were made to rebuild S. Mary's Church, and probably up to the beginning of the nineteenth century the population of Cardiff had the one church, S. John's, as sufficient for its needs. The Vicar of S. John's served also S. Mary's, though the continuity of S. Mary's as a parish was kept up by the appointment of separate churchwardens for S. Mary's as well as for S. John's. The population having, however, considerably increased through the opening of Cardiff Docks, and especially in the neighbourhood of the Docks, it was considered necessary to build a church for S. Mary's parish in that part of Cardiff, and at some considerable distance both from S. John's and from the old site of S. Mary's Church. It is situated in Bute Street, the main approach to the harbour, and between the West Dock and the Glamorgan Canal, and almost entirely among a seafaring class. Dr. Neale, in his diary of the year 1843, notes of July 25, "a day much to be remembered." It would seem that Dr. Neale held S. James's Day memorable because on that day a Dedication Festival was observed at S. James's, Enfield, after the neglect of such festivals for two centuries--at all events, he regarded it as the first revival of this now familiar festival. We mention this because one of the many kinds of opposition that Father Jones had to meet with arose from his revival of the Patronal Festival of S. Mary's, or, as we termed it at that time, the Dedication Festival: in after years we kept as a festival both our Patronal Festival, on the day of the Nativity of the B.V.M., Sept. 8, and our Dedication Festival, on the day on which the present church was dedicated, i.e. Nov. 6. Most inflammatory articles were put out by the anti-Church press headed "Mariolatry at S. Mary's," and two of the preachers who had promised to preach were inhibited by the Bishop of Llandaff--Father Stanton of S. Alban's, Holborn, an Father Ives, at that time Curate-in-charge of the Church of the Holy Nativity, Knowle. There was no comment made on these pin-pricks in the account given in the Parish Magazine beyond the following notice: "It is unnecessary to dwell upon the sad disappointment we experienced at being prevented from hearing two of those who were to have preached. Silence speaks sometimes, and perhaps their silence may remind us of this, that God's House is a House of Prayer rather than of preaching; and God, Whose hand directed in this as in all other cases, may mean to show us that He does not expect His faithful ones always to look for the edification of self when they would offer their special praises and supplications to Him." We well remember, though, the indignant way in which the then Vicar of Roath, Father Puller, commented on the unfair suspicions stirred up against the Vicar of S. Mary's for having a festival similar to one held yearly at Llandaff Cathedral on S. Peter's Day. "I suppose," he said, "the Dean and Chapter might as reasonably be charged with Petrolatry as Mr. Jones of Mariolatry."
The present Bishop of Lincoln, Dr. King, has advised the observance of the Parish Festival as a way to interest people in their parish churches, and in most dioceses now special Psalms and Lessons are authorized for such festivals. S. Mary's Parish Festivals certainly did help very much to make the people realize their oneness as a parish. They were not only celebrated with special services, but also marked by some social entertainment. On more than one occasion a kind of exhibition was held, as e.g. in 1887, described in the Parish Magazine as an Exhibition of Ecclesiastical Art at which were shown:
Vestments mostly from our parish church and mission chapel, and some lent from other parishes; pictures borrowed from the Vicar and other clergy and laity; church plate belonging to the parish and the clergy; various books with illustrations and illuminations; some beautiful ivory crucifixes lent by Mr. Spiridion, and silver Apostles' spoons belonging to Mr. Cubitt of New House. Our Processional Cross was also exhibited.
This was a Cross lately given by Mr. Aubrey Vivian of Singleton Abbey. It was an old Italian silver-gilt one bearing the figure of the Crucified with medallions at each end of the Cross representing S. Mary and S. John on the right and left, the Magdalen beneath, and the Pelican above, while at the back of the Cross are the emblems of the four Evangelists, the lion, the man, the ox, and the eagle, the whole being richly embossed and adorned with precious stones. The year 1883 was kept as the Jubilee Year of S. Mary's, the church having been used for Divine Service for the first time on Dec. 14, 1843, though it was not dedicated till two years after, i.e. Nov. 6, 1845. At every great festival, from Easter to the Dedication Festival, some special observance marked the Jubilee Year. On Easter Day the opportunity was taken of its being the Vicar's twenty-first Eastertide at S. Mary's to present him with an address in which reference was made to the Jubilee of S. Mary's; it was presented to him by the churchwardens at the close of the High Mass, and ran thus:
REV. AND DEAR SIR,
We, on behalf of the parishioners and worshippers of S. Mary's, S. Michael's, and S. Dyfrig's Churches, desire to take the opportunity of congratulating you on the completion of the twenty-first year of your pastorate in the parish, more especially as it coincides with the commencement of the festivities with which it is intended to celebrate the jubilee of the opening of the church which replaces the most ancient parish church in Cardiff. We desire in presenting the address to express our great love and esteem for you, our admiration of your personal character, and our hearty appreciation of the services you have rendered to the Catholic Church especially in our parish. We trust you may be long spared under God's blessing to be our Pastor, and assuring you of our continued love and duty, We remain yours faithfully,
Edwin Dobbin, Henry J. Thatcher, Churchwardens.
On the Wednesday in Master Week a luncheon was given by the Jubilee Committee to the Vicar, at which Sir Edward Hill presided, and among those present were Canon Roberts, who had before succeeded him at Llanegryn, the Vicars of S. John, Roath, Merthyr, Llangan, and Peterstone, and three former curates, Mr. Leeds, Vicar of S. George, Mr. Rees, Vicar of Pontlottyn, and Mr. Lewis. Of these three, Mr. Leeds was shortly after killed by a fall while riding, the two others met again twelve years later at their old Vicar's funeral.
At Whitsun of that year the Jubilee was marked by a procession of the Sunday schools of the parish; the schools met at the west end of S. Mary's Church and, preceded by a military band and the cross-bearers of S. Mary's, made the round of the church singing what we called the Jubilee Hymn, a hymn from "Hymns Ancient and Modern," with a special verse appropriate to the circumstances under which S. Mary's Church had been built. At the Dedication Festival in November the sermon on the Sunday evening in the Octave was preached by the Bishop of Bangor: it was mentioned as a happy circumstance inasmuch as Bishop Lloyd's predecessor, Dr. Campbell, was the first Priest-in-charge of S. Mary's when it was first opened. Dr. Campbell was alive at the time of our Jubilee, though he had been succeeded on his resignation three years before by Dr. Lloyd. Dr. Campbell was the first bishop to hold a Diocesan Conference; he spoke of himself at the Swansea Church Congress in 1879 as "having been President of the oldest of all the Diocesan Conferences in existence in our Church." The Jubilee was also made an occasion for inviting the Mayor and Corporation and other Societies to attend S. Mary's, and through the zeal and energy of Mr. Councillor Veall, Secretary of the Jubilee Committee, a very imposing procession was organized from the Town Flail to the church on Sunday afternoon, when a special service was held.
Wordsworth in his poem about the destruction of old S. Mary's, calls on the parishioners to build a church so that in its beauty Cardiff may rejoice. Neither externally nor internally could the Church of S. Mary's which was built call forth any rejoicing in its beauty. It is very unsightly from an architectural point of view, and its arrangements internally make it quite unfit for church worship; it was arranged as for a preaching-house, a small square table doing duty for the Altar, within an apse and completely hidden by a huge three-decker pulpit, with galleries three sides of the church, and unsightly pews, the pulpit towering high above the galleries. Shortly before Mr. Jones became Vicar, one of the decks, the clerk's desk, had been removed, and before 1874 the reading-desk was taken away to another part of the church, so that there remained only the pulpit part, having the appearance of a tall tower erected on four arches, obscuring the view of the Altar; it was under these arches we were able to approach the Altar. From the first the Vicar proposed to alter this arrangement, and moved for a faculty to lower the pulpit, to put it one side and bring the organ from the west gallery nearer to the scats \\here the choristers sat. This proved the signal to his opponents for the most violent opposition and attacks. It was, however, by no means the case that he was in a hurry to introduce an advanced Ritual. For some years the black gown was used in the pulpit. Surplice and black stole were worn at the Altar. Candles were lighted at the celebration of the Eucharist, but were removed immediately after. There was, however, a daily Mass almost from the beginning of his incumbency at S. Mary's. It was noted in an article published in The Western Mail, April 11, 1900:
The Parish of S. Mary's is one of those which have undergone a revolution in matters spiritual. Twenty-eight years ago it may be said to have been a stronghold of Evangelicalism, with Canon Leigh Morgan as Vicar. When Father Jones came, he soon convinced the parishioners that he lived at the opposite pole in doctrine and practice. The Cardiff people until then had only known Catholic usages and practices by hearsay, but in Father Jones they had a man who was "an out-and-out Ritualist," a "Puseyite," a "Popish priest in disguise." There were lively times at S. Mary's then. The air was charged with electricity. A spark would have set the whole place on fire. The conflict was terrible at times. The church was often more like a bear-garden or a Donnybrook fair than a place of worship. But Father Jones is a man of tenacity of purpose, and as cool as a block of ice from the North Pole under fire. He was the only calm figure amid the uproar and strife. He bore all the obloquy and the abuse poured upon him with Christian meekness and patience, and introduced innovations as if no opposition existed. He carried his point, but his policy denuded S. Mary's of its congregation. "What better are you of persisting in your work?" one man observed to Father Jones at an early stage of the struggle for Anglo-Catholicism; "you will lose all your congregation." "That may be the case," quietly replied the Father, "but I will get the children." And he got them. The congregation of S. Mary's to-day is composed of the children and grandchildren of those Churchmen and Churchwomen who reviled and buffeted Father Jones a quarter of a century ago.
This account on the whole is true, but it is a mistake to represent the church itself as having at any time been the scene of disorder or like a beargarden. That was the case at the Easter Vestries, especially those which were concerned with the question of removing the pulpit. Amid the row, however, that went on Father Jones never once lost his temper or forgot the dignity of his position, while occasionally saying something that turned the tables against his opponents. In the Vestry Room that was also used for Parish Council Meetings and Sunday school, there had been placed some coloured pictures published by the S.P.C.K., and over the fireplace a print of the Crucifixion. These were made a charge of Ritualism, and the Vicar agreed to the picture of the Crucifixion being for the time removed, as he said they did not deem themselves worthy to look upon it. One of his clergy, the Rev. W. H. Kirby, who was with him almost from the earliest days at S. Mary's, writes as follows:
I first made the acquaintance of the Rev. G. A. Jones--Father Jones, or Father Arthur, as his friends loved to call him--in the Lent of 1872, just after he had left his beloved parish of Llanegryn in Merionethshire, of which he had been incumbent since 1857, to become the vicar of the great unwieldy parish of S. Mary's, Cardiff, with its population of 25,000 of all conditions and nationalities. He had won the hearts of the village-folk at Llanegiyn--warm-hearted Welshmen like himself, and had done much to make Catholic teaching and practice acceptable to them; his departure from this congenial home was lamented by all his parishioners, Dissenters and their minister vicing with Churchmen to show their esteem and regret when he had decided to leave them. Hut the offer of S. Mary's, Cardiff, made by the Rev. Canon Jenkins and the Rev. W. H. Cleaver, the trustees of the Marquis of Bute's livings, came to him as a call from God to a wider and far more difficult sphere of work which he forthwith responded to, succeeding the Rev. Canon Morgan, who had held S. Mary's, Cardiff, and S. Margaret's, Roath, jointly for many years. After spending; a day or two with him at 52, Loudoun Square, which with the adjoining house afterwards became the Clergy House, I decided to come and work with him, first as a layman, being subsequently ordained deacon in September 1872, and priest in September 1873, in Llandaff Cathedral, by Bishop Ollivant. I joined Father Jones at Cardiff soon after Easter, and had as my special charge Temperance Town and some contiguous parts of the parish, where an upstairs room in a house in Park Street, No. 27, used in the daytime as a private school, formed the nucleus of what was known for a time as the Mission of the Good Shepherd, which afterwards developed into S. Dyfrig's Parish, being eventually cut off from S. Mary's of which it is a daughter church and parish. Canon Morgan's two curates left shortly after the coming of the new Vicar, and on the day after my arrival there the Rev. Charles Tuson, a deacon, joined us; a little later came the Rev. Arthur Gordon Stallard and his wife, who afterwards did such a wonderful work at the Church of S. Peter the Fisherman at Erixham, South Devon, and somewhat later still the staff was completed by the coming of the Rev. J. W. Ward, and Mr. Tuson was replaced by the Rev. E. A. Sankey.
In those early days the organ and the choir--a mixed one--were in the west gallery, a three-decker stood in the middle of the east end of the nave, and the congregation mostly entered the church by the two east doors and porches on each side of the sham apse which forms the sanctuary. For some time the black gown was still used in the pulpit, and prayer meetings continued to be held after Sunday evening service in the vestry room at the north-west corner of the churchyard; in fact, Mr. Jones tried his best to conciliate the people by retaining usages to which they were attached until they died a natural death. The prayer meetings were somewhat trying ordeals, as some of the extempore effusions were not conducive to devotion: on one occasion something or some one was compared to an "unthinking horse"; another time a person floundered hopelessly in a bog of words and ideas, and was driven to exclaim, "Thou knowest, Lord, what I do mean"; on most Sundays the conversion of the Vicar and clergy to the "pure Gospel" was prayed for.
It has been stated that bands of hooligans used to interrupt the services in church, but such was not the case; the only hooligans were respectable middle-aged and elderly men--"malcontents" we used to call them--who made a practice of causing all the annoyance and obstruction they could at vestry meetings, which happily were not held in the church, but in the vestry room before alluded to. But they found their match in the Vicar, who, with imperturbable good-humour, gave them sufficient rope wherewith to hang themselves--a feat they not infrequently accomplished. On one of these occasions, thinking to annoy the Vicar, a malcontent proposed that a notice-board should he put up in the churchyard inscribed with the following legend: "S. Mary's Junction. Change here for Rome," whereupon the Vicar calmly put the motion to the meeting, making the proposer an object of ridicule by thus "answering a fool according to his folly." But though the condition of things had its humorous side, it was very uphill and discouraging work, and the difficulties at times seemed well-nigh overwhelming; but our great stay and support was the daily-Eucharist which the Vicar established as soon as possible, whilst the Guild of the Good Shepherd for men enabled him gradually to gather together a band of faithful adherents who loyally tried to strengthen his hands, and gave him assistance and encouragement in various ways.
I think it was in the autumn of 1873, that two Sisters of the Community of S. Margaret's, East Grinstead, together with a lay sister, commenced a work in the parish, which has gone on and increased ever since. Of course there was a strong feeling against them at first, jealously fostered by the malcontents, but by their simple goodness, gentleness, and tact they soon made their way in spite of it; they were of great help in supporting the daily Eucharist in those early days, and their influence for good soon began to tell in everything to which they set their hands.
From the first, the clergy of S. Margaret's, Roath, gave us their sympathy and encouragement in every possible way--the Rev. F. W. Puller (now Father Fuller, S.S.J.E.), the Rev. C. A. Smythies (afterwards Bishop of the Universities Mission to Central Africa), the Rev. Wentworth Watson, and others, whose wisdom, counsel, and help were of very great value under many difficulties that arose in S. Mary's parish. Previously the parishes of S. Mary's, Cardiff, and S. Margaret's, Roath, were held by the same Vicar, an arrangement very distasteful to the Churchpeople of the latter parish, so that the appointment of a Vicar of their own and other changes were welcome there, whereat at S. Mary's any change was unwelcome and regarded as a change for the worse, the result being that the brunt of the opposition fell upon Father Jones and his fellow-workers, whilst the Roath clergy were left to make their way in comparative peace. At S. Mary's, advance was of necessity slow; after a time the prayer meeting died a natural death, and the use of the black gown in the pulpit was dropped, then the choir were brought to some pews at the east end of the nave, the three-decker was lopped first of the clerk's desk, and afterwards of the reading-desk, and the Altar was slightly enlarged and a temporary Altar-cross introduced. Somewhat later plans were prepared by Mr. J. D. Sedding, the well-known architect, for an entire rearrangement of the east end: the pulpit was to be removed from the centre, the eastern portions of the side galleries were to be taken down, the eastern porches were to be closed and used as vestries, the organ moved from the west gallery to the north-east end of the nave, and a Ritual Choir thrown out westwards from the Sanctuary into the nave for the proper accommodation of the choir. These proposals met with vigorous opposition, and a fierce battle ensued at the Consistory Court at Llandaff before the Chancellor on the application for the necessary faculty. These desirable changes were eventually accomplished, but not without a good deal of friction and conflict extending over a considerable length of time.
The Vicar was not one to lose heart easily, but he could scarcely fail to feel the strain of the uphill fight, and the frequent opposition must have told upon him. In course of time his genial disposition, and the cheery way in which he always met his opponents, gained respect for him and extended his influence; and in the meantime, if he was losing many of the old congregation, he was attaching to the Church the younger people and rapidly winning the affection of the children, to whom his guileless childlike disposition was naturally akin. From first to last, till the very day he was laid to rest last year, he was the children's friend; we used sometimes to think that he spoiled them, but at any rate one thing is certain, that he won their confidence at a time when almost every one else distrusted him and was ready to believe evil of him, and they never failed him.
The seriousness of the contest against opposition and worldliness was occasionally relieved by the humour of the situation when the most ridiculous and absurd reports were set on foot and gravely taken as Gospel truth by many people. For instance, it was stated that an empty coffin was taken into the church on the night of the Thursday in Holy Week, and that the Sisters of Mercy spent the night there worshipping it; it was said that we kept the church darkened all day on Good Friday; also that on the same day Mr. Sankey and I carried the Vicar round the church on our shoulders. Now, as Mr. Sankey is very tall and I am very short the Vicar must have had a very uncomfortable and precarious ride. However, nothing was too ridiculous for some to allege and others to believe.
The then Lord Bute had recently become a Roman Catholic. He had previously been the patron of the benefice of S. Mary's; and as he still took an interest in the parish, and subscribed to some of its funds, the Vicar was supposed to be in the pay of the Roman Church, and to go to the Castle every morning for his orders.
A schismatic movement, entitled "S. Paul's Free Church of England," was started by some of the ex-worshippers at S. Mary's, and an attempt was also made to cut off part of the "Docks" end of the parish to form a new district--S. Stephen's. This latter was eventually carried out.
Father Jones greatly enjoyed his occasional trips to the Flat Holmes--an island in the Bristol Channel, which formed part of S. Mary's parish--where he could breathe a freer atmosphere for a few hours, as Ritualism and Anti-Ritualism were alike unknown there, and the few inhabitants welcomed his visits to hold a short service for them, baptize their children, or visit their sick; sometimes he took other clergy and friends with him, and the excursion formed a pleasant picnic or outing.
When in 1873 [writes the Rev. E. H. Sankey] I went to S. Mary's, I found that the staff, in addition to the Vicar, consisted of the late Rev. A. G. Stallard (afterwards so well known for his work among the fishermen at Brixham), the Rev. W. H. Kirby, and a deacon named Tuson. Stallard had charge of the Dock district, and officiated mainly in an iron church, which then stood among the Docks. Kirby took charge of Temperance Town, where he had a small mission room, and the rest of the parish fell to Tuson and myself, I having the streets about the church and some part of Bute Street.
There have been many changes since those days. It is to be hoped that Bute Street is improved. There were then parts of it along which it must have been a trial for a decent woman to pass.
S. Mary's has also much changed, both in appearance and in the character of the services. In those days there was an enormous pulpit of a kind now nearly extinct, commonly known as a "three-decker." On the lower deck was to be found the clerk, on the middle deck the reader for the day, and the upper--or, as one might call it, the quarter-deck--was occupied by the preacher, who wore a black gown, was followed up the stairs by the clerk, and was carefully bolted in, not to be released until his sermon was done. This erection stood just in front of the chancel arch, hiding entirely from view the small Altar, covered with a red cloth. Immediately opposite the pulpit in the west gallery was the organ, with a mixed choir in front of it. During the singing of the Hymns a pause was always made before the last verse, and sometimes oftener, during which the singers were supposed to recover their breath, and the organist indulged in a fantasia. Of ritual there was none. But the fact that weekly and saint's-day celebrations had been introduced, together with the eastward position and daily services, caused a great commotion. Most of the old congregation left the church, though some remained passively acquiescent, and others rejoiced at the changes that had been introduced. The local press published many letters both from opponents and supporters, and the clergy as they went about the streets were often shouted at by those whose Protestantism was sounder than their Christianity. But in spite of all opposition a band of supporters rallied round the Vicar and clergy, and the church began to be better attended, so that the time came when the Vicar determined to apply for a faculty for the removal of the pulpit. In order to show that those who attended the church really wished for the removal of the pulpit, a collection was made in the church a short time before the faculty was applied for. It amounted to £115. Opponents would not believe that so much had been received, but there was the hard cash to prove the fact. The faculty, in spite of opposition, was, after considerable delay, granted, the pulpit removed, the black gown abolished, the choir put in surplices, and seated in some pews near the chancel arch, and some little improvements made at the east end.
Another event which happened in my time was the arrival of the Sisters. The Vicar felt that such a parish as S. Mary's could not be worked without the help of devout women as district visitors, for there were some phases of work which women only could undertake. As district visitors could not be obtained in the parish, the Vicar was obliged to go outside, and was fortunate enough to obtain the help of some Sisters from East Grinstead. They were at first regarded with great suspicion, but in a very short time their earnest work and patient endurance won for them the love of many and the respect of all.
During a choir practice in the church one weekday evening a thief entered the vestry and carried off the Vicar's greatcoat and mine. In my coat there was nothing of value, but in the Vicar's coat there was a pocket-book containing some valuable papers and a few stamps. On his way home from church the Vicar announced his conviction that the pocket-book would be in some way returned. Early next morning he searched the churchyard and there under the wall lay the pocket-book with the papers intact, although the stamps were gone.
The attitude taken as to the kind of opposition manifested again and again at the Easter Vestries was expressed in an article in the Parish Magazine of May 1878:
We have never considered the Easter Vestry a topic worthy of mention in our Church periodical, for this reason--that these Vestry Meetings could in no sense be regarded as having any true relation to the Church and Congregation of S. Mary's, and with which we have therefore little concern except that we have always felt keen indignation as Churchmen at a state of things which permitted a yearly annoyance to our Vicar, and shame as inhabitants of Cardiff at the scandalous scenes which have hitherto been a disgrace to the town. This year, however, we are glad to report a marked change in the conduct of the Easter Vestry Meeting; the real parishioners of S. Mary's for the first time assembled in sufficient numbers to prevent such unseemly outrages on good manners and Christian conduct as we have witnessed in former years. It is quite a secondary matter in comparison with this improved state of things that the churchwarden elected by a majority of over forty to twenty-seven should have been defeated at a popular election on the clay following. We have good reason to believe that Mr. Dobbin's opponents are by no means proud of their victory; the scandal, in fact, of such uncalled-for interference with the affairs of our Church is, we are glad to say, at length becoming evident to the better sense of the people of Cardiff, and we may surely hope that even the Dissenters will in time see that as they have perfect liberty to manage their own religious affairs, so it is as unfair as it is unchristian to attempt by unwarrantable interference to hinder the work of the clergy of a Church whose doctrines they do not hold and whose Services they cannot therefore be expected to understand.
One objection to the removal of the pulpit at S. Mary's is noted in the Parish Magazine of 1879:
In opposition it was urged by Mr. G. and Mr. C. that the alterations were required for the furtherance of superstitious doctrines and practices. Mr. C. actually contended that the faculty should be refused on the ground that if the pulpit were removed the congregation would then be able to see the priest consecrate the elements. We desire to call attention to the manifest absurdity and inconsistency of this objection, since in other anti-Church cases the association, which we believe Mr. C. represents--the notorious so-called Church Association--actually proceeded against Mr. Mackonochie, Mr. Edwards, and others, on this very charge, among others, that the congregation were not able to see them consecrate the elements, it being pleaded by these opponents and in fact sustained by the Privy Council judgment (which, by the way, is not binding on the Church, though it is of course the great authority with Church Associationists) that the words in the rubric preceding the Prayer of Consecration, "before the people" (in Latin "coram populo," in the presence of the people--i.e. openly) must mean so as to be seen by them.
In spite of the opposition Chancellor Ollivant granted the required faculty in 1879: five years later the main features of Mr. Sedding's design had been carried out. The following description, slightly altered so as to describe the sanctuary as finally completed, is taken from the Parish Magazine of Aug. 1884:
Perhaps the most striking feature in the decorations is the colouring of the sanctuary arch: next we should mention the decoration of the dome of the apse. The prevailing colour of the groundwork is blue; this is relieved by tracery work over which are figures of angels holding the Instruments of the Passion. These figures are exceedingly beautiful and graceful. The centre angel displays the Cross, those on the right and left the Spear and Nails and the Crown of Thorns, the other two angels are holding one the handkerchief of S. Veronica, and the other the winding-sheet; the angels are habited in loose tunics of various colours. The Signa in their hands are gilded: the general design of the sanctuary roof may well be described as the Glory of our Lord's Passion. Below the angels are five medallions in the spaces within the arches where formerly were windows giving a borrowed light from the east windows beyond. In these medallions are pictures representing Old Testament scenes typical of the Holy Eucharist. These are: three typical of its sacrificial aspect--i.e. Abel offering up a lamb, Melchizedek bringing forth bread and wine, and Abraham about to slay his son; of these Melchizedek has the central medallion just over the Altar, and on either side of this central picture are two scenes typical of Holy Communion--i.e. the Manna and the Paschal Lamb.
In place of the windows formerly filled with very bad coloured glass, the apertures having been filled in with masonry, so forming niches, are life-size figures of the Twelve Apostles. Immediately above the Altar for the reredos is a picture of the Adoration of the Shepherds. Almost in the centre of the picture are the Blessed Virgin and her Divine Child. He sits on her knee and reaches forward to accept the homage of the shepherds, one of whom is kneeling before Him and is touched by the Infant Saviour's hands; another bends forward in obeisance, and a third reverently stands with one hand lifted in awe while with the other he grasps his shepherd's staff. Behind our Lady stands S. Joseph, holding in his hand his emblematic lily. Above the Holy Family, in an arch formed by the frame of the picture, which is richly gilt, appear three angels, of whom the central one holds the sun, whose rays fall on the new-born Sun of Righteousness, while the others bear a scroll on which are inscribed the words of the angelic song of praise, "Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis." Below the picture and just above the topmost gradine of the retable are three panels, rich in vermilion and gilt, the centre one having angels holding a scroll on which is written "Verbum caro factum est et habitavit in nobis." The outer ones have angels holding a lozenge bearing the sacred monogram I.H.S. On the lowest gradine is a stand for the Cross, which is also the Tabernacle for the Blessed Sacrament when reserved. The front of this, the door of the Tabernacle, is highly decorated with vine-leaves and grapes, forming tracery in which are represented a Chalice and Wafer. The designs and colouring, from a plan furnished by Mr. Edmund Sedding, have been carried out by Mr. Westlake of the firm of Messrs. Westlake & Barraud. The Altar-piece was painted by Mr. Philip Westlake. The figures of the Apostles are the work of Mr. Scale, of Exeter.
In the year 1889 the Church Congress was held in Cardiff. The Congress Services were held on the day of its opening at S. John's, S. Andrew's, and S. Mary's: the Archbishop preached at S. John's, and the Bishop of Deny, Dr. Alexander, afterwards Archbishop of Armagh, at S. Mary's. On any important occasion the chief Service at S. Mary's was of course the Holy Eucharist, and it was arranged that this should be the Service for the Church Congress. As recorded in our Magazine:
The Service of the Holy Eucharist was celebrated with the ritual usual at our Church on all great occasions. The Bishop of Derry preached a most eloquent and edifying sermon. It would seem that on former occasions the opening service has been an office other than the Service of Holy Communion. S. Mary's has therefore the credit of giving its due place in this important annual gathering of Churchmen to the One Service ordained by Christ Himself. Some strangers to Cardiff apparently unaccustomed to the worship of the Catholic Church chose to take offence at this.
On passing the church afterwards on his way to the first meeting of the Congress, the Vicar was knocked down by a passing cyclist; he got up at once and did not admit at the time that he was really injured. He was probably shaken, though more than he realized; and his accident, together with the death of a much-loved sister, combined with the worry occasioned by the attacks on him on account of the Congress Service, served to upset his health, and to many of us who knew him most intimately he never seemed again so active and energetic or strong in health as before.
These attacks, however, called forth the sympathy and affection of his people and other friends, and on the last Tuesday of the Congress month an address was presented to him in the Town Hall by the chairman of the meeting and the churchwardens in the name of 787 signatories. After expressions of sympathy with the Vicar in his late family bereavements, the Address proceeded to mention his zeal and work for the Church, ending with an allusion to the recent Church Congress in Cardiff, and thanking him for the Service held at S. Mary's at the opening of the Congress. The Vicar very feelingly acknowledged the compliment paid him, and at the close of the meeting read several letters he had received from friends and others testifying to their appreciation of the service. The Address was beautifully engrossed on vellum, and most handsomely framed. There were few things that he valued more than this Address, and it had a very honoured place in his house. The Festival of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, held as our Patronal Festival, was always a great day with him, but the following year, 1890, he was absent from it for the first time since he had established it fifteen years before. On the day before the eve he wrote a letter to be read at the Annual Conversazione, at which he usually spoke of parish matters; he thus refers to the attempt to stir up strife again:
"Since our last Patronal Festival the celebrated Cardiff Church Congress has been held. Attempts were made to rouse a bitter feeling against S. Mary's Services and work, but these attempts were more than frustrated by the kindness and good feeling of the people of S. Mary's and sympathizers when at a large meeting at the Town Hall you presented your Vicar with a Memorial Address, which cheered and helped me very much indeed, and I feel sure did much good in the parish and beyond it. It has pleased God that for the last few months I should not have my usual health, and I was therefore not able to take much part in the Whitsun Festivities. I am thankful to say I am gradually getting better. You were all startled, I have no doubt, to hear that Sister Ruth and Sister Rose were leaving us. They have now gone. Sister Ruth's loss of sight was the cause of her asking the Mother Superior to relieve her and send another Sister in her place. I frankly acknowledge the great work done by them and the other Sisters of East Grinstead in this place; the people amongst whom they have laboured have always found in them sympathizing hearts and a desire for their good.
"Since I left home I hear that my parishioners have held a meeting and resolved to have two female saints painted on the east end of the chancel arch in memory of the work of the Sisters of Charity in S. Mary's Parish."
This was afterwards carried out, with the result that two very beautiful mural paintings adorn the walls, one each side of the chancel arch--on one side S. Margaret, the Patron Saint of the Sisters of East Grinstead, and on the other S. Winifred, Virgin and Martyr, of Holy well, North Wales.
A further extract is given from this letter, dated The Deanery, Bangor, Sept. 7, 1890, as showing the Vicar's keen interest in everything connected with Welsh life: "During the last few days I have been in the midst of a most enthusiastic Eisteddfod. The Queen of Roumania came amongst us, and was ordained a Bard under the title of Sylva by the Archdruid Clwdfardd, and she was so pleased with the Eisteddfod that she came again the next day and crowned the Bard with a silver crown. She entered into everything very cordially, and called out 'Heddwch' with the rest of the Bards, and delivered a poem in honour of the Eisteddfod and concluded it with 'Cymru am Cyth.' She quite won the hearts of all. Another thing that pleased me was the interest taken in this national and popular institution by the new Welsh Bishop (Dr. Lloyd, Bishop of Bangor), the Dean, and many of the clergy. The chaired Bard was a clergyman, and the Bishop delivered an 'Englyn' in his honour. The Bishop also entertained the Bards at a luncheon, some eighty in number. I rejoiced in this, as it will put him in touch with the Welsh people and show that he is interested in what interests them." We make no apology for giving this extract at length about the Bangor Eisteddfod, as it further illustrates the keen interest that Father Jones took in everything that had to do with Welsh interests. He attended the meetings of the Eisteddfod at Cardiff, and received a Bardic title, Eos Egryn, with a medal, of which he was very proud.
We must give another extract from this letter as showing also how very desirous he was of doing all he could for the social well-being of his people, and for the education in all respects of the children committed to his charge. "We have made another important move in the parish: we have commenced building new schools in North Church Street for about two hundred children, to take the place of the incommodious and poor rooms in which the schools have hitherto been held. If funds will allow I propose adding a cookery kitchen to these schools." These new schools were opened with the blessing of the Bishop in April of the following year. It was noted in an account given of the opening that--
Besides these new schools, which are under the care of the Sisters of S. Margaret's, East Grinstead, there are in the Parish of S. Mary's seven other National Schools under the management of the Vicar and a Committee consisting of the Parochial Clergy, the Churchwardens, and six other Managers.
In all these troubles the Vicar was greatly cheered and helped by the devotion of his flock, who either had remained true to S. Mary's (this was the case with several members of the choir whom he found helping in the services when he came), or had become regular worshippers at S. Mary's since his advent. Specially he valued the work and counsel of the members of the men's Guild, which was started in his first or second year, the Guild of the Good Shepherd. He was in the habit of discussing parochial matters with them, and they had his complete confidence. It was largely at their instigation that in 1884 he transferred the late Choral Mass on Sundays from 9 o'clock to 11. As the Western Mail writer put it, "he had nothing to conceal." When an English Church Union meeting was held in the parish, and Mass was sung at S. Mary's for the Union Anniversary Service, vestments not then having been introduced at S. Mary's, a white chasuble was borrowed from Margam for the occasion. This led to some correspondence with the Bishop, Dr. Ollivant, in which the Bishop referred to his using "a surplice with a large cross on it." The Vicar in his reply stated that he certainly "had not used any surplice with a cross on it, but only a very handsome chasuble lent by the Vicar of Margam."