Friday, 22 November 2013
What do you do with a long chancel? That was a very live question in the 70's; and it became important for me in my second living as an Anglican clergyman. All Saints Hessle had been remodelled in the 19th Century,the aisles being made almost as wide as the nave. With a narrow Chancel Arch it meant that only a third of those in the church had any sight of the High Altar. Accordingly, not without opposition, we planned a more visible altar, which might be used either Eastward or Westward facing. The High Altar had its big six candles restored,and the central altar could be moved (for instance for weddings) when the long chancel once more came into its own. This week we were sent a card from Hessle, with on it a picture of the church interior. It was good to see how well the alterations have stood up, indeed been further improved. A very gifted artist, Nancy Lamplugh, made a version of a mediaeval hanging rood. That has given a much needed focus to the freestanding altar. Whereas we had used a Laudian altar cloth, the new frontal encroaches less on the space on the footpace. Our friend who sent the card wrote on the back "The changes (hard-earned) made such a wonderful difference to All Saints". I learned a great deal from the experience - not least the workings of the Church of England's faculty jurisdiction and the running of a Consistory Court. It was all worth it in the end. Seeing how some Catholic churches have been rather insensitively handled since Vatican II maybe the working of Faculty law is part of the Patrimony which the Ordinariate could bring with it from Anglicanism? Certainly consultation rather than imposition is necessary when pastoral relationships are at stake.