Friday, 7 February 2014

History of St Saviour’s Church by G.R. Balleine (Part 2)

Here is part two of the forgotten piece by  G.R. Balleine  on the history of the Church, transcribed below. Balleine had a wonderful grasp of how to make historical narrative interesting, and peppers his history with interesting anecdotes.

Unfortunately, the last time I went along on a Saturday, the Church was locked up, so I was not able to look around. This closure is singular among Jersey's ancient Parish Churches, and that is a great shame. It is however open on Sundays after morning services for quite a while, and Monday to Friday from about 8.15 to around 3.30.

History of St Saviour's Church  by G.R. Balleine (Part 2)

The 16th Century

Then came the Reformation; and St. Saviour's became one of its chief centres. The States in 1548 invited two Huguenot theologians to the island "to expound the Word of God to the people purely"; and one of these, Martin Langcoys, was made Rector of St. Saviour's.

All images, pictures, candles, ornaments, vestments were swept away; the windows were filled with plain glass; and the Church was transformed into a Huguenot Temple. (Calvinists objected to a building being called a "church", reserving that word for the company of Christian people). Calvinism made its appeal solely and austerely to the mind. It trusted the preacher with the task of lifting men's hearts heavenward. So it filled the Chancel with benches facing the pulpit.

Let us watch a Service at this time. Men and women enter the Temple by separate doors and sit on opposite sides, the men retaining their hats, which they only remove to salute the text of the sermon. The black-gowned Minister also wears a close-fitting cap, the claque-oreilles, in the pulpit. The Service is that of the Huguenot Prayer Book, drawn up by Calvin for Geneva. No departure from this is permitted. Extempore prayer is forbidden. The most popular feature of the Service is the singing of Marot's Metrical
Psalms to familiar ballad tunes. In the morning there is a sermon, but the afternoon is devoted to catechizing.

The Calvinist Catechism was a portentous manual with over four hundred answers, in which everyone was drilled, until he was word-perfect. Mercifully it was divided into fifty-five sections, only one of which was taken each Sunday. On most Sundays the children gave the answers, "repeating them again and again, that their elders may grow familiar with them." But four times a year came the Great Catechizing when the children had the joy of hearing the adults catechized, "beginning with the elders," and watching to see if Granfather or the Constable would stumble over one of the difficult answers.

On Communion Sunday, which came four times a year, every parishioner over eleven was bound to communicate.

"This do in remembrance of Me" was now to law of the land. Everyone wore deepest mourning in memory of the death of Christ. A table was set in front of the pulpit with benches round it, and the people sat round in relays", as this posture agrees best with the original institution.

The 17th Century

When Charles II recovered the throne in 1660, the Anglican Prayer Book was enforced, but on two points for several generations the congregation refused to conform. They refused to join in the Responses, which became a Duet between the Rector and the Clerk; and many refused to kneel to receive the Communion, but communicated standing.

The Church was well cared for. Poingdestre, writing in 1682, says that it was "ye fairest and cleanest of all ye island and ye best in repaire"; but before long through the growth of population it had to be disfigured by a number of unsightly galleries. At this time the Communion Table was in the Chapel of St. John.

19th Century Restoration

In 1841            came the first general restoration. The Rector was living in retirement, and Thomas Orange, who later became Rector of St. Lawrence, was in charge of the parish. He was evidently a man full of tact, and energy.

Pews were then private property, and pew-holders were quick to resent any interference with them; but he managed to persuade them to consent to an entire rearrangement, by which he gained a hundred additional seats on the ground floor, and was able to demolish the largest of the galleries. All pews were painted a uniform stone colour. The Church was replastered throughout.

Only on one point was he beaten. He wished to remove the Communion Table from the Chapel of St. John to its present position in the Chapel of the Thorn; but, after twice gaining the consent of the Assemblee, at a third meeting this scheme was outvoted.

Sixty years later under Canon Luce the Church assumed its present arrangement. The Chapel of the Thorn became the Chancel, and the Chapel of the Virgin the Nave. Ancient windows and doors were unblocked under the guidance of an enthusiastic architect, Adolphus Curry, and every effort made to restore the building to its original form. In addition many beautiful gifts were given by parishioners, stained glass windows, pulpit, screen, etc. One improvement was the purchase of a public-house, which stood at the corner of the churchyard, and the erection of a lych-gate in its place in memory of Dean Balleine.

20th Century Additions

In 1946, a handsome Processional Cross was generously presented to the Church byMrs. H. M. Robin, in memory of her twograndsons, who died in the      1939/45 war: Francis Victor Beaufort, Lieutenant, 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, and Michael Guy Robin, Flight Lieutenant, Royal Air Force.

In 1951 a sterling Silver Chalice and Paten, and a solid Brass Table with deep cut black lettering and vine borders, was given by parishioners and numerous friends in memory of the late Reverend Canon G. P. Balleine, M.A., Rector of St. Saviour, 1917-1940.

1952: "Children's Corner." A handsome and Beautiful gift by Miss Lucy Isabel Vance, in memory of her parents, William John and Isabel Vance. The furnishings of the Corner are most harmonious and the whole adds to the dignified atmosphere of the Church.

1956: A magnificent solid silver Cross and Candlesticks on the main Altar were presentedby Lieutenant-Colonel H. S. Le Rossignol, O.H.E. in memory of his wife who died in1955.

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