Church of St. Michael and All Angels, Clane.
Dublin: Printed by Charles W. Gibbs,
18 Wicklow Street.
Church of St. Michael and All Angels.
THE main part of the following pages was printed and circulated at the time of the consecration of the Church at Michaelmas, 1883.
The internal decoration, contemplated from the first, and only deferred from want of means, being now finished, it seems desirable to issue a reprint, with such addenda as shall explain the motive and meaning of these decorations.
It is hoped that the addition of a slight sketch of the history of the Parish, and of some Illustrations, will add to the interest for those who value the Church and its Services.
The Parish of Clane
DIOCESE OF KILDARE
THE Parish of Clane, as it now exists in the Ecclesiastical division of the Church of Ireland, includes Clane proper, Mainham, Sherlockstown, Bodenstown, and Killibegs. Of these, Clane, Mainham, and Killibegs were of ancient Celtic foundation, and they lie north-west of the river Liffey, which here was the boundary of the English Pale; Bodenstown and Sherlockstown, lying south-east of the Liffey, were, as their names indicate, of English origin.
In the sixth century, St. Ailba, Bishop of Ferns, founded an Abbey in Clane, and, when leaving the place, gave up his cell to St. Senchel the Elder, whom he made its first Abbot. It is supposed that the old Parish Church, now disused, marks the place where this Celtic monastery stood. The chief event in its history was the holding of a Synod in A.D. 1162. Shortly after this, the district was divided among the followers of Strongbow, and the native chiefs were dispossessed and driven away. The natural result of this would be the ruin of the Celtic monastery, of which we hear no more; but the Church was, probably, retained. It was, no doubt, constructed of wattles, plastered over with clay, and with a roof of thatch. The remains still standing at Clane are those of a Franciscan monastery, founded by Sir Gerald Fitzmaurice, A.D. 1272.
There is a holy well at Clane, near the old mill, where St. Patrick is said to have baptized converts. A large boulder, with a cup cut in it, stands on the bank of the Butterstream. It was, no doubt, originally used for heathen purposes, but may afterwards have been employed as a font.
No trace has been found of the original dedication of the Parish Church; but it was probably named for some Celtic saint.
Down to the time of the Reformation, Clane Church was probably served by a Vicar, appointed by the adjacent monastery; but when that was broken up, the living was seized by the Crown, which thenceforth appointed the Vicars.
The following table gives the succession of Clergy in the Parish of Clane so far as it has been traced.
Succession of Clergy, Parish of Clane
(CLANE, CLOON, or CLON = A MEADOW)
COMPLILED BY REV. W. SHERLOCK, C.
520 St. Ailbe, Bishop of Ferns, founded an Abbey in Clane, and made St. Senchel the Elder its first Abbot.
1035 The Danes plundered Clane.
1162 Synod held at Clane under Gelasius, Archbishop of Armagh, assisted by twenty-six Bishops and many Abbots.
1266 “Gilbert de Clane factus est minister.”
1272 Franciscan (new) monastery founded by Sir Gerald Fitzmaurice, third Lord Ophaly.
1302 “Master Adam of Clane,” Prebendary.
1542 MONASTERY BROKE UP, and tithes set.
1549 Nicholas Owyne, Vicar de Clane.
1583 Daniel Neylan; also Bishop of Kildare, 1585-1603.
1603 Nicholas Dolan; deprived, 1605.
1605 Robert Pierse or Pearse.
1612 William Golborne, also Rector of Bodenstown, Archdeacon of Kildare, and Bishop of Kildare, 1644-1650; died of the Plague in Dublin; buried in St. Nicholas Within.
1650 COMMONWEALTH; no appointment.
1672 William Bray.
1680 Thomas Harrison.
1696 John Burdett.
1726 James Horner.
1731 John Daniel.
1747 Richard Daniel.
1757 William Digby, Dean of Kildare.
1766 William Crowe.
1771 William Dennis, LL.D., also Rector of Dunmore, Co. Galway.
1774 Theobald Disney, D.D.
1785 Matthew West, deceased Vicar, 1814.
1798 The Great Rebellion.
1802 The old Books of the Parish lost.
1814 Regency. The living was under Sequestration from 1814 to 1820, the patronage being disputed by Lord Kingsland.
1823 William Parsons; deceased Vicar, 1838.
1838 Edward Newenham Hoare; promoted, 1839, to Deanery of Achonry.
1839 William McKenna; deceased Vicar, 1850.
1851 William Caulfeild, M.A.; deceased Vicar, 1867.
1868 Ambrose Cooke, M.A.; deceased Vicar, 1888. The last presentation to the Vicarage by the Crown.
1869 THE CHURCH OF IRELAND DISESTABLISHED.
1883 Sept. 29th. The new Parish Church, built by T. Cooke-Trench, dedicated to St. Michael and All Angels, consecrated by His Grace R.C. Trench, D.D., Archbishop of Dublin, and Bishop of Kildare.
1888 William Sherlock, M.A., Canon of St. Brigid’s Cathedral, Kildare; the first Vicar under the new Constitution.
Curates of Clane.
1802 Newcomen Whitelaw.
1804 Richard Waters.
1814 Matthias Crowly.
1816 Edward Hackett, LL.B.
1821 James Taylor.
1822 Newcomen Whitelaw.
1823 William G. Cole.
1830 Thomas B. Popham.
1851 – 1853 G. T. Hiffernan, afterwards Rector of St. John’s, Newport, Diocese of Cashel.
1829 New Vicarage at Clane begun; 1839, finished.
1891 New Vicarage (St. Michael’s) begun; 1892, finished.
Parish of Mainham.
United to Clane, 1771, if not earlier.
Parish of Killibegs.
1730 – Hoskins, Rector. United to Clane, 1771, if not earlier.
Parish of Bodenstown.
1615 The Church and Chancel and Books of Bodenstown were in good repair.
1766 Dr. Flood, Rector; held separately from Clane.
Parish of Sherlockstown.
1290 This Church belonged at one time to the Order of the Knights Hospitallers.
1615 John Golborne, Curate resident. The Church and Chancel in ruins.
1776 John Jackson held this parish together with Great Connell and Nurney.
1873 By the Parochial Boundaries Act, passed by the Kildare Synod, the Parish of Clonshambo, which had previously been united to Clane, was transferred to Donadea, and Bodenstown and Sherlockstown were united to Clane.
St. Michael’ Church, Clane.
FOR some years prior to 1880 it had been felt by the parishioners of Clane that large room existed for improvement in their parish church. So long ago as 1869 an eminent architect had been consulted, and plans for its improvement were submitted by him. But difficulties arose which were not at the time overcome; and it was not till eleven years after that it was finally resolved to abandon the old church, and build a new one on a different site. It would occupy too much space to enter into all the reasons for this resolution; but the parishioners were mainly influenced by the overcrowded state of the churchyard, which forbade extension of the building in any direction, and rendered internments impossible without disturbing older graves. Suffice it to say, that at three largely attended meetings of the Select Vestry, held in 1880 and 1881, resolutions were unanimously passed – at the first accepting the offer of a new church, at the second approving of the plans, and at the third adopting the present site. This last resolution was passed on the 20th June, 1881, and on the same day operations were begun, and were steadily carried on through two years and a quarter.
One of the most gratifying features of the whole proceeding has been the unanimity of the parishioners, and the deep interest which each and every one of them has shown in the work. “He maketh man to be of one mind in an house.”
The church, of which the tower is visible for a considerable distance on all sides, stands on a rising ground in a prominent and central position in the parish. The Wicklow Mountains bound and give character to a view of much homely beauty. The chief material is the grey limestone of the neighbourhood, mostly from Mr. Henry’s quarry in the adjoining townland. The quoins and external dressings are of Cumberland red sandstone, the saving arches being of a black stone from Mr. Kirkpatrick’s quarry at Celbridge, which also supplied the lime. The sand was given, free of charge, by Mr. Manders, from his strand at Millicent Bridge. Internally, the walls were originally plastered, but little of this now remains. The dressings of the windows and doors, the arches, string courses, pillars, &c., are of white Bath stone. The steps, pulpit base, and platform at lectern and font are of Portland stone; the external steps and the bowl of the font are granite. The column and base of the font and kerb-stone of the foot-pace are of red Cork marble. The walls throughout are lined with brick. The roof is of pitch-pine, covered with Welsh slates; the doors, floor, and fittings of Riga oak. The walls externally are of uncoursed ashlar, giving an idea of great strength and solidity.
Those who have studied Lord Dunraven’s “Notes on Irish Architecture,” and have learned that we possess a national style of architecture capable of exquisite beauty, especially adapted to buildings of moderate size, will not be surprised that an Irishman, building in Ireland, adopted the style closely allied to the Norman, and which is technically known as Hiberno-Romanesque. The architect did not hesitate to depart from this where there seemed sufficient reason. Thus the leaning jambs, so marked a characteristic of the Hiberno-Romanesque, were not adopted. He could find no models for the woodwork, as time and political disturbances have destroyed all which could have served as such.
The ground-plan of the church is cruciform. This is unusual in the ancient Irish churches. There is, however, an example of it in Cormac’s Chapel at Cashel, one of the best specimens of this style, as also one of the best preserved; though there, as here, the transepts are shut off from view of the worshippers. The Baptistery is formed by a projecting chamber at the west end. There is a roomy porch at the western extremity of the south side. The south transept is carried up into a tower, which is surmounted by a pyramidal roof and weather-cock: and a cross of the circular form, so common in Ireland, forms the finial to each gable. There are three entrances, one for the congregation through the porch, another in the south transept, which forms the vestry, for the clergy and choir; and one in the north transept, leading to the furnace and tower.
Over the inner porch door, on the tympanum, is reproduced some of that curious interlacing ribbon work, so characteristic of early Irish Christian art, and which has been well depicted by O’Neill in his ancient Irish crosses. More of the same work has been introduced about the east window and elsewhere in the church. The pattern on the pulpit desk, of which an illustration will be found on the opposite page, has been adapted from the Cross of Tuam, and is one of the most perfect specimens extant of this very curious and interesting work.[i]
The following lines, by the late E.P. Shirley, hang in the entrance porch: –
When to the House of God ye come, a prayer in secret say;
On bended knee His grace implore, for thus ‘tis meet to pray.
Leave at the door your weekly cares, God loves the pure in heart;
To those who wholly look to Him He will true grace impart:
Aloud, but humbly, answer make, as Common Prayer directs,
He who sits silent or asleep, the way of life neglects.
In standing posture give your alms, and standing sing God’s praise;
Be not afraid to lift your voice, the gladsome hymns to raise.
Bow at the Holy Name which God in our poor nature bore,
And silently His blessing ask, ere that ye seek the door.
Thus ever use the House of God, in prayer and joyful praise;
He best will pass the coming week who these few rules obeys.
The first thing to be noticed on entering the church is the Baptistery, its position being emblematic of our entrance into the spiritual Church through the waters of Baptism. It is an oblong chamber, 6 feet deep by 12 wide, joined to the nave by an archway of nearly its whole width. In the centre of the archway stands the font. The Baptistery, arched with red brick, and covered outside with red sandstone, has five lights, filled with stained glass. In the centre is the figure of our Lord receiving a child; on the left are two figures from the Old, and on the right two figures from the New Testament – Noah, Naaman, Nicodemus, and St. John Baptist. Of these, all, except Naaman, are either mentioned or alluded to in the Baptismal Service; and Naaman, whose cleansing in Jordan was a signal type of Holy Baptism, nearly lost the promised blessing because he despised the appointed means.
The font forms an interesting link with the long past. The bowl, rudely formed of granite, was found bedded in the wall of the old church, and had evidently belonged to some former building, having all the appearance of great age. On the sides were holes drilled, apparently either for handles or to fasten down a lid, a feature recorded of other ancient fonts. The base was found with it, but was too much broken to be used again. It has, however, been carefully preserved. It was sufficient to show what the mounting had been, and this has been reproduced in red marble. There were many scruples about placing a chisel to the bowl; but it had originally been of such very rude construction, and had since been so much battered, that it seemed hardly fitting for its position without some touches. The upper part was so broken that it was found necessary to reduce it in height by four inches. This has, however, improved the proportions. It has been lined with lead, and provided with a wooden cover.
Above the Baptistery in the west wall is a wheel window, also filled with richly coloured glass. The only figure, the Dove, is in the central compartment, directly over the font. The choir is divided from the nave by an arch of three members, of great richness and beauty. The carving is all, with slight modifications, from ancient Irish sources. Another richly carved arch, supported by corbels, divides the choir from the chancel; and two archways, on the right and left, lead to the transepts. These are, however, filled on the left by the organ front, and on the right by a corresponding oaken screen, surmounted by glass, enriched by interlacing ribbon-work. This shuts off the south transept, and forms it into a vestry. Behind the organ one flight of steps descends to the heating chamber; while another ascends and leads across the choir to the bell-ringers’ chamber, and second story of the tower. A gong from the vestry below notifies to the ringers when service is about to begin. Over the ringers’ chamber is the clock chamber, and over it again that for the bells. There are at present but two bells, and there is no clock. Into the wall of the vestry is built a fire-proof safe, for the preservation of the parochial records and church plate. A marble bason beneath, for washing the latter, is so arranged that it can only be used when the safe is open, thus preserving it from any meaner use. The choir seats face north and south, the westernmost forming prayer desks for the clergy. They, together with the organ front, vestry screen, pulpit, and the Holy Table, are the work of Mr. Hayball of Sheffield. Two steps lead up from the nave to the choir; another from the choir to the chancel: there is a fourth at the Communion rails; and the “footpace,” or raised platform on which the Holy Table stands, forms a fifth. A credence niche receives the elements for the Holy Communion till the appointed time for placing them on the Holy Table. The floor under the seats is made of oak, grooved, and tongued together.
The best form of roof was a subject of much consideration. A waggon roof seemed imperatively demanded by the style; but this, as usually made, is a heavy and far from pleasing feature. A hint was, however, taken from Romsey Abbey, which has resulted in the present roof. The principal rafters, solid and richly carved, are of semi-circular form. These, with the intersecting purlins and deeply carved bosses at the intersections, make a framework of wagon form; while lightness and grace are obtained by leaving the spaces between open, so that the eye travels up to the very ridge-board. The common rafters, besides being supported by the foot pieces, rest on two sets of purlins, and the collar-ties on a third. The whole is sheeted with inch and quarter sheeting, closely tongued and grooved together; and, to prevent the possibility of draughts entering, as they so often do through an open roof, as well as to maintain an even temperature, a thick layer of felt is placed between the sheeting and the slates. A device has been adopted, by means of which putlocks for a scaffold can be thrust out from inside the tower in a few minutes, in case repairs, cleaning, or painting are required. This scaffold is reached by a permanent iron ladder, from a leaden platform on the roof of the choir.
The burial ground, containing IA. IR. 4P., is partly planted to the north and east, so that the young trees may blend with the older ones behind them. It will be many generations before the whole space is required, and the trees can be gradually cut away as the graves press upon them. The only entrance is through a lych gate of unusual length. The church standing on ground considerably higher than the road, it was necessary that there should be steps up to it. These, as well as a level platform in the middle, are covered over. A low wooden gate gives admission. On the platform, in the middle, it is intended that the coffin at funerals should make its last halt, whilst waiting for the clergy to come out to meet it. An inscription above points to the great Day of Resurrection, and reminds the mourners that the sleep of death can only last “till the day break, and the shadows flee away.”
Nearly the last administrative act of Archbishop Trench was to consecrate this church and burial ground on Michaelmas Day, 1883. In connexion with the day, it has been dedicated to St. Michael and All Angels. The Archbishop shortly after resigned his See in consequence of failing health, and, after a few troubled years, entered on his rest.
Before the Church was consecrated, one benefactor to the parish had passed away, having expressed a desire that this might be his place of rest. The then Incumbent, the Rev. Ambrose Cooke, was, five years later, laid just opposite the vestry door, through which he had so often passed to loving and faithful services. Two [ii] of the three Parochial Nominators of the time also lie within the churchyard. Mr. Alexander Miles, the excellent clerk of the works, to whose ever thoughtful and anxious care so much of the success of the building is due, is also buried here. He had made it abundantly clear throughout that his work was to him no mere task, but a real labour of love; and when, two years after he finished it, he felt that he was dying, he directed that his remains should be brought here for burial, and that they should be laid as near to his old workshop as possible – a wish which was carefully complied with. of the three Parochial Nominators of the time also lie within the churchyard. Mr. Alexander Miles, the excellent clerk of the works, to whose ever thoughtful and anxious care so much of the success of the building is due, is also buried here. He had made it abundantly clear throughout that his work was to him no mere task, but a real labour of love; and when, two years after he finished it, he felt that he was dying, he directed that his remains should be brought here for burial, and that they should be laid as near to his old workshop as possible – a wish which was carefully complied with.
We have to record the death of two more who are closely associated with the church: one the Rev. R. F. Wilson, who preached one of the three sermons at the time of the consecration, and whose handsome gift to the church is recorded later on. He died in 1888. The other, his brother-in-law, the Very Rev. Jeffry Lefroy, Dean of Dromore, seeing that no pulpit had been provided at the time of the consecration, then and there offered, and subsequently gave, the very beautiful one which is amongst the chief ornaments of the church. Within two years he too had entered on his rest.
Many other offerings have been received.
A subscription was made in the parish for a new organ, which included £40 from the Rev. W. Sherlock, and £20 from the Vicar, Mr. Henry undertaking to make up any deficiency in the sum required. The Beresford Trustees made two grants, amounting together to £300, which about covered the cost of the original glass. The massive Communion Table of carved oak was the gift of His Grace Archbishop Trench. The three altar cloths, worked by Mrs. Cooke-Trench and her sisters, were given by them. The former also gave the Communion linen and the copper pitcher for filling the font, as also the glass over the vestry screen. The service-books, richly bound, were given by Miss Acland, of Oxford. The eagle lectern was the joint gift of Lady Heathcote and Captain (now Colonel) C. G. Heathcote. The surplices for the choir were provided by Mrs. Jeffry Lefroy; the font cover by A. M. Heathcote, Esq.; the kneeling mats at the altar rail were the work of Miss A. M. Cooke, daughter of the Vicar. Mats for the chancel were worked by the Misses Henry, Misses Sherlock, and others. The bell from the old church was melted down and added to, and a second, which, it is hoped, may prove only the beginning of a complete chime, was given by the four sisters of the builder of the church, in memory of their parents. It bears the following inscription: –
FILIAE GRATIAS AGENTES
MT + KLK + FT + JT
Two Florentine vases, made specially for the church, were the gift of Mrs. E. D. Heathcote. Some brass vases, of Indian work, were given by the Misses Heathcote.
A tower did not, on account of the expense, enter into the original design; but it was made a possibility by a gift of £250 towards its cost by the Rev. R. F. and Mrs. Wilson.
R. F. W.
A stone let into its wall with their initials M. W. is in memory of the fact. The Messrs. Samuels, Registrars of the Diocese, obtained the necessary faculty, but declined to make any charge for doing so. An alms-box, carved by Miss Kathleen Scott, has been presented to the church through the exertions of Miss Rose Sherlock. A beautiful carved shell, brought from Bethlehem by a friend of Dr. Bernard,[iii] was presented by him to the church for use in Baptism. The carved text over the hanging place for surplices in the vestry as at once the work and gift of Miss H. M. Heathcote.
Of the twenty-two lights in the body of the church, nine were filled with stained glass before the church was consecrated; nine more have been given since, and only four now (1894) remain to be filled. Of the nine given since, two in the nave, and the four side-lights in the chancel, were given by Mrs. Cooke-Trench, two of the latter being a memorial of her sister Jennetta Alethea Heathcote, who died in 1887; one by Mrs. G. P. Heathcote; one by Mrs. W. W. Rynd, in memory of her husband, who died in 1884; and one by R. W. Manders, Esq., in memory of his father, Isaac Manders, of Casamsize, who died in 1887.
The two chairs inside the communion rails were carved forty years ago by the builder of the church for its predecessor in Clane. The two, of curious construction, outside the rails had belonged to an old Italian church, and were purchased by him in an old curiosity shop in Assisi. It seemed most fitting that they should be restored to their original use.
Mr. J. F. Fuller, the architect, is to be congratulated on the excellent proportions and general harmony of the building. Miss Stokes brought her profound knowledge of the subject to bear in many useful suggestions. Thanks are also due to Professor Barrett, who kindly came from Dublin to superintend the erection of the lightning conductor.
Many others, both of those who are and of those who are not of our branch of the Catholic Church of Christ, laboured there during the two years and a quarter that the church was in building for an honest living, as those who wished to leave behind them work as good as they could make it. May not this common object of interest and subject of work prove hereafter a bond not easily broken? To these also our thanks are due.
At their meeting on March 27th, 1883, the Select Vestry passed the following resolution: –
“ That the seats in the new church be free and unappropriated, and that it be the duty of the Churchwardens to seat the congregation, in accordance with the Statutes of the Church of Ireland.”
In a country church, where there is but little change in the worshippers, it is well that each should have his accustomed place; but the above resolution prohibits any ownership of seats, which have thus been declared free and unappropriated, and there is no distinction between rich and poor.
On Saturday, the 29th September, 1883, the church, as has already been stated, was consecrated by Richard Chenevix Trench, Lord Archbishop of Dublin, Bishop of Kildare. The form of service used was that prescribed by the Church of Ireland. The hymns sung were “Christ is made the sure foundation,” “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty,” and for the recessional hymn, “The Church’s one foundation.” The Archbishop preached from the text, “To what purpose is this waste?” The general tone of his sermon may best be gathered from the two following extracts: –
“And not otherwise is it when this inner devotion of the heart finds utterance in some costly offering of the hands; when anything which at all transcends the common rate is rendered back to Him from Whom all good things proceed, and to Whom they belong. The world will allow and praise any prodigality which is bestowed upon itself; but when it is for God and for Christ, when the costly cedar is overlaid with the pure gold in the temple of the Lord, when the alabaster box of precious ointment is broken above the head of Christ, and no drop kept back, but all poured out, and not on His head only, but on His feet – even then, while the whole house of the Church is filled with the odour of the ointment, there will not be wanting some who will join in the cry, ‘To what purpose is this waste?’”
And again –
“But you, brethren beloved of the Lord, who will worship from day to day, and from year to year, in the courts of this House, you will give all diligence that, great as is the outward glory which it wears, it may have another and a higher glory still. ‘The king’s daughter is all glorious within.’ Her apparel may be of wrought gold; but this is nothing. Faith, and Hope, and Love: it is these which make her glorious indeed. Truth and beauty: it is well when these two are wedded here – truth in doctrine and discipline, beauty in form and outward service. But if ever these should be divorced, as divorced by evil accident in some ages of the Church they have been, let us pray God that we may have grace to cling to the truth, and to let the beauty go. For better the sternest, the ruggedest, the most unattractive presentation of the Faith, which has yet fast hold of the central truth, than the fairest and the loveliest, in outward semblance and show, which has allowed any vital portion of this to escape.”
In the former of these extracts the preacher rejoices in the beauty of the House, and justifies its cost: in the latter he points out how useless these may become if they stand alone.
On the following day, Sunday, the sermon in the morning was preached by the Rev. Robert F. Wilson, from the text, “They rest not day and night, saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” In the evening the Archdeacon of Kildare preached, taking as his text, “I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” Space does not allow of any farther extracts here; but the three sermons were printed in full, and circulated amongst the parishioners as a memorial of the day. On Monday the Archbishop held a Confirmation in the church. The services of these three consecutive days will not be easily forgotten by those who took part in them.
We have now to consider the internal decorations; and this it will probably be best to do, irrespective of whether these were supplied before the consecration of the church or since. We have to consider them, first, as to their material and workmanship, and secondly, as to their motive and the lessons which they are intended to keep before our eyes.
The material is mainly the glass in the windows; mosaic of three kinds; the marble and alabaster on the walls, and onyx round the window in the Baptistery; wood and stone for carving; and the materials for sgraffito and cloisonné work. These, also, indicate the several kinds of workmanship.
The angels in the spandrels of the east windows are of Venetian mosaic, and were executed by Capello, from the design of Messrs. Heaton, Butler, and Bayne. This mosaic was intended as a memorial to Lady Helena Trench, who died while the building was in preparation. It contains in the corner the words “H. T., Obt. 17th March, 1881.” The vine above it, as also the pavement of all the open portions of the floor, is of marble mosaic, by Messrs. Burke & Co., of London and Paris, and was laid by Italian workmen. The design of the floor immediately outside the Communion rails, as also the border round the Baptistery, are from St. Mark’s, at Venice. The third kind of mosaic is that round the walls of the Sanctuary, and is of glass by Messrs. Powell, of Whitefriars.
The merely ornamental carving is mainly from ancient Irish sources; but in addition, we have the corbels of the arch which divides the choir from the chancel, and which represent the symbols[iv] of the four Evangelists. Over the south door is a very beautiful carving of the Good Shepherd, from a drawing by Mrs. R. F. Wilson. The figures on the pulpit were carved in Bruges.
The sgraffito and cloisonné work were both revivals of ancient arts. The artist of the former was Mr. Heywood Sumner, and of the latter, Mr. Clement Heaton. The process of sgraffito is this: the artist first draws his cartoons full size, and, with a needle, punctures round all the main outlines; this he hangs by fixed points against the wall, which has been previously covered with a substantial coat of Portland cement. He then proceeds to dab the outlines all over with a muslin bag, containing dark powder; this, passing through the holes, leaves upon the wall a rough outline of his design. Having removed the cartoon, and placed it beside him, he proceeds to cover the wall with a coat of cement, variously coloured in patches according to the colour he wishes to appear when the work is finished. As soon as this is dry, he covers the whole with a creamy coat of Parian cement. He then restores the cartoon, and again dabbing it with the powder, produces an outline exactly over the previous one. Then, while this upper coat is still soft, with a sharp instrument he cuts it away in places where he wishes the colour to appear. It will thus be seen that the whole is composed of the hardest and most durable cements, and that there is no surface-colouring. The work should therefore be nearly imperishable. The name, “sgraffito” is an Italian word, meaning “scratched,” and refers to the final cutting, or scratching away, of the upper coat of cement. The pattern work on the west wall of the chancel over the arch, and on the four walls of the choir, is also in sgraffito, by amateur artists.
The cloisonné work at the east and west ends of the nave is a revival of a very ancient Irish art. It may be seen in a minute form on the Cross of Cong and other relics. On a large scale it is worked on sheets of copper or zinc. To these are soldered ribbons of the same metal set on edge, forming the outlines of each shade of colour. Into these divisions (cloisons) is then poured over melted enamel. The sheets have then only to be secured in their position. In the design at the east end there is over a mile of copper ribbon thus soldered on.
So much for the material and workmanship; and now for the nature and lessons of the designs.
The Baptistery has of course its own lesson, which has been already referred to; but in the rest of the church two main ideas prevail: the first is the glorification of our Lord’s humanity, and the second, the office and ministration of angels. The dedication of the church seemed to render this natural.
At their meeting on Easter Monday, 1885, the Select Vestry passed the following resolution, which will best explain how the first of these principles has been carried out in the windows: –
“That in case of anyone wishing to present a window (memorial or otherwise) to the church, we adopt the following scheme, in order to secure unity of idea; and, as churches are often injured by diversity of style in glass, we would urge on intending donors to employ Messrs. Heaton, Butler, and Bayne, 14 Garrick Street, London, who have made all the glass hitherto supplied. It is proposed to devote the north side to characters from the Old Testament, and the south to characters from the New. As the east end is devoted to the Transfiguration, which was the glorification of our Lord’s humanity, each window should point, as much as may be, to this.”
1. St. Thomas, teaching faith in the unknown and incomprehensible.
2. St. James. With St. John, the greatest of the Apostles, and witnesses of the Transfigurations.
3. St. Peter. With St. John, the greatest of the Apostles, and witnesses of the Transfigurations.
4. St. Matthew, first Recorder of the Incarnation, &c.
1. Adam, type and cause of the humanity, and the only man who at any time was sinless.
2. Isaac, type in sacrifice.
3. Joseph, type in undeserved suffering, and in humiliation, followed by glory.
4. Joshua, type in name, and leading through death to victory.
5. Solomon, type of Prince of Peace.
1. St. John, the other witness of the Transfiguration, and also of his glory in heaven. The other Apostle-Evangelist. Special teacher on Holy Communion in his Gospel. Specially connected with St. Mary.
2. St. Mary, the means or instrument of Incarnation, also type of womanhood.
1. David, type as king or prophet.
2. Melchisedek, type as king and priest. His gifts, also, typical of our gifts in Holy Communion.
The cloisonné work on the east end of the nave, which figures our Lord’s Ascension into heaven, bears witness to the final consummation of His glorification.
The sgraffiti to the north and south of the chancel, representing – one, His Baptism, when the heavens were opened, and His Sonship proclaimed; the other, His victory over death – have still the same guiding idea. The vine,[v] above the east windows, reminds us how we have been made one with our glorified LORD, and of our consequent privileges and responsibilities.
The office of the angels, as revealed to us in Scripture, appears to be two-fold: first, the unending song of praise, in which we, both living and dead, are permitted to join; and secondly, the ministrations to men, which received its highest fulfilment when, after our Lord’s Agony, an angel came and ministered unto Him.
The angels over the cast windows, with their ceaseless song of “Holy, Holy, Holy,”[vi] show the first of these offices. In each window in the nave is also an angel with some musical instrument, likewise representing Praise; and in the cloisonné of the east end two angels offer to the ascending Christ, one the crown and sceptre, and the other the orb. On the opposite wall we have the two archangels named in Holy Scripture, St. Michael,[vii] the warrior archangel, ever ready, at the Divine Word, to contend with the powers of evil that assail us; and St. Gabriel,[viii] the special messenger sent by GOD to Daniel, “greatly beloved,” to comfort him by the promise of the Coming of Christ, and again to the Blessed Virgin, to announce to her that she was to be the human instrument of that Coming. These two seem, as it were, to watch the congregation as they worship, ever ready to defend and to help, to bear our prayers to heaven, to bring back a message of Love and Hope, and to minister to us even as they did to our LORD.
The figures on the pulpit represent five great preachers. St. Patrick, as the great preacher of the Irish, occupies the central position. On either side of him are St. Peter and St. Paul, preachers to Jew and Gentile in the New Testament; and beyond these, the prophets Isaiah and Jonah, preachers to Jew and Gentile in the Old Testament.
It will thus be seen that all the figures and incidents depicted in the church have a distinct Biblical source.
There is no repetition of decorative work. Every stroke of the chisel represents thought and care on the part of those who gave it. Of the seventy-five carved stone capitals, and eighty-four bosses, corbels, and finials (or 226 of both, if we include the wooden ones in the roof), no two are alike, save those in the chimney and four high up on the tower. These were carved in Dublin before they came down, on account of the difficulty of afterwards getting at them. Even the principal rafters, alike in other respects, have each their distinctive mid-rib.
And now, if there be any who would still say, To what purpose was this waste? let them remember who it was who first used these words, and what was our LORD’S answer to him. Or, some there may be who, from natural bent of mind, or perhaps from early associations, prefer for themselves a less adorned House of Prayer. May not such, remembering that many others find outward decency and comeliness a real help to their devotion , best serve God by making a willing and hearty sacrifice of their own predilections? It may well be that amongst ourselves there are some who have silently made this sacrifice. If so, our special thanks are due to them for their kindly forbearance.
If, during the present generation, this fair spot prove a bond of brotherly kindness and union; if the beauties of art, and the still more glorious beauties of nature, cause the soul to flow out in more fervent adoration towards Him Who gave both; if others are stirred to improve the outward fabric of their churches; if, when all who have had to do with it sleep quietly beneath its shade, the parishioners of Clane have still a loving pride in their parish church; then, and not otherwise, will the objects with which it was undertaken, and has been carried through, be wholly fulfilled.
But if, in God’s providence, disturbances or persecution should arise, and, even in our day, men should break down the carved work thereof with axes and hammers, the thought will still be sweet that while we had the power we contributed even a little to the rearing up again of the old historic and apostolic Church of St. Patrick; and in faith we will lay us down to rest “till the day break, and the shadows flee away.”
[i] For a full description see “Journal of Kildare Archaeological Society” for year 1893-4.
[ii] Isaac Manders, died 1887, and Hugh Henry, died 1888.
[iii] Archbishop King’s Lecturer, T.C.D.
[iv] “And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.” – REV. iv. 7; see also EZEKIEL i. 10.
[v] “I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.” – ST. JOHN xv. 5.
[vi] “And the living creatures…are full of eyes round about and within: and they have no rest day and night, saying, Holy, Holy, Holy.” – REV. iv. 8.
[vii] “And Michael and his angels fought against the dragon.” – REV. xii. 7. “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil, he disputed about the body of Moses.” – ST. JUDE 9.
[viii] DANIEL ix. 21; ST. LUKE i. 26.
[The original booklets contain many beautiful line drawings and images which are almost impossible to produce here but it can be viewed in the Local History Dept. in Kildare Co. Library; I hope people will find the information alone as useful]
A reprint of the original pamphlet produced to celebrate the consecration of the Church of St. Michael and All Angels at Millicent, Clane in 1883. The reprint dates to 1894 and was re-typed for us by Evelyn Purcell. I would like to thank Evelyn for her efforts and also to David Frasier and Seamus Cullen for drawing my attention to the fact that the Church is 125 years old this year. On Sunday 24 August at 3 p.m. it will be the location of an outing by the County Kildare Archaeological Society as part of Heritage Week and will be followed by a tour of Clane Abbey which according to Seamus Cullen is celebrating its 750th anniversary.