6 March 2017

Sandford and Faber (2)

The gracious archivist of Sandford Church (see yesterday's post) tells me that she has discovered, in a mouldering chest, a Prayer Book and a Bible inscribed by Fr Faber as given to the church while he was serving there; and that their stone altar, very like that at nearby Littlemore, is conjecturally ascribed to Faber.

This puts me in mind of Chapter 2 of Loss and Gain, Newman's novel of Tractarian life in Oxford. Here Bateman, a young Ritualist clergyman, proudly shares his pride in the renovation of a country church near Oxford ... which is in the very latest Ritualist style (even though he does not anticipate it having an actual congregation). 'It was as pretty a building as Bateman had led them to expect, and very prettily done up too. There was a stone altar in the best style ...'. ''We offer our Mass every Sunday, according to the rite of the English Cyprian, as honest Peter Heylin calls him; what would you have more?'' explains Bateman; an explanation which mystifies his hearers all the more. Not that I am suggesting that Loss and Gain is directly satirising Faber; the details do not fit and, in any case, it is not that sort of book. Its relevance is in the accuracy with which it describes the fashion of a particular moment.

Mind you, if Fr Faber did put that stone altar into Sandford church in 1839, it would have been one of the earliest to enter an Anglican church after the 'Reformation'.

PS Those interested in the historical details about Our Lady of Sandford should look at Professor Tighe's exciting comment attached to my previous blog on the subject. The standard Art History reference to the statue is in a 2003 number of Apollo, which has not caught the Recusant side of things.

6 comments:

Sir Watkin said...

it would have been one of the earliest to enter an Anglican church after the 'Reformation'

Cosin's at Durham was a little earlier ....

(Then there's Scudamore's notable reinstallation of the mediaeval mensa at Abbey Dore in the 1630s.)

Curiously, stone altars crop up more than one would expect in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. They don't seem to have had any doctrinal significance: more a sign of wealth and (secular) fashionablity.

Christchurch Cheltenham, a distinctly evangelical foundation built in the late 1830s (preaching box with galleries and minimal chancel, in pre-Pugin gothic) had one. But when such things became a party badge it was removed.

Joshua said...

Don't Anglican clergy and suchlike persons need a "faculty" (is that the right word?) from their bishop when putting items in their churches? I wonder whether any C. of E. bishop would have permitted a stone altar in 1839, just as "a female figure with a child" would have been considered intolerable Popery...

Pelerin said...

Looking up Fr Faber I am curious to know why he is referred to mainly as Frederick William whereas the Oratory site has him as Wilfred? Did he take another name on becoming Catholic perhaps?

Mike Hurcum said...

He wanted to be called Wilfred and the foundation he started just before he entered the Church was St Wilfred's I believe.

E sapelion said...

I see there is a biography of Faber, which may answer the question. Though a reviewer comments that the book is focussed on Fr Faber's spiritual development and somewhat sketchy on his external life.
Wilkinson, Melissa
Frederick William Faber, A Great Servant of God
(Gracewing, Leominster, 2007) £20, ISBN 0 85244 135
The church he had built, by Pugin and dedicated to St Wilfrid (sic), appears to be still standing but was abandoned in 2007 (dry rot, and the pews moved to another church)

Sir Watkin said...

Don't Anglican clergy and suchlike persons need a "faculty" (is that the right word?) from their bishop when putting items in their churches?

Not at the date in question. The present faculty system is a modern thing. Formerly faculties were only sought for major works.

Incidentally, "faculty" is just a synonym for "dispensation".

e.g. "And none shall be admitted a Deacon, except he be full twenty-three years of age unless he have a Faculty."

So why should a faculty or dispensation be required for alterations to a church building?

Because there was a presumption that the status quo of the building should be maintained (even unto the end of the world), so for alterations to occur there first needed to be a dispensation from that presumption.