Page 10, 14th May 1976

14th May 1976
Page 10
Page 10, 14th May 1976 — By Patrick O'Donovan

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Organisations: Restoration Fund
Locations: London


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By Patrick O'Donovan

main square was dominated by a tall. spike)' church. During the earthquake terrible sounds came out of it. But even its tall spire stood with the loss of a few crockets and finials. But it took time to find the courage to enter. The noise coming from inside had been infernal.

It had been caused by the Stations of the Cross slithering to ruin down the walls. The statues rocking and falling off their pedestals The pews piling themselves on one another. The windows cracking.

The elaborate reredos crashing onto the altar in a rubble of artificial stone. The falling of metal lamps. Thc partial collapse Of a gallery. The death of an organ whicti, they said, had made sounds as it died.

I could. and would like to. go On and On. But there are people who with thin lips. not thin hearts. say that journalists only Write about what is had and sick and ii in Watford, and he designed a great deal Of the "church furniture" by which the Victorians set such store.

He was appointed architect of the new Cathedral by Cardinal Vaughan. Bentley spent five months studying Byzantine architecture, mostly in Italy. It was not a style that he had ever greatly admired. But he used it to make a contrast to the Gothic splendours of the Abbey

Now, inside the Cathedral, until June S. there will he a unique exhibition of his drawings and plans all designed to bring in more money to the Restoration Fund. This now stands at more than 1360.000, but they are aiming at a million.

Already £1 0,000 has been spent on the elaborate cross which tops the Cathedral campanile. We have no Catholic mother church in this country. but Westminster Cathedral conies closest to filling the role.

The \ are only aiming to make the place watertight and sale. The unfinished decorations. the sheets of marble, mosaics and incidental splendours will not he continued until the economic times have changed.

I would say that no one now alive will ever see it finished. But it is still one of the finest things in London. There is, by the way. no way of moving the High Altar with its great canopy forward to the new position used in other churches. If it were moved it would go straight through the floor into the Crypt.

Springtime in the churches

NOW is the time of abundance in the Church. I do not mean that the collection plates are piled with pound notes and orange envelopes for planned giving, or that the priests have brief cases bulging with new deeds of covenant.

What I do mean is that flower arrangers get more now than

they can do with where before these devoted ladies had to eke out with pampas grass and laurel. The daffodils those grossly overrated flowers are all but over.

The blossom of various trees comes in in sheaves, as to some mad harvest festival and. it drops, leaving petals that look like the paper confetti which drives \,icars up their gothic walls when they find it scattered over their churchyards.

Tulips are all right: too early for lilies. All sorts of lilacs coming up. And if you have the sort of church that has flowers, then your season is just starting. Then again there is the churchyard or garden. If you are lucky your church will be built on an asphalt or paving stone surround.

If you have a graveyard picturesque with broken columns and wreathed crosses, all in the dead white marble with a filling of marble chips and marble vases which Catholics have made peculiarly their own, then indeed you have a problem as the graves recede into a polite English jungle of coarse grass and cow parsley.

If you have a large lawn with flowerbeds, you won't find anyone to look after it for money if the parish has any. The process of maintaining it is like the painting of the Forth Bridge. It never stops.

Also, lovers pick the flowers to prove their generosity and devotion. And it is the rare male gardener who will work on the church patch.

I can never understand why convents are all so neat. They must have super-nuns to race up and down with mowing machines. It is easy enough to get ladies to do the brass, but you need a sort of Cure d'Ars to get a man to rake the gravel.

And one last tip. If you use incense and chance to spill the glowing embers of charcoal on the altar carpet, never, never try to stamp them out. This only drives them in deeper and the damage is made worse like the priest's temper.

The only thing to do is to kick them off the carpet, preferably onto a stone floor. Or I suppose you could pick them up and put them back into the thurible if you are that sort of person

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