A Roving Causerie
By G. E. ANSTRUTHER
On more than one occasion, during the past few months, Ilford, in Essex, has made " news." Perhaps we had better say "Great Ilford"; because there is also a Little'un of the name clinging more or less to the Roding, though nowadays, in the general bigness and bustle of the district, it might need in a stranger a keen topographical scent to discover where littleness ends and greatness begins. The news has come about in this wise, that the Protestant Mrs. Partington, alarmed at the swiftly advancing tide of Catholic progress in Essex, recently sent down a broom, several brooms in fact, and there was much swishing about with the Town Hall as a base. Mr. Kensit has been there, and Mr. Close, and Mr. Martin: such a to-do and array of the forces. The brooms have since been brought back; the tide remains!
The result of it all, from the anti-Catholic point of view, has been lamerstable. Need a Protestant militant be also a bad tacti cian? Presumably not; yet what could have been a greater faux pas than to suggest, by distributed leaflets, that the Ursuline High School in Morland Road is likely, by its "influence," to be a menace to nonCatholic pupils? Everybody in Ilford knows that school, and the immediate effect of the crusade against it was rebutting non-Catholic testimony of which the Ursulines should be proud enough to preserve it in their scrapbook. Not indeed that the Order needs the praises of men for its educational work in those parts. The Ursuline schools both at Ilford and in the neighbour town of Forest Gale are strongly held in the esteem of these localities, and it is regarded as a very good thing for the girl, whether Catholic or non-Catholic, who gets upon the roll.
There was a time, in Ilford's early history, when Catholic piety had a care for poor leprous bodies such as are happily no longer in that locality. When an Abbess of Barking, in King Stephen's reign, founded the hospital dedicated to Our Lady and St. Thomas, thirteen lepers were to be cared for, and for centuries this was done; but after the Dissolution private hands closed round the old fabric, and the House of Cecil became master. Yes, after that Dissolution much else dissolved, including, as time passed, any provision for Ilford's Catholic people. The Old Religion went, but it has come back, and in goodly guise. The Catholic church of SS. Peter and Paul, in the High Road, is architecturally one of the town's ornaments. Here there is no hiding of a diminished head, but on the contrary a towering architectural proclamation of faith. And if you would know who it was who set those stones so proudly in Ilford's chief thoroughfare, the answer is swiftly found, for the man is still there— Canon Patrick Palmer.
Canon Palmer has now been so long at Ilford that to most of his parishioners he is as prominent and firmly fixed as the foundation-stone of the handsome church of which he has the charge. His progressive spirit has launched out, too, in the getting of Mass for the people in outlying dis
tricts. Ten years ago, for instance, he established the offshoot at Barkingside. St.. Augustine's; and more recently, in 1935, there was set-up the chapelsof-ease .at Chadwell Heath. As for the Canon's work in Ilford itself, what folk say of Sir Christopher Wren in St. Paul's will serve equally well for Canon Palmer in relation to one institution after another in the town along the Essex highway. Religiously, educationally, socially, Ilford is a centre organised on up-to-date lines, with church, schools, clubs, societies, and what not, to link into a strong chain the devotion and zeal of a big Catholic congregation.
Going from Roehampton to Bombay, Miss Susan Bliss will sever more associations in this country than those connected with her eighteen years' work on the staff of the Manresa Press. She will be missed by the many friends and admirers, especially in the Wimbledon district, who know what she has done, in South London, to advance the interests of the Catholic Evidence campaign. For those activities alone she has a claim upon our gratitude. In India Miss Bliss will continue, as manager of the Examiner Press, her long connection with the very good work of promoting the faith by means of the printed word. There are several links between the presses at Roehampton and at Bombay. Both are Jesuit enterprises; each of them is now a long-established concern; and even as the Manresa Press has for its chief output among periodicals the admirably produced Month, so at Bombay there is the now venerable Examiner to give name and principal occupation to that particular institution.
Among the many English centres in which St. Patrick has found honour this week, it can be trusted that the great Apostle was not overlooked at Patrington, in the East Riding. The beautiful titular church in that ancient town would be worth a pilgrimage on any day of the year, let alone the seventeenth of March; for it is a fabric full of attraction. The graceful spire of Patrington is a landmark, while within the building the famous Easter sepulchre, perhaps the most perfect in the country, is one of a number of deeply interesting reminders of the church's Catholic past. A search through Crockford would doubtless reveal more English churches, now in the care of the Establishment, with St. Patrick for their patron than most of us would think to be the case. A second one in
Yorkshire there may well be others— serves Patrick Brompton, a township a few miles from Bedale.