8 January 2021

Stone Altars

When the High Command of the Luftwaffe, men of cosmopolitan good taste, so wisely singled out the London Wren Church of S Stephen Walbrooke for Updating and Reordering, they probably did not know that their choice would lead to some very jolly legal proceedings. 

After the War, plans were submitted for a large, roundish central stone altar designed by Sir Henry Moore, an English sculptor then held in high regard. But there were Certain People around who, for some reason quite lost upon me, deemed stone altars to imply doctrines contrary to those of the Church of England (who she?). Poppets!

Moore's design "suggested that the centre of the Church reflected the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem commemorating the sacrifice of Abraham and Isaac as a prefiguring of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross and the place for the offering of the Eucharist at the heart of Christian worship." 

The poppets went to the Ecclesiastical courts. Among the judges nominated to hear their case was one of the Church of England's most distinguished (and few) canonists, Bishop Eric Waldram Kemp. Happily, he and his colleagues decided against the poppets.

Goodness me, when, in later years, he told the tale of those merrily litigious days, how the dear old thing did snuffle!

As well as being Bishop of Chichester, Kemp was also Visitor of the Society of our Lady and S Nicolas, of Lancing; where, some seven or eight decades earlier, essentially the same question had arisen.

"I trust, Mr Woodard, that your Holy Table is movable". 

"Certainly, Archdeacon. Twelve horses moved it in here, and twelve horses could move it out." 

An attitude, surely, with which Our Patriarch Abraham would have agreed?


6 comments:

Jhayes said...

Here's a short report of the first hearing (8 days before the London Consistory Court) and the appeal to the Court of Ecclesiastical Causes Reserved (only 4 days)

http://www.britishandirishart.co.uk/the-henry-moore-altar-in-st-stephen-walbrook/

PhilR said...

I'm enjoying the ongoing commentary on sacrifice. Very Girardian: how modern and up to the minute you are, Father.

Mike said...

Moore, eh? Did it have random holes in it?

Adrian said...

However properly the Consistory Court and the Court of Ecclesiastical Causes Reserved decided, it is still a monstrous excrescence.

Jhayes said...

Here's a photo

Photo

Jhayes said...

Sorry, Here's another try at the link to the photo

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Stephen_Walbrook#/media/File:St_Stephen_Walbrook_Church_Interior_2,_London,_UK_-_Diliff.jpg