Saturday, 18 April 2009

Saint Ninian's Whitby.

I have been back from Whitby, home of the kippers you see before you, for a week and it feels like a day. I have had busy, frenetic day after busy frenetic day, so much to do I have been shockingly poor at responding to emails and messages, so my apologies to many of you. Bear with me, I will get around to replying/putting your pictures up (it's getting a bit like Tony Hart's gallery in here) and making contact with the outside world soon. Meanwhile I look forward to Monday early morning when I am hoping to get to the swimming baths for a relaxing read of the Guardian in the sauna and a few brisk lengths. Or widths.

Yesterday we saw Saint Mary's in Whitby (and goodness me, I have pictures of York Minster and All Saints North Street as well!) and tomorrow, all things being equal, we will look at Saint Hilda's Whitby, the Cathedral that never was. Today though we have the forth Anglican Church in Whitby to be built, the third is of little interest, so we will skip over it nonchalantly. This is Saint Ninian's, built by the convinced Anglo Catholics of the town and for years staffed by Anglican Priests paid directly by the Patrons, such was the deal struck initially by the Bishop in return for consecrating the building. This state of affairs limbered on until the 1980's, when they eventually threw in heir lot with a continuing Church. This ended after some years and they limbered on further until the Patrons employed a clergyman of the Anglican Catholic Church as the Priest, which continues to this day. The Anglican Catholics have recently elected a Bishop, who seems to have made everyone a Canon, which is nice. Anyway, they have this Church, the jewel in their crown, which is a delightful place. The side Chapel where daily Mass is offered according to the rite of the English Missal is seen above.

This is the sanctuary in Passiontide red. It is a remarkable Church because through, I suspect, a lack of money, nothing seems to have been touched since the heyday of Anglo Catholicism in the 1940's, when horizons were broad and hopes high. Personally, I remain convinced of our place and recent conversations with those who purport to know make me even more hopeful, but back to the Church above, see the sanctuary, with latin inscription and English altar, Sarum altar frontal and an Anglican choir - a glorious mishmash of styles and dreams, making something wonderfully English and Catholic at the same time.

And back a bit, at the west end of the Church, the comparative plainness of the rest of the interior and the surprising gallery and lack of a central aisle suggest a conversion from a non conformist chapel, which was not the case. Whitby indeed is full of Churches, non conformist and independent, evidence of generations of local boys made good coming back to bestow a Church upon their grateful populace before scarpering back to their houses near York. Now, of course, there are plenty of empty buildings.

And from the outside, Saint Ninian's occupies an enviable position on Baxtergate in the centre of town and is open all day, which is to be applauded. You can see the Church HERE on their website. More tomorrow from Saint Hilda's, which was recently mentioned to me with the words 'the problem with St Hilda's is that it is as though Vatican II never happened'. As you may imagine, I was delighted at the compliment.