A History - Part
With the idea of a new church frozen, a new challenge was faced. Several parishioners had requested that the Holy Ghost church should be restored. In 1991, under the direction of Simmons and Sons as consultants, Fr Grufferty and Adrian Alder drew up a list of the works to be carried out. The following required attention: General overhaul of the roof including the bell tower; renewal of all rainwater goods; repair and cleaning of all stonework, to include the flint.
Internal works included repairs to all damaged areas due to dampness; re-painting throughout; repair and overhaul of all windows to include three new windows at the west elevation; restoration and cleaning of all paintings; refurbish all the benches in the main body of the church; a new sound system to include a loop system for the hard of hearing; a new lighting system; a new carpet in the sanctuary and carpet in the aisle and on the stairs to the balcony; improve the heating system; sand and polish floors, remove the balcony frontal and replace with railing for greater visibility. The estimated cost was £120,000 including professional fees. A Fund-raising Appeal was launched on June 7th 1991.
In order that the work could be carried out effectively, the church closed on October 27th 1991 and it re-opened on 1st March 1992. While the church was closed, Sunday Masses were held at St Bede's School and week-day services were held in the Burgess Road Hall.
There were several exciting discoveries made during the restoration work: -
The church was officially reopened with a concelebrated Mass on March 6th 1992 with Bishop Crispian Hollis as the main celebrant. During the Mass, Mr Albert Smallbone was invested as a Knight of St Gregory for his many years of dedicated service to the Holy Ghost Parish.
The three windows in the west elevation were in need of complete renewal. It was therefore decided to opt for stained glass. Andrew Taylor was commissioned to execute three new windows. These were installed in April 1992.
Andrew Taylor explains the background to his design ...
The Sun: Right at the top is the sun. "God made the greater light to govern the day ..." Genesis 1:16. The greater light dominates the central windows but you can see the rays of light spreading out in different colours through all three windows. The windows should really be seen in harmony. As the windows were commissioned during the Decade for Evangelisation, January 6th, 1991 - 2000, the rays of light are symbolic of God's light affecting the whole of creation.
Creation: At close range the work of creation is very evident. Somebody has described them as "environmentally friendly". The task of the Christian is to re-create the world. Because of 1992 and all things European, Fr Tom specifically requested that the present European logo be placed in the window.
The river is symbolic of Ezekiel's vision of water flowing from the threshold of the Temple. The water flows out like a mighty river over the whole of creation, bringing healing and abundant fruit. The water is, of course, a symbol of Christian Baptism, and as the windows are positioned above the entrance to the church, they are a sign of our entrance into the Body of Christ.
The style of the Church has been described as early English or thirteenth century and the materials used throughout are flint with Doulting stone dressing. The nave is 25 metres long and 14 metres high. The decagonal sanctuary has a beautiful north transept - the Lady Chapel - while the south transept is the sacristy, above which is the organ loft. Between the Church and the Presbytery is the bell tower rising to 22 metres. There are large stone buttresses surrounding the building. The two west buttresses contain the statues of St Edmund of Canterbury, who is patron of the Diocese of Portsmouth, and St John the Baptist (Bishop Cahill's first names were John Baptist). In a niche, facing Burgess Road, is a statue of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception who is also patroness of the Diocese. Above the front door is a richly moulded recess filled with a stone carving representing the coming of the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost.
The interior of the Church has outstanding beauty for the day, every detail carefully planned and skilfully executed. Between 1903-1908 the windows in the sanctuary were made and installed. The paintings on the sanctuary walls and ceiling were executed by Mr Westlake F.R.S.A., whose art has influenced many churches in the South of England.
The windows and the paintings, when viewed from the nave, should be seen as one beautiful and harmonious story of the Trinity's love for people. The central picture over the throne canopy shows Jesus on His mother's knee; surrounding this centrepiece are the seven spirits "who are before the Throne". Rev. 1:4.
To complete the series of paintings we have John the Baptist, who is seen as the great messenger (angel) of the Incarnation. The spaces above and below these figures are filled with scrolls bearing the words of the hymn "Come Holy Ghost, Creator Come".
Four of the windows contain the four Evangelists because it is through them we have received the message of Jesus. The 5th window has St Joseph, the husband of Mary and foster-father of Jesus. The last window contains Pope Alexander I who stands for the Universal Church and obviously Canon Scoles' patron.
Below the windows are sixteen Patriarchs and Prophets of the Old Testament. Going from left to right there is; Abel, Melchizedek, Abraham, Isaac, Noah, Jacob, Judah, Jesse, David, Moses, Son of Sirah, Ezechiel, Joel, Daniel, Jeremiah and Isaiah. The theme of their lives is carried through to the Cross at the centre as a symbol of Christian victory and to the Tabernacle as the symbol of the Lord's permanent love for his people.
Again moving from left to right, the Emblems of the Cross and the Last Supper are depicted lower down beginning with the 30 pieces of silver.
The materials of the altar are of a great mixture, belonging to a later period of architecture than the rest of the church. Before the Liturgical requirements of Vatican II the altar and reredos were attached. Two slabs of magnificent green Mexican onyx with a carved cross of pure white marble form the front of the altar, surmounted by the Sicilian marble top containing the relics of St James, the Apostle, St Stephen and St Bede.
The altar, supported by four columns of Bois de Jourdan and Serpentine marble, rests on a plinth of Languedoc marble.
The Lady Chapel is divided from the nave of the church by a richly moulded arch, supported on monolith marble columns with carved capitals. It is lofty and well proportioned and has been described as the transept or founder's Chapel, dedicated to Our Lady Immaculate, Spouse of the Holy Ghost.
A tablet commemorates the date the church was solemnly consecrated in 1903 by the second Bishop of Portsmouth, the Right Reverend William Timothy Cotter, who became the third Bishop of the Diocese.
The altar itself is a work of exceeding richness and beauty, and its front consists of amber onyx divided by marble and agate onyx columns. When it was consecrated the relics of St Cosmos and St Christopher were deposited in the 'sepulchre' of the altar-stone.
The reredos is composed of marble and alabaster. In the centre, under an arched canopy of alabaster, surmounted by a tower and pierced spire, stands a marble statue of the Blessed Virgin in the attitude of pronouncing the Magnificat. There is an inscription on the cornice above the arcading expressing the dedication to Our Lady Immaculate
On either side of the principal statue are small statues of the patron saints of the founder and his three brothers - Saints Ignatius, Augustine, Alexander and George. St Ignatius, the founder of the Society of Jesus, being recognised by his text bearing the letters A.M.D.G. (All for the greater glory of God). St Augustine, with crozier, is presumed to be St Augustine of Canterbury, sent from Rome by Pope St Gregory and founder of the See. St Alexander is presumed to be the Pope mentioned in the Roman Canon. St George is easily recognisable.
On the wall behind the altar, above the reredos, are pictures representing the Assumption of Our Lady and the opening of her tomb. Above these two is a painting of her Coronation.
On the ceiling are depicted the principal events of Our Lady's life: First, the Presentation of Our Lord to the Gentiles (usually called the Magi); second, the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple; third, the working of Christ's first miracle at Cana at the request of His mother; while the picture immediately over the altar represents the coming of the Holy Spirit upon Our Blessed Lady and the Apostles.
In the angles of the groining under each picture is the Prophet who wrote on the subject in the Old Testament, and the Evangelist who wrote about it in the New Testament.
The lower part of the walls of the Chapel are in very rich blue and gold brocading. The upper part is powdered over with a rich ornamentation of gold and colour.
The window is filled with stained glass, and shows forth under the well-known features of the five joyful mysteries of the Rosary, the operations of the Holy Ghost on Our Blessed Lady for the good of mankind. The small window facing the altar represents the death of St Joseph; it is placed here by Canon Scoles as a memorial to his late father, J.J. Scoles.
In the intersection between the Church and the Sacristy there is the Bell Tower, over 21 metres high, and the organ loft.
The Bell Tower contains the bell called "John", because it was sponsored by J. Liddell Esq. of Sherfield Manor. It weighs 23/4 cwt and is inscribed with the words "Glory to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost". The bell was blessed by Bishop Cahill immediately after the consecration of the Lady Chapel altar on 9th September 1908.
The organ was installed to mark the opening of the second Vatican Council.
The Stations of the Cross, by an unknown painter, are of no artistic value although it has to be said that they are of great value to the people of the Parish. The amazing feature of these paintings is that they have survived 60 years or more, for they are merely painted on canvas which in turn is stuck straight on to the wall.
During 1991-92, the Stations of the Cross and all the paintings in the Church were lovingly restored by Nazarino D'Angelo. In the 14th Station he discovered Joseph of Arimathea holding the crown of thorns. He had faded over the years and could not be seen before the restoration.
In the 12th and 13th Stations, there is St Theresa of Lisieux. Although the only connection she could have had with the church is that the paintings were executed around the time she was canonised, there is now, of course, a remarkable coincidence in that Theresa was born in Alençon which is now twinned with Basingstoke.
(A small conservation piece - by Andrew Taylor)
(It is possible that the fragments of glass used in the panel were given to Canon Scoles by the Vicar of St Michael's.)
When the three statues on the exterior of the church were examined it was first thought that these were medieval. They were in a severe state of deterioration which may suggest that they were carved for the interior and not the exterior. Because of costs and the delicate nature of this work, it was decided to postpone removing these statues, have new ones carved and place them in a more secure environment until a later date.
One of the statues is of Edmund of Canterbury, Patron of the Diocese. The second statue is that of John the Baptist, patron of John Baptist Cahill, Bishop of the Diocese, 1900-1910, and the statue facing Burgess Road is that of Our Lady, patroness of the Diocese.
In 1986, work began to rebuild St Bede's school roof. A building contract was signed for £137,757.50, the parish being responsible for paying £20,663, 15% of the total cost. In the same year the houses in Burgess Road were renovated, made habitable and rented out to single people.
All the Sacramental Programmes were introduced, RCIA, Reconciliation, Baptism, Marriage Preparation. The Communion Programme was already well established.
Fr Joe came to the Parish in September 1986. He retired from the African Missions. He had pastoral responsibility for Popley and the Northern Villages as well as St Bede's school.
On Monday 28th November, 1988 during his day off, Fr Joe stepped off a bus in Bridge Street, Westminster (near the Houses of Parliament) at 11:32 am. He walked into an oncoming van and was critically injured. He was taken to the I.T.U. of Westminster Hospital where he remained in an unconscious state until he died on Monday 12th December 1988. At seven o'clock on the day of his accident, a special Mass was offered for his recovery; as the Parish returned from work, news had spread quickly and the church filled to capacity. His Requiem Mass was celebrated in the Holy Ghost on Tuesday 20th December. The chief celebrant was Mgr Cyril Murtagh, Vicar General of the Diocese (the new Bishop had not yet taken up his appointment). Fr Joe is buried in Worting Road cemetery.
The Social Club closed in August 1989.
On February 17th 1991, the Anglican Community ceased to use St Bede's as a place of worship. On that day they took possession of their new church by ceremoniously walking from St Bede's to their new building. The congregation were led by the Vicar, Rev. Peter Furber and Fr Tom Grufferty, who read the Gospel and preached at the first service in the new building. The Anglican Community have placed a plaque in the Foyer of St Bede's to commemorate the use of St Bede's School for Anglican worship.
In 1992 a lay-led Eucharistic Service replaced Mass in Sherfield on Loddon. This took place each Sunday with the priest going to say Mass once a month.
In September 1992 Fr Tom Grufferty was transferred from Basingstoke to become Parish Priest of St Joseph's Havant. He was replaced by Fr Joseph McElhinney, who was formerly Parish Priest of St Joseph's, Bracknell