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All Saints Church, Plymouth

All Saints Church was a once well known and respected Anglo-Catholic parish church in the heart of Plymouth at which the Blessed Sacrament had been reserved since 1882.

All Saints Church, Plymouth

All Saints Church, Plymouth, c1922

ALL SAINTS CHURCH, PLYMOUTH (overlooking the GWR, near North Road).
 
Soon after Dr Frederick Temple became Bishop of Exeter, he initiated a movement for Church Extension in the Three Towns. Four churches built under this scheme are nearly contemporary, but All Saints, was its first fruits.
 
Building began in 1873, and the present chancel was consecrated on 10 November 1874; the rest of the church was a temporary erection, which was familiarly known as “the Garden Church”, for around it was a market garden (the Clergy House of today stands on the site of an old farm house, which many can remember). The building of the nave an aisles was continued in 1878, but the walls were not carried to their full height, nor the permanent roof added, until 1912, after much of the temporary work had been destroyed, and other damage done, by a fire in 1910. The original architect was Mr James Hine, whose work was completed by his successor, Mr W. H. May. The nave is lofty, and the chancel unusually spacious.
 
The parish was carved out of St Peter’s, and the patronage deed bears the signatures of Bishop Temple and four notable priests, G. R Prynne, T. T. Carter, A. H. Machonochie and C. F. Lowder; and of C. L. Wood (now Viscount Halifax), who is the last survivor.
 
In teaching and practice the daughter church has followed the tradition set by the mother. Members of the Congress will be interested to know that Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament for the sick has been continuous since 1882; probably a longer record that that of any other parish church in England. The church contains many memorials of those who have served and worshipped at its altars.
[Source: Anglo Catholic Congress Handbook”, Plymouth, 1922]
Like all the fine Anglo-Catholic churches in Plymouth, All Saints Church possessed a rather splendid Rood with the attendant figures of Our Lady and St John.
 
The Rood was erected at All Saints Church in May 1915 in memory of the Reverend Owen Evan Anwyl who had been the Vicar of All Saints for 15 years and who died on 28 November 1913.
 
Rev Owen Evan Anwyl, Ford Park

Memorial to Rev. Owen E. Anwyl at Ford Park Cemetery, Plymouth, (2014)

The Illustrated Western Weekly News newspaper for 22 May 1915 carried a report which read:
 
ALL SAINTS, PLYMOUTH: MEMORIAL TO THE LATE VICAR
 
A rood has been placed in All Saints Church, Plymouth as a memorial to the late Rev. Owen E. Anwyl. The figures of the rood were designed and executed under the superintendence of Mr W. H. May (Hine, Odgers and May), who was the architect for the completion of the church originally planned by the late Mr J. D. Sedding. The rood consists of the crucifixion with the Blessed Virgin Mary on one side and St John on the other; and as there is no rood screen at All Saints, the figures are suspended from the apex of the chancel arch.
 
There was a special service on Wednesday for the formal blessing of the rood, the preacher being Rev. Ernest Underhill, of St Thomas’, Liverpool, an on old friend of the late vicar. Mr Underhill took as his text the words, “They crucified Him.” The words he said were appropriate because they had lifted up as a memorial of their late vicar and his friend the Cross of Jesus Christ, with St Mary the Mother of God, and St John the beloved Disciple; and he did not think they could have done better, for they would bring before them that which Owen Anwyl meant. He remembered Owen Anwyl many years ago, before they knew him. Owen Anwyl and he were at Cambridge together for the priesthood, to which God had called them. He remembered many traits in his character. There was in the rood the figure of Jesus Christ with arms outstretched wherewith to encircle the whole world. That was one thing for a priest to learn – never to be narrow minded, to meet all men with heartfelt sympathy. They would bear him out that Owen Anwyl had a great heart. It was not given to every young man, as Owen Anwyl was when he knew him, to try and understand the difficulties of others. He did not think Owen Anwyl had to learn much of sympathy; he was sympathetic by nature; he wanted to understand people because he wanted to help them; and like St John, he was pure. He (Mr Underhill) did not think any man at the University would have liked to have said a word in the presence of Owen Anwyl that would have brought a blush to a maiden’s cheek. He remembered Owen Anwyl coming into his rooms one night and showing great distress at hearing one of his young friends had lost his innocence. Another trait was his great love and devotion to Mary, the Mother of God, which so sweetened his life. Owen Anwyl taught him much. He (the preacher) went up to Cambridge an ordinary High Churchman, which was the most despicable form of Protestantism – a man who loved candles and incense, and refused the grace the Catholic Church held for him. He could remember the time when, with few exceptions, the religion of England was Protestant – when the wearing of the surplice in the pulpit created a riot, and when they were fighting, not for the reservation of the sick, not for the ceremonial use of incense in honour of our Blessed Lord, but for trivialities, like coloured almsbags and stoles, knowing little of the realities of the Catholic Church. That congregation had been brought up in the Catholic Church and its teaching; older men, like himself, had to learn it bit by bit. He thanked God that it was Owen Anwyl who taught him what the communion of saints meant. Communion with the saints of God who had passed within the veil, who were witnesses of the beautiful vision, and who there prayed for us, and to whom we might pray and ask for their suffrages.
After a solemn procession around the church singing “The Royal banners forward go”, a halt was made immediately under the new rood, where the ceremony of blessing by the vicar, (Rev. Heneage Sharp) took place. The hymn, “They whose course on earth is o’er” was then sung, and afterwards the Te Deum, with clergy and choir grouped before the altar.
 
All Saints Church is an ecclesiastical parish, formed in 1875, from that of St Peter; the church, in Harwell Street, partly erected in 1873-78, and completed in 1910, is a building of limestone in the Early English style, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles and a western porch: there are 400 sittings. The register dates from the year 1875. The living is a perpetual curacy, net yearly value £400, and residence is in the gift of trustees, and held since 1926 by the Rev. Herbert Edward BENNETT. In 1887 a clergy house was erected. A parish room and Sunday schools, with four
class rooms were erected in 1892. 
[Source: Plymouth Directory, 1938]
More history of All Saints Church will follow!

 

© Graham Naylor

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