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|1756: St Paul's,
Charlestown, Cornwall, England
Paul's, Charlestown, Cornwall, England.
Denomination: Church of England, under the pastoral care of the Bishop of Ebbsfleet.
This Victorian stone church dates from 1851 and stands in spacious
grounds surrounded by gravestones, It was only completed in
1971 with the addition of a fibreglass spire and a ring of six
light bells. The treble bell is called Noel because it was donated
by Noel Coward. The beautiful interior consists of a wide nave
with three aisles leading to a rather elaborate chancel and
sanctuary. The high altar bears a cross in the middle of six
tall candles. There is a backdrop of three tall slim stained
glass windows crowned by a small rose window. A rood screen
is positioned at the entrance to the sanctuary, and it is surmounted
by a large crucifix with the figures of the Virgin Mary and
Mary Magdalene looking at our Lord. In front of the rood screen
is a communion table complete with smaller cross and candles.
To the left is a small Lady chapel. An unusual feature of this
church is the location of the organ and choir stalls at the
The church: The church is affiliated to Forward in Faith, an international Anglican organization that opposes the ordination of women to the clergy and episcopate. It celebrates two masses on a Sunday and has a morning mass every day except Friday. There is evening prayer every Sunday evening, with a monthly evensong and benediction, and holy rosary every Thursday. The evangelism group and the bell ringers meet regularly and there is an active social calendar of events. Preparations were being made for a car boot sale and a flower festival.
Charlestown is a harbour village in the outskirts of St Austell,
which is situated on the south coast of Cornwall. Originally
a fishing village, it grew in size to cope with the exportation
of china clay, tin and copper ores from the St Austell area
in the 18th century. Charlestown is named after the entrepreneur
Charles Rashleigh, who planned much of it. The church lies in
a quiet residential area not far from the harbour, which still
acts as a small working port. Nearby is a museum called the
Shipwreck and Heritage Centre and a pub named The Rashleigh
The celebrant and preacher was the parish priest, the Revd John
The date & time:
Commemoration of the Martyrdom of Sts Peter and Paul, Sunday,
28 June 2009, 9.30am.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
It was reasonably full and I would say there were about 80 in
the smartly dressed mainly elderly congregation. Ladies outnumbered
gentlemen in about the ratio 3:1. There were a few supervised
toddlers who played reasonably quietly at the back of the church.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Several people greeted us in the car park. A lady steward greeted
us with "Good morning" as she handed us various books
and sheets, and several more people in the church also greeted
Was your pew comfortable?
The original pews had been replaced with comfortable cushioned
chairs, but the hassocks were quite thin and, when kneeling,
I was much nearer to the floor than I usually am.
How would you describe the pre-service
The organ was being played quietly. There were some whispered conversations but overall there was a quiet reverential air of expectation.
What were the exact opening words of the
Father John welcomed us from the lectern before reading out
some notices about future events. After a procession of choir
and clergy he chanted an opening prayer and announced the hymn
to be sung, to which there was a grand procession all around
the church. Then the actual service began with the words: "In
the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
What books did the congregation use during the
The New English Hymnal, service booklet (Common
Worship Order 1), pew sheet, and another sheet from Forward
in Faith entitled "Forward!".
What musical instruments were played?
A very fine organ originally made by the Cornish organ builder
Hele and Company of Saltash, now renovated and maintained by
another Cornish firm, Lance Foy of Truro. It had a rather warm
and mellow tone and was expertly played.
Did anything distract you?
When visiting a new church you usually follow the resident congregation
in kneeling, standing or sitting. So quite early on in the service,
at the Kyrie, where I would normally kneel, I was rather perturbed
to see everyone else standing, kneeling or sitting in roughly
the same proportion! There was no specific direction in the
service booklet so I found this quite disconcerting. Even when
there was specific direction they all did their own thing! Very
strange, I thought! The style of the service was very similar
to that of my own church at home, so I followed their example
and did my own thing – kneeling and standing as I was used to
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
This was a glorious Anglo-catholic service, rather like watching
an excellent performance at Covent Garden. The robed choir processed
in, led by their chief chorister who was holding a cross. Then
the altar party, led by the thurifer, crucifer and taperers
wearing albs with red girdles and collars, processed down the
aisle. Father John wore a biretta and a red chasuble over his
surplice. The front altar was censed before the servers took
up their position behind the rood screen. The Gloria was sung
facing eastward, and the collect was chanted, although the gospel
was said rather than chanted. Bells were rung and gongs sounded
at appropriate times, and there was much crossing, bowing, genuflecting
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 Father John spoke very clearly, using prepared notes.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
Peter and Paul are important for the two distinctive directions
of their ministry. Peter had known the earthly Jesus, and concentrated
his ministry of spreading the good news of the risen Jesus Christ
amongst the Jews, those whom God had originally called. The
risen and ascended Jesus Christ spoke to Saul, a persecutor
of Christians, on the road to Damascus, and this conversion
brought about a change in name and belief. As Paul, he travelled
amongst the gentiles in his epic journeys around the Mediterranean,
spreading the word of the risen and ascended Jesus Christ, and
established many new churches. Peter and Paul both ended their
lives in Rome, where the church of Christ was finally to take
root. Peter's foundation stone was laid there and he became
the leader of the church, as Jesus had told him he would. It
is through the apostles that we have the apostolic succession
not only of popes following Peter, but also of deacons, priests
and bishops called by God. In honour of these two great apostles
it has been traditional to ordain men as deacons and priests
at this time. Please pray for those men who will be ordained
during this season.
Which part of the service was like being in
I was in heaven for most of the service but I particularly enjoyed
singing the Angelus at the end. Father John gave a very good
rendition of it.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
There were some hiccups! When we sat for the second reading
we waited for what seemed to be an age for the lector to come
forward. Finally Father John read it himself, finishing by pulling
a face at people at the back of the church. Also some of the
melodies were unfamiliar to me. I didn't know the tune for the
Gloria or the creed; indeed the singing of the creed seemed
to grind to a halt at one point.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Lots of people chatted to us and asked if we were on holiday in the area. We chatted to the organist and Father John. When I mentioned to Father John that I didn't know the tune to the creed he laughed and replied that neither did they!
How would you describe the after-service
There was a choice of tea or coffee and a selection of biscuits.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
10 I would definitely worship here if I lived in the area. Unfortunately my home is 370 miles away.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
It made me feel very contented and happy to be a Christian.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The singing of the Angelus.
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