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|2360: St Mary
the Virgin, Mold, Flintshire, Wales
St Mary the Virgin, Mold, Flintshire, Wales.
in Wales, Diocese
of St Asaph.
The building: This
splendid perpendicular church dominates the main street of the
market town of Mold. It was built between 1500 and 1570, with
the grand tower added about 1770. It has pretty windows, a good
timber roof, and plenty of stone carving. Outside as well as
within, just beneath the roof level, a multiplicity of carved
birds and beasts Ė cats and bats, dogs, sheep, whales, goats,
elephants, pigs, moles, owls Ė adorn this noteworthy edifice.
There is a curious Art Deco floor of coloured encaustic tiles
in the War Memorial chapel. On entering, I was struck by the
abundance of stained glass. The light at that time of day lit
up the whole interior. It had the WOW factor! One curious feature
is the swell box on the organ, which opens directly into the
chancel on lovely carved hinged doors. I wondered whether a
cuckoo was going to pop its head out and hoot at everyone.
The church: The
church appears to play a prominent part in town life. Their
website is under construction as of this writing, so I was unable
to get much information off there. They do have a eucharist
on Wednesdays and alternate among Prayer Book eucharist,
morning prayer, family communion using a "locally set form",
and informal worship that "follows no set pattern"
The neighbourhood: Mold
is a large, busy market town set in the vale of Clwyd in North
Wales. It is the gateway to the Welsh mountains, and is a designated
area of outstanding natural beauty. Set on the main thoroughfare
through Mold, the church is adjacent to a plethora of shops
The cast: The
Rt Revd Gregory Ambrose, Bishop of St Asaph, presided and preached.
The Ven. Shirley Griffiths, Archdeacon of Wrexham; the rural
dean; and a host of local clergy played their parts in the induction
of the Revd Rex Matthias.
The date & time: Saturday,
17 March 2012, 2.00pm.
What was the name of the service?
The Institution and Induction of Fr Rex Matthias as Vicar of Mold.
How full was the building?
Comfortably full for such a large building, about 250.
Did anyone welcome you
This church is not usually open so I was glad to find the door
ajar and people going inside. I had heard the bells being rung
up as I walked along. "Aha," I thought, "must
be a wedding!" I was caught off guard in my Saturday slopping-about
garb. I'm happy to say, though, that I got more than a welcome:
I got an invitation. "Are you staying to the induction?"
enquired a man who appeared from behind a pillar in the nave.
"Yes, Iíll stay, thank you," I replied, whereupon
he thrust a service booklet at me. I sat down in the darkest
part of the church behind a column in the Lady chapel and picked
fluff off my clothes as I searched for a pencil, specs and Mystery
Worshipper calling card!
Was your pew comfortable?
The bench pew was bearable, with a red carpet runner to pad
How would you describe the pre-service
Animated noisy chatter and raucous laughter from the porch entrance
and rear of the church. An expectant feel to it. Merry organ
music completed the picture.
What were the exact opening words of the
"We sing our opening hymn!"
What books did the congregation use during the
There was a printed order of service and a separate booklet
for the induction service (Welsh and English). The service was
bilingual, including a Welsh hymn that nearly lifted the roof!
I though I was at the old Cardiff Arms Park! There was also
a colour post card of St Maryís inside the service sheet. Nice
What musical instruments were played?
Church pipe organ. Robed choir of eight men and two women.
Did anything distract you?
The people in front of me, who were dressed in dark navy blue uniforms, sat down and got up again, disappeared and reappeared. They did this a couple of times. I donít know who they were or where they were going.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
The tradition here is catholic. However, the day I was there,
the service was too formal to be really comfortable. I wouldn't
say it was particularly friendly or happy. No one was smiling.
In fact, I said out loud, "Cheer up!" just for the
hell of it!
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how
good was the preacher?
8 Bishop Gregory is a large jovial man with a good sense
of humour and fun. Amusing little anecdotes crept in from time
to time. Wales were playing England Rugby International. The
bishopís wife, so he said, had told him to keep it short because
she wanted to nip out to catch the second half!
In a nutshell, what was
the sermon about?
It being St Patrickís Day, the bishop touched on the gospel
reading about going out and spreading the word "without
purse or bag" not very practical on the high streets
of Mold! Those who are sent out into the world are to be bearers
of the peace of the Lord. The word "peace" in the
Bible represents the fullness of Godís blessing and the fullness
of life. This is the Christian vocation, set by the example
of Christ. A vicar must be a faithful minister of the sacraments,
dispensing the medicine of immortality; and the congregation
should support him in all that he does.
Which part of the service was like being in
The little sleep that I had during the boring bits when no one was looking.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The portable toilets, situated in the churchyard opposite the
vestry door. They were much in use on this occasion. I have
a fear of getting locked in lavatories in general.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I hung around in the side aisle admiring the architectural delight
of St Mary's Church. I was accosted by a man who enquired if
I was a visitor, where I was from and why I was dressed like
a scarecrow! "Have you been gardening?" he asked.
I just smiled.
How would you describe
the after-service coffee?
The buffet refreshments were at the back of church and had caused
a log-jam of human traffic. I decided not to avail myself of
the buffet, the reason being the last church fare I accepted
put me in hospital on a drip with a stomach bug. So I was a
bit wary. There was, however, a selection of party fare. I managed
to make my escape by walking head down toward the porch, to
be greeted by the new vicar. He is originally from these parts
and has come home to North Wales from the south. Bishop Gregory,
a very large man who resembles Billy Bunter, the rather rotund
hero of Charles Hamilton's Greyfriars School tales,
in episcopal garb, shook me warmly by the hand. I spoke to him
in his mother tongue, which he appreciated.
How would you feel about
making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
6 But I am sure the new vicar will liven things up. He
seemed a good do-it-yourself chap of many facets and ideas.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
Not necessarily so.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The odd design of the organ's swell box.
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