Thursday, December 31

1868: the death of Dean Richard Brown

Dean Richard Melchaides Brown, the priest who built St Peter's church, died on this day in 1868 at the age of 62. His memorial in the Cathedral shows him, as is the custom for founders of churches, holding an image of the church he had built. Canon Billington writes, "After the anxious work of school and church building was accomplished, he lived a little over nine years in the new priests' house, and died there, fortified by the last sacraments, on December 31, 1868. The dirge was sung the following Sunday, January 3, and the requiem mass the following day, Bishop Goss and about forty priests being present. There was no sermon, in accordance with his directions. He was then buried in the cemetery which had been laid out by his efforts".

The memorial plaque bears an inscription noting that he was pastor of the congregation for 28 years and had served as a Canon in the Diocese of Liverpool. Canon Billington records a local newspaper report which stated that he "had obtained the respect of all classes of the population by his courtesy and respect and respect for the opinions of others." He was regarded as "a man of great culture, with a taste for achaeological and architectural studies which had been developed and enriched by his residence in Rome."

Wednesday, December 30

Canal Views

Some of the photographs of the Cathedral's exterior also catch a glimpse of the changing face of the city. These two pictures, for example, show the changing face of the canal, and give us some sense of how it looked as a working waterway in times gone by.

Monday, December 28

SHCJ Sisters

Following on from our post on the altar servers of 1910, here are some more servants of the parish, though rather more recent. The Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus (SHCJ) came to live in the convent adjoining the Cathedral in the 1940s, and stayed until the late 1990s. Here a group are seen in a photograph which is somewhat more modern than it looks: this is the community (and a visitor or two, by the look of things!) pictured in 1991.

Saturday, December 26

Altar Boys 1910

Today is the feast of St Stephen, the patron saint of altar servers. The image shows some of the altar servers of St Peter's Church around the year 1910. Most of the names are given: Back Row: T.Burrows; J.Nixon; J. Carney; J. Harte; E. Nixon; Seated: J. McCarren E,McManus; J.Parker; R.McManus; Front Row: Burrows; Hemingway; Baron; Downey. Thank you to Sister Mary Campion FCJ for sending in this image.

Friday, December 25

Nativity Play, 1970s

Happy Christmas! This image shows a nativity play taking place in the Cathedral sanctuary. Our best information is that the picture dates from the early 1970s, but if you know better, or can shed any light upon who's in the image, please let us know.

Thursday, December 24

1899: the choir stalls

The choir stalls were first used on this day in 1899. As can be seen in this image, they originally consisted of two benches on each side; the ornate backs which today carry the shields of former bishops were added later, in 1928. Canon Billington devotes a couple of paragraphs to these stalls, giving details of the carved images, which show scenes from the life of St Peter, the symbols of the four evangelists, the four 'Latin Doctors' of the Church (Sts Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine and Gregory the Great) and various other saints, mostly with strong connections to Britain. Canon Billington records that the stalls cost around £700, and "were designed by Austin and Paley, and the principal carving was done by R. Bridgeman of Lichfield. They were placed there in 1899, being used for the first time on Sunday, December 24." When St Peter's was raised to cathedral status in 1924 the stalls took on a new role as home to the Cathedral Chapter. You can read a little more about this in an earlier post, here. Aside from the stalls, the image above contains a couple of other noteworthy features: it appears that at this early stage the sanctuary was carpeted (presumably this remained so until the jubilee alterations of 1909) and we also get a glimpse of the original decoration of the Lady Chapel, seen behind the stalls. As ever, you can click on the image for a larger version.

Wednesday, December 23

1999: the death of Bishop Foley

Lancaster's third Bishop, Brian Charles Foley, died ten years ago today. He had retired fourteen years earlier, but had spent those last years engaged in both study and in pastoral activity. In retirement he lived at Nazareth House but was also well-known to the residents of the Ridge Estate, which he often visited; in a sense, he returned to the duties with which he had been so familiar as a priest in the Brentwood Diocese in the 1950s, when he was noted for his house-to-house visits. "Better to ring the house bells than the church bells", he would say. A scholarly man, he was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature by the University of Lancaster, and published three books in his years of retirement: two on the people of the penal times and one on the history of the jubilee years 1300-1975.

During his time in office the Bishop had guided the Diocese of Lancaster through the difficult years following the Second Vatican Council, at which he himself had participated. No doubt his considerable historical knowledge helped him to guide the Diocese through those turbulent years. At his requiem Mass in the Cathedral, Archbishop Kelly of Liverpool spoke about the Bishop's life of prayer, spiritual reading and study, and noted, "The true historian, the true pastor of so many todays, has true authority to speak of the future." There was also a statement which Bishop Foley had written to be read at his funeral, in which he asked forgiveness for his failings and commended the clergy, religious and laity of the Dioceses of Lancaster and Brentwood. Carried out of the church to John Lingard's famous hymn, 'Hail, Queen of Heaven', he was laid to rest in the Cathedral cemetery. Sadly his successor, Bishop John Brewer, was unable to attend his funeral due to illness, and within six months the Cathedral was hosting another episcopal funeral.

Monday, December 21

1879: The Bells consecrated

The original eight bells at St Peter's were consecrated on this day in 1879, less than a month after the death of their donor, Mr John Gardner of Greaves. Canon Billington tells us that the bells "were cast by Warner & Sons of London, and were consecrated by the Bishop of Liverpool [Dr Bernard O'Reilly] on December 21, two days after their arrival. The bishop gave an address, explaining the service and touching upon various customs of blessing persons and things. In his exhortation to attend 'the voices of the bells' of St. Peter's, he asked the people not to be unmindful of him who had passed away, the giver of the bells: 'Pray for him that God may reward his charity; pray for him that though he did not live to have the satisfaction of hearing these bells themselves, he may now - or if not now, he may speedily - be amongst the choirs of the blessed and unite his voice with the voices of the countless myriads who still sing God's praises for ever and ever.' " Two more bells were added and consecrated in 1948. Each bell carries and inscription including one of the Beatitudes and the name of a saint; in the photograph here it is just possible to make out the text on this bell. Click on the image for a larger version.

Saturday, December 19

1861: The Way of the Cross

Slightly out of season, some might say, the original Stations of the Cross were first used 148 years ago today. Canon Billington: "The Way of the Cross was formally inaugurated on December 19, 1861. The Stations then acquired were bought in Paris, the cost in all being under £200. Twelve of them were subscribed for by Miss Jenkinson, Mrs. G. and Miss Coulston, Joseph Coulston, Misses M. and E. Coulston, Mrs. John Coulston, Mrs. John Whiteside, Mrs. Margaret Leeming, Miss M. Leeming, Mr. Richard Leeming, Mr. Hewitt (the Veronica)[this implies that Mr Hewitt payed for the sixth station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus], Mr. J. Birchall, and Mr. H. Verity. Apart from this, subscriptions came in liberally, and the surplus was spent on the statues of St. Peter over the north doorway. For the jubilee the paintings were reframed in oak and hung in somewhat more convenient positions." In the image above two of the stations are clearly visible in their original positions: one between the windows on the left hand side of the picture, and one on the right hand side near the top of the aisle.

This image, taken after 1909, shows the same stations rehung, in accordance with Canon Billington's description. It seems that 'somehat more convenient positions' may simply imply 'lower down on the wall' - presumably this made them more easily visible. The stations were used until the late 1950s, when they were replaced in preparation for the church's centenary; a post on the new stations can be found here.

Friday, December 18

1922: Dewhurst Chalice

This chalice, still regularly used at Mass, is one of many which have been donated to the parish over the years. It is inscibed on the base with the words, "Donated by Mrs Dewhurst, 1922". Nothing else is known of its origin or of the donor; the appendices of Canon Billington's book (published 1910) do list Dewhursts among the communicants of 1799 and among those who helped to pay for the building of St Peter's in the 1850s, so it is at least possible that the donor of this chalice was part of a long-standing Catholic family in the Lancaster area.

The chalice has four scenes from the life of Our Lord at its base: His birth, His baptism, His crucifixion and His resurrection.

Wednesday, December 16

1893: Canon Billington arrives

Canon Billington, second rector of St Peter's and the parish historian who inspired this blog, was appointed rector at Lancaster on this day in 1893. Regular readers will recognise him, of course, but just in case you're in any doubt, he is seen here seated on the right of the image, a photograph which was unearthed during the course of 2009. The picture was not labelled, though it seems likely that the priests with him are his assistants in the parish. The first post on this blog gave a little information about his life before coming to Lancaster, so today's post is intended to provide a brief record of his many achievements here. Canon Billington remained at St Peter's until his death in 1916, and during his 23 years he achieved a great deal: he had the St Peter windows installed, he built the wonderful baptistery, he oversaw all the work of the golden jubilee, which included a reordering of the sanctuary and other major works, and - of course - he published a parish history with John Brownbill in 1910. It was a time of great activity in the parish and has left a legacy which is still obvious today; Canon Billington's zeal also helped prepare for the time when - eight years after his death - the church would be made the Cathedral of the new Diocese of Lancaster.

Tuesday, December 15

1891: the story of Helena Leeming

On this day in 1892 a parishioner of St Peter's, Helena Leeming, daughter of Richard Leeming who bought the church's pipe organ, made her solemn profession in the Carmelite monastery at Lanherne, Cornwall. She had left the parish in June 1891, shortly after the deaths of her parents, and had inherited a substantial sum from them. In Carmel she took the name 'Sister Mary Joseph of the Blessed Sacrament'. As a parting gift to the parish, she left this chalice, which is still in use and was the principal chalice used at the Cathedral during the 2009 visit of the relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux, the famous 19th century Carmelite.

She disposed of her fortune by giving liberally to many charities, and she also donated the altar in the chapel at Lanherne, which is seen here in a photograph taken in 1937. The Carmel's archive records, "Not so many years after Sister Mary Joseph's profession, her health began to decline. She contracted a form of TB and later cancer. After suffering with great patience and courage, she died very peacefully on 3rd June 1911, and was buried in our private cemetery inside the enclosure. The monastery closed in 2001, and the community merged with that at St Helens; we are grateful to Reverend Mother Prioress for sending us information from the archive and the image of the altar. When the Carmelites left, some contemplative Franciscan sisters moved into the convent, so thankfully it is still home to a religious community and the altar is still in use. You can read a little about the community that is there today, and see a more modern picture of the altar, by clicking here.

Monday, December 14

The Church of Our Lady, Queen of Poland

Almost literally a stone's throw from the Cathedral is Lancaster's Polish Catholic Church. Yesterday the Bishop celebrated a Mass to mark the 60th anniversary of the Polish mission in the city, and the 25th anniversary of the church building. A significant number of Poles came to England around and after the Second World War, and there has recently been a new wave of immigration for economic reasons. Although Lancashire has always had 'local Catholics', some of whom can trace their families back prior to the Reformation, the Catholic Community has also benefited from those coming from Catholic communities elsewhere, most notably Ireland. More recently, a typical Sunday congregation at the Cathedral has become much more ethnically diverse on account of Lancaster University, which draws students from all over the world.

The Cathedral enjoys good relations with its Polish neighbours, and there are Catholics in the city who feel at home in both the churches. If you don't know the geography, you can see in this image just how close the two buildings are: the photograph is taken from the Cathedral tower, and the Polish Church is in the bottom right corner of the picture.

Sunday, December 13

Bishop Brewer at St Thomas More's

Some blog readers will recognise a few of the faces in this photograph, which shows the blessing of a Christmas tree at St Thomas More's on this day in 1998. Among them are Bishop Brewer, and, to the left of the picture, Sister Maureen Coyne, and Ursuline sister who still serves the parish today. The blessing took place in the midst of work on the St Thomas More centre, which adjoins the church. Although blessing a Christmas tree seems one of the less significant acts of a Bishop's work, it was certainly handy for him to get to. From 1937, when St Thomas More's was founded, the Bishop of Lancaster was resident within its parish boundary, at Bishop's House on Cannon Hill. This situation ended in 2003, when Bishop O'Donoghue famously sold the house and moved into a small apartment on the Cathedral site, where he remained until his retirement in May 2009.

Saturday, December 12

Canon John Blundell

This portrait, which hangs on the upper floor of Cathedral House, is believed to show Canon John Blundell, who was rector at St Peter's from 1922 to 1935. He succeeded Fr Robert Dobson, who had been made auxiliary bishop after only a few months in charge of the parish. Canon Blundell's thirteen years were not uneventful, for it was within his time that the church was raised to cathedral status, to serve the new Diocese of Lancaster; thus it was that he oversaw the transition from parish church to cathedral and became the first Cathedral Administrator. Canon Blundell died on this day in 1935; the notice book for 15th December that year gives details of his funeral: "Monday [16th]: Requiem Mass and funeral at 11.0am. The side aisles will be reserved for the school children; the first eight benches on both sides of the nave will be reserved for clergy, relatives and friends." Amongst the assistant priests at the time was Fr Oswald Brimley, who would become Canon Blundell's successor; the notice book entry for 9th February states simply, "The Bishop has appointed Fr Brimley as Administrator of the Cathedral". Fr Brimley, just 39 at the time, remained in this post until his retirement forty years later.

Thursday, December 10

First Burial, 1859

Somewhat surprisingly, it seems that the first burial to take place in St Peter's cemetery after the opening of the new church took place on this day in 1859. The cemetery had been opened earlier, in 1850, so had obviously already been used, but it seems that between the opening of the church in October 1859 and December that year no burials took place there. It seems unlikely that there were no funerals for a two-month period; probably funerals did take place but the deceased were buried in the town cemetery.

So the first person to be carried from the new church to his final resting place in the parish cemetery was a Mr Daniel Gillooly, age 64, of Monmouth Street. He had died on 8th December 1859 and was buried two days later, 150 years ago today.

Tuesday, December 8

The Immaculate Conception, 1954

The Cathedral's Lady Chapel is, in the words of Canon Billington, 'dedicated to Mary in honour of her Immaculate Conception', the feast which is celebrated today. Contrary to popular misunderstanding, it has nothing to do with the conception of Jesus; rather the doctrine states that Mary herself was conceived without sin. Although the belief had been widely held by Catholics for a long time, it was only formally defined by Pope Pius IX in 1854, just a few years before Lancaster's new church opened. The Lady Chapel's dedication, therefore, is no surprise. In 1954, a century after the declaration, Pope Pius XII declared a Marian year to mark the anniversary, and Cathedral parishioners made a point of celebrating the feast with particular solemnity. There was a triduum - three days of prayer - which featured Mass each morning and sermon each evening. The triduum ended with the feast itself, on which day around 370 people took part in a torchlight procession, followed by Pontifical High Mass sung by Bishop Flynn. Such events give us a glimpse of the popular piety which has always been a part of the life of St Peter's parish, and indeed the Church more widely.

Monday, December 7

Keeping the roof on

The words 'dry rot' bring fear to any parish priest, and Cathedral Administrators have had to deal with this problem on more than one occasion. It seems to have been a problem in the 1950s and 1960s, and again in the early 1990s. This picture was labelled as showing a workman dealing with the problem, 'c. 1992'. There is a constant programme of maintenance on the Cathedral building, which requires a huge amount of upkeep, but it is a tribute to those who built the church that, 150 years on, it is still in very good shape.

Saturday, December 5

Another view of Dalton Square

An earlier post showed an image of the Coulston's house in Dalton Square, which was used by the Sisters of Nazareth 1899-1902. Here's another view of the same house, which - as can be seen - had doors onto both Dalton Square and Robert Street. It's very revealing to compare the census returns around the turn of the twentieth century. In 1891 (address listed as 2 Robert Street) lived Margaret Coulston and her sister Elizabeth; two visitors and three servants are also listed. In 1901 (address given as Nazareth House, Dalton Square) there were Sister Mary Ronan and six other nuns plus a further five men, nine women and 41 children in residence - a total of 62 people. It is perhaps unsurprising that they soon looked for another building to occupy!

Thursday, December 3

Early Concelebrated Mass

Among the liturgical reforms that emerged following the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) was the possibility of concelbration at Mass. In this way each priest is understood to offer the sacrifice of the Mass even if he is not the principal celebrant. Although concelebration is a long-established practice in the eastern rites, it has no history in the Latin liturgy and its introduction inevitably brought with it some practical problems. This photo shows an early concelebrated Mass in the Cathedral sometime in the 1970s; Bishop Foley is presiding. Notice how the priests are not in matching chasubles; there would have been no sets of multiple vestments before the reforms. Another issue was space: sanctuaries in churches were not designed for large numbers of priests. See here how the priests are fairly tightly gathered around the temporary altar that was in use at the time. In the Cathedral space was a particular problem, especially at large gatherings such as the annual Chrism Mass. No solution was found until the 1995 reordering, when the construction of a new sanctuary at the transept crossing allowed priests to gather in the transepts for these large celebrations.

Tuesday, December 1

1938: the death of Bishop T. W. Pearson

Lancaster's first bishop, Thomas Wulstan Pearson, died on this day in 1938. A native of Preston, he had been educated at Douai and joined the Downside community of Benedictines in 1887. He remained there until 1912, when he was appointed assistant priest at St Mary's church, Highfield Street, Liverpool. Four years later he was appointed Prior at Ealing Abbey in West London, though it appears that he was unhappy with this appointment and made several requests to be allowed to resume pastoral work. Greater responsibility was laid on his shoulders when he was ordained Bishop of Lancaster in February 1925 (see here), a post which he held until his death.

The notice book entries for 1938 list the Bishop as being ill from around the end of October, and his death is announced in the entry for 4th December. An announcement of the funeral was made as follows: "The body of His Lordship will arrive at 4pm and will lie in state until 7pm. The Solemn Dirge will be sung by Archbishop Downey [of Liverpool] on Monday at 11am. The clergy will occupy the choir benches in the nave; some benches will be reserved for the mayor and relatives etc. The rest of the nave and side aisles will be for the general public. The funeral will take place in our own cemetery." So it was that Bishop Pearson became the first to occupy the vault which now contains the bodies of all the deceased bishops of this diocese to date.

A glance at the list of Mass intentions reveals that at least ten Masses were offered in the Cathedral for the Bishop in the week of his funeral. He had served the Diocese well, overseeing the events of its foundation, which must have been an enormous administrative task. During his episcopate he opened a number of new churches and parishes around the Diocese, including St Thomas More's, founded from the Cathedral.

Monday, November 30

Bishop Robert Dobson

On this day in 1922 Robert Dobson, until that point rector of St Peter's church, was ordained bishop for the Archdiocese of Liverpool. Born in New Orleans in 1867, he grew up on the Fylde and was ordained priest in 1891. He succeeded Dean Holden as parish priest in Lancaster upon Fr Holden's death in February 1922, but his time here was short-lived. On 22nd August that same year Pope Pius XI named him Auxiliary Bishop of Liverpool; as a result he is the only rector of the present church to be made a bishop. Ordained to the episcopate by Archbishop Keating (with Bishop Richard Collins of Hexham and Newcastle and Bishop Joseph Cowgill of Leeds as co-consecrators), he served as auxiliary bishop in Liverpool until his death on 6th January 1942. The notice books make little mention of the event, though it is clear from the entries that some parishioners made the trip to Liverpool for the ordination ceremony.

Saturday, November 28

1893: the death of Provost Walker

Provost William Walker, the second rector of St Peter's, died on this day in 1893. He had overseen a time of much development within the parish, as an earlier post recalls. Canon Billington tells us, "His health failed early in 1892, and he died at Lancaster, November 28, 1893, fortified by the last sacraments; he was buried at St. Peter's cemetery next to his predecessor... The requiem Mass on December 1 was sung by Dr. Gordon, Bishop of Leeds; the Bishop of Salford (Dr. Bilsborrow) and the coadjutor Bishop of Shrewsbury (Dr. Carroll) and about a hundred priests were present. The church was crowded, the congregation including the High Sheriff (Sir Thomas Storey) and the Mayor (Alderman Gilchrist). The discourse was preached by Rev. R. N. Billington, who became his successor. The Bishop of Liverpool was unable to be present on account of his own illness." Canon Billington goes on to say that a memorial fund raised £668, which was used to pay for one of the St Peter windows, for the installation of electric lights in the church and house, and for part of the decoration of the chancel. He also quotes 'a local newspaper' which described him as "a local celebrity of the first rank, whom to know personally was to admire. No words could describe adequately his fine nature, genial and friendly always, even to those who in secular matters might differ from him. He was generous to a fault, and the kindness of this heart not unfrequently made him a victim of impecunious imposters. He always took a deep interest in the affairs of the town, especially in any work intended to promote the general welfare of the people. The Infirmary was one of the public institutions he most cordially supported, and his attendance at the annual meeting in February 1892 was his last public appearance." Our thanks are due to Sr Mary Campion FCJ, who sent in the memorial card which is pictured in this post.

Wednesday, November 25

The English Martyrs' Window

The Cathedral's English Martyrs' window, which can be seen in the north transept, was installed in 1888. It shows four martyrs: St John Fisher, St Thomas More, Blessed John Houghton and St Cuthbert Mayne. Above these figures are the patron saints of the donor: St Matthew, St Helen, St Mary Magdalene and St Richard of Chichester. The window was donated in memory of Matthew Hardman, a parishioner and former Lancaster town councillor who died on this day in 1886. Canon Billington tells us, "it was given by his widow, and her nephew and neice, Mr. Robert Preston and his wife Mary."

Monday, November 23

The Cathedral Chapter, 1996

This last offering from the archive of old images of the Cathedral Chapter shows the group in 1996. Bishop John Brewer is seen at the centre of the picture, with Rt Rev. Jack Nicholls, the Anglican Bishop in Lancaster at that time, to his right as we view the photograph.

From the same day we see an image of the Chapter in the Cathedral cemetery, where they gather to prayer for the deceased clergy of the Diocese each November. The Provost, Monsignor Slattery, here leads the prayers.

Sunday, November 22

1924: The new Diocese of Lancaster

85 years ago today Pope Pius XI signed a decree, Universalis Ecclesiae Sollicitudo, creating the new Diocese of Lancaster and raising St Peter's Church to cathedral status. It was a few days later, on 3rd December, that Archbishop Keating of Liverpool received notification of the decree. By all accounts he was surprised at the decision, and seemingly somewhat angry: not only had the decree been issued without his knowledge, it also made his great project - the building of a cathedral for Liverpool - somewhat more difficult. The image above shows the 'new' Lancaster Cathedral soon after the creation of the Diocese.

A close-up of the image shows a canopy about half-way up the picture, attached to the arches on the left-hand side. This is a temporary arrangement put in place to highlight the cathedra (bishop's throne) which was placed beneath it. Later, in 1928, a permanent cathedra was installed and the canopy removed. The new Diocese of Lancaster was formed from the northern part of the Liverpool Archdiocese (from which were taken 46 parishes, 67,647 Catholics and 91 priests), and from the western part of the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle (from which a further 18 parishes, 21,098 Catholics and 32 priests were taken). From the date of the decree 85 years ago there must have been some fairly frantic activity to prepare for the installation of the first chapter and the consecration of the first Bishop of Lancaster, in February 1925.

Friday, November 20

Bishop Foley and the Chapter, 1970s

Thanks to those who have sent in information about photographs of the Cathedral Chapter posted so far this month. Here's the latest offering, which shows Bishop Foley with the Chapter outside Cathedral House. You may recognise Cathedral Administrator Monsignor Canon Brimley (to the right of the Bishop as we view the picture). As for the date, we are unsure, though it seems likely that to be sometime in the mid 1970s. Monsignor Slattery, who succeeded Brimley at the Cathedral, is not yet a member of the Chapter, and he took over in 1975, so it is unlikely to be much later than this date. The entire Chapter is pictured, though Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Pearson is missing from this particular gathering.

Wednesday, November 18

1894: the local boy returns home

Archbishop Thomas Whiteside, whom we met earlier in the year, visited St Peter's on this day in 1894. Just a few months after his episcopal consecration, it was his first official visit to his home parish since becoming Bishop of Liverpool. Canon Billington's account of the visit tells us, "On his first official visit to Lancaster he pontificated at St. Peter's on November 18, Mr. Robert Preston, the mayor, attending the church in state, and his brother, Dr. Richard Preston, preaching on the text, 'Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's.' On the following evening there was a public reception of the bishop, when addresses of congratulation were presented by the Catholics of Lancaster and the schoolchildren." The local press reported that an estimated 2000 people attended the Mass sung by the Bishop.

Tuesday, November 17

Bishop Pearson's Chalice

Among the Cathedral's sacred vessels is this chalice, which belonged to Lancaster's only Auxiliary Bishop to date, Rt Rev. Thomas Bernard Pearson.

At the base of the chalice is Bishop Pearson's coat of arms and motto, 'Jesu, super mel et omnia' -literally, 'Jesus, above honey and all things'. The motto is taken from the hymn Jesu Dulcis Memoria, which speaks of the sweetness of Jesus - hence the reference to honey. The text is attributed to St Bernard, and this may well have been a factor in the choice of motto, as Saints Thomas and Bernard were the Bishop's two patrons. Bishop Pearson died on this day in 1987.

Sunday, November 15

The Cathedral Chapter, 1960s

Today another Chapter photograph, this one seemingly dating from the 1960s. Bishop Foley and auxiliary Bishop Thomas B. Pearson are seated centrally on the front row. Also, on the far left of the front row is Monsignor Canon Oswald Brimley, the Cathedral administrator at the time. Click on the image for a larger version. If you can shed any more light on the date or the priests pictured, please let us know.

Friday, November 13

Built on rock

Like any large building, Cathedral House needs a fair amount of maintenance. The pictures here date from the early years of the current century, when work had to be done to underpin the structure. Although the Cathedral itself is - thankfully - built on solid rock, the house had suffered from subsidence and cracks were opening up.

This is the result. If you look carefully at this image you won't spot too many straight (let alone parallel!) lines. This picture shows the south end of the upper floor of Cathedral House as it appears today; you can clearly see that the subsidence has caused damage.

Along the same corridor, this bathroom door no longer fits its frame! Although the door is firmly closed, a gap has opened up in the top left corner. When the work was done devices were installed for monitoring the stability of the house, and so far the underpinning seems to have been effective. This major project is one of the more prominent pieces of work to have taken place in the 150-year history of the building, but in reality both house and church require a constant programme of maintenance and repair.

Alongside the repair work occasional improvements are made. At about the time of the underpinning work a new staircase was installed near the south end of the house. Here Fr Jim Burns, one of the Cathedral's priests at the time, surveys the progress.

Thursday, November 12

A view inside Cathedral House

Following yesterday's post, here is a view of the long passage which runs the length of the ground floor of Cathedral House. The large arch near the front of the picture marks where the original house meets the extension (the photograph is taken from the newer part of the building). These days the corridor is carpeted and divided by fire doors, but the tiled floor can clearly be seen here. Some of the furniture - and even the light fittings - survive to this day.

Wednesday, November 11

Cathedral House

Canon Billington's history includes a little section on the presbytery, which is now known as 'Cathedral House'. He writes: "A priests' house adjoining the church and connected internally with it was part of Dean Brown's plan, and in spite of some financial difficulties the building was erected, forming three sides of a little court, the other side being the wall of the church... in 1895-6 the house was extended by adding a large bay to the south, from the designs of Austin and Paley. The cost of this extension, including furnishing, was greater than that of the original house, reaching to more than £3000, for in the forty years' interval there had been a great alteration in prices and in the conditions of labour." The extension mentioned is the part of the house nearest the camera in the above image, which appears to date from sometime in the early part of the 20th century. Part of the upper floor of this extension was used as a Chapter room after the Diocese of Lancaster was founded in 1924, though the whole area later reverted to providing accommodation for the priests serving the parish.