Weekly Email – Trinity 16 | All Saints Margaret Street All Saints Margaret Street | Weekly Email – Trinity 16

Weekly Email – Trinity 16

Friday 22 September 2023 at 13:45


Dear friends,

I spent a very interesting few hours a couple of weeks ago visiting two buildings on Margaret Street which have, in the past, formed an important part of our parish’s life: the former convent of the All Saints’ Sisters opposite the church; and the Buddhist temple at number 82 which was once once our parish school, and was latterly in the 70s the Institute for Christian Studies. My visit was part of a heritage open day, and made for a fascinating afternoon.

Both buildings now serve very different purposes, but it was encouraging to see them being used imaginatively by the communities that are now custodians of them, and with plans for restoration and refurbishment.

The most significant recent development is the news of what will be happening with our former convent.

This was originally the home of the community of sisters founded in 1851 by Harriet Brownlow Byron which became the All Saints Sisters of the Poor. Their house on Margaret Street was the focus of much great work undertaken amongst the urban poor in the area around All Saints’.

The sisters found, however, that they could no longer support the large building and finally moved out in 2001. Once the building was sold, it eventually ended up in the hands of the Jesus Army who, for the past ten years or so, have undertaken valuable homeless work there. They, in turn, recently found they could also no longer sustain the costs of the building and sold it last year. It will now be redeveloped into flats. Indeed, you can see the plans which the developers have for the building here.

[The convent chapel being visited by members of the public during the heritage open day.]

One of the most important elements of this new development for us, in my view, is that the sisters’ chapel has been afforded specific legal protection within the building and will be restored as a community space for concerts, exhibitions and cultural events.

When I spoke to the person responsible for this part of the redevelopment project it became clear very significant sums of money indeed had been ear-marked by the developers for the restoration of the chapel. Although it is, of course, a sadness that the building is no longer used for religious life, I was heartened to learn that the chapel and organ will be renovated so professionally with no expense spared.

[The sisters’ former altar in a very sorry state. These slabs of stone which originally formed the altar are going to be put back together and reconstructed.]

The chapel itself is by Street and is a remarkable space – though I have to confess it is not looking its best at the moment. It is in definite need of care and repair. Its east wall is filled with a remarkable image showing female saints and angels looking up to a beautiful calvary. The altar has been pulled apart – indeed it is just a pile of stones, brick and rubble at the moment, but I learned the plan is definitely to re-build it and restore it to its original position. I could see the altar’s relics are still to be found sealed into the mensa, lying on the floor.

[The calvary over the space where the altar originally was. The painting is clearly in need of some attention, cleaning and repair, but is still quite striking and beautiful nonetheless.]

It strikes me that once the repristination of the chapel has happened, it would be interesting to explore whether we might be able to use the community space for worship. I was wondering, perhaps, whether we might be able to say Mass in there every once in a while as a thanksgiving for, and acknowledgement of, the previous life of the building.

I then went next door and was able to visit the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple, which was our former parish school, built by Butterfield in the 1860s. Even converted to Buddhist worship, the Butterfield feel to the place is unmistakable: twisty staircases; tight corners; vertiginous light wells; ingenious manipulation of space.

The building looks like one entity from the outside on Margaret Street, but I learned it is actually two separate buildings inside. Once through the main gate, you realise to the left is the former teachers’ house, and on the right is a tall building containing several large school rooms on three floors, with a refectory in the basement.

It was under Fr Whitworth that the teachers were turfed out of the house in the school in order to make way for the parish’s curates to be housed there. This was because the curates themselves had been moved out of 7 Margaret Street, in order that it could become the Vicarage (our earliest vicars had, before this, lived in a grand house on Regent’s Park).

The former school rooms now form a temple space, library and teaching rooms, whilst the former teachers’ house is where the Buddhist religious community which runs the temple lives.

If you want to come and have a look around the place yourself, don’t forget that there will be a parish trip to visit the temple on Saturday 28th October at 3.00 pm.  After our tour of the temple, our group will invite our Buddhist neighbours back to the Vicarage for tea together. Please be in touch with the parish office if you wish to come so we have an accurate idea of likely numbers.

Although these two buildings are now used for very different purposes from what was originally intended, it strikes me we have an interest in ensuring that the memory of their former existence is appropriately preserved – whilst at the same time putting energy into ensuring we have good and constructive relations with their present occupiers.

The history of our parish is a complex and rich one, and we give thanks both for what God has done through it in the past, and for the ways he is active in our parish life in the present.

Fr Peter


The first session of our Mystagogy Course took place last night. Participants studied Books VIII-XI of Augustine’s Confessions. Our next session on 3rd October is focused on Sarah Coakley’s book entitled, “The New Asceticism.”


Evening Mass this Tuesday cancelled

Please note that the 6.30 pm Mass on Tuesday 26th September is cancelled next week. The 12 noon Mass will, nonetheless, take place as normal on that day and our usual pattern will resume the next day.


Festival Mass of the Fraternity de Salve Regina

The annual Festival Mass of the Fraternity of Our Lady de Salve Regina will take place tomorrow (Saturday 23rd Sept) at St Magnus the Martyr, London Bridge, at 12 noon.

Music will include Rosewig’s Mass in E flat, and Poulenc’s Salve Regina. Fr Peter will be the preacher and all are welcome to attend.


Book Launch

A book launch will take place on Thursday 28th September at 7.30 pm at All Saints’ for a monograph published by the Anglo-Catholic History Society by Fr Stephen Young on William Dodsworth, who was the Minister of the Margaret Street Chapel from 1829-1837.

It is under Dodsworth that the Chapel became an early London centre of Tractarianism, which laid the foundation for Frederick Oakley and then William Upton Richards to plan and found the new parish of All Saints, and construct our present church a generation later.


What a splendid book launch we had on Tuesday at All Saints’. Many congratulations to John Wallace on the publication of his book, “Anglo-Catholic church planting – Can it work?” John explores the role All Saints’ had in founding other parishes in the 19th Century and examines three recent examples of church planting within the Catholic tradition as a point of comparison.


Parish lunch – Sunday 1st October

A parish lunch will take place after the High Mass on Sunday 1st October at 1.15 pm at Pizza Express on Dean Street. The cost of the lunch (two courses) will be £25 (to be paid beforehand to the parish office via our Paypal account here) – diners buy their own wine. To book a place, please email the parish office.


Next Virtual Coffee Hour – 8th October

Our next virtual coffee hour after the High Mass will take place on Sunday 8th October (Zoom link here).

The idea behind this is simple: if you are an online worshipper, grab a cup of coffee and join us online via Zoom for a chat and catch-up directly after the end of the High Mass.


A group from All Saints’ went to wish Fr Graeme Rowlands well at a farewell Mass celebrated last Saturday at S. Silas’, Kentish Town, to mark his retirement. We will keep him in our prayers as he prepares for new projects and opportunities for ministry over the coming years, and we thank him for his tireless work over 31 years at S. Silas’.


Guest preacher

We look forward to welcoming the Revd Katy Hacker-Hughes as our preacher at the High Mass on Sunday 1st October. Katy is an assistant priest at Marylebone Parish Church and has particular responsibility there for their ministries of wholeness, healing and deliverance.


Visit to the London Cartoon Museum

On Thursday 5th October at 7.00 pm, there will be a parish visit to the Cartoon Museum, just a round the corner from All Saints’ on Wells Street. The cost of the evening is £15, which includes a glass of wine at the exhibition, and a buffet supper after the museum visit, back at the Vicarage. To book a place, please email the parish office.


Cinema trip – The Miracle Club

There will be a parish cinema trip to see a new comedy drama called “The Miracle Club,” on Saturday 7th October.

Starring Maggie Smith, it is set in the 1960s and is centred on a pilgrimage to Lourdes – and the self-discovery and reconciliation the journey brings to the group of Irish women who travel together. You can watch the trailer here.

Our cinema trip will take place in the early evening and will be followed by dinner in Chinatown. To book a place, email our parish office. Precise timings will be worked out closer to the time once cinema showing are published.



Next Zoom Theology Seminar

Our next Zoom Theology Seminar will take place on Tuesday, October 10th, 2023. It will be entitled, “Sitting on top of chaos: Dr Megan Dent on the religious life and times of Benjamin Disraeli.”

Historians have long assumed that the Victorian prime minister was indifferent to the various religious and moral changes of his time as he pursued political advancement. Yet in his novels Disraeli expressed a range of ideas about Judaism, Catholicism, and the Church of England. Sybil, or The Two Nations in particular explores the value of orthodoxy within contexts of economic inequality.

In this session, our discussion will be led by Dr Megan Dent, a published historian of this period, who will explore the novel’s treatment of various religious ideas, and how Disraeli drew on Scripture and historical tradition to posit a way forward for a struggling nation. Sybil is available in the Oxford World’s Classics line.


Santo Stefano, Bologna: a Pilgrimage of Faith

On a recent trip to Bologna last week, I visited one of the most extraordinary and fascinating churches I have ever been into.

Santo Stefano is also know to the Bolognese as “The Seven Churches.” It’s several medieval churches knocked into one jumbled up complex with the intention that visiting it is like a mini pilgrimage to Jerusalem. There’s a replica of the Holy Sepulchre, and a simulacrum of the Praetorium. As you make your way around, you revisit all the events of Holy Week in your mind’s eye.

[The seven interconnected churches that make up the Basilica of Santo Stefano – you can see the round church of the Sepulchre in the centre.]

The first space you enter is the Church of the Crucifix. This is a huge structure dating from the 8th century and built on two levels – in the upper church you can see a beautiful crucifix over the altar dating to the late 14th century.

Under the sanctuary is a crypt chapel containing the relics of St Vitalis and St Agricola, local martyrs. One of the columns that supports this crypt is supposed to be the exact height of Our Lord – 1 metre 70 cm, apparently!

[Left: the church of the Crucifix. Right: the round church of the Holy Sepulchre.]

From the majestic Lombard chapel of the Crucifix, you make your way into the circular church of the Holy Sepulchre. Tradition has it that a smaller replica of St Helena’s church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem has existed here since the time of St Petronius in the 5th Century. It’s highly likely this may be true as other epigraphic evidence points to Santo Stefano being built on the site of a former temple of Isis, which will probably have been a round building.

The present day edicule dates from the 10th century, which means it actually predates the building one finds in Jerusalem which was rebuilt in 1014 after being destroyed by the Caliph Al-Hakim. In certain ways, therefore, this building in Bologna could reveal better what St Helena’s Sepulchre in Jerusalem felt like than the one standing in the Holy Land now!

Part of the rites associated with this remarkable building involved all the medieval prostitutes of Bologna gathering here at the Sepulchre early on Easter morning, replicating their patroness Mary Magdalen’s journey to the tomb. The words of the prayers offered as part of this rite were known only to the sex workers of Bologna and are still kept a secret by them to this day. Other Medieval traditions include pregnant mothers walking thirty-three times around the church to ensure the safe delivery of their children.

[“Pilate’s Court” – held to be a simulacrum of the Praetorium.]

From the Sepulchre, one heads out into an enclosed space which is supposed to represent Pilate’s Court, where Christ was condemned. In the middle is a large basin, probably of 8th Century Lombard origin, but which is held to represent the dish Pilate washed his hands in. On one side of the courtyard, is a column surmounted by a crowing cock, evoking the moment Peter’s denial.

[Left: Pilate’s basin. Right: the cock crows for St Peter.]

From here one can visit the church of Ss. Vitalis and Agricola. It is a very plain Lombard church, which originally contained the relics of the two saints. It is St Ambrose himself who ordered that their remains be removed from graves and placed in a church.

This church has a strange history, however. In the 15th Century, a tomb with the name “Simon” written on it was discovered. This led to a superstitious craze in which the local unlettered peasants thought this might be the grave of St Peter. So many people came to see it, that the numbers visiting Rome declined (along with the associated revenues!). Pope Eugenius IV had the roof of the church removed and filled the entire nave in with soil so nobody could visit the bogus tomb! Once all memory of this unfortunate series of events was gone, the church was restored to use a century later by Giuliano della Rovere whist he was Archbishop.

[Left: the church of St Vitalis and St Agricola. Right: the relic of Our Lady’s hair binding.]

One makes one’s way through a warren of further chapels and finally into a beautiful cloister. One final point of interest is the Chapel of the Bandage. It is so called because it contains a relic of a strip of cloth used by Our Lady to do her hair up. Many other relics are housed in this chapel along with silver from the church’s treasury.

The church complex is a wonderful insight into how the medieval mind used space, location, artifice and imagination to transport those who entered this church to the events of our salvation. Through the sacred space enclosed in these walls, the pilgrim is able to experience afresh, through faith-filled imagination, the story of our redemption, and embrace the one who gave himself for us and rose again – Jesus Christ.


Attendance last Sunday


Links for Sunday

The links for the livestream and service sheet for this Sunday’s High Mass are at the end of this email.

Evensong and Benediction will take place at 6pm. Music will include: Gray, Evening Service in F minor; and Blairstow, Jesu the very thought of thee.



The flowers in church this week were given by Rebecca Hirst to celebrate Patrick Hartley’s birthday.

If you would like to make a donation for flowers or the courtyard garden, please contact Shawn via the parish office.


Prayer list

The sick

Fr. Harry Hodgetts, Amanda Barrett, Martin Berka, James Rodger, Elizabeth Lyon, Ray Oram, Felicity Felton, Gareth Vaughan, Eddie Burns, Stephen Pedley, Philip Eschback, Lena Sheridan, Mary Rowe, Frances O’Neil.

The faithful departed

Hubert Brough, Jenny Field, Peter Simpson, Gareth Chester-Jones.

Anniversaries of death

22nd – Anthony Alsopp, Andrew Braybrooke
23rd – Jean Hobbs, David Shearer, Pamela Herbertson
24th –
25th – Eric King, Irene Bevan
26th – Evelyne Steele, Mickaël Charbonneau, Lilian Exten, Lynn Evans
27th – Sister Mary OHP
28th – Marjorie Gaskell, Evan Windham, Mark Bushby
29th – Alfred Davis
30th – Jack Minnett, Leslie Thomas, Brenda Kirk, John Shand Pr

The Friends of All Saints’

22nd – Fr. Barry Orford, Samantha Parker, Malcolm Parr, Bhaven Patel, Alma Pearson, Pat Phillips
23rd – Colin Podmore, Nick and Cecilia Powell, Simon Pusey, Simon Rainey, Carlos Remotti-Breton, Steve Rice
24th – John Rick, Hilary Rodger, Fr. Jim Rosenthal, Mossman Roueche, Greg Round, Mary Sherred
25th – Fr. Peter Simpson, Ingrid Slaughter, Gwynedd Sooke, Richard and Louise Stallwood, Jason Stewart
26th – Ian & Veronica Summers, Ann Tacchi, Sebastian Taite-Ellis, Michael Taylor, Andrew Thompson, Pat Thompson
27th – Charles Thomson, James Thomson, Jeremy Thorp, Daniel Turner, Christine Vaughn Lillie, Sam Walsh
28th – Christopher Walsh, Christopher Waterhouse, Philip Wayne, Fr. Benjamin Weitzmann, Michael Westcott
29th – James White, Dr. Roger White, Matthew Whittaker, Tim Widdowfield, David Wilcox, Ian Wilson
30th – Juliet Windham, Philip Wood, Martin Woods, Martin Wooley, David Wright, Fr. John Wylam


Service times this week

Saturday 23rd September – S. Pius of Pietrelcina
12.00 pm Mass
6.30 pm Vigil Mass of Sunday

Sunday 24th September – Trinity 16
11.00 am High Mass
5.15 pm Mass
6.00 pm Evensong and Benediction

Monday 25th September – Feria
12.00 pm Mass
6.30 pm Mass

Tuesday 26th September – Ss. Cosmas and Damian
12.00 pm Mass
N.B. No evening Mass today

Wednesday 27th September – S. Vincent de Paul
12.00 pm Mass
6.30 pm Mass

Thursday 28th September – S. Wenceslas
12.00 pm Mass
6.30 pm Mass

Friday 29th September – Ss. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael
12.00 pm Mass
6.30 pm Mass

Saturday 30th September – S. Jerome
12.00 pm Mass
6.30 pm Vigil Mass of Sunday

Sunday 1st October – Trinity 17
11.00 am High Mass
5.15 pm Mass
6.00 pm Evensong and Benediction