Friday, October 30, 2009

Work so far

The basic carpentry work on our sanctuary is done, the steps are in place, the design we submitted to the Historic Churches Committee has been modified a little so we will have to go back to them for approval and approval of whatever will be the final covering, encaustic tiles would be splendid, fitting but beyond our means, at the moment we are thinking about laminated hardwood.

I still haven't found the right place for the chair. I hate sitting Caligula-like facing the congregation and I don't like radio microphones, some parts of the Mass not supposed to be heard, and depending on what you are wearing can make you sound like a crackling bag of crisps, so I want a freestanding microphone. The music stand, I know looks odd, normally we have a book bearer at "High" Mass, I need something for bits and pieces.

On Sundays and feast days we put out more candlesticks, in conformity with the General Instruction. I prefer taller candlesticks, because they add to the vertical, upward dimension. Besides, candles are supposed to give light and small squat candlestick don't illuminate much. The crucifix facing me looks a little strange with another crucifix immediately behind facing the people. I am never quite sure which one to incense, yes it is the Benedictine arrangement but I am sure it is meant to be transitional.

One little thing that I am rather pleased with. it is experimental at the moment is using the piscinae niches as credence tables, at the moment there are huge hunks of ply wood and blutak there, the level needs raising. We don't want to put unnecessary screws into the stone, if we find it works we will use glass or a thin sheet of matching marble. I am trying to keep the sanctuary free of unnecessary clutter like credence tables.

Tonight we'll see how it works in EF, Monday there is a High Mass for All Souls.

Eventually we want to face the altar with the carvings which are now behind it - this is mock up of how it will look - this will be in the final phase, if we can afford it.

So far we have spent less than £20,000 pounds, that includes sanding and sealing the floor, sanding the benches - they have yet to be varnished - moving the organ to the gallery, and the work on the sanctuary, in the next week or so the stone masons will start work on our poor old west window. Then we do the lighting and electrics, and pray for more money - God is good

This is the church las Good Friday, I hope posterity will say we have improved it.


Malcolm Kemp said...

It looks lovely; all you need now is a greater choice of altar frontals instead of the white one all the time.

Having the right floor covering will make all the difference. Most people, rightly in my humble opinion, seem to ignore the books that stipulate that it must be green.

There is one church - much in our local press recently - that had a highly elevated high altar. They then installed a nave altar on exactly the smae level as the congregation. Result - nobody could seen anything.

Et Expecto said...

Sorry, but I don't like the way that the corners are cut out of the altar steps. It looks as if they have been cut away as an afrerthought.

I understand that you are trying to get more lecel space in plano, but am not convinced that this is the best solution.

ffn said...

Keep up the good work.

Fr Ray Blake said...

It is the only practical solution for both forms.

pelerin said...

I love the way that the High Altar with the Tabernacle now looks one with the small altar to us in the congregation. It appears united even though we know there is a space in between.

Last weekend friends took me to see Meaux cathedral where the great Bossuet was Bishop. The enormous pulpit from which he preached is still there but what have they done to the sanctuary? There are not two altars but three each one several metres in front of the other. I cannot imagine the reason for this neither could my friends.

Interested to see Malcolm Kemp 's comment on the floor supposed to be green. I can't say I have ever noticed this but do remember when a former parish laid down orange carpeting in the sanctuary. It was horrible!

Tom A. said...

I love your blog but would suggest you lose the Novus Ordo altar and stick with the beautiful one behind it. Thanks.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I think green applies to carpets and the like, not the actual flooring, but our "archeology" reveals green vinyl tiles.

Green of course was the old episcopal colour.

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

It's a vast improvement and congratulations.

I just wonder if there's a (modestly priced) way of making the corner cuts look a little less abrupt. Flowers are the obvious way, I suppose.

Fr Ray Blake said...


Victoria said...

Our parish priest used to use a freestanding microphone and it looked so out of place in the sancturary. He got a microphone which attached to his chasuable and he can turn it off and on. A story is told, aphocrophal, I hope - of a priest being 'caught short' before Mass and dashing to the loo and forgetting to turn off his microphone!

Physiocrat said...

The cutaway areas will look fine if the spaces are used for something particular, then it will not look abrupt of like an afterthought.

The stepped vertical surfaces also need consideration. Trompe l'oeil panels or tiles or marbling might look good. The same could go for the floor, there are tough paints now which would stand up to wear. And some kind of guard rail or panel is needed to stop the servers falling off, which again offers the possibility of a specific treatment. Two evangelists each side, and something on the return faces, perhaps from our friendly neighbourhood Greek icon painter? Or could it provide a home for something rescued from a nineteenth century church?

When design modifications have to be made as a job proceeds, as can often happen, the trick is to make them look intentional, then they will not look like afterthoughts.

Although this may not have been exactly as originally planned it has the potential for a fine solution.

Physiocrat said...

TLM does not need microphones, speakers and other paraphernalia. Another good reason for going over to it.

sekman said...

I love what you have done, I will agree with others, the cutaway steps looks a little irregular, however it is indeed an improvement. As far as you microphone situation goes, what about a flat style mic such as this one.
I'm assuming that you say the collects and post communion at the chair and therefore the use of the stand, when you don't have a server. At my parish here in the U.S. along with others,when no server is present, the priest says the collects and post communion at the altar. I know that this isn't in total conformity with the GIRM, but I would think that the circumstances of not having a server would be permit it.

Anonymous said...

Wow, and thank you for your hard work. It is beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Good work, Father. You are trying your best. :)

To the others, I'm sure the present arrangement is temporary, or "transitional," as it were. Eventually I do hope the Novus Ordo altar does go. Westminster did get rid of theirs. As that great treasure Father Z said:

"There are great churches all over the world with magnificent main altars. These altars are the architectural focus of the building, drawing the eye and mind, but in most of these places, they set up ironing-boards or picnic tables creating an eyesore, and theological confusion. The main altar is important. When you set up another altar in front of it, you confuse the meaning of the sanctuary and therefore the building. Side altars are not so much a problem, but those altars in front of the main altar are."



Fr Ray Blake said...

More than a little ungracious I think.
The former altar is not there it was remove in the 1970s, I am afraid I deleted your comment by accident.

Michael Sternbeck. said...

Father, if I may express a view, from the perspective of heritage conservation (which is my field), I think it would be a mistake to dissect the face of the High altar and compress it to fit a free-standing altar (as is shewn in your mock-up picture). I don't think posterity would look kindly on this.

If you leave the High altar just as it is (even though it is unusable as an altar as it is), it allows for one of your successors at some future time to do what you are constrained not to do: re-assemble the High altar according to its original form, abandoning a free-standing arrangement.

I understand that this cannot be attempted at this time.

Even if the face of the free-standing altar is relatively plain, it can be enlivened with rich frontals in the English style, using contrasting colours. Frontals have so many advantages.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Thank you for your observation but the original structure has already been disfigured considerably.

Michael Sternbeck. said...

Yes indeed the High altar has been disfigured considerably Father. But the original compositional elements of alternating niches and statues in the face of the altar remain intact, although the mensa has been removed and altar and reredos "telescoped" together in a frightful manner.

What you are proposing (the removal of the alternating angels and thus compressing the length of the altar face) is, with the greatest respect, a further disfigurement of the High altar: something which is not necesssary. That the altar has been horribly disfigured once in the 1970's is something to regret. Why take a further step?

Probably I have written enough.

Fr Ray Blake said...

It has not only been "telescoped" it has also been stripped of friezes and borders, the lower part including the tabernacle actually no longer fit together properly.

Michael Petek said...

Sorry to sound so philistine, but what's the name of the painting and who's the artist?

Peter Simpson said...

All things considered, I think you have done a very fine job. It looks great!