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The pulpit


A faded old photograph of the interior of St Clement’s Church hangs in the Rectory. We know that it was taken on Easter Day – the hymns are Easter hymns (499 and 138 from Hymns Ancient and Modern: “On the Resurrection morning” and “Christ is risen!” respectively) and the altar frontal appears to be white or gold. We can also guess that it was taken in the morning, judging by the light coming in from the chancel windows. But when?

We can be sure that it was taken after 1880 because the great east window, reredos, pews, pulpit (in white Caen stone) and lectern, were all introduced in the restoration. It must also be pre-1959, when the present altar, reredos (back panel) and riddel posts (the four posts, one at either corner of the altar) were introduced by the then Rector, Rev Hugh Langford-Sainsbury. And it must be before 1958, when the font was moved from the south transept (next to the little window) to the crossing where it is today – you cannot see it in the photograph. Continuing to work back in time, it must also have been taken before 1930, because that is when the paraffin oil lamps were removed and electricity came to St. Clement’s Church – you can clearly see the lamps in this photograph. How gloomy the church must have been with its unpainted cement ceiling and flickering oil lamps!

This leaves us with two likely dates: 6th April 1901 and 15th April 1922. The new organ was dedicated on Easter Day 1901 (as recorded on the brass plaque above the organ console). But if the occasion really was to mark the dedication of the organ, you would at least have expected it to be in the photograph! The most likely date is therefore 15th April 1922. The evidence for this lies in the minutes of the grandly but appropriately named New Pulpit Committee (housed in the Jersey Archive). The financial accounts in this small book record that a photograph was taken of the Caen Stone pulpit, at a cost of £7 7/6, before it was dismantled and disposed of. Photography was evidently expensive in those days – the equivalent cost in today’s money is over £223! We know that the present pulpit of granite and oak was dedicated on 4th September 1922, but this photograph shows the Caen stone pulpit is still in place. Our best guess is therefore that the photograph was taken at the Easter prior to its replacement – hence the morning of Sunday 15th April 1922.

A proposal to replace the Caen stone pulpit was originally put forward in 1917 as it was felt by many not to fit in with the rest of the church. (Prior to 1881, the pulpit had been in mahogany, and in 1917 it was being stored in the Rectory attic.) The New Pulpit Committee was duly formed and first met on 26th September 1917. It consisted of the Rector, Connétable, Surveillants (Churchwardens), the two Procureurs du Bien Public, the Centeniers, Messrs J. R. Barnes, and Butterfield, Mrs Butterfield, Balleine and Marett, and Misses Mitchell and Pallot.

On 10th October, Messrs T. R. Blampied (of Messrs Blampied & Biggar, the architects) and J. P. le Masurier also joined, and a sub-committee was formed to consider the preliminary work and to undertake the fund raising. On 19th November, the sub-committee met again to consider and agree the designs which Mr. Blampied had prepared, together with the estimated cost of £140. The drawings here show the pulpit with a top section, which was never constructed.

But there was one influential voice raised against this project in the form of the Dean of Jersey, the Very Rev Samuel Falle M.A. During his sermon marking the 800th anniversary of the consecration of St Clement’s Church on 23rd November 1917, he referred to the proposal “to replace the pulpit in which he then stood with one more in keeping with the architecture of the Church as a commemoration of the 800th anniversary of the Feast of Dedication, but he would urge upon them rather to mark this great occasion by reviving the Lord’s service as the chief one of each Lord’s Day so that their people might learn to return to the practice of the early Church.” (Holy Communion was only observed three or four times a year in those days.) The Dean’s intervention seems to have taken the wind right out of the sails of the New Pulpit Committee, because the project immediately went on hold. In fact, there are no more minutes until 9th August 1922, five years later, when it met to decide what to do with the old Caen stone pulpit. In the end, they resolved to let the contractor dispose of it as he saw fit. The committee specified that the works should begin on 21st August and that it should last two weeks. It was also agreed that the newness of the carved oak should be “toned down somewhat”.

The collectors’ committee consisted of Messrs L’Amy and Houillebecq for la Grande Vingtaine, Messrs Pallot and Luce for la Vingtaine de Samarès, and Messrs le Neveu and J.M. Pallot for la Vingtaine du Rocquier.
The financial position was as follows:

La Grande Vingtaine71.8.0
La Vingtaine du Rocquier21.5.0
La Vingtaine de Samarès50.7.6
Through the Rector31.15.0
Interest 14.5
Total income177.9.11
JR Cabeldu’s a/c for pulpit base163.16.0
Photo of Caen stone pulpit (see above)7.7.6
Printing of post cards and postage 6.6
Hot water pipes removed5.2.9
Fees – faculty1.14.0
Total expenditure178.6.9

So, what had changed to persuade St Clement to ignore the Dean’s forceful intervention? Simply that the Great War had ended and a new and greater reason for thankfulness now existed. And so it was that the new pulpit, in carved oak (toned down somewhat) and with a granite base, was dedicated on 4th September 1922, not in commemoration of the 800th anniversary of the consecration, but to the Glory of God in thanks for victory and peace, and in memory of those who died in the Great War (1914-1918); and the Dean of Jersey, the Very Rev Samuel Falle M.A., preached the first sermon (on John 10:23)!