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This portion of my web site contains the text of a history of my local parish church which I wrote in 1979.

Minor amendments have been made (c)2005.
THE INFORMATION IN THIS BOOK IS FREE. It may be copied, distributed and/or modified under the conditions set down in the Design Science License published by Michael Stutz
Stephen Shaw ENGLAND

History of St Thomas Church : Heaton Chapel

The memories of a Bishop regarding F Whatmough 1926-1944

One of the members of the congregation at this time was a young man who did favour the use of ceremonial, one George K Giggall, who lived not far from the church on Wellington Road. His father ran a butcher's shop on Heaton Moor Road, which later became Mathew's Butchers.

Mr Giggall joined the ministry, and was ordained priest in 1940. After serving at St Albans, Chetwood and St Elizabeth, Reddish. he spent some time as Chaplain in the Royal Navy, receiving the OBE in 1961. He became Honorary Chaplian to H M the Queen in 1967, Dean of Gibralter in 1969, and in 1973 was consecrated Bishop of St Helena.

He was in St Helena in 1979 and reported to me on the days of Mr Whatmough. I have removed some of his comments about specific parishioners, which they disagreed with.

The Reverend Frank Whatmough was a priest with great compassion for the sick and suffering... was the gallery for us at the West End. Mind you there was a degree of virtue in this since it gave one the opportunity of helping with the ringing of the Church bell - and what an appalling timbre it had.

The choir consisted of a double quartet... ...I have no doubt that it produced most excellent music... ...The organist was a man of great charm and even greater talent - Mr Henry Greenwood. I believe he would have considered himself a pianist before he was an organist and he certainly was regularly engaged for wireless broadcasts... ...He had a multitude of musical friends and I can recall the privilege of hearing artists such as Carl Fuchs the cellist, Hamilton Harris the bass singer, and others too numerous to mention, in the course of what were really musical concerts in the Church.

What all this... ...had to do with the Prayer Book worship of the Church of England may be open to debate...

It was claimed that the Holy Table was made of an old orange box. This was not true, but it certainly had been repaired with wood from a packing case, and seemed to possess only one Frontal, though I very much doubt if the name was ever given to it - a mass of tatters and worn out embroidery.

This then was the situation in brief which Frank Whatmough inherited and there was a pretty powerful parochial opinion which stated that it was not going to be altered. The fact that in time it WAS altered, and a more dignified form of Anglican worship introduced must to an extent have been due to the fact that within a group of young people and some not so young, there arose the desire to change the pattern of things and so to urge the Rector perhaps to make change a little more quickly and more extensively than he thought expedient.

I suppose that the intolerance of youth is not confined to any particular generation. And I am certain that enthusiasm did cause us to be intolerant.

That the Rector wanted a change I have no doubt. He began to get the reputation for being a high churchman with his custom of reverancing the altar. He would also from time to time have processions. And I have seen the time when one or two members of the Protestant Front would either remain seated during the procession or march out of the Church ahead of the crucifer.

One of them had the rather dubious habit of sitting back in his pew to show his objection when prayers were used which were not taken from BCP (Book of Common Prayer). Inconsistent in the extreme since if any attempt had been made to implement the requirements of the Ornaments Rubric he would have been the first - as later he most certainly was - to be up in arms.

The professional choir was abandoned: a voluntary surpliced choir of men and boys replaced it, but poor Mr Greenwood (for whom one could have the greatest sympathy) was never at home with this, and maybe he was understandably anxious that it should not prosper.

Then the fateful moment came when the decision was taken to refurnish the chancel- passed through the consistory court despite full opposition. Well, I believe the Bishop himself came to dedicate the new sanctuary, and I can recall that some of us who were supposed to be servers had great delight in passing backwards and forwards in front of the new altar and making the most profound reverences.

During these years a young student of theology - John Wynne - came to work in the parish as a layman. He was a most advanced Anglo-Catholic and one Christmas decided to enlist our help in producing a Nativity Play. He decided that the nativity scene should be enhanced with a re-enactment of the Midnight Mass behind a gauze curtain. HE would take the part of the priest, and so sanctus bells began to ring out, the schoolroom became clouded with incense. And of course the Rector, who would be blamed for it all, was livid - perhaps he did not really understand what John Wynne was trying to do.

Mr Wynne later became ordained - as did one of the Nativity Kings, Tom Woolfenden.

I suppose what caused us tension as much as anything else was the irritation which was felt, when it was considered that tradition was being sacrificed for personal whim.

Mr Whatmough's charming wife was a convinced Catholic, and behind the scenes she must have done a lot for the cause. No - the Rector was most certainly NOT a very high churchman. I think he liked to see things done decently and in order, but he personally would be the judge of both. End of quotation from Mr Giggall, who was due to move in October 1979 to become an auxiliary Bishop in San Remo in Italy. Mr Giggall died in 1999.

Return to main page for 1926-1965   ||   Read the memories of Rupert Gurney
An original copy of the book was deposited with The British Library Copyright Receipt Office on 1st August 1979 under receipt 68519.

Church History: Page One   ||   Page Two (1844-1879)    || Page Three (1880-1926) ||    Page Four (1926-1965)||    Page Five

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