A Tour of St. Edmund Church - by Ann Lloyd

interior of St. Edmund's church  carved shield at front entrance of church  St John Fisher stained glass

The Building

The foundation stone was blessed and laid by the Bishop of Southwark on 8 October 1905. The architect was Frederick A Walters FSA who designed over 40 churches, convents and monasteries throughout England, including Buckfast Abbey. The church was built of local stone "in the Pointed style" by the local firm of David Fry. It is 98.5 feet long, 26.5 feet wide and 40 feet from the floor to the apex of the roof. It can hold about 300 people. The Bishop returned to open the church on 27 June 1906. It was consecrated on 3 October 1923.

Windows behind the Altar

The central window shows Christ declaring "I have risen". Christ is flanked by an armour-clad St George and by St Demetrius, a bishop of Alexandria from 189. Windows in front of the Sanctuary The firm of Hardman & Co designed and made the window depicting St Mary Magdalene to the right of the Sanctuary in 1922. Originally a confessional was situated in the niche below. Over the door leading to the Sacristy, a small window shows St John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester who was executed by Henry V111.

Windows at the back of the Church

These were designed and made by Hardman & Co in 1950. The left one shows the Annunciation, the Assumption and the Visitation. At the top we see the words "Magnificat anima mea" (my soul glorifies the Lord). At the bottom are the words "benedicta tu in mulieribus" (blessed are you among women). Between the upper and lower panes there are two angels bearing Our Lady towards her Son, carrying her uncorrupted body to heaven.

The other window shows the Nativity, the Crowning of the Virgin and the presentation of the child, Jesus, in the Temple. below the window is coat of arms with an Italian motto "Igatti cadono sempre in piedo" (cats always fall on their feet), a play of words on the surname of the donors, Scott-Gatty.

lady chapel   detail of ceiling of lady chapel
Lady Chapel

The statue of our Lady, depicted as queen of Heaven with child, stands above the altar, set between representations of the Adoration of the Shepherds and the Visit of the Magi. The words "Gloria in excelsis Deo" fly across the top of the reredos. Opposite the altar is a stained glass window with St Anne taking a maternal interest in her daughter and the infant Jesus. The opening words of the Magnificat are printed around the walls "Magnificat anima mea Dominum et exultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutaris meo". The fleur-de-lys is much in evidence as decoration as it is one of Our Lady's symbols, being derived from the Madonna lily, which is a symbol of purity.

 reredos behind main altar    altar

Reredos behind Main Altar

Six Saints are represented here. On the left, looking towards the altar, are St Edmund, St Ambrose and St Gregory the Great. On the right are St Jerome, St Augustine of Hippo and St Thomas (Becket) of Canterbury. Sts Ambrose, Gregory, Jerome and Augustine symbolise the teaching authority of the Church. St Edmund has the letters RM (King and Martyr) after his name. He lived from 841 to 869 and was a humble man who strove to secure peace for his people. He faced a Danish invasion, refusing to forsake his Faith or his people. He was killed by arrows, as we can tell from the ones he holds in his left hand - the right hand holds the royal sceptre.

On each side of the Tabernacle are two round medallions carved to show the instruments of the Passion. On the extreme left are the scourges and the pillar with the rope ; the next roundel contains the cross, crown of thorns and four nails. Next to the Tabernacle on the right-hand side are the ladder, hammer and pliers. Finally we see the hyssop stick, lance and cord.

Since the Vatican Council in the 1960s, Mass has been said with the priest facing the people, so most older churches had to move their altars or find a new one. Fortunately, we were given an altar by the Sisters of St Joseph of Peace when they closed their convent in Hascombe in 1972. it has a cross carved on the front with a crown, illustrating the Christian paradox of the King who was crucified.

seventh station of the cross 
The Stations of the Cross

These predate the church. A panel can be seen in the Seventh station on which is written "AD B Anno 1902". Little is known about them other than that a parishioner, Sid Tribe, renovated them over a long period about 16 years ago.

Return to top