Churches used by British Residents and Servicemen
The churches in this file are:
The Methodist Church
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church
St. Paul's Anglican Cathedral
Others will be added during the next two to three months
The Methodist Church in Malta
The Reverend Charles Cook DD., the Wesleyan Methodist missionary to the South of France, visited Malta in 1823, and found that Methodism was being practised by British soldiers at three regular places of worship. In Senglea at the quarters of Sergeant Everard, and in hired rooms at Floriana and Valletta.
The British infantry regiments forming the Garrison that year were the 18th (Royal Irish), the 80th (Staffordshire Volunteers), and the 85th (Bucks Volunteers) plus around 125 Royal Artillerymen. He recommended the appointment of a Minister, and in August 1824, the Reverend John Keeling arrived with his wife. They initially took a house in Burmola, and rented a suitable room as a place for worship in Senglea. He established a programme of Sunday services, and class meetings.
In Valletta he hired a small room, which proved unsuitable, but fortunately a few weeks later he was able to purchase from the Government of Malta premises at No.55 Strada Britannica, on the corner with Old Bakery Street. Not only was this the first Methodist Church on Malta, but also the first church for the Protestant religion. Mr. Keeling moved into the adjoining house, but continued to visit the Senglea congregation to take the services.
The Valletta building was not churchlike in appearance, since at that time the law did not allow any buildings to be erected as churches except those of the Roman Catholic faith, and also Protestant bodies could not acquire property. To get round these rules the building was purchased by Mr. Keeling as a private individual.
In the summer of 1824 the 18th Regiment sailed for the Ionian Islands and were replaced by the 95th (Derbyshire) Regiment. Though the main focus of Reverend Keeling’s ministry was the British troops and civilians, from the very beginning he also tried to spread Methodism to the Maltese population which caused local hostility.
After two years working alone, Mr. Keeling was joined by the Reverend William Harris Rule, accompanied by his wife on 22nd March 1826. He was considering missionary work amongst the Druses in Lebanon, but settled down in the house at Burmola vacated by John Keeling.
Antagonism by the locals still continued, and during his regular visits to the nearby Royal Naval Hospital at Bighi, Rule recorded that he often had stones thrown at him. After about three months of being on the receiving end of stone throwing, he appealed to the Governor, The Marquess of Hastings, for protection. Even though on one occasion a man and two boys were arrested, when the case came to court, many witnesses claimed that he was on Gozo at the time of the attack, and so he had to be released. However, a determined threat by the authorities that in future tenants of the street would be evicted and their houses closed up brought an end to the attacks.
An altogether more serious disturbance took place on 5th August 1826. That evening Mr. Rule came across from Burmola to Valletta to preach, but on approaching the chapel saw a large crowd of people being kept at bay by British soldiers with their bayonets fixed. The chapel was lit for the service, but the Adjutant of the Regiment asked him to extinguish the lights immediately since he feared the building would be attacked.
Rule soon discovered the reason for the mob's anger. The Reverend Keeling and the Reverend S.S. Wilson, of the London Missionary Society, had arranged the funeral of a certain Abbe Segond, a Maltese man who had converted to Protestantism.
Wilson was biased against Roman Catholicism, and his account published in 1839, reflects this bias in the tone of his language, but the facts were more soberly reported to London by the Governor himself on 10th August 1826:
"There was an occurrence in La Valletta the other afternoon capable of producing much mischief but which luckily terminated with less evil consequence than might have been apprehended. A Maltese who had been converted to Protestantism died in the hospital. Thro' the management of that mischievous missionary Mr. Keeling a funeral was prepared which was to pass thro' the principal street of La Valletta, and Mr. Keeling prevailed on another missionary to accompany him in the procession against all former practice.
The populace thought this a studied triumph over their religion; obstructed the passage of the corpse; and attempted to tear the coffin from the hearse. This happened so near to the Main Guard that the Captain commanding detached a small party to prevent the outrages being carried further and the procession moved on to the burying ground. The solders however of the 85th Regiment were assailed with stones and one of them was considerably hurt"
The proposed missionary work amongst the Druses at Lebanon was abandoned, and on the 31st May 1827, the Reverend Rule left Malta for Gibraltar.
Apart from the Methodists there were other Protestant missionaries on Malta, and their presence irritated the Governor, since they created problems with the 'understanding' arranged between the Civil Government and the Roman Catholic Church.
Although open hostility against the Methodists abated, and services were held in Valletta and Senglea any Maltese who joined put themselves in danger. Dr. Cleardo Naudi M.D., lost his medical practice, but pursued his purpose of bringing Methodism to the Maltese people. He would translate the Reverend Keeling’s sermons into Italian, which was spoken by the better-educated Maltese, and eventually some into the Maltese language, so it was possible for some inhabitants to follow Methodism without having to go to the Mission House. He also worked for the Church Missionary Society another Protestant organisation.
On 8th November 1831 the Reverend Keeling had the unpleasant duty of accompanying 27-year-old Private Thomas Howarth of the 7th (Royal Fusiliers) to his execution. Howarth had pleaded Guilty to murder by shooting Sergeant Orton also of the 7th (Royal Fusiliers). The scaffold had been erected on the Floriana parade ground and all regiments in the garrison drawn up to witness the event. The Reverend Keeling read out to the assembled troops Howarth’s confession in which he acknowledged his guilt and sought the Lord’s forgiveness.
After nine years working on Malta, the Reverend Keeling left at the end of 1832 for England. His successor was John Brownell, who found the work of spreading Methodism amongst the Maltese very frustrating. The Governor, Sir Frederick Cavendish Ponsonby would not allow him to preach in the open air, and banned religious teaching in The Charity School. The Minister was instructed to concentrate his efforts on the British residents, as well as the British Naval and Army personnel.
Ill health forced the Reverend Brownell to leave Malta on 11th December 1837, and he was followed as Minister by the Reverend Thomas N. Hull who took over in 1838.
First signs were encouraging, the enlarged Chapel was still on occasions too small for the numbers wishing to attend, but Hull still found it difficult to reach the Maltese people. This problem was increased in 1839, when the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Malta, warned his Priests and the public generally to beware of proselytising by the Methodists.
Since the Minister had to concentrate his attention on the British residents, and servicemen, the rotation of regiments in the Malta garrison, could dramatically affect the numbers attending his church. So it was in 1841 when the congregation declined due to the 47th (Lancashire) regiment and the 92nd (Highland) regiment, leaving for duty in the West Indies. In 1842 the Reverend Hull departed and was succeeded by the Reverend John Jenkins.
Unfortunately, the Reverend Hull left Malta before the Reverend Jenkins arrived, so for a short period there was no Methodist minister on the island. Many of the congregation lapsed during this interval, and Jenkins had to try and revive the situation. The 77th (East Middlesex) regiment was transferred to Corfu at the beginning of the year, which led to a drop in church attendance. The Roman Catholic authorities however were still very wary of Methodism, and in 1842 felt it necessary to issue a pamphlet warning against it, and its teachings.
Jenkins continued to toil throughout 1843, but it became increasingly obvious that there was no progress being made amongst the Maltese. The Methodists were making headway in other parts of the world and it was felt that a Minister could be better employed in another country. So it came as no surprise when on 12th July 1843, a General Committee of the Missionary Society passed a resolution that the Minister should be withdrawn from Malta.
By chance at this same time the Free Church of Scotland were interested in sending a Minister to Malta, so it came about that they purchased the existing building from the Methodists for £900. John Jenkins preached his last sermon in the Valletta chapel on 12th February 1844 then left with his family for England, and the Mission was closed down.
For the next eight years Methodism on Malta was led by a layman, Mr. J.V. Allan, who rented premises from the British and Foreign Bible Society, and amongst groups of the British soldiers and seamen themselves.
These small groups of Methodists continued to meet over the years, but had a re-birth in March 1851, when the 68th (Durham Light Infantry) regiment arrived to join the Malta garrison. Amongst them were around thirty Methodists, led by Sergeant Henry Sladden and Corporal John Smith, and they held their meetings in the regimental schoolroom.
Other smaller groups were scattered throughout the Three Cities area and they soon came into contact with one another. A man working in the Dockyard attempted to band the fragmented groups in Cottonera together by renting a house in Vittoriosa. A large room was used as the chapel and lecture hall, with other rooms fitted out as classrooms, sitting rooms, etc., This was the forerunner of the Soldier’s Homes for which Methodists became well known throughout the world. Once established larger numbers of soldiers and sailors gathered there, and the project prospered.
The outbreak of the Crimean War in 1854 had a dramatic effect. The departure of the Durham Light Infantry, and constant movement of troops through Malta on their way to the battle zone disrupted the smooth running of the Vittoriosa house, and it had to be closed. The Bible Depot in Valletta was then used by the Methodist members. It served both as a church and meeting place, and was run by a War Department armourer, who acted as Pastor.
During the next few years, a number of official complaints were lodged with the Wesleyan Home Missions Committee. In July 1859 an Army Captain wrote that half of his company of Royal Engineers were Wesleyans, but were unable to have a church parade. Later, in April 1865, the 84th (York and Lancaster) regiment was posted to Malta, and it is known that there were around eighty men who followed Methodism. They were followed in February 1867 by the 64th (2nd Staffordshire) regiment, which faced the same problem.
Though many years passed finally the situation improved in 1868 with the arrival of the 29-year-old Reverend William Shaw Caldecott, from Mauritius.
He immediately rented much larger premises in Strada Stretta, Valletta, and under his guidance the church gained stature. Marriages took place at the Barracca Church, situated alongside the Upper Barracca Gardens. By 1871 he transferred the work amongst servicemen from Valletta to Floriana, where adequate premises were found in the Piazza Maggiore, and the Floriana Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home was founded.
It was decided to send a second Minister to assist the Reverend Caldecott due to the growth of his duties. Working conditions were difficult in rented rooms where services, prayer meetings, Bible classes, and Mothers’ meetings had to be held, and the Methodist Ministers felt that a purpose built church with additional meeting rooms was desirable.
After several years they found a site near the Floriana railway station which was ideal, but the land was owned by the War Department. The Minister in 1875 was the Reverend Benjamin Broadley, and his application was turned down. His successor Reverend Joseph Webster also sent in an application but without success.
By 1880 the need was very pressing, Webster was refused the Floriana site, but offered an alternative next to the Central Civil Hospital. That year he left Malta and the Reverend John Laverack arrived.
Laverack already knew Malta, since he had previous worked there with the Reverend Broadley. Almost immediately on taking charge he was asked whether he would agree to forego the land near the hospital and take the site in Floriana, so, after eight years the Methodists finally obtained the spot they wanted in the first place.
Work on the new project commenced without delay, Mr. T. M. Ellis of London prepared the plans for a church building to seat between 420 and 450 persons, together with school-rooms, caretakers quarters, etc., and the collection of funds began. A Mr. C.E. Lamplough of London, who had spent the previous winter in Malta promised £750 towards the total costs estimated at about £4,000. The tender from Emmerson & Company was accepted, and on the 12th December 1881 excavation work started.
Whilst the church as under construction in Floriana, efforts were made in the Dockyard area and a ‘Home’ established for servicemen in Cottonera district. This proved to be a great success and in 1884 moved to Santa Margherita Hill and the “Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Rest” transferred there. Though smaller than the ‘Home’ in Floriana, it nevertheless proved to be in constant use for a variety of activities. However, the project caused the church to be in debt, and by 1886 it was seen that this debt needed to be reduced or eliminated. A Grand Bazaar was organised, under the patronage of the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, who had recently arrived on the island. It took place on Tuesday and Wednesday, the 8th and 9th February 1887.
Apart from the receipts from the Bazaar, donations came from the English and Maltese residents, so a total of £800 was raised. Though more money was required, it overcame the short-term need.
Alongside his duties with the Methodist community on Malta, during the 1882 Egyptian War a large hospital for sick and wounded men was opened on the island of Gozo, to which the Reverend Laverack was a constant visitor.
The new Floriana Methodist Church was open for public worship on Sunday 18th March 1883. Four Ministers took part in the service, the Reverend John Kilner, Secretary of the Wesleyan Foreign Missionary Society, the Reverend R.W. Allen, Secretary of the Wesleyan Army and Navy Committee, both of whom had come out from England for the occasion, together with the two local Ministers, the Reverend Laverack and the Reverend T.D. Barnes.
A shortfall in funds of about £200 for completing the church buildings, was met by another donation from Mr. Lamplough, so it was decided to name the meeting hall beneath the church as “Lamplough Hall”. Apart from money, he also presented the pulpit, and his children supplied the font.
The official opening took place during the afternoon of Tuesday 20th March. The band of the Shropshire Regiment played at both the afternoon and evening services, which were well attended.
Apart from the Floriana Church, and the ‘Rest’ in Cottonera, by 1890 Sunday services for Methodists were being held at Pembroke Camp, and were further extended after 1900 by Sunday services at Imtarfa.
After serving the congregation at Floriana for over 20 years, the Reverend John Laverack decided it was time to leave Malta. A '‘Farewell'’ Public Tea was arranged by Mrs. Horsfall and Mrs. Riechelmann and other ladies for Monday evening 6th August 1900.
The Chairman, Mr. C.H. Horsfall opened the meeting, then gave a short speech in which he said:
“We have met here this evening for the purpose of presenting the Reverend Laverack with an address and a cheque. I think nearly everyone in this room knows the amount of good Mr. Laverack has done during the last 20 years to both branches of Her Majesty’s Service as well as to the civilian population of this place. Take the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home at Floriana. It has been increased from 3 or 4 rooms to its present dimensions. Then the Home at Margherita has been entirely opened.
There is this church also. I have been personally acquainted with him for the last 19 years and I know how hard he has worked. I have known him to take 3 and 4 services regularly every Sunday for many months at a time. In fact, the last time Mr. Allen was out here, he told me he did not know how the conference would be able to replace Mr. Laverack. I am sure we are all very sorry he is leaving us and we wish him God Speed wherever he may be and that God’s blessing may rest upon him and his family and on the work he has to do.”
Mr. Laverack responded.
“I would have been glad if my wife and daughter had been beside me tonight and I know it was the desire of some that this should have taken place before they left Malta but that could not be.
I do not deny that I have worked hard in Malta. I have given myself to the work that I thought I was sent to do and have done but very little besides and tonight I am very thankful I have had more pleasure than any of you have had in the prosperity which has been given us – not that we have succeeded thoroughly in everything but in the prosperity that has been given us I have had great pleasure. Nor I do not take to myself the credit of what has been done in this last 20 years.
I suppose the most successful bazaar ever held in Malta was that which we held under the patronage of the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh, when a sum no less than £800 was obtained towards the Soldiers and Sailors Rest on Margherita Hill.
Well friends I must not say much more. I am glad for the Homes that have been recently established and I am sure that we generally wish all prosperity to those good works. I shall take home what I understand is inside this envelope and I daresay my wife will help me to dispose of it (Laughter). I shall also take home this beautiful bracelet. I am sure my daughter will be very thankful for the wishes so kindly expressed. May the blessing of God be upon you friends one and all. I am thankful for your kindness to me and these gifts tonight indicate your appreciation of one who has striven to do his duty and nothing more and I am sure that your gifts will be an encouragement to all who just strive to do their duty in the position in which God has placed them and if not on earth, in Heaven may we all meet again.”
The Reverend George Sara then thanked all those who had made the evening such a great success, especially Miss Blackley for the gift of provisions for the tea.
On 1907 permission was obtained to build a new Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home adjacent to the Church in Floriana. Mr. Bridgeford Pirie prepared the plans, for the new premises. The total cost was estimated at around £3,500, and work started on the new building by November 1907. At this time the Minister was the Reverend H. Peverley Dodd, and on 26th March 1908, when the building was well advanced, Field Marshal H.R.H. The Duke of Connaught, Commander-in-Chief of British Troops in the Mediterranean, accompanied by his wife and daughter, participated in a stone-laying ceremony.
All the arrangements proceeded smoothly in spite of the bad weather. Men from HMS Prince of Wales, members of the Royal Artillery and the Suffolk Regiment volunteered to line the approaches. The Guard of Honour was provided by HMS Prince of Wales, with the Band of the Suffolk regiment. The Royal party took their place on the first floor balcony behind the commemorative stone, but could not go onto the balcony itself due to the bad weather.
H.R.H. then laid the commemorative stone with a silver trowel presented by the Reverend Dr. Wisely. H.R.H. gave a short speech, in which he said:
“I desire to give expression to the very great pleasure afforded me on this occasion in coming here to lend my name to an Institution so closely associated with a Church which has so constantly manifested such a Christian and kindly spirit towards the Soldiers and Sailors of His Majesty’s Services. I have had many opportunities of witnessing the interest which is taken in this form of work by the Wesleyan Church”
The architect, builder, and carpenter, Mr. Pirie, Mr. Zahra and Mr. Pirrotta respectively were then presented to His Royal Highness. The building was named “Connaught House” and the Floriana Soldiers’ Sailors’ Home at Piazza Maggiore in Floriana was sold to the Salvation Army.
Methodism was now soundly based on Malta, with Sunday services advertised:
Wesleyan Church, Floriana - Reverend .H. Peverley Dodd
Divine Service 10.30 a.m. and 6.30 p.m.
Sunday School 2.45 p.m.
Margherita Hill, Cospicua, - Reverend Finlay Mackenzie
Divine Service 10.30 a.m. and 6.30 p.m.
Sunday School 2.45 p.m.
Parade Service 8.30 a.m.
Parade Service 8.30 a.m.
When the Great War broke out in August 1914, Malta became actively involved, mainly as a hospital for the sick and wounded British and Commonwealth troops. At the outbreak of the war, the Reverend Dodd was gazetted as Chaplain to the Forces, and until he left Malta in 1919, had acted as Senior Nonconformist Chaplain on the island.
During the Great War, a 21-year-old Australian soldier, Corporal John Brinsden Vasey, of the 2nd Field Company, Australian Engineers, was badly injured and brought to Malta. Sadly, he died of his wounds on 14th August 1915 and was buried in the Pieta Military Cemetery.
His father, G.B. Vasey, of Malvern, Victoria, Australia, together with friends, presented to the Methodist Church in Floriana, the two stained glass windows above the communion table, in memory of his son. The left hand one depicted ‘The Light of the World’, after the famous painting by the Pre-Raphaelite artist William Holman Hunt, and on the right ‘Jesus Christ the Shepherd'.
Methodism flourished, in spite of fluctuations in the size of congregations and choirs, caused by the movement of regiments, or the Royal Navy going on manoeuvres. They also expanded their social activities, by arranging Saturday afternoon picnics to the beaches, tennis, badminton, Girl Guides, and a series of lantern lectures. Concerts, and choir competitions were held, and an annual Sunday School pantomime performed at Floriana.
In 1927 the Methodists acquired a disused school opposite the ‘Rest’ in Cospicua, and after some restoration opened it as a church. The new church was well attended, and after the services a large part of the congregation would adjourn to the ‘Rest’ for refreshment and the Social Hour. By this time the ‘Rest’ in Cospicua was under the care of Naval Methodist Chaplains, and the one in Floriana of Army Chaplains. In 1927 the Chaplain in charge of the Methodist church in Floriana was the Reverend P. Middleton Brumwell, M.C.
During these interwar years, the Reverend Irving Davies served the Methodist cause for ten years, and a plaque to him was put up in Floriana church. By the time that World War Two broke out, Methodist services were also being held at Tigne Barracks and the seaplane base at Kalafrana.
Many of the servicemen’s families were evacuated back to England at the outbreak of the Second World War, and Malta became the target for air raids from June 1940 until June 1943. The Cospicua Church had been taken over by the military authorities as a store but being close to the Dockyard was destroyed by bombing in 1942. The ‘Rest’ on the opposite side of the road was also badly damaged.
In Floriana the church was too severely damaged to be used, and although the Connaught Home sustained some damage it was used for services, often accompanied by the noise of enemy aircraft, gunfire and bomb blasts.
In 1944, the Reverend S.H. Keen, the Principal Chaplain (Methodist) to the Royal Air Force made an assessment of the damaged churches, and proposals for the restoration of Methodism on Malta. He decided that no work should be re-started at Cospicua, but henceforth all efforts should be concentrated at Floriana.
With the end of the war in sight, work commenced on repairing the Floriana church, and it was officially re-opened on 29th April 1945, attended by the Governor, Lieut-General Sir Edmond Schreiber and his family.
The stained glass windows donated by Mr. Vasey after the First World War had been smashed, so were returned to England, to Abbot & Company, of Lancaster. New replica windows were made and carried to Malta by the Royal Navy, for installation in 1947, at the generosity of Australian Methodists.
During 1947 also, a number of German prisoners-of- war were allowed to join in the Sunday evening service, together with their own clergyman, Pastor Dreus, who conducted part of the service in German for their benefit. By their regular attendance they became an accepted part of the community.
Their final service was on Sunday 25th January 1948, prior to their being repatriated from Malta to Germany. In his speech Pastor Dreus said:
“We came to you as homeless weary men: you have given us the right to make this church our home. We came to you as embittered and despondent men: you have given us your trust and respect. Till the end of our days we shall be able to tell this in our own country.”
At the end of the 1940’s British families started to return to Malta, and efforts were made to re-start the various activities that make up church life, but the thriving community which lasted for a few years gradually came to an end.
The closure of the Naval Dockyard in 1958 reduced the number of civilians and meant that the church became mainly for servicemen and their families. Nevertheless a thriving community existed, with Sunday School, Choir practice, Music Circle, Drama Group, Youth Club, Brownies, Fellowship meetings, Old Thyme Dancing, etc., with excursions to the beaches on Saturday afternoons in summer and places of interest in winter. But the number of British Forces on Malta continued to decline over the next few years, so affecting the congregation even more.
On 29th December 1971 the Maltese Prime Minister issued an ultimatum that all British Forces had to be out of Malta by the 31st, but this deadline was later extended to the 14th January 1972. This caused a mass exodus of Service wives and children, mostly flown out from RAF Luqa.
At the height of this crisis a two-man delegation from the Methodist Church in England arrived in Malta, the Reverend A. Douglas Spear and the Reverend Brian S. O’Gorman. They arrived on a Sunday afternoon, and were to spend three hectic days on the island.
A special Church Meeting was held on that Sunday evening and well over one hundred people attended it. The participants made it clear that those who were staying on Malta wished the Floriana Methodist Church to continue. The next day the two men held talks with the Malta Government Lands Commissioner and received permission from him for the Church to continue.
An Emergency Church Committee was called together on the Tuesday evening and a Church Council was appointed to administer the affairs until a civilian Minister could be appointed. Mr. Ernest Brown was elected Chairman, with Mr. John Sayers as Vice-Chairman. The current Minister, the Reverend Irvin J. Vincent, a Royal Naval Chaplain, was relieved of his duties, but was able to assist the church whilst he remained on Malta.
At an Emergency Church Meeting it was agreed that all the furniture and fittings would be removed from the Connaught Centre and the Chaplain’s flat, and stored in the Lamplough Hall, beneath the Church. By the evening of the 14th January, a team of volunteers with the help of six men from the Royal Navy, under the direction of Mr. Bryan Russell completed this job. Everything, including many wall fittings, etc. was removed.
The Reverend Vincent published the February issue of the 'Floriana Newsletter', and was able to inform those Methodist worshippers that had left the island in a hurry of the latest situation. This Newsletter also contained the names and addresses of those who left, and those who stayed, in order that friends could keep in touch with one another, not knowing what the future would hold.
The British and Maltese Governments eventually reached an agreement that the British Forces could stay as part of NATO until 31st March 1979.
However, the Methodist Church and Connaught Home in Floriana were on sites granted temporary emphyteusis by the Civil government and when the grant expired in 1973, the new terms set by the Maltese Government were found unacceptable, and the two properties reverted to the Maltese Government.
The loss of their church buildings in Floriana caused the Methodist congregation to unite with that of St. Andrews Scots Church in Valletta in 1974. A logo was designed to commemorate the union of the Methodists and the Church of Scotland.
It combines the eight pointed Maltese Cross; the Scottish Saltire which is Cross of St. Andrew; the Burning Bush Symbol Presbyterianism; and the Scallop Shell long associated with Methodism.
Nowadays the old church building in Floriana which was re-named the Robert Sammut Hall is used for exhibitions and concerts, whilst the Connaught Home next door is an Old Folks Home for retired Maltese.
The idea of establishing a Presbyterian church in Malta originated in 1841 when Sheriff Andrew Jamieson, a distinguished Scottish advocate, arrived in Malta to revise the island’s legal code. He was an Elder of the Kirk, and noted with regret that there was no Presbyterian Chaplain on the island to minister to the Scotsmen of the 92nd Highland Regiment which was part of the Malta Garrison at that time.
Upon his return to Scotland in 1842 he brought before the General Assembly the plight of Malta, and subsequently at the end of 1842/early in 1843 the Reverend Dr. James Julius Wood, previously a Minister of the New Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh, arrived, but his tenure was short lived since in 1843 the Church of Scotland was split by the Disruption, and from then on there were two Presbyterian Churches in Scotland, the Auld Kirk and a new Free Church. Malta adhered to the Free Church. At the end of 1843 Dr. Wood, returned to Scotland. The Free Church Presbytery of Edinburgh appointed on 1st September 1843 the Reverend John MacKail as Minister in Malta. By that time both battalions of the 42nd (The Royal Highland) Regiment had joined the Malta Garrison.
At a similar time the Methodists decided to withdraw their Minister, the Reverend John Jenkins, from Malta in order to save money. The site on the corner of 205 Strada Forni (Old Bakery Street) and Strada Britannica had been bought from the Government in 1824 by the Reverend John Keeling for the purpose of erecting a Methodist church. However, to avoid friction with the Maltese who were virtually 100% Roman Catholic the building looked like a private house rather than a church. It was in fact the first non-Roman Catholic church to be built in Malta. So by mutual consent the building was sold by the Methodists to the Free Church of Scotland, for £900 on 26th December 1843.
The 42nd (Royal Highland) Regiment was still in the Malta and the Reverend George Wilson was sent out to be the Schoolmaster at a school to be established for the soldiers’ children.
On 22nd June 1844 the first Kirk Session was held. Those present were the Minister, the Reverend John MacKail as Moderator, the Reverend Robert W. Steward from Scotland, authorised by the Free Church to act as Assessor to the Moderator, and Reverend George Wilson, Preacher of the Gospel, as Elder and Session Clerk. Apart from Schoolmaster Wilson, Mr. Alexander Ferrier of the Ordnance Department and Barrack Sergeant James Shand, both Scotsmen of good reputation were also elected as Elders.
The Reverend MacKail was provided with an Assistant Minister, the Reverend Robertson, paid for by the Edinburgh Ladies Colonial Association. He was needed since each Sunday apart from the church in Old Bakery Street, there were services at Fort Ricasoli, and the Normal Schoolroom in Strada San Cristoforo, Valletta.
The need for larger and more suitable accommodation was apparent from the earliest years. An entry in the records for 1846 says that the building at 55 Britannica Street could only seat between 200 and 250 persons, whereas the congregation at the Normal Schoolroom in Strada San Cristofero numbered between 600 and 700.
It was therefore decided that all the money from collections, less the amounts needed for lighting, cleaning, etc., should be retained for the purposes of erecting a suitable place of worship capable of accommodating the whole congregation. Though the Kirk Session raised this subject with the Malta Government in 1847 and obtained a favourable response the matter was not revived again until 1853.
From 1846 to 1854 there were six temporary Ministers, John Baillie 1846 – 1847, James Fairbairn 1847 – 1849, Robert M .Hannah 1849, James Dennison 1850 – 1851, John Grant 1851 – 1852 and John Robertson 1852 – 1854.
It also appears that in 1846, No.10 Strada San Cristoforo was rented at a cost of £60 per annum as a dwelling and school run by Mr. William Hunt, to instruct British and Maltese children in the English Language and the true religion. Its longevity and fate are unknown.
The Reverend Dr. George Wisely arrived in Malta on 25th May 1854, and took up his duties on the 28th. Prior to his arrival Dr. Wisely had been ordained on the 16th May in Leghorn, Italy, where he had married Jessie Tod Millar, the daughter of Dr. Millar of Leghorn, the Senior Minister of the Free Church in Europe. He found a thriving congregation, as many as 600 worshippers each Sunday, so he was forced to hold a succession of Services throughout the day.
Clearly the premises were too small, and the Reverend Wisely obtained permission from the Colonial Government to construct a new church on a plot of land at the corner of Strada Mezzodi (South Street) and Strada Forni (Old Bakery Street), in Valletta. He immediately launched an appeal for funds, and several hundred people responded, rich and poor alike. A book recording these donations is preserved in the archives, and shows a wide range of amounts from £125 by Mr. Simon Rose, a wealthy Valletta merchant, to sixpences from Privates in the British Army. In total around £2,000 was gathered. On the 1st January 1855 the site was granted for the new church.
The issue of The Malta Times on Tuesday 24th April 1855 carried a short editorial about the proposed new Presbyterian Church, and a copy of the Prospectus was given to each reader, extracts read:
‘...The Laws no longer forbid us raising an Ecclesiastical Structure, so that we have a reasonable prospect soon of having a Presbyterian Church in Malta where those attached to this form of Worship may conveniently meet for Divine Service…...
....Already upwards of Six Hundred Pounds headed by a Subscription of £50 from His Excellency the Governor has been raised on the Island.........
Owing to the constant communication between Western Europe and the East and as Malta stands as it were on the very highway, the present place of Worship is not infrequently crowded with strangers, who hear the Gospel preached here in the course of their journey and who never visit the Island again. Every Winter also there are invalids visiting this genial climate for several months in search of health, a goodly proportion of whom are Presbyterians or prefer this form to that of the only other Communion of Protestants in the place.
...So important a place of Ministerial usefulness has Malta become that last year the Church at home at the urgent request of those on the spot and who knew the circumstances of the case, consented to appoint a Minister, ordained for this special charge, and no longer send invalid Ministers in rotation from Scotland as had been the custom.
...In addition to attending to the sick and wounded from the Crimea he has this Winter had to minister to the spiritual wants of two Scots Regiments. As the present place of Worship is incapable of containing so large a congregation he has had to conduct a separate Service to the Military in the Palace Chapel, granted for this purpose by the Lieutenant-General thus involving him in three diets of Public Worship.
A few days ago the Depots of three Scots Regiments have arrived and more are expected as neither the Palace Chapel nor the present Scots Church is capable of containing these in addition to the other congregation, four diets of Worship have thus become necessary.
There is scarcely a day passes in which he is not brought into contact with friendless strangers and poor refugees seeking under the flag of England protection from despotic tyranny in other lands, as well as British travelers of every grade in society.’
The foundation stone was laid on 27th June 1856, by John Grant, the President of the Chamber of Commerce. It contained a written parchment giving the history of the Presbyterians in Malta and details of the new building together with coins of the realm.
There was no public ceremony, and the stone was laid in the cool of the afternoon after the workmen had gone home for the day, in the presence of the Reverends Wisely and Turnbull, Elders the Reverend George Wilson and James Shand, Deacon Simon Rose, and three members of the building committee, the Reverend Isaac Lowndes, John Grant, and James Davidson.
In 1856 the Reverend Wisely was instructed to proceed to Scotland for the purpose of raising more funds to pay for the new church. During his absence the Reverend James Turnbull undertook his duties, assisted by the Reverend James Galloway and Reverend Alexander Gordon.
During his six months absence Mr. Wisely collected over £800 mainly from personal friends, one of them also offered a large sum to assist in the construction of a Manse.
In June 1857 the Colonial Committee reported to the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland in Edinburgh that the new church was progressing well and that it would be finished soon.
The project was placed in the hands of a Maltese architect, Giuseppe Bonavia. By the end of December 1857 the church had been built, dedicated and was in use. Known as the Scots Church it was appropriately named St. Andrew's. Two years later the Manse, which adjoins the church was completed.
By December of 1857 the Malta Times was able to report:
“SCOTCH FREE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH: On Sunday last this handsome and commodious edifice was opened for the celebration of public worship. The services of the day were conducted by the Minister of the church, the Reverend George Wisely M.A., in the morning and his assistant the Reverend John Coventry in the evening. Notwithstanding the inclemency of the morning, the ability and popularity of Dr. Wisely drew a large concourse of strangers, who by their attendance evinced the interest with which they regarded so an important an event as the opening of a new Protestant place of worship in Malta. The Reverend gentleman chose for the subject of his discourses the narrative of the building of the second Jewish temple, and delivered therefrom an address full of earnest appeal and highest Christian benevolence, which was listened to throughout with the deepest attention. We congratulate the Minister and congregation on the success of their efforts to establish so suitable a church in this Island.”
On 16th December 1857 a Kirk Session met to consider the rate for sittings in the new Church. The custom of charging seat rents was normal then and until much later both in the Church of Scotland and the Free Church. A family would need a whole pew and the family pew was a feature of worship in Scotland, often with a box in it for holding hymnbooks and Bibles. Sometimes a door was fixed, and occasionally a stand for umbrellas or walking sticks.
The rates for pews were set at 5 shillings (25p) each sitting for the long pews in the middle of the church for a period of six months, seven shillings (35p) for the small ones next to the walls and ten shillings (50p) for those right and left of the pulpit.
In 1861 Mr. Wilson resigned as Session Clerk after holding the post for eighteen years because he was returning to Scotland. In all those years he had never missed a Kirk Session. Holy Communion seems to have been celebrated twice a year, with one celebration in the Spring and another towards the end of the year, but not on fixed dates. Each was preceded by a meeting of the Session at which the Communion Roll was revised and tokens issued to intending communicants. These small round or oval metal tokens were used for many years in the Church of Scotland, and the Free Church. They were issued to members whose names were on the Roll and handed in at the service as a check on attendance. Absences were noted and then before the next Communion the Roll was revised in accordance with the law of the Church that membership lapsed after non-attendance at Communion for two years.
Sergeant Shand continued his attendance at church and at Kirk Sessions up to June 1872 when he also decided to return to Scotland. He had been an Elder of St. Andrews for 28 years and had been present at every Kirk Sessions meeting during that long period. The minute recording his departure is also the last minute in the book.
Though German by birth Mr. Carl Franz Riechelmann lived for most of his adult life in Malta. Firstly he was the organist at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Valletta, for more than twenty years when he decided to leave and go to England in 1881. For health reasons he returned to Malta in 1894 and took up the post of organist at St. Andrew's.
Apart from his own musical abilities, his wife and daughters were also musically gifted. Amongst other events the Malta Times of the 8th October 1897 reports on an entertainment for the Presbyterians of the Fleet and the Garrison held in the lecture room, 205 Strada Forni, Valletta, during the evening of 6th October. Madame Riechelmann and other friends took part. A special attraction was the presence of the recently formed choir and band connected with the very flourishing regimental Army Temperance Association of the Highland Light Infantry. Mr. Riechelmann died on 21st December 1900, and was buried in Ta Braxia cemetery.
The Daily Malta Chronicle of 5th May 1904 carried a very glowing tribute to the Reverend Wisely which is worth recording:
‘There is a Reverend gentleman who is ever met moving about amongst us wearing a frock coat made of worthy black broad cloth. His step must have been elastic and vigorous once, for his feet to bear him even now so easily after all his going in a busy life. His hair is white and seems more blanched than it really is with age from contrast with his sable garment. He is stooped a little, perhaps with the burdens of others as much as with the weight of his own many years. He is a hale old man, who manifests an interest in life, in the life of the young above all, still keen. Had he lived two thousand years ago he might have given Cicero ideas that he would have embodied in his De Senetute when he spoke with fondness of the old who still have something of their youthful energy working in their aging frame.
Our thoughts are of a widely respected man who has now withdrawn from the scenes of his greatest activity and passes a green old age in the retreat of his choice at Boschetto. We speak of the Reverend Dr. Wisely. Just 50 years ago this venerable ecclesiastical gentleman, this good old Dr. Wisely, first came to Malta. His fiftieth year of residence amongst us will have been completed on the 24th of May, as we have been reminded a by respected correspondent who writes to us from England.
His activity was mostly displayed amongst those of his own faith. To guide them as the pastor he was called hither. To them he chiefly belonged. But Dr. Wisely was too enlightened a man, too broad-minded, too truly Christian to suppose that it was not his duty to do good in the world wherever he could. And no movement in the last fifty years was ever set on foot to further the material, the mental, or the moral condition of men in Malta, of whatever creed, of whatever race, which had not his good wish and his hearty and ready cooperation.
On the 24th of this month of May Dr. Wisely will celebrate the Golden Jubilee of his sojourn in our island. And it would seem therefore fit that his friends should remember that fact. The peaceful close of a long life well spent in doing good wherever it seemed possible to do it should bring with it many joys. Dr. Wisely knows no land properly but this, the country of his adoption. His strivings, his successes, his disappointments and his consolations have all been here, coming year by year, as men’s pains and pleasures come the winters and the summers and the tractability and the waywardness of men.’
In fact another six months would pass before a round of celebrations began.
The Golden Wedding of the Reverend and Mrs. Wisely was celebrated on Monday 16th January 1905. During the afternoon a public event was arranged and chaired by the Reverend G.A. Sim, at the Church Room, 205 Strada Forni, Valletta. The Presbytery of Italy of which St. Andrew's was a member met for the first time in Malta. They were joined by clergy from the other Protestant faiths and Service Chaplains.
The full list was, The Reverend T. Johnstone Irvine of Naples, the Reverend J.G. Cunningham of San Remo, the Reverend Donald Miller of Genoa, all from the Presbytery of Italy, the Venerable Archdeacon Collyer of St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Valletta, the Reverend John Hatton, Senior Chaplain to the Forces in Malta, The Reverend John H. Loxley and the Reverend E. Rees of the Wesleyan Church, and Chaplains to the Forces, the Reverend F.W. Stewart, the Reverend T.P. Moreton, the Reverend T. Brook, the Reverend A.L. Hughes, and the Reverend B. Stothert, plus Royal Naval Chaplains, the Reverend G. Browning HMS Prince of Wales, Reverend H. Rorison HMS Minerva. They were joined by Staff Captain and Mrs. Souter and Captain Skinner of the Salvation Army.
That evening Dr. Wisely and his wife were ‘At Home’ at 210 Strada Forni. The exterior of the house was illuminated by Chinese lanterns, whilst the interior was decorated with bunting and an abundance of fresh flowers. Many of those who were at the afternoon affair were also present in the evening, but supplemented by a large number of Maltese who had befriended him during his long residence in Malta, and wished to add their congratulations to him and his wife.
On the 14th of the following month a dinner given by the Societa Economico Agraria di Malta in the Hotel D’Angleterre, at which Dr. Wisely was presented with the Society’s highest award, the Silver Medal. He had been a member since 1868 and had helped to establish the Annual Show at the Boschetto.
His wife died 28th January 1910, and was buried in Ta Braxia cemetery. By 1914, at the age of 86 he retired from Malta and returned to England. He died three years later on 24th May 1917 at Orpington, Kent, but his body was taken for burial in the kirkyard of St. Machar's Cathedral, Aberdeen.
Dr. and Mrs. Wisely raised a family of four boys during their long residence in Valletta, lasting over fifty years. Queen Victoria appointed Dr. Wisely as the first Presbyterian Chaplain to the Forces, and he was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Divinity by his old University in Aberdeen.
Dr. Wisely’s successor was the Reverend Gustavus Aird Sim, who had joined him on Malta in 1897. Whilst in charge of St. Andrew's the Reverend Sim raised £600 to build a hall in the rapidly growing town of Sliema.
In 1906 Mr and Mrs McBain, were selected to manage ‘The Haven’ in Dingli Street, Sliema, as a club where young soldiers could meet and relax in a Evangelical atmosphere. One club was for officers and other for the men. Mrs. Mackinnon was in charge of the two clubs and had a team of about twenty ladies to help her. General Hunter Blair who was in command of the Malta Garrison at that time said he would offer rooms in the Main Guard for an Officers’ Club if the Reverend Mackinnon could furnish them. Almost immediately £100 was donated by Mrs. Allan of Skelmorlie and the ‘Greenock Telegraph’ newspaper collected subscriptions so the money flowed in.
During the First World War the Reverend Albert G. Mackinnon arrived as Senior Chaplain to the Forces. He set up three recreation tents and two clubs for the large number of sick and wounded men, with the assistance of six other Chaplains, the Reverend Dr. Cowan, the Reverend Dr. Levack, the Reverend C. Goodall, the Reverend J. Wales Cameron, the Reverend R. Menzies and the Reverend C.V. McEchern. They were by aided by about twenty lay members of the church.
An Annual Scottish Gathering was held at Villa de Piro in St. Paul’s Bay. Over 550 convalescent men were collected from hospitals all over the island and transported to this event, and taken back again. This transport nightmare was smoothly managed by Lieutenant Leckie. Besides the wounded around 350 men from the garrison attended. As a reminder of home every guest was given a sprig of heather which had been specially sent over from Scotland for the occasion.
A large congregation assembled for a special Service at St. Andrews on Sunday 15th February 1920. The usual worshipers were joined by members from other Protestant churches, plus a group of high-ranking officers of the Army and Navy. The Governor, Lord Plumer, was met at the church door by the Reverend G.A. Sim, the Presbyterian Chaplain to the Royal Navy, and the Reverend J.J.M. Cowper, the Presbyterian Senior Chaplain to the Forces who jointly conducted the Service.
After the opening Hymn, Prayers, and the Lesson, the Governor was invited to unveil two large rectangular brass plaques. One in memory of Dr. George Wisely and his wife, and the other to three young soldiers, Sergeant John N. Morrison, 2nd Lieutenant Donald M. Morrison, and 2nd Lieutenant Alexander S. Pratt. The three men were all born and brought up in Malta and lost their lives in France during World War I.
In 1920 the Reverend Sim returned to Scotland and his place was taken by a Royal Naval Chaplain, the Reverend Alexander Campsie MC MA. He served at St. Andrew's for twelve years until 1932 when he was promoted and moved to Devonport.
The eldest son of the Reverend Wisely, Captain Wisely married the daughter of the late Sir Donald Currie, and endowed the King George V Merchant Seamen’s Hospital in Malta. Construction commenced in 1919 and the building was opened on St. Andrews Day 1922 by the Governor Lord Plumer.
The Kirk Session Minute Book started in June 1844 ends in June 1872. It is assumed that later books and other records were lost during WWII, probably when the house of Captain William Wisely was completely destroyed by enemy action.
The next extant Kirk Session recorded is on 23rd October 1946 which was called by the Reverend C.R.N. Macleod, a Royal Naval Chaplain. This book continued until 1976. Five members attended, the Reverend Macleod as Moderator, Squadron Leader K.G. Brown Royal Air Force as Session Clerk, Dr. Ian Chalmers and Mr. R. Paton as joint Treasurers, and Commodore D. Orr Ewing Royal Navy. Dr. Chalmers association with the church went back to the Dr. Wisely era, since in 1911 he was the last baby to be baptised by Dr. Wisely.
Their challenge was to re-assemble a congregation, and repair the extensive damage done by to St. Andrew’s Church, and St. Andrew’s House. All daunting tasks, and the cause of much frustration in the following years due to the procrastination of official Government Departments, and local contractors. The list included; repairing war damage to the church, particularly the roof and the windows; refurbishing or replacing fitments that had deteriorated partly by age and partly because of the dilapidated state of the building; cleaning the pews; installing fans for the summer and heaters for the winter; laying new carpets; etc
A few day-to-day matters were quite quickly sorted out. Obtaining new hymnbooks and locating the American organ, which was discovered in the Russian Chapel at St. Anton Palace, and returned.
When the Reverend A. Scott Currie, Royal Navy, came to St. Andrew's church in April 1954 he was lucky enough to find that the exasperating problems faced by his predecessors had more or less been overcome. Some work on the church had already been completed whilst other was in hand, so much so that the Reverend Currie felt secure to fix a date for the re-opening of St. Andrew’s.
Some major building work was still outstanding, and the estimate of £2060 from Malta Reinforced Concrete was accepted for the demolition and removal of the roofs from the church and tower, and their replacement by pre-cast hollow brick beams. This work was completed on time in August 1955, and on the 2nd October 1955, the Reverend Alexander King, Convenor of the Colonial and Continental Committee in Edinburgh, conducted a re-dedication service in the renovated and partly re-furnished church.
As a further embellishment of the building the Kirk Session decided it should be improved by the installation of leaded glass windows on the back wall and the two long walls. This work was placed in the hands of Messrs. Guillamier & Co., who completed the job by the end of 1956 at a cost of nearly £800. It was then felt that two stained glass windows should be installed in the wall behind the altar, one to commemorate the centenary of the church and the other in memory of the men who had died during WWII.
The window commemorating the Centenary of the Church on the left of the pulpit has as its theme the calling of St. Andrew. The main figure is of the Apostle Andrew, draped with his net and a rope, and above the burning bush emblem of the Church of Scotland. The lower panel, depicts the calling to discipleship of Andrew and his brother Peter.
The window on the right hand side is a memorial to the fallen of the 1939 – 1945 World War and depicts St. Paul. Behind the figure of Paul is a Greek temple representing the special mission to the pagan Gentiles, and above him is the dove, the symbol of peace. Beneath, the Apostle Paul is shown giving thanks for his safe deliverance from shipwreck on the shores of Malta. Both these windows were designed and made in Scotland by Douglas Hamilton FSA (Scot).
The windows were unveiled at the special Centenary Service held on Saturday 30th November (St. Andrew's Day) 1957, by His Honour Mr. Trafford Smith, the Officer administering the Government and they were dedicated by the Right Reverend George F. MacLeod, M.C., D.D., Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
In 1974 the Methodist church in Floriana closed down and the congregation united with the Church of Scotland at St. Andrews. A combined church logo was designed by a local artist and member of the congregation Mrs. Hilda Bruhm Lewis. It combines four emblems: The eight pointed Maltese Cross: the Scottish Saltire which is the diagonal cross of St. Andrew: the Burning Bush symbol of Presbyterianism: and the Scallop Shell long associated with Methodism.
In 1988 the Church and tower were re-roofed. At the same time as part of the general restoration of St. Andrew's two stained glass windows were brought from the now closed Floriana Methodist Church and installed. The transfer and installation was effected by Mr. Walter Vella of Zeebug and the cost was met from donations made by many members of St. Andrew's congregation, and a number of other bodies amongst whom were the Uniting Church of Australia, the Veterans Department of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia, the Royal British Legion (Malta Branch), and the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force Board of the British Methodist Church.
The window on the left of the organ loft depicts ‘Christ as the Light of the World’ after the famous painting by the Pre-Raphaelite artist William Holman Hunt, and that to the right shows ‘Our Lord as the Good Shepherd’.
The lectern was presented by Mrs Margaret Chalmers in memory of her 19 year old son Robert John Chalmers, who died on 22nd October 1958. He was born in Malta and in June 1958 went to Scotland since he had volunteered to do his National Service. He joined the Black Watch Regiment as a Private, and prior to starting an Officers Training course he was granted leave.
On 22nd October 1958 he boarded a British European Airways flight to Naples en route to Malta, but over the Italian town of Nettuno the Viscount Aircraft was hit by a Sabre Fighter jet aircraft of the Italian Air Force and crashed, all the 31 people on board lost their lives. His family arranged for his body to be returned to the island and his funeral conducted by the Reverend Scott Currie took place on 29th October 1958 with full military honours in Ta Braxia cemetery.
The pulpit was refurbished in memory of John Rigby, who was an Elder of the Church from 1982 to 1988.
In 1957 a small wooden font was made by Engine Room Artificer A. Neate, Royal Navy, on board HMS Ranpura from the broken stringers of HMS Kenya’s gangway. The original font, a wide white open dish was placed in Museum of Fine Arts.
Amongst the church treasures is a small silver dish from the Methodist Church, inscribed: ‘Gift of the Women's Fellowship December 1954.’, and a silver salver about 12” diameter with the inscription ‘To the Glory of God and in Loving Remembrance of Thomas Jenkin and Ellen Elizabeth his wife. Self forgetting in the service of others. 1917 – 1920’. ‘Gifted by their children who cherish the memory of their parents love and loyal service for the church’
The church walls are very plain, with few memorials. The two large brass plaques and the two stained glass windows either side of the altar have already been described, as well as the two stained glass windows at the back of the church.
The only other pictorial stained glass window is modern and located on the left hand side:
The left hand wall and the right hand wall each carry one brass tablet.
On the right to:
Mary Elizabeth McBain
died 3rd February 1936
aged 71 years.
For over 30 years she was a devoted
worker at St. Andrew's and at
'The Haven' Soldiers and Sailors Home in Sliema
Ministers of St. Andrew's Scots Church
Robert M. Hannah
George Wisely DD
Gustavus Aird Sim
Alexander Campsie R.N.
James E. Pirie R.N.
Hugh J. Purves R.N.
Harold G. Reid
Calum R.M. MacLeod R.N.
Hugh J. Purves R.N.
James Laidlaw R.N.
Adam Scott Currie R.N.
James Laidlaw R.N.
Allan M. Macleod R.A.F.
Colin A. Westmarland
1843 – 1845
1846 – 1847
1847 – 1849
1850 – 1851
1851 – 1852
1852 – 1854
1854 – 1914
1896 – 1920
1920 – 1932
1932 – 1938
1938 – 1942
1942 – 1944
1944 – 1946
1946 – 1950
1950 – 1952
1952 – 1954
1954 – 1959
1959 - 1962
1962 – 1964
1964 – 1974
1975 - 2001
2002 – 2008 Methodist Minister
ST. PAUL'S ANGLICAN CATHEDRAL
Prior to 1800 the number of English people living in Malta was very small, but once the combined Maltese and British forces had expelled the French in September 1800 the number of English civilians and troops increased rapidly. The early arrivals were mainly merchants and their families from other Mediterranean ports, since Sir Alexander Ball, the Civil Commissioner, actively encouraged the growth of trade. The war against Napoleon was still being waged in Europe and since his troops were nearby in Italy and Sicily, there was a build up of British soldiers in the Malta Garrison, as well the Royal Navy.
The British set up a Civil Service and expanded the Dockyard facilities to meet the needs of the Royal Navy. By the Treaty of Paris in 1814 the Maltese islands became part of the British Empire, and when the Napoleonic Wars ended in 1815, there was increased immigration by Englishmen of all trades and professions, plus their families.
Malta was also favoured by English men and women who wished to avoid the cold winter months at home. Several prominent personalities visited the island, including Lord Byron, Benjamin Disraeli, Sir Walter Scott, and Queen Adelaide the widow of King William IV.
The Reverend Francis Laing was appointed the first Chaplain to Government by Sir Alexander Ball in 1807; he was also the tutor to Ball’s son Keith, and acted as the Private Secretary to Ball himself. He was followed by the Reverend John Castleton Miller from 2nd December 1814 to 31st March l824, after his service as Chaplain to the Forces.
The Government Chapel was located in the Governor’s Palace and three items of Communion Plate bear the inscription ‘Malta Government Chapel A.D.1809’, so it is assumed that is when it opened. It was on the ground floor off what is known today as the Neptune Courtyard, and had formerly been the kitchen of the Grand Masters.
It could accommodate about 350 people but officials of the Government appropriated most of the pews. The Chaplain to Government held two services each Sunday. He was assisted by a retired Sergeant from the Royal Artillery, employed as his Clerk at £16.10.0d per annum.
This Chapel was not really suitable as a place of worship, and from time to time approaches were made by the Governor to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, for a proper church to be provided for the British Protestant community.
It was suggested from England that either the Jesuits Church in Strada Mercanti, or St. John’s Church could be used by the English residents for Anglican worship. The Governor, Sir Thomas Maitland, strongly opposed to the idea of taking over St. John's Church and was much relieved when the Secretary of State in London accepted his view.
Nevertheless, a few years later, Lord Liverpool, gave official permission for the Jesuit's Church to be used by the Church of England, provided that no public money was spent on the necessary alterations. However, it was found that in addition to some structural changes, there would be the cost of removing the Roman Catholic graves from the Crypt and the private altars. This was estimated as costing about £5,000, so the idea was abandoned, and the Government Chapel continued to be used.
After this decision in 1814 to continue using the Government Chapel the subject was dropped for the next ten years, but that may have been due to the influence of Governor Maitland. After his death and before the Marquess of Hastings took over the Governorship, two estimates for building a Protestant Church were sent to the Colonial Office in February 1824. The first plan comprised seating for 340 people and would cost £4,645, and if a gallery was added £5,045, the second one to seat 490 £6,880 or £7,280 with a gallery.
The go ahead was given to build a church designed by Colonel George Whitmore, Royal Engineers. The site was the old Prison at the junction of Strada Cristoforo and Strada Irlandais. The new Chief Secretary to the Government, reported that work had begun and submitted a fresh estimate to the Secretary of State in April 1825, saying that the building alone would now cost £7,625. Having asked for and received fuller details the authorities in England ordered work to be suspended.
When the Marquess of Hastings arrived he was all in favour of the resuming work on building the church since it would give some much needed employment. However, the Colonial Office revived the old idea of using an existing church. Hastings rejected the Jesuits Church for the same reasons as Maitland, and in April 1926 he inspected the church of St. James, also in Strada Mercanti, but decided it was too small. Once again everything came to a standstill. After Hastings’ death at the end of 1826 the Whitmore project was abandoned and the site was used for other purposes.
The Government Chapel continued to be used as more years passed. Then in 1834 during the Governorship of Sir Frederick Ponsonby, it was officially announced that an English church would be erected, but again nothing happened. Two years later a report compiled by the Director of Government Works proposed building a church on the corner of Strada Reale and Strada Mezzodi, or alternatively on a site at 91 Strada Vescovo. It would seat 1,500 people, 500 in pews and 1000 on benches, and the cost was estimated to be around £8,000. From London the usual delaying tactic was used by asking for more details to be sent.
Sir Frederick Ponsonby was forced to resign in 1836 due to ill health, and he was succeeded by Sir Henry Bouverie. The action by the Church Missionary Society brought the subject of a Protestant Church to the fore again. In January 1837 their representative, the Reverend Christopher Schlienz, approached Governor Bouverie for a site in Malta on which they could build a church. This request caused considerable amount of correspondence between London and Malta which went on for more than eighteen months.
It raised many questions;
Should the Church Missionary Society be allowed to build a church ?
Should the Government build a church ?
What would be the reaction from the Roman Catholic clergy ?
Where should it be sited ?
How would it be financed ?
Once again the old idea of using the Church of St. James in Strada Mercanti was proposed and again rejected. In an effort to save money in 1838 Bouverie put forward a proposal to adapt part of the Auberge D’Italie as a church, though he realised that such an idea would not satisfy those who wanted a bona fide English church. There were about 2,000 English civilians on the island and this was the situation when the Dowager Queen Adelaide, visited Malta for the benefit of her health during the winter of 1838/1839.
Adelaide was born at Meiningen, Germany, on the 13th August 1792, the daughter of Duke George I of Saxony-Meiningen and his wife Princess Luisa Eleonore of Hohenlohe-Langenburg. She was the eldest child, and had a sister Ida and a brother Bernhard, but their father died when Adelaide was only eleven years old.
In 1818 it was arranged that she would marry the Duke of Clarence, a son of King George III of England, and the ceremony took place in Kew Palace on 11th July, She was almost 26 years old whilst he was close to his 53rd birthday. She suffered great sadness in her life when none of her babies lived. Her four pregnancies ended in premature birth, miscarriage, a baby girl dying aged twelve weeks, and finally stillborn twins in April 1822.
Earlier in his life the Duke had a mistress, an actress named Dorothea Bland, known as ‘Mrs. Jordan’. She bore him ten children over a period of twenty years, whom he acknowledged and they were given the surname Fitzclarence. Adelaide overcame her own sorrow and became very fond of these stepchildren.
Upon the death of his elder brother her husband became King William IV, and was on the throne for seven years until he died from pneumonia on 20th June 1837. Her niece the young Victoria became Queen and Adelaide returned to a quiet life.
Suffering from a chest ailment she decided to spend the winter of 1838/1839 in the Mediterranean on the island of Malta. Her ship put in at Gibraltar and she was present on the 18th October at the consecration of the Holy Trinity Church, which later became Gibraltar Cathedral. She arrived at Malta on board HMS Hastings on the 30th November.
Possibly with the memory of Gibraltar in her mind she was surprised to find the accommodation being used by the Protestant community for regular worship. Almost immediately she wrote to her niece, Queen Victoria:-
The Palace, Valetta, 13th December 1838.
MY DEAREST NIECE,- The English mail going today gives me another opportunity to address you, and to name a subject to you which I think deserves your consideration, and about which I feel most anxious. It is the want of a Protestant church in this place which I mean. There are so many English residents here, it is the seat of an English Government, and there is not one church belonging to the Church of England.
The consequence of this want of church accommodation has been that the Dissenters have established themselves in considerable number, and one cannot blame persons for attending their meeting when they have no church of their own.
I address myself to you, as the Head of the Church of England, and entreat you to consider well this important subject, and to talk it over with your Ministers and the Archbishop, in order to devise the best means of remedying a want so discreditable to our country.
Should there be no funds at your disposal to effect this object, most happy shall I feel to contribute to any subscription which may be set on foot, and I believe that a considerable sum may be raised among the Protestants of this island, where all parties are most anxious to see a proper place of divine worship erected; without assistance from England, however, it cannot be effected.
I therefore most humbly and confidently submit this subject to you, dearest Victoria, who will bestow upon your Protestant subjects of this island an everlasting benefit by granting them what they want most.
I hope this will find you quite well and happy, and that I shall soon again have the pleasure of hearing from you. Give my affectionate love to your dear Mother, and all my dear sisters, and believe me ever, my dearest Niece, your most devoted and faithfully attached Aunt, ADELAIDE”
Since she was staying at the Governor’s Palace, there is no doubt that she made her views know to Sir Henry Bouverie, but he likewise made it clear to her that from his experience the British Government was unlikely to supply funds for such a project. That Adelaide came to a decision without waiting for a reply from Queen Victoria is apparent from a letter sent by the Governor to the Secretary of State on the 6th January 1839:
"Since I had the honour of addressing your Lordship on the subject of the building of a Protestant Church in Malta, Her Majesty the Queen Dowager has expressed her determination to supply the funds required for the undertaking. Anxious as I have ever been to see a Church erected upon a scale commensurate with the dignity of Great Britain and the spiritual wants of the Protestants of Malta both residents and travellers the number of which latter class is daily increasing it has never appeared to me likely that that measure would be effected otherwise than by a grant of Money by Parliament, and I have always imagined that great difficulty could be thrown in the way of such a Grant, and that this great object so essential to the welfare of so many would therefore continue to be, as it has been for so many years, postponed again and again to the great injury of the interests of the Church of England, your Lordship will not therefore be surprised at the difficulty which I experienced in finding adequate terms in which to express the admiration and gratitude which I in common with all well wishers to the Church of England must be impressed, on this most gracious and most beneficent determination of Her Majesty being made known.”.
Governor Bouverie provided a site on which stood the old Alberge D’Allemagne in Strada Ponente, and gave orders to start demolishing the old building immediately.
Queen Adelaide was prepared to fund the building of a church to accommodate 1000 people, to be used by the British residents, the Army and the Royal Navy, at an estimated cost of between £6000 and £8000.
Lord Glenelg’s approved Bouverie’s prompt action, as did the British Protestants.
They wrote to Queen Adelaide on 5th February 1839:
“We, the Protestant population of these Islands, impressed with the highest admiration at Your Majesty’s munificent and pious intention to build a church for our use, desire, with the profoundest respect to offer in common some testimony, unworthy indeed but sincere, which shall mark the heartfelt gratitude with which we receive so inestimable a gift.
By means of Your Majesty’s Christian benevolence, a bright prospect has now opened upon us, and soon all our protestant brethren, from the least to the greatest, will be enabled to join together in the public exercises of our holy faith.
Your Majesty’s visit to this island has been productive of great good to all. May it be blessed to Your Majesty in a perfect restoration of health.
Fervently, we pray the Almighty that Your Majesty may live long to hear of, if not to witness in person, the prosperity of this your labour of love and zeal for the glory of God.”
By the 20th March 1839 an impressive ceremony to lay the foundation stone was arranged
“On Wednesday last 20th of March p.m. Her Majesty Queen Dowager of England left the Palace accompanied by His Excellency the Governor and her Suite, to lay the foundation stone of the new Protestant Church. The day was fair and bright but very windy. Her Majesty as had been her wont since her residence here rode in a carriage of the country and was preceded by a band of the Garrison playing ‘God save the Queen’ and also, there preceded Her Majesty twelve clergymen of the Church of England, chiefly Chaplains of the Navy. A very large concourse of British residents and of the Maltese, had already assembled on the arrival of Her Majesty in Strada Ponente the site of the new church
All the officers of the Garrison and the Fleet were present in full dress, whose rich and massy uniforms cast an air of grandeur over the solemn scene. Her Majesty herself attired in a splendid dress of black silk velvet looked at once most graciously condescending and regal - and with His Excellency in grand uniform on her left and the lovely Lady Sheffield on her right, she took her seat on a chair of state, under a warm and commodious booth, richly carpeted, constructed for Her Majesty and the ladies.
The Reverend Chaplain of the Forces, Mr. Le Mesurier, then opened the service by reading the 132nd psalm, which was responded to by the children of the military schools, and the company present.
Her Majesty afterwards descended with a firm step to lay the stone amidst the most intense anxiety of the spectators......Her Majesty assisted by His Excellency, Lady Sheffield, Earl Howe, the Chief Secretary the Hon. Sir Hector Greig, and Mr. Lankesheer the architect took the square of the mason and adjusted the stone as it was lowered down by pulleys over the cement lying beneath.”
Queen Adelaide left Malta on the 1st April 1839.
Richard Lankesheer, the Superintendent of the Public Works was selected as the architect for the new church. After about twelve months however problems arose which were thought to be due Mr. Lankesheer’s inexperience. When he died on 8th March 1841 although it was said ‘after a short illness’, there was a rumour that he had committed suicide.
The project was given over to William Scamp, a Naval Architect, who was then engaged in building the Naval Bakery in Vittoriosa. He had no option but to demolish all Lankesheer’s work and start again.
He changed the original design very considerably. As a help to local employment it is known that although the number of men employed on the site varied from week to week, a typical week would involve:
7 Masons @ 1/6d. to 1/9d. per day, 63 Stone Cutters @ 1/3d. per day, 39 Stone Carriers/Labourers @ 11d. per day, 47 Boys @ 5d. to 7d. per day, 3 Sculptors @ 3/-d. per day, 14 Carpenters 1/1d. to 1/8d. per day, a total of 173 workmen.
The original estimate for building the church was between £6,000 and £8,000 but William Scamp had to cover considerable unforeseen extra expenses. Not only was the design of the actual structure changed but the Bishop of Gibraltar insisted on changes to the interior of the building so that the altar was at the eastern end. The outcome was that the total cost was around £20,000 which Queen Adelaide provided from her own resources.
Whilst the church was under construction, on August 24th 1842 at Westminster Abbey in London, George Tomlinson was consecrated as the first Bishop of the See of Gibraltar which included the Maltese islands. He decided to live in Malta for several months each year, as it was in a central position for him to visit other parts of his Diocese. Whilst in Malta he used the Auberge d'Aragon as his home, which was on the opposite side of the Piazza Celsi.
The consecration of the new church, to be called St. Paul’s was originally fixed for 1843 as indicated by the date on the Communion Plate, but this was not possible, and in fact did not take place until November 1844.
In the meantime Governor Bouverie who had been a very popular Governor had resigned for health reasons, and his successor was Sir Patrick Stuart who took the position on 13th July 1843. He seems to have been rigid and inflexible in his outlook as from the outset he had a dispute with the Bishop of Gibraltar and objected to St. Paul’s being named as a Cathedral, since Gibraltar had already been designated the Cathedral for the Diocese, so the title Collegiate Church of St. Paul was adopted.
Bishop Tomlinson wrote:
“It is certainly not creditable to us that in a city and a garrison like this the English soldiers should for so many years have had nothing but a schoolroom for divine worship......I hope therefore that they will have the Chapel assigned to them as soon as the civil congregation is removed.”
The consecration was finally held on 1st November 1844, although the building was not completely finished. The spire was not completed until 1845, when six bells cast in Whitechapel, London, by C.&.G. Mears were hung in the belfry.
“All things having been prepared for the consecration of the new Protestant Collegiate Church of St. Paul: the morning dawn of the 1st November - All Saints Day! saw the Royal Standard of England floating from the unfinished cupola of the new Church, as also the Episcopal flag at the Bishop’s residence, other flags were flying at the Palace and various Consulates in honour of the day.
At 11 o’clock there could not have been less than 900 persons in the Church, even the very side aisles were filled with chairs. His Lordship, the Bishop of Gibraltar, now began the ceremony of consecration by walking round the outside of the Church reciting the prayers, the Cross carried before him, and followed by his Clergy, H.E. the Governor Sir Patrick Stuart, Admiral Sir Edward Owen, Sir Hector Greig, Colonel Balneavis, Colonel Tylden, Colonel Bayley, Mr. Fletcher, Hon. J. Aspinall, a great number of Civil employees, and Naval and Military Officers”.
Archdeacon Le Mesurier commenced the service. The First Lesson was read by the Reverend Thomas Gifford Gallwey, Chaplain of HMS Formidable, the Second one by the Reverend G.P. Badger, the Epistle by the Reverend Philip Mules, and the Gospel by the Archdeacon. The Bishop ascended the Pulpit and gave the Sermon.
A report gave several details regarding donations to the Church:
“The Communion Plate of silver gilt is the gift of Lieut-General Sir H.F. Bouverie, the late Governor. The furniture of the interior, together with the organ, bells, etc. were provided by a subscription at the head of which stands the present Governor, the Hon. Sir P. Stuart, and the principal English inhabitants aided by friends at home. The font, of white Carrara marble is the gift of the late J.W. Bowden Esq. The great Bible was given by the late Countess of Denbigh, the Prayer Book by the Countess of Sheffield, and the books for the Communion were given by the Reverend J. Ryle Wood and the Reverend Philip Mules.”
Two days after the consecration the Bishop performed the first baptism. He baptised the seven-month-old daughter of Harriet and William Scamp, with the appropriate names of Adelaide Frances Melita.
Religious friction between the local Roman Catholic clergy and the Church of England, the Presbyterians and Methodists, was always liable to erupt at any minute.
One problem Bishop Tomlinson had to deal with was the marriage regulations of Malta. Several British soldiers and sailors changed to the Roman Catholic religion as a convenience in order to marry Maltese girls, but a high profile case involved Mr. Camilleri. He had been a Maltese Roman Catholic priest but gave up Catholisim and became a Protestant clergyman. He married a Maltese widow Mrs. Fleri who had children by her first husband, a Roman Catholic, and her ex-mother-in-law sought to have the children raised as Roman Catholics. This resulted in a series of civil, legal and criminal court actions in June 1844.
In 1846 the Governor, Sir Patrick Stuart caused a crisis when he opposed the Lent Carnival being held on a Sunday. The Maltese saw this as an interference with their traditional Roman Catholic customs by a Protestant Governor. He never recovered their approval.
When the news of Queen Adelaide’s death reached Malta in December 1849, not only the English residents but also the Maltese were saddened. During her four-month stay in the winter of 1838 she went out and about quite freely in her carriage and had been seen and admired by thousands of people. A period of mourning took place.
After several years it was decided that St. Paul’s Church should be enclosed by iron railings, and Mr. William Jemison Smith, the Secretary of the Church Committee wrote on 11th June 1861 to the Governor, Sir John Gaspard Le Marchant:
“.....Messrs.Emmerson & Murgatroyd have most liberally undertaken to supply the railings and gates at working price which they estimate at £260. There would be a further expense for a defence along the top of the walls encircling the Church for painting the railing and other items which may be estimated at £50. The Committee will endeavour to obtain conveyance of the rails, freight free”.
He went on to explain that there was still a debt owing for the organ and pointed out that:
"Under the circumstances finding that it will be impossible to carry out the undertaking solely from private contributions the committee trust that His Excellency will be graciously pleased to take the subject into his most favourable consideration and that His Excellency may find it in his power to authorize a grant of £150 from the public funds of these Islands”
The usual delaying tactic of referring the matter to England was used, but eventually at the end of September £100 was provided by the Government for St. Paul's, and the railings were duly ordered. Reverend Cleugh and Archdeacon Le Mesurier called upon Mr. Charles McIver the wealthy shipowner at his Sliema residence and he offered to have the rails and gates carried free of charge by Burns & McIver's Steamers of Liverpool.
On several occasions the Committee of St. Paul’s was approached for aid by people in need. Often they involved small amounts of money and such requests could be met. Apart from individuals, help was also given to good causes. The Reverend Cleugh reported a donation towards a hospital in Floriana for soldier’s families, and the Reverend Hillman, Chaplain to the Forces in the Cottonera District was given a grant assist with the establishment of a sewing school for soldier’s wives.
Although lack of money was always a concern at a meeting of the Church Committee held on the 15th December 1862, Mr. Richard C. Legh supported by Mr. William Leonard asked the Reverend Cleugh to consider the possibility of weekly collections to help the distressed operatives in Lancashire and Cheshire.
Bishop George Tomlinson died on 6th February 1863 and was buried in Ta’ Braxia cemetery, which he had consecrated in June 1857. Between his death and the arrival of his successor, the day to day work at St. Paul’s carried on as usual. The organ needed some attention and when Thomas J. Robson & Co., were contacted they arranged to send a man out from England.
The vacant Bishopric was filled by Dr. Walter John Trower, who had been the Bishop of Glasgow from 1848 to 1859, and he arrived in Malta towards the end of 1863.
To keep up with the times the Reverend Cleugh approached the Malta and Mediterranean Gas Company, and asked them to give their advice regarding the installation of gas lighting. Although the congregation were in favour it took more than two and a half years to come to a decision. In September 1865 J. Hardman & Co., of Birmingham were approached, and although they replied by return, they were disappointed to hear from Archdeacon Cleugh that at the present time the church funds were insufficient to go ahead. At the end of 1866 one sample standard light was sent out from England and installed in the church so that a small Committee could assess the idea. They were unanimous that the new gas lamps should be installed throughout the church.
Since it opened the interior walls of St. Paul’s were totally free from any form of decoration, but in September 1864 the Reverend Le Mesurier died and his sister asked permission to arrange for a marble tablet to be put up in his memory.
The mixed marriages problem arose again in December 1864, when a Lieutenant John Rutter, Royal Malta Fencibles, and Miss Margaret Giappone, were married by the Reverend John Cleugh in St. Paul’s. Both the bride and groom had been born in Malta, and were Roman Catholics. However Lieutenant Rutter had declared himself to be a Protestant, deceiving the Reverend Cleugh to perform the wedding.
It was afterwards learnt that Lieutenant Rutter was facing a breach of promise suit so to avoid any delay in marrying Miss Giappone he had deliberately declared that he was a Protestant so as to speed up the wedding. There were also several instances where British soldiers and sailors had declared themselves to be Roman Catholics so as marry Maltese girls. To deal with such abuses Bishop Trower wrote to all clergymen within the Gibraltar Diocese:
Valletta, January 14th 1865.
“The Archbishop of Malta has directed his clergy to refuse the solemnization of holy matrimony until the person professing to abjure Protestantism has continued for six months a member of the Roman Catholic Church. The wisdom and justice of this direction are apparent.
And I hereby counsel and direct you to act on the principle thus asserted by the Archbishop of Malta, in the parallel case of a Roman Catholic professing to abjure his Church and declaring himself a Protestant, when seeking the solemnization of holy matrimony by an Anglo-Catholic clergyman. I recommend and direct you in such a case to suspend or withhold the celebration of the marriage service until the person seeking its performance has continued for six months a member of the United Church of England and Ireland”.
The village of Sliema had been growing in size and was popular with English residents, largely married Army and Navy officers and their families, who found it a more desirable area to live than in Valletta. To meet their religious needs a Sunday evening service had been held in the schoolroom of the Malta Protestant College in closeby St. Julians, but the College closed in 1865. This meant that they would have to travel to St. Paul’s enduring uncomfortable conditions in summer due to the heat, and a hazardous crossing of Marsamuscetto harbour by boat in the winter months.
Accordingly, early in 1866, Bishop Trower issued an appeal for £4,000 to build and endow a Church and parsonage in Sliema, and opened the subscription list by giving £1,000 himself. His initiative was successful and by the 20th September the foundation stone of a new church in Rudolph Street, Sliema, was laid by the Acting Governor of Malta, Major-General Sir William John Ridley. The church, a beautiful little building in the early English style, was named Holy Trinity. Dr. Trower consecrated it on Easter Tuesday, 23rd April 1867, but simultaneously announced that he had decided to resign, since he felt that he was no longer young enough or active enough to travel as much as the needs of the Diocese required. At the end of the year his successor was announced as the Hon. Charles Amyand Harris, Archdeacon of Wiltshire.
St. Paul’s Church and the English residents benefited from Bishop Tomlinson and Bishop Trower living in Malta for long periods, but future Bishops did not continue this practice, so had little involvement with the daily workings of the church.
The Church Committee received an approach from the Reverend M.C. O’Dell, Chaplain to the Forces, and met on 1st May 1872. The subject of his letter was to continue off and on for the next one hundred years.
“Sir, I have the honor to report on the information of Hon. Excellency, the General Commander that the case of the 52nd Light Infantry being stationed in Valletta, the small size of the Baracca Chapel will not admit of their accommodation at Divine Service at the same time with the Royal Artillery and as the Florian Troops now fill the Chapel, it will be necessary to have three Parade Services, rendering the risk of exposure to the sun during the summer considerable, for whatever troops attend the later service.
Under these circumstances I recommend that application be made for permission for the troops in Valletta to be allowed to attend at 9 a.m. at St. Paul’s church, the troops in Florian continuing to attend the Baracca Chapel. The Chaplain who has to officiate to the Valletta troops being then relieved of the 3rd parade service which would have fallen on him had the troops attended at the Baracca might in consideration give assistance to the incumbent of St. Paul's at the Civil service at 11 a.m. It being clearly understood that the Military Chaplain is to be solely responsible for the military service in according with military regulations.
A fatigue party, viz: Corporal and 6 men could be sent on Saturdays to give assistance to the Church attendants in preparing the church for service, and a similar party can remain after the service to remove any dust or left by the troops in the sitting.”
This proposal with a few minor changes was accepted.
In the summer of 1877 the organ needed some repairs, as thirteen years had elapsed since it was last restored. The company of Robson & Co. had been taken over by Gray & Davison of London, and they sent a Mr. Monk to carry out the remedial work
After an outstanding service of fifty-three years to the English community the Reverend Cleugh, Chaplain to the Government, resigned in 1877, as he was now 86 years old. His death took place four years later on 25th March 1881, and his funeral was held in Ta’ Braxia cemetery.
His replacement was the Reverend Henry White, but after one year he left and the Reverend Edward Ambrose Hardy became Chaplain to the Government in October 1878.
The Church Accounts for 1881 include the following note:
“It will be remembered that a large proportion of our expenses are incurred on behalf of the British Mercantile Seamen in the Civil Hospital and in the Civil Prison. During the past year there have been 244 British Seamen in the Hospital and 55 in the Prison. Spiritual ministrations have been provided for these in the form of a service four days in the week at the Hospital, and once a week at the Prison, besides such other visits and help as the circumstances seemed to render advisable or necessary. The numbers show a slight increase of Patients in the Hospital and a considerable decrease of Prisoners in the Prison.”
Mr. Carl Franz Riechelmann, had been the organist at St. Paul’s for about twenty three years when he tendered his resignation at end of 1881 since he was leaving Malta for London. He was succeeded by Mr. George Havelock of Basingstoke, Hampshire, who stayed for about four years. In 1885 the Reverend Hardy felt it advisable to have a schoolmaster and organist combined, and 27 years old Mr. Walter S. Robinson accepted the post.
In 1894 the Malta Council of Government passed a resolution calling for the stipend paid to the Chaplain to the Government serving at St. Paul’s to be withdrawn, which would mean that in future this charge would fall upon the Protestant community.
The Reverend Hardy wrote to the Colonial Office:
“The congregation of St. Paul’s is composed almost entirely of ‘well to do’ people, Officers and their families and visitors for the winter season, and there is no reason for supposing otherwise than that they will, if required, provide as liberally for the Clergymen in Malta as is the case elsewhere.”
Consequently the post of Chaplain to the Government was abolished on 31st December 1895. The civilian residents were concerned that St. Paul’s would be handed over to the Military authorities, and that the only way such an action could be avoided was for them to raise sufficient money to meet the salary of a civilian clergyman. Help was sought to accumulate sufficient funds for a clergyman and the running expenses of the building.
On the 20th of August a question raised in the House of Commons by Sir Henry Fletcher, who asked Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, the Secretary of State for the Colonies:
“If it were intended to make any alterations in the arrangements connected with the Church of St. Paul’s, Valetta, built by the late Queen Dowager Adelaide for the use of the Anglican community in Malta, which have existed for the last 50 years; could the correspondence on this subject be laid upon the table of the House, and was there any truth in the report that this Church as thus given by the late Queen Dowager was now to be converted into a military chapel.”
The reply he received confirmed the Government’s view that the stipend should no longer be made from public funds, but that there were no plans for St. Paul’s to be given over to the military.
The future of St. Paul’s rested in the hands of the congregation. An appeal to raise £10,000 for an endowment fund was made. To start the ball rolling Mr. William Hardman offered to contribute £1,000 on behalf of his wife and himself provided the other £9,000 was raised. Whilst residents and visitors to Malta were being approached, Sir Victor Houlton issued an appeal in London. In spite of support from the Lord Mayor of London, and a meeting at the Mansion House, the final total raised after expenses amounted to £1,363.10.0d.
Sir Victor Houlton, Chief Secretary to the Government of Malta from 1855 to 1883, died in London on 24th August 1899. St. Paul’s lost one of its principal supporters who had worked hard in London to raise money. In his will Sir Victor left the sum of £1,000 to St. Paul’s but with the proviso that :
“Provided that at the date of my death such Church shall in no way be connected with or under the management or control of the War Office. Authorities in London or of the Military Authorities in the island of Malta, and that the services of such Church shall at the date of my death be exclusively conducted by a Civilian Clergyman nominated for that purpose by the Bishop in whose See such Church shall be at the time of my death and provided also that such services shall not then be conducted by any Chaplain or Military or other Clergy nominated by or under the control War Office Authorities in London or the Military Authorities is the said Island of Malta.”
On April 2nd 1901, Mr. Hardman and his wife Aloisa Annetta Hardman, nee Corlett, sent the sum of £2,000 to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, to be held in trust, so that the interest would be paid to the Senior Churchwarden or the Chaplain. They also included a proviso that St. Paul’s should remain under civilian control. The Houlton and Hardman endowments brought in less than £140 per annum, so more money was needed to put St. Paul’s on a firm financial footing.
When the Reverend Cartwright resigned early in 1901, the Bishop of Gibraltar faced a problem of finding a replacement, and although the Reverend F. Bullock Webster was appointed he left within a year; the Reverend Franklyn de Winton Lushington took over the chaplaincy but departed two years later.
After the Reverend Lushington, the Churchwardens felt that St. Paul’s needed a period of stability with a long term clergyman. The Reverend Daniel Collyer was pleased to say that he had accepted the Chaplaincy permanently.
There was no residence for the Chaplain during the early years of the twentieth century a house known as ‘The Cloisters’ was used. The Reverend Collyer proposed to alter the caretaker’s quarters which were below the church adjoining the crypt into suitable living quarters for a Chaplain. Nothing came of this idea and more than twenty years went by before accommodation for the Chaplain was finally provided in 1928.
The absence of sufficient funding continued, with occasional scares. The Military Authorities suggested that they take the collection once a month for Military charities or purposes. Captain Colville of the Royal Navy gave information that a Naval Chaplain had been appointed for crews of the smaller ships and a service would take place on HMS Leander instead of St. Paul’s, which would mean the loss of the annual contribution paid by the Royal Navy.
Archdeacon Collyer proposed that a memorial panel should be erected in memory of Mr. Gale, who had devoted much of his time and energy on behalf of the church. At about the same time Mrs. Gordon Paterson expressed a wish to place a tablet in the church in memory of her 18-year-old Midshipman son who had died in January 1905. Both were approved.
Although the Reverend Collyer was appointed on a permanent basis he left after two years and returned to England. The Churchwardens requested the Bishop not only to find a replacement but to make adequate safeguards to prevent undue absences or hasty resignations. The English residents at this time numbered around 20,000 but were not all Church of England.
The Reverend Charles George Gull, arrived firstly on a temporary basis but later as the permanent Chaplain of St. Paul’s. The Churchwardens outlined their financial problems to the Bishop, together with their suggestions for dealing with them. One of their ideas was quite new, but risky.
A letter dated 1st June 1907 was sent to the Army G.O.C. saying that there was no justification for two Protestant churches in Valletta, and that St. Paul’s should be used by both civilian and military congregations. The Barracca Chapel should be closed as a place of worship and used as a military club. By this move they expected to receive financial aid from the Army towards the running of St. Paul’s.
This suggestion did not go down well with the Senior Chaplain to the Forces, the Reverend Arthur Gedge, who strongly held the view that Sunday Services for the troops should be taken by the Military Chaplains who look after their well being for the rest of the week. If the Barracca Chapel was closed down then in his opinion St. Paul’s should be placed under the Senior Military Chaplain, with a civil clergyman to assist him.
The Reverend Walter Haines, the Reverend Gedge’s successor as S.C.F. made clear his views that any clergyman involved with British troops should be under military control. Also, by the Army having control of St. Paul’s, the civil population could be served by the Chaplain of Holy Trinity. The War Office played safe by deciding that they could see no benefit for the troops in Malta, so the idea was dropped in April 1908.
The Reverend Gull resigned as Chaplain of St. Paul’s at the end of December 1907, to be followed as Chaplain by the Reverend William Evered. Unfortunately he suffered from ill health and was absent for long periods, which was not satisfactory, he resigned in early 1910, and was followed by a series of locum tenentes.
The Churchwardens at St. Paul’s were either high ranking officers or quite well off businessmen, and they felt let down. They were responsible for all aspects of St. Paul’s and considered they should be consulted about the appointment of a Chaplain, and communicated these feelings of the congregation to the Bishop of Gibraltar as many letters show.
The facts were set out in a letter sent by Sir Leslie Rundle the Governor to Bishop Collins dated 19th April 1910:
“During the period from 2nd June 1907 when the Reverend Gull left the island to 10th April 1910 the church services were conducted by the permanent Chaplain on 44 Sundays out of a total of 153 – the services of the remaining Sundays being conducted by a Locum Tenens on 67 Sundays; by the Chaplain of Holy Trinity, either alone or with the assistance of Naval or Military Chaplains on 24 Sundays; by the Chaplain of Holy Trinity with the assistance of laymen on 6 Sundays; by laymen (both services) on 2 Sundays, by laymen and Naval or Military Chaplains on 6 Sundays and by Naval or Military Chaplains on 4 Sundays. 16 of the above services were conducted by churchwardens or by the organist in the absence of any available Chaplain.
The effect of this unsettled state of affairs has been that the congregation has greatly fallen off in numbers and that the residents and visitors are losing all interest in the welfare of the church.
In conclusion I am desired to say that in the opinion of the congregation, unless promptly remedied this most unfortunate state of affairs must ultimately result in the closing of the church – a disaster which would cause infinite harm to the Protestant community of Malta and occurring in the midst of a rigid Roman Catholic population could only reflect discredit on us as members of the Church of England.
I am therefore desired to ask with all due respect that your Lordship may be pleased to inform us whether you are prepared to appoint a permanent Chaplain who shall be acceptable to us as a congregation, who will be prepared to make his home among us, and if you will allow us a voice in the matter of whom you may propose to select.”
The Bishop acted quickly and by the 22nd June 1910, had appointed the Reverend Arthur Newton, who was currently serving at Odessa. This appointment was made without any consultation with St. Paul’s Churchwardens, so they wrote that they were:
“… reluctantly obliged to inform him that the congregation were not prepared to form any guarantee fund for the stipend of the Chaplain; and further to ask his Lordship if he would kindly inform the churchwardens on what terms he has engaged the services of the Reverend A.F. Newton.”
Apart from upsetting the regular worshippers at St. Paul’s the Bishop’s reply to the Governor, was not very tactful, and clearly the two men did not see eye to eye.
St. Paul’s was the venue for a Memorial Service held on Friday 20th May 1910, the day of the funeral of the late King Edward VII, in which many clergymen from various branches of the Anglican church took part.
“The first portion of the Burial service was read by the Reverend Edward Cawood, Acting Chaplain of the Cathedral, the lesson by Reverend Morrison (Presbyterian), an address was given by the Bishop of Western Australia and the rest of the service was read by the Reverend J. Blackbourne, Senior Forces Chaplain, and Reverend J. Icely, Royal Navy. Representatives of Holy Trinity Sliema, Presbyterian Church, Wesleyan Church, Army Scripture Readers and Salvation Army attended.”
During this visit the Bishop met Mrs. Hardman, now a widow, a long time supporter and friend of St. Paul’s. She had decided to give some financial assistance again in memory of her late husband, and sent instructions to her bankers in England to transfer £2400 2½% Consols to the Gibraltar Diocesan Fund to form the “William Hardman Memorial Trust”
Since St. Paul’s was opened in 1844 it had the word ‘Collegiate’ in its title, and in 1910 a body of Statutes was prepared to make St. Paul’s into a true ‘Collegiate’ Church. This idea found favour with the congregation:
“The vestry hereby express their willingness to co-operate in the use of the Cathedral church by a Collegiate Body in which the Chaplain as Chancellor and Senior Canon, is the chief authority under the Bishop, so far as it concerns them”
The Statutes were promulgated on 1st January 1911 and a Collegiate body formally inaugurated. There would be a Dean (the Bishop of Gibraltar for the time being); a Chancellor or Senior Canon (the Chaplain of St. Paul’s); four other Canons (who work in the Diocese) and four lay members. The first Inauguration Ceremony was held the same day. The Reverend Arthur Fowler Newton was installed as Chancellor of St. Paul’s and Senior Canon, and the Reverend Henry Jenkins Shaw, the Chaplain at Holy Trinity Church, Sliema, was made one of the Canons. Later that month the Reverend Francis Cowley Whitehouse, Chaplain to H.M. Embassy at Constantinople, became a Canon.
To modernise St. Paul’s in 1911 the Church Committee obtained an estimate for replacing the gas lighting by electricity. Although the gas company offered to reduce its charges the members voted 4 to 1 in favour of the change over to electricity.
In the Summer of 1912, Canon Newton, wrote to Bishop Knight that the present congregation was only about 70 persons, not sufficient for St. Paul’s to continue as a church for civilians only. Although there was still bad feeling between the two men, Bishop Knight had an interview with Governor Rundle about the difficulties at St. Paul’s, but no solution acceptable to both the civilians and the military could be found.
Canon Newton had already expressed his view that the future of St. Paul’s was uncertain, and therefore it came as no surprise when he resigned. Bishop Knight was unable to find a successor, but a personal friend Dr. Barnes agreed to serve during the winter of 1912-13 to give him time to find a suitable clergyman. Due to the financial position the Churchwardens insisted that any replacement must have private means.
Eventually the Reverend Frederick Davies Brock, was appointed. He was rather elderly and infirm, and had been the parish priest of Kirklevington for thirty-one years. The Churchwardens protested that they had not been consulted but without success.
The outbreak of the First World War in August 1914 brought increased work for all clergy in Malta. The island became a hospital base for British and Commonwealth troops from Gallipoli and Salonika, with over 120,000 casualties being cared for. There were 28 hospitals and convalescent centres located throughout the islands, and Malta gained itself the name ‘The Nurse of the Mediterranean’.
Mr. Hurst, who had been the organist at St. Paul’s since August 1909 submitted his resignation at the end of 1915, and Mr. Robinson resumed the post he first held in 1885.
Lord Methuen succeeded General Rundle as Governor of Malta and in January 1916 wrote to Bishop Knight that in his opinion Canon Brock needed to be replaced. He raised again the suggestion that there was not room for two Anglican Churches in Valletta and that St. Paul’s should be given over to the military.
The Bishop pointed out that there was no possibility of changing the Chaplain whilst the war was on, so it was advisable to defer any decision as to the church's future, but added that St. Paul’s with the right man in charge could become the centre for all the Anglican church life of Malta.
Lord Methuen clearly was unhappy with the manner in which St. Paul’s was operating, and again wrote to Bishop Knight requesting the removal of Canon Brock. The Bishop explained that many of the younger clergy were serving in H.M. Forces, and that a replacement could not easily found. Also he felt some obligation towards Canon Brock who had done his best under difficult conditions.
When the Bishop visited Malta at the end of the War in November 1918, he discussed the future of St. Paul’s with Governor Methuen and the Reverend E. Edmonds-Smith, Senior Chaplain to the Forces. The discussions focused again on the question of whether civilian clergy or Chaplains to the Forces should conduct the services at St. Paul’s for the troops. It seems that no agreement could be reached to the matter was dropped again.
Canon Brock’s retirement was agreed upon, and the Reverend Archibald Fargus was appointed as the new Chaplain, with Reverend E.A. Ommaney as locum tenens until the autumn of 1919. However, before Canon Brock’s departure there had been another change of Governor.
Lord Plumer was now in charge of Malta and when approached to help launch an appeal for funds to build a residence for the Chancellor of St. Paul’s, indicated that due to the small number of civilians attending St. Paul’s a civil clergyman was not justified. However, as a temporary help he instituted a parade service at St. Paul’s every other Sunday. After more consideration Lord Plumer like his predecessors came to the conclusion that St. Paul’s should be transferred to the military authorities, but the Bishop disagreed.
On 27th January 1920 St. Paul’s was the scene of the grandest weddings ever held there. The Governor’s youngest daughter, Marjorie Constance Plumer married his Aide-de-Camp, Major William Halliday Brooke. Well before 2.30 p.m. the church was filled to capacity. The bride and her father left the Palace and were driven through crowd-packed streets lined by Boy Scouts to the church. Upon their arrival a Guard of Honour from the 1st Battalion, The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment presented arms.
Three clergymen helped perform the service, Canon Hugh Fargus, the Reverend F.J. Walker, Senior Chaplain to the Forces, and the Reverend Arthur C. Moreton. As the newly wed couple left the church they passed beneath an arch of swords all the way down the aisle. The reception was held at the Governor’s Palace and attended by a large number of distinguished guests, including the Archbishop Dom Marius Caruana. Amongst the vast number of wedding gifts was one given to the couple on behalf of the Maltese people. It consisted of three large bowls on an ebony stand, richly ornamented with gold coins of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Maltese Crosses and English Roses.
A new Bishop of Gibraltar was appointed John Harold Greig. He paid his first visit to Malta in April 1921 and unlike his predecessor seems had a good relationship with Lord Plumer from the outset, as he recorded:
“Nothing could have been happier than the ten days I spent in Malta. Canon Shaw at Sliema, Canon Fargus at Valletta, the Chaplains of the Forces, and last but the very reverse of least, Lord and Lady Plumer did all they possibly could, and all that any Bishop could desire, to welcome and help in me.”
Canon Fargus was replaced in 1922 by an ex-Naval Chaplain, the Reverend Arthur Moreton as Chancellor of St. Paul’s. He quickly saw the problems facing St. Paul’s and in May 1923 proposed that the chaplaincies of St. Paul’s and Holy Trinity Sliema should be combined, that St. Paul’s should be used by the Army, and the Barracca Garrison Church closed.
Bishop Greig hesitated, but Governor Plumer was keen to make some changes, so called a Conference at the Palace on 25th January 1924. The fall in the number English residents made two churches in Valletta unnecessary. When it was suggested that all the services held in the Barracca Garrison Church should be transferred to St. Paul’s, there was very strong opposition from the Senior Chaplain to the Forces and his colleagues.
Faced with this situation the Bishop felt that the only alternative was to close St. Paul’s, but to avoid this drastic measure he was prepared to hand the building over to the military. In the meantime Canon Moreton intervened with a solution. His wife’s cousin, the Reverend Noel Ambrose Marshall was serving in India, but Canon Moreton felt that he was just the man to deal with the problems at St. Paul’s.
General Congreve succeeded Lord Plumer as Governor and inherited the St. Paul’s dilemma. After trying a six month experiment of closing the Barracca Church and transferring all parade services to St. Paul’s he decided it was not a success and re-opened the Barracca Garrison Chapel.
Canon Moreton moved to Holy Trinity Church, Sliema, and his earlier suggestion was accepted when the Reverend Marshall was placed in charge of St. Paul’s in May 1926.
Canon Marshall rather rapidly decided that St. Paul’s future meant making changes, especially to replace several of the rather elderly gentlemen who considered themselves to be ‘St. Paul’s’ and who he felt were part of the problem. He was successful in this area, and at the same time he attempted to improve his relationship with the Chaplains to the Forces that had been damaged by previous events.
He also came to the conclusion that the Crypt below the church which had not been touched since the church was built in 1844, could be put to good use as a Church Hall. The floor was tiled, toilets and cloakrooms built, and the Verger’s quarters which adjoined the Crypt were refurbished. Bishop Greig officially opened it on Easter Monday 1927, with many of the congregation attending, plus the Band of HMS Eagle providing the music.
Bishop Frederick C. N. Hicks became Bishop of Gibraltar in 1927, and was anxious to do all he could to support Chancellor Marshall in his efforts to improve St. Paul’s.
A start on building living accommodation for the Chaplain was made and coupled with the new Church Hall these major improvements were made possible by the congregation raising about £700.
Whilst the foundations for the Chancellors residence were being excavated, a piece of stone was unearthed. This was from the old Auberge d’Allemagne which was on the site previously, and the stone was placed in the Valletta Museum collection for safe keeping. The stone in the wall of the Royal Marines Chapel is a cast.
In translation it reads:
“Brother James Spar, of Germany, Grand Bailiff of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. 1571”
The changes made by Chancellor Marshall brought results, attendances at church services increased steadily and by 1931 the number of communicants was the highest since 1882 when records commenced. However, he could not prevent the return of another financial crisis, and an appeal was launched to obtain money to repair the building. By September with the help of funds raised chiefly in Malta itself restoration work on all parts of the building which were in a dangerous condition had been made. These included the roof, ceiling, cornices, pillars, the floor, and minor repairs to the organ.
In spite of his work showing positive results, Canon Marshall decided for health reasons that the time had come for him to leave. He had become acquainted with the Reverend Reginald M. Nicholls, the Chaplain of HMS Eagle, and feeling that he was the right man for the job made his recommendation to Bishop Hicks. The Reverend Nicholls duly accepted and in front of a large congregation including the Governor Sir John Du Cane, he was installed as Chancellor on Sunday evening the 10th May 1931.
A difficult question soon arose. English servicemen wishing to marry unsuitable or foreign women. The girls were often ‘artistes’ working in places of entertainment, and often seeking a marriage so as to obtain British citizenship, Canon Nicholls made the rule that he would refuse to perform all such unions. He may have heard about or seen an entry in St. Paul’s marriage register of an unfortunate occurrence three years earlier. Mignon Blanche Jane Pearce, a 20 year old ‘Music Hall Artiste’, got into the car to take her to her wedding at St. Paul’s, but suddenly changed her mind and told the driver to change direction. She was later found in the car still decorated with the wedding ribbons at Birzebbugia. The intended bridegroom who was a Leading Seaman in the Royal Navy was left waiting at the church.
The views of the Chaplains to the Forces on this matter varied. Whilst the Army generally agreed with Chancellor Nicholls and were against, the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy thought that each case should be judged on its merits.
The 1933 installation of Harold Jocelyn Buxton as the ninth Bishop of Gibraltar had taken place in Gibraltar on 5th March, and the ceremony at Malta on 5th May. An eye-witness recorded the event:
“Four o’clock on a hot Friday afternoon does not sound a propitious time, but before that hour a congregation of near six hundred had assembled. The procession to the choir stalls was led by a Seaman cross-bearer; then the two senior Churchwardens of St. Paul’s and those of Holy Trinity, Sliema, with their staves of office, followed by the choir-boys of St.Paul’s and representative boys from Holy Trinity, and from the Dockyard Church and the Barracca Military Church.
Following these came St. Paul’s choirmen and some fifteen Chaplains from the Services. The Archimandrite of our local Greek Orthodox community in his bright green vestment brought up the rear.
The ceremony of enthronement followed the usual course. The Bishop attended by the Reverend John Clayton, Incumbent of Holy Trinity, Sliema, who acted as his Chaplain, knocked thrice on the main door (every window of the surrounding houses filled with Maltese onlookers); the Hon. R. Strother Stewart, in wig and gown, acting as Bishop's Registrar, presented the necessary papers to the Chancellor of the Cathedral; and the Bishop vested in cope and mitre was conducted up the church as the choir chanted the appropriate psalms.
Then followed the reading of the documents by the Registrar, the taking of the Oaths and the signing of the Cathedral Roll and the Bishop was escorted to his throne by the Chancellor. The latter and Mr. Clayton made their obedience, and the Service Chaplains (who owe allegiance not to Gibraltar but to Canterbury) came out of their seats in stalls and sanctuary and bowed to his Lordship. The Bishop then left his throne and standing at the foot of the chancel steps was greeted by the chief representatives of the Anglican community – His Excellency the Governor, the Naval Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean, His Honour the Lieut-Governor, the Vice-Admiral Malta, the Brigadier commanding the troops, the Commodore Royal Air Force, and the Churchwardens."
The Abyssinian crisis of 1935-1936 caused by Italy gave some alarm in Malta, due to its close proximity to Italy. Because of hurried troop movements St. Paul’s lost four organists, four servers and twelve members of the choir all within a few months. Important meetings were held in Malta, and for one evening service there were three Admirals in the Commander-in-Chief’s pew - Admiral Fisher, C-in-C Mediterranean, Admiral Pound, Chief of Staff, and Admiral Backhouse, C-in-C Home Fleet.
With the threat of war, and memories of the Great War, in 1935 the Crypt was made into a gas-proof shelter.
At St. Paul’s Canon Nicholls was making steady progress, but faced a small problem; lack of bellringers. The solution was found by arranging the bell pulls so that all six could be operated by just one person.
A young pre-war resident recalls this event:
“… I was living with my parents as guests of Mr. Clements and his wife, in 1937. The ‘Keyboard’ of ropes was made by a member of TOC H, a Staff Sergeant Leonard ‘Bugs’ Waldron, Royal Artillery, serving at Tigne Barracks. The long wooden handles made the bell ringing a task for one person only.
The bells were then played for all services by a Sergeant in the Pay Corps, and he was followed as ringer by Sapper J. Collyer, with the Royal Engineers at Lintorn Barracks, Floriana”
The life of St. Paul’s was strengthened by its connection with various organisations. especially Toc H, the Girls’ Friendly Society, and the Mothers’ Union. Though the threat of war was in the air, Canon Nicholls kept those involved with St. Paul’s very busy.
The interior appearance of St. Paul’s interior had changed very little since it was opened in 1844. The only ornamentation was the carved capitals of the Corinthian columns and pilasters, so it consequently looked rather bare. Behind the altar were five large zinc panels, bearing the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Creed. At the west end of the building was the white marble font.
Large memorial panels to Archdeacon Le Mesurier, Bishop Tomlinson, Lady Houlton, Mr Henry Lumsden Gale and Mr William Hardman had been fixed to the walls in the bays between the pilasters.
A brass plate in memory of Lady Fremantle who died in 1898 was mounted and two white marble steps were laid in the sanctuary inscribed: IN MEMORY OF LADY LYON FREMANTLE 1898. In the following years several other metal and marble memorial tablets were put up.
Apart from these minor additions, and the installation of gas then electric lighting, the only significant change was in 1885 when the organ was re-built and moved from the west end to the east end of the church.
The first real effort to make the interior more appealing was in 1925 when Mr. Walter Robinson donated a beautiful painting depicting ‘Our Lord as the Good Shepherd’, and it was hung as the centre panel behind the altar. By 1936, the painted inscriptions on the zinc panels flanking the altar were showing their age, so green silk curtains were hung in front of them, and Captain Coldwell presented a Kirman carpet in her memory of his wife, which was laid over the altar steps.
Canon Nicholls favoured improving the appearance of the sanctuary, and Mr. W.D. Caröe prepared a comprehensive plan, and in 1938 under the supervision of his firm, Caröe and Passmore of Westminster, the alterations began.
Firstly the plain pilasters in the sanctuary were carved with tulip motifs on the lower part then the top part fluted up to the capitals. All this ornamentation was gilded. Lady Bonham Carter made enquiries about a suitable damask to cover the old zinc panels and replace the green silk curtains. A beautiful blue and gold cloth, ‘Crown Brocatelle’ pattern, mounted on large wooden panels was installed.
A flight of stairs at the west end of St. Paul’s led to the small Chapel of the Ascension. It contains a stained glass window in memory of four men who lost their lives when their Aero Bison aircraft crashed into the sea about five miles east of Valletta in October 1926. This window was installed in 1931 and remains the only stained glass window in St. Paul’s.
When World War Two broke out in September 1939 Canon and Mrs. Nicholls were away from the island as was the Reverend Hugh Farrie, the Chaplain of Holy Trinity Sliema, but they all returned as quickly as possible.
Due to the war there was no Armistice Day Parade, and the Nativity Play, which had been presented at St. Paul’s every Christmas since 1931 was cancelled. Only five months after the war started Canon Nicholls and his wife suffered a personal blow when their son Lieutenant A.H. Nicholls, R.N. was lost in HMS Sphinx during February 1940 whilst on active service in the North Sea.
Life in Malta dramatically changed on the Monday 10th June 1940 when Italy entered the war as a partner of Germany. The air raid siren sounded for the first time at 06.25 a.m. the next day and for the first time anti-aircraft fire was heard as ten enemy planes dropped their bombs on Malta. There were 8 raids during that first day, which we now know was the start of the Siege of Malta.
Early in the morning of the 10th July just as Mass was about to start, there was and air raid. Bombs exploded close to St. Paul's, and the noise was made even louder by the anti-aircraft guns firing furiously. Most of the glass window panes of the church were broken, but by good luck the stained glass window in the Chapel of the Ascension which was held in place by stout wrought iron bars had bulged inwards from the blast and although some of the fixing had come loose the actual glass itself was not damaged.
In the Chaplain’s residence plaster had come off the walls and their possessions were covered with dust and broken pieces of glass. The Chancellor and his wife moved their sleeping quarters from their bedroom into one corner of the Crypt beneath the church for safety. With the early raids targeting the Dockyard, and the surrounding areas of Senglea, Vittoriosa and Cospicua, many of the inhabitants fled into countryside and lodged with relatives.
The organist Mr. Hedley Nicolle, an employee of Gieves & Co., the 'gentlemens’ outfitters was evacuated to Alexandria in December 1940 having been in the post since February 1938.
The Crypt was used by the local Maltese as a shelter, and often there were about 250 people huddled together during an air-raid. January 1941 was a particularly heavy month for bombing since not only had the German Luftwaffe started operating out of Italy but the Aircraft Carrier HMS Illustrious had limped into Grand Harbour and the enemy tried their hardest to destroy her alongside the quay. However, the ship managed to leave port and head for Alexandria.
At the end of February the Chancellors residence received further damage, making it virtually uninhabitable. The Cathedral also sustained severe damage. Nearly all the windows and frames were gone, and the huge wooden doors had been ripped from their hinges by the blast. Most of the plaster of the portico had come down as well as some from the church ceiling. The stout wooden boards which were put up in the Chapel of the Ascension in the opening left by the stained glass window were shattered to pieces.
The Demolition Officer carried out an inspection and said that the house was not structurally sound, and the loose ceiling stones needed seeing to. On 12th March 1941 having secured the damaged Chancellors House, Canon and Mrs. Nicholls left Valletta for to stay with the Governor and his wife at St. Anton Palace where they enjoyed eight days rest and relaxation, though the Canon travelled into Valletta every day to take a service in St. Paul’s.
Although their house had been patched up Canon Nicholls and his wife decided to spent their nights in the country at Birchircara, but after a couple of months returned to Valletta.
In November 1941 apart from the air raids their sleep was disturbed by small explosions in the harbour just below their windows which they discovered were small depth charges timed to go off about every 20 minutes from dusk to dawn.
Even these small explosions would cause pieces of plaster to fall from the damaged ceilings and walls.
Whilst the Sung Eucharist service was taking place on Christmas Day an alert sounded as the Canon was giving Communion, so the congregation numbering around 60 people had to file down to the Crypt so that the service could be finished there.
He was now 61 years old, and was examined by Dr Stones of King George V Hospital, and by Lieut-Colonel Hamilton of Mtarfa Military Hospital and heart trouble was diagnosed. Rest was recommended so he went with his wife to Boschetto House, near Rabat in mid-January for ten days. On Sunday 22nd February he was taken ill after early Mass, due to the problem with his heart.
He nevertheless continued working, and on Friday the 27th, was called upon to conduct the funeral of two Greek Naval officers at Ta’ Braxia cemetery. During his return to Valletta he felt unwell, and had just returned home when he received a phone call that there was a very serious casualty in the Central Civil Hospital. He set off on foot very shakily but managed to find a carozze for the rest of the way. At the Hospital he was taken to the bedside of an unconscious RAF man, over whom he said the Office for the dying and the Commendation.
Due to his heart problem caused no doubt by the conditions that he had endured for the last twenty months Canon Nicholls was ordered back to England, and left Malta towards the end of April 1942.
The day to day business at St. Paul’s carried on despite the war. Annual General Meetings were held, Churchwardens elected, etc. When Bishop Buxton arrived in July 1942 he had talks with the Lieut-Governor about the immediate repair work needed for St. Paul’s and the Chancellor’s residence, as well as the continuous concern:– money.
Canon Nicholls’ post was kept open should he wish to return and the Reverend H.E. Stevens, who had spent ten years as a Naval chaplain and knew Malta took over in October. The roof over the study and bedroom of the Chancellor’s House had been repaired and he lived in these two rooms. Food was still very short, but the air raid alerts were fewer in recent weeks, so Christmas was fairly peaceful. However, Mr. Murray Clement, the Verger, received the bad news that his son had recently been killed on active service with the Royal Air Force.
With all the heavy bombing during 1941 the organ was no longer playable, but as a result of a chance conversation between Major-General C. T. Beckett, Royal Artillery and Lieutenant F. W. Rimmer the organist at St. Paul’s, a Lance-Bombadier in the Royal Artillery who had worked with one of England’s leading firms of organ-builders before he was called up for military service, was given permission to make the necessary repairs. His name was J. Poole and later another Royal Artilleryman, Gunner J.G. Lodwick joined him. As a result of the efforts by these two men the greater portion of the instrument had been restored by the end of 1942. Only a few stops were so badly damaged that they had to be left until after the war. To celebrate its repair Lieutenant Rimmer was able to give a special organ recital on the 27th December.
1942 had been a most eventful year for Malta. There had been over 2,000 air raid alerts; some Spitfire fighter planes arrived in March to strengthen the air defences; on 9th April the incredible bomb incident in the Mosta Dome; 7th May the secret hand over by Governor Dobbie to Lord Gort at Kalafrana; in August the possibility of surrender due to the shortage of food and materials narrowly averted by the arrival of the Santa Marija convoy; and in September the ceremony of presenting the George Cross to the people of Malta on behalf of King George VI.
Meanwhile some temporary repairs to St. Paul’s had been taken place, as noted by the Reverend Stevens:
"All the Cathedral windows have now been filled in with wood, which produces a dim religious atmosphere not unpleasing when you become accustomed to it. The Chancellor’s damp and much blasted house has been further repaired and it is no longer necessary to put up an umbrella when passing through the lounge even in the heaviest downpours”.
During the summer of 1943, there was great activity in Malta as the allies gathered a large number of troops and ships in preparation for Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily, which took place on 10th July.
The second half of 1943 was full of events. By the 19th August the restrictions on bell ringing were lifted. It had been banned since they were only to be rung as a signal of an enemy invasion. Italy signed an Armistice on 3rd September 1943. The terms included the surrender of the Italian Naval Fleet which was ordered to proceed to Malta and moored in Marsaxlokk Bay. Public morale was lifted by visits from His Majesty King George VI in June, Winston Churchill in November and President Roosevelt in December.
By February 1944, the Reverend Stevens resigned on health grounds, and Canon Nicholls confirmed that he would not be able to resume his duties on Malta. Bishop Buxton therefore had to fill the vacancy. The new Chaplain, the Reverend Francis William Hicks arrived in 1944.
A loan of £2,000 from Diocesan funds was used to start repairing the spire of St. Paul’s and work commenced on March 1st 1944. Scaffolding was erected to the height of 130 feet above ground level, and the job was completed in just five months.
More repair work was needed on the church, the Chancellor’s House, and the organ. It was estimated that the repair of the organ alone would cost £2,500, so it was decided that it was time to launch a special appeal to the public, and the “Saying 'Thank You' to Malta and Gibraltar” Fund was opened in October 1944 hoping to raise the sum of £100,000.
The appeal was boosted by the backing of General Dwight D.Eisenhower, the American Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force:
“Few of us in the United Nations are unaware of the vital part played in the war by Malta and Gibraltar.... Both places have for particular periods served as my Headquarters during this war.
I, for one, welcome the opportunity to pay tribute to Malta and Gibraltar in a practical way, and am delighted that you are opening a fund for the purpose of repairing and extending the Cathedral Centres... There can be no better way to say- “Thank You” to Malta and Gibraltar.”
The last air raid alert of the war sounded at 8.43 p.m. on 28th August 1944, and the all-clear given fifteen minutes later, so Malta ceased to be a war zone. This came in time to allow the Centenary of the Church’s consecration by Bishop Tomlinson on 1st November 1844 to take place in a peaceful atmosphere.
Canon Hicks and the Reverend Hugh Farrie arranged a Solemn Evensong at 5.30 p.m. The Cathedral was almost full by the time the service began. The lighting was provided by candles which made the blue and gold cloth panels behind the altar to shimmer beautifully. There were flowers on the altar and the church’s treasure was displayed. After the service refreshments, within the limits of wartime rationing, were provided in the Crypt, which had been attractively decorated. Music was provided by a talented Able Seaman Williams of the Royal Navy playing the piano and all present had an enjoyable evening.
With the war now over rebuilding plans for St. Paul’s were discussed. The most radical alteration was to reconstruct the interior based on the original plan of William Scamp in 1842 placing the altar at the west end, so reversing the change ordered by Bishop Tomlinson. In addition a Memorial Shrine would be placed around the sanctuary and other internal alterations made.
The architect adviser was Mr. Hugh Braun F.R.I.B.A. who had been stationed in Malta when an officer in the Royal Engineers, so he was experienced in the use of local materials and labour. In his view:
“this building ‘was finished but never furnished’; and it possesses too little of colour, ornament or decoration. Briefly, St. Paul’s is an austere building, and we propose to give it the effect of rich furnishing which it needs. There will be gilding on the dark oak; crimson damask cushions in the stalls; flags or standards above them; and heraldry in due place. Two small spur screens, such as are found in some of the London City churches, will form the entrance to the Shrine or West End, but will not obscure the view of it from the nave. Not the least merit of the scheme is the opening up of the Portico upon Queen Adelaide Square, and the repair of the valuable organ. It is hoped also to make improvements to the Clergy House and to the Cathedral Hall.”
By the middle of 1946 the Appeal Fund had received over £30,000, and the firm Caröe and Passmore who had been involved in the 1938 work, were employed to carry out the alterations.
With the return of peace the congregation at St. Paul’s started to change as the servicemen and women left the island, and civilians took their place. One noticeable difference however was that many of the newcomers took up residence in the country villages or in the smarter Sliema and St. Julians area rather than in Valletta.
In June 1946 Canon Hicks told the congregation that Bishop Buxton was thinking of moving him to another church within the Diocese. Canon Hicks himself was unhappy with the idea and had written to the Bishop saying that if he went ahead with this proposal then Canon Hicks would look for another Diocese. The community at St. Paul’s had no wish to lose Canon Hicks and prepared to letter of support which they intended to send to the Bishop. However, it was never posted since the Bishop changed his mind and left Canon Hicks at St. Paul’s.
A few months later Bishop Buxton himself retired and Bishop Cecil Horsley was instrumental in seeing that the alterations to the interior of St. Paul’s were implemented.
In September 1948 the work began. The ‘Mason’s Screen’ was moved from the east end to form a wall of the new chapel of Our Lady and St. George at the west end. The floor level for the new Chancel was raised and the walls prepared ready for the installation of the oak panelling of the Memorial Shrine. The transfer of the organ to the west end of the church and re-erecting it on a gallery overlooking the choir was a major task.
Meanwhile the woodwork for the Shrine was being prepared in England by Dart & Francis Ltd., of Crediton, Devon, and the first consignment of eight crates was sent at the end of October 1949 on board HMS Glory, without charge. When the panelling was being placed in position twelve crests were fixed above them representing the branches Army, Navy and Air Force of the Commonwealth which had taken part in the defence of Malta.
The work proceeded smoothly and was sufficiently advanced for a re-opening date to be fixed. It was felt that the 2nd December would be appropriate since it would be the Centenary of Queen Adelaide’s death, and this was agreed.
The Archbishop of Canterbury was invited to attend the re-hallowing of the Cathedral and dedication of the Memorial Shrine. Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) arrived by air to spend Christmas with her husband the Duke of Edinburgh then in command of the frigate HMS Magpie, at Malta, and would be present at the ceremony.
St. Paul’s proved too small to accommodate all those wishing to participate in the service, as over 150 official guests had been invited, and the congregation overflowed outside the church. Apart from Her Royal Highness and Governor Creasy, those attending also included Earl and Lady Mountbatten, the Heads of the three Services, Consuls, Matrons from Bighi, Imtarfa and the King George V Hospital, representatives of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Merchant Navy, as well as members of local organisations. After the service a reception was held in the Crypt where Dr. Fisher and his wife had the opportunity of meeting many of the Anglican community.
Due to lack of money, the work of completing the Chancel was delayed, and a year went by before the next deliveries were made. Oak panelling, plus the Bishop’s Throne and Oak doors were shipped in October 1950 on HMS Ocean, and the moulded cornices together with the ornate Queen Adelaide’s Coat of Arms arrived on HMS Tyne.
Canon Hicks reported to the Annual General Meeting in February 1951, that he was satisfied with the work done so far, and hoped the coming year would see the work completed. Funding was still a problem however. Other shipments were made in September and November 1951, on HMS Fort Beauharnais and HMS Glasgow, with the panelling for the choir stalls, panelling for the Organ Case, the moulded font cover, carved oak canopies for the chancel stalls and the Archbishop’s Seat, Desk and platform, and a Credence Table.
However, the project was still incomplete, and although Canon Hicks repeated his hope that the Chancel would be finished by the end of 1952, the money was slow to come in so it was not until November 1953 that the final shipment arrived from England. Though lack of funding caused the work to drawn out over a longer period than at first envisaged, the amount of work involved was detailed in a letter dated 1st July 1952.
We, the Chancellor, Churchwardens and Council of St.Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, Malta, hereby make application for the granting of a Faculty to cover the following works which are in course of completion:
1. Removal of gallery and Chester Organ Case & refitting of Chester Organ Case in ‘north’ gallery.
2. Erection of stone Reredos & High Altar complete with Dossal and Frame; erection of stone Screen and Pulpit emblazoned with the Arms of St.Paul, and provision of oak desk for pulpit.
3. Removal of Masons’ Screen to side Chapel on ‘north’ of Chancel; insertion in the screen of mosaic of Our Lady presented by the Chaplains of the 8th Army; provision of statuette of Virgin and Child presented by the present Chancellor.
4. Erection of stone Altar in side Chapel complete with Dossal and Frame.
5. Formation of Clergy Vestry on ‘ south’ side of Chancel, with stone wall and double doorway with oak doors.
6. Formation of Chancel floor, finished in marble.
7. Installation of oak panelling round Sanctuary, surmounted by crestings of the Services, gilded and coloured, forming a record of Units engaged in the defence of Malta during the late war.
8. Fitting of oak doors under the Chester Organ Case, surmounted by Coat-of-Arms of Queen Adelaide, gilded and coloured.
9. Installation of Bishop’s Seat in the Sanctuary, with carved Coats-of-Arms.
10. Installation of oak Credence Table in Sanctuary (gift of the Architect).
11. Re-erection of Communion Rail in new position.
12. Erection of Bishop’s Throne (in oak) and embroidery drapery on ‘ south’ side of Chancel.
13. Erection of Stalls, Canopies and Choir Seating in oak, throughout.
14. Formation of Baptistry at ‘east’ end, with marble steps and tiled floor; erection of stone Baldacchino with Holy Dove globe, over Font removed from original position; provision of oak Font cover.
15. Provision of four Candlesticks and Altar Cross.
16. Provision of Grilles to Organ Loft.
17. Provision of movable Communion Rail in side Chapel.
18. Appropriate decoration of His Excellency the Governor’s pew and pews of Commanding Officers.
19. Installation of ceiling lighting throughout.
20. Gift of two branched Candlesticks.”
When the final statement of cost was drawn up it amounted to £26,869.12.1d.
With Service personnel leaving at short notice the Church Committee needed to find replacements often before the next Annual General Meeting. This trend continued for more than fifteen years, so it was the civilian members who provided the stability and continuity. Also during this post-war period there were numerous changes of organist due to Servicemen being posted from Malta. The very faithful Murray Clement, the Verger, was now 82 years old, and was clearly slowing-up, but said that he wanted to complete twenty years service to the Cathedral. However, fate intervened and Mr. Clement died on 5th August 1950.
In December 1952 the current organist Squadron Leader Livingstone gave his opinion that some specialist advice on repairs was needed. The organ company of Hill Norman & Beard Ltd, who had carried out the 1949 overhaul was contacted and in made an estimate of £340. Two employees came out from England and by working long hours got the job finished by 13th May, and within the estimate.
Canon Hicks made these observations about St. Paul’s:
“Whatever one may feel about the reorientation of the Cathedral interior it is now an accomplished fact and must be accepted. Those best qualified to judge believe the Choir and Sanctuary are now beautiful; the same can scarcely be said of the Nave where the pews are an eyesore; they are much too large, ugly and uncomfortable and to replace them with smaller, better designed pews of good wood would transform the Nave, but it would be an expensive business.
Again the baldacchino over the Font might be seemly in a vast building; in its present setting it seems to me quite out of place and from a practical point of view most perplexing; at baptisms it is almost impossible to see the worshippers half of whom are hidden by pillars.”
Paying her first visit to Malta since being crowned Queen Elizabeth II in June 1953, Her Majesty came to unveil the Commonwealth Air Forces Memorial which had been erected in Floriana. On Sunday morning, 2nd May, the eve of this ceremony, she attended St. Paul’s for a Memorial Service to all the Officers and Men of the Commonwealth Air Forces who had died during World War II.
Bishop Craske’s search for a new Chancellor to take over from Canon Hicks was finally successful and he appointed the Reverend Charles Paton. He was a former Royal Naval Chaplain, who had served as a locum tenens at St. Paul’s during the 1930’s. The Reverend Paton duly arrived and was installed as Chancellor and Senior Canon on Friday 24th June 1955.
At this time it cost about £2,000 per annum to run St. Paul’s. There was no money to consider a new residence for the Chancellor, even finding some money to improve the current one was difficult. The church roof badly needed repairing which was estimated to cost several thousand pounds. There was not even enough spare money to engage a full time organist.
Having lain dormant since before the war, the question of finance and the Army churches re-appeared in September 1957. Mr. Charles Edwards has been a Churchwarden for many years and stated quite frankly that “throughout his long association with the Cathedral, the Cathedral had always been in financial difficulties” Virtually the only income at that time came from the Annual Bazaar, so regretfully there was no possibility of assisting the other Anglican churches.
Governor Laycock raised the possibility with the Bishop of Gibraltar, the Right Reverend Thomas Craske, of handing control of St. Paul’s to the Royal Navy.
“As you know the finances of the Cathedral have been largely dependent upon the Services for contributions. The Heads of Services in Malta have become increasingly concerned at the dimensions of the Annual Bazaar in aid of the Cathedral. This year’s bazaar made some £2,000 at considerable cost to the time (and tempers) of Servicemen and their families, who, of course, are also required to support their Garrison or equivalent church. So much so that Heads of Services are of the opinion that bazaars on such a scale cannot be held in future, especially in view of the major reductions likely to be made to the three Services in Malta as a result of the latest Defence Policy Review.
As we see it here, the Services ought to attend to their Garrison or equivalent churches and the civilians ought to support the Cathedral. However, the number of civilians is too small to compete, which is why the Services have had to help. In future it seems that, with the best will in the world, the Services will be unable to provide that assistance without which the Cathedral has been unable to manage in the past. The Heads of Services have accordingly been considering ways and means of overcoming these financial hazards. They have reached the conclusion that a satisfactory solution could be achieved if the Royal Navy took over control of the Cathedral.”
The political realities facing the British and Maltese Governments affected St. Paul’s but there was nothing that could be done about it. The British Defence Minister, Mr. Duncan Sandys announced drastic cuts in the Defence Budget which would lead to less civilian employment in Naval Dockyards overseas. This came as a heavy blow to Malta were from a total labour force of around 83,000 some 20,000 Maltese were directly employed by the British Armed Forces.
Whilst this financial question remained unanswered an initiative by Brigadier R.W. Madoc of the Royal Marines was put to Canon Paton in writing on 4th February 1957:
"My dear Canon
Malta has been virtually the permanent home of 3rd Commando Brigade, Royal Marines, since 1947 and during all our operations in the Mediterranean away from Malta our families and rear parties have remained here. During recent operations in Cyprus and Port Said a number of Officer and Other Ranks from this Formation were killed.
It is the wish of all ranks of 3rd Commando Brigade, Royal Marines, that a memorial to these Officers and Other Ranks be erected in St. Paul's Anglican Cathedral. On behalf of all ranks of 3rd Commando Brigade, Royal Marines, I would like to offer to the Cathedral a screen for the Chapel, which could be dedicated as a permanent memorial to our dead."
This proposal was accepted and the work put in hand. It was finished by the end of June 1958. On the 4th July the Chapel of Our Lady and St. George was dedicated as the Royal Marines Memorial Chapel, at a special service attended by the Commandant General Royal Marines, General Sir Campbell Hardy, and celebrated by the Chaplain to the Fleet.
Chancellor Paton was taken ill in April 1958, and since there was little hope of him being able resume his post at St. Paul’s he left for England in May. When asked about a replacement maybe the Bishop of Gibraltar had the opinion of Sir Robert Laycock in mind when he said:
‘the current political question marks over Malta affected consideration of and proposals for staffing the Cathedral.’
He felt that three important questions needed to be considered:
(a) the likely future of Malta
(b) the financial prospects of St. Paul’s
(c) the possible future deployment of Chaplains on the island
In the meantime the Reverend Henry Rupert Colton was approached to take on St. Paul’s for a few months, and he agreed to remain until the end of 1959. This was later extended to 1963.
Sir Robert Laycock left Malta on 28th May 1959, to be replaced by Sir Guy Grantham who had served in the Mediterranean with the Royal Navy and was well acquainted with the island and St. Paul’s. The perennial question of two Anglican churches surfaced again, but this time the choice was between St. Paul’s and Holy Trinity.
At the beginning of 1961 an approach was made to St. Paul’s by the Royal Air Force to increase its association with the church, and accordingly the small Chapel of the Ascension, which had been linked with the RAF since before WWII, was officially dedicated as the Royal Air Force Chapel at Evensong on Saturday the 1st April 1961. This date was chosen to coincide with the 1st April 1918 when the Royal Air Force came into being.
When the Royal Air Force Chapel at Luqa airport was closed down during March 1979 their altar frontal was transferred to this Chapel in St. Paul’s. It was presented by Air Commodore H.D. Hall, who supervised the withdrawal of the RAF from Malta. The altar front was produced to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of the Royal Air Force.
The Commander in Chief, Admiral Holland-Martin, stated that since there would be insufficient Anglicans in the future to maintain two churches, it was therefore a question of either the Cathedral or Holy Trinity. He thought the general feeling was to keep St. Paul’s. The recently appointed Bishop Eley was in favour of Holy Trinity as against the Cathedral, and said that in any case it was not really a Cathedral at all. St. Paul’s faced closure but for a very different reason.
The London Fumigation Co.Ltd. carried out a full inspection of the roof in 1958 and their report showed that the roof timbers had been attacked by long horn beetle, death watch beetle, etc.. The choice was between carrying out a full fumigation or renew the roof entirely, either option would be expensive, so nothing was done.
The Cathedral roof was left untouched over the next few years but by the summer of 1962 it was found that the timbers had been so seriously affected by beetle damage that the roof was in a dangerous condition. This time there was no choice, the old roof had to be replaced, so St. Paul’s closed at the end of September.
Taylor Woodrow Ltd., carried out the work, and managed to complete it by September rather than mid-December 1963 which was first indicated. It was expected to cost between £10,000 and £11,000 but whilst the Cathedral was closed, a few small alterations were made so the total cost was just over £12,000. Another appeal for funds was launched in the United Kingdom but the response was below expectations, luckily though the amount raised from residents in Malta was more than expected so by early 1964 the total amount was covered.
Whilst the repairs were being carried out the usual church services, and even weddings, were held in the Crypt. As the work was finished by September, a Service of Re-Hallowing and Thanksgiving was arranged for Sunday 27th October 1963, led by Bishop Stanley Eley.
In February 1962 an election was held in Malta under a new Constitution. It was won by the Nationalist Party, headed by Dr. George Borg Olivier. He made it quite clear from the start of his administration that his goal was independence for Malta. Sir Guy Grantham left office four months later, so it was left to his successor Sir Maurice Dorman to continue the political dialogue with the Maltese Prime Minister. Eventually independence was granted.
The time and date set was midnight on Sunday 20th September 1964. Representing Her Majesty’s Government was The Duke of Edinburgh. A ‘Malta Independence Service’ was held at St. Paul’s at 10 o’clock that Sunday morning. Besides Prince Philip, Sir Maurice Dorman and his wife, the congregation also included three former Governors, Lord Douglas, Sir Robert Laycock, and Sir Guy Grantham. The Acting Chancellor the Reverend Robert Pope and the Bishop of Gibraltar conducted the service. The First Lesson was read by Sir Maurice Dorman, the Second by the Duke of Edinburgh, and the Bishop of Gibraltar gave the Sermon.
That evening The Duke of Edinburgh attended a State Banquet in the ballroom at the Phoenicia Hotel. The actual ceremony itself took place opposite the hotel at the Independence Arena in Floriana. The area was packed all evening as entertainment had been provided.
Just before midnight His Grace the Archbishop of Malta left the Royal Box and walked to the foot of the flagstaff where he read a prayer of dedication then blessed the Maltese flag. The Governor and Maltese Prime Minister then took up their positions by the flagstaff. All the lights were switched off in the arena only a spotlight illuminated the Union Jack. The bands played ‘Auld Lang Syne’, followed by ‘God Save the Queen’. The Union Jack was lowered and moments later the Maltese flag was flying at the top of the flagpole with the bands playing the Maltese National Anthem. The crowds were then treated to an extravagant fireworks display. That night Sir Maurice Dorman ceased to be the Governor, but remained in Malta with the new title of Governor-General until 22nd June 1971.
For the next five years St. Paul's was without a civilian Chancellor. Though the church was not handed over to the Royal Navy as had been proposed by Sir Guy Grantham back in 1958, Royal Naval Chaplains became Acting Chancellors, Robert Pope 1964-1965, Lancelot MacManaway 1965-1966, Donald Young 1966-1967, and Henry MacDonald 1967-1969.
Sir Winston Churchill who had led Britain to victory in the Second World War died two months after celebrating his ninetieth birthday on 24th January 1965. No one who had been in Malta during the war would ever forget listening to his distinctive voice on the radio particularly during the grim days of 1940 to 1942.
At the same time as his impressive State funeral was taking place in London on Saturday morning, the 30th, a memorial service was held in St. Paul’s. It was unique since it brought together men and women of several religious denominations to worship in the same building. Archbishop Gonzi of Malta had given his permission for Roman Catholics to attend and he was represented by the Reverend Gerald J. Seaston, Chaplain to the Forces. Many leading Maltese politicians from the Government and the Opposition were also present.
Later that year on 24th August the Commanding Officer of the Royal Malta Artillery, Colonel G. Z. Tabona, presented a crucifix to St. Paul’s in memory of Sir Winston on behalf of the Officers and Men of the Regiment. In 1968 it was agreed that a new lectern would be commissioned and dedicated in memory of Sir Winston Churchill. The design was a combination of English Oak and Maltese stone.
Another man held in high esteem by the Maltese was Admiral Andrew Cunningham.
Appointed Commander in Chief Mediterranean Fleet in June 1939 it was through his leadership and determination that convoys were sent to Malta, even though they did so under hazardous circumstances.
After his death, a special service was held on Friday 28th April 1967 to unveil and dedicate a plaque in his memory. Attending the ceremony were Sir Maurice Dorman, Dr. Borg Olivier, the Most Reverend Mgr. Coleiro representing His Grace the Archbishop, and the Chief Justice Sir Anthony Mamo. Apart from these VIP’s, men of the Royal Navy who had served the late Admiral in a personal capacity were also invited, his Maltese cooks and stewards. Whilst the congregation was singing a hymn, a small group formed up in procession behind the Bishop and walked down the left hand aisle. Lady Cunningham drew the White Ensign to one side, revealing the white marble plaque.
Outside the church buglers of the Royal Marines sounded the ‘Last Post’, which was followed by the Highland lament ‘The Flowers of the Forest’ played on the bagpipes. The buglers then sounded ‘Reveille’. The Bishop led the small group back to their places and he brought this simple service to an end with a blessing.
The last British Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean left Admiralty House in Strada Mezzodi during 1967 and re-located to Villa Portelli at Kalkara. The building nowadays houses the Museum of Fine Arts.
During the years 1964 to 1969 the Navy had provided the Chaplains for St. Paul’s so their salaries were paid by the Admiralty. However, with the rundown of the services this arrangement came to an end in 1969 and a civilian Chancellor was once again needed. The Reverend Gordon Hyslop took up his duties after Easter 1969.
The political situation on Malta changed in June 1971 when the Labour party headed by Mr. Dom Mintoff won the General Election. He wanted the total withdrawal of all foreign troops and navies from Malta, and issued an ultimatum on 29th December 1971 that all British Forces were to be out of the island by the 31st, but this deadline was extended to the 14th January 1972. In compliance with the ultimatum large numbers of British Servicemens’ wives and children were flown out of Malta from Luqa to Brize Norton before the 14th. However, following some difficult negotiations a new agreement was signed allowing Britain, as part of the NATO alliance, to continue using bases in Malta until 31st March 1979.
The last memorial to be placed at St. Paul’s relating to WWII was to the submariners of the Royal Navy. On Sunday 17th November 1974, Vice Admiral Sir Arthur Hezlet unveiled a plaque fixed to the base of the tower overlooking Marsamxett Harbour which was home to the 10th Submarine Flotilla for three years during the war. Their Headquarters were in the Lazaretto Buildings on Manoel Island.
The following year Chancellor Hyslop resigned, and the Reverend Howard Cole arrived and took over on 28th December 1973. The Malta Government declared in 1974 that it would become a Republic from 13th December 1974, but would remain a member of the Commonwealth.
During 1975, the Church Council considered that Queen Adelaide should be remembered by having a banner showing her coat of arms on display in the Chancel. It was subsequently produced and dedicated by Bishop Satterthwaite on the 2nd November 1975.
After four years Chancellor Cole left St. Paul’s in June 1977. Shortly after taking charge the new Chancellor the Reverend David Strangeways made a modification to the Sanctuary. The altar was moved forward from the back wall so that during the services he could stand behind it facing the congregation, instead of having his back to them as previously.
Rear Admiral Oswald Cecil was the Commander of British Forces in Malta and on his shoulders rested the responsibility of arranging the British withdrawal as the deadline of March 1979 drew closer. A series of farewell events took place culminating with a ceremony at the Freedom Monument in Vittoriosa at midnight on 31st March 1979, when a young sailor from HMS London lowered the Union Jack, and a Maltese dockyard worker raised the Maltese flag. In spite of bad weather the bastions and quaysides were thronged next morning when the guided missile destroyer HMS London sailed out of Grand Harbour, so ending the Royal Navy’s link with Malta after 180 years.
In 1980 the Diocese of Gibraltar was enlarged to include the former jurisdiction of North and Central Europe, and was re-named the ‘Diocese in Europe’, though the Bishop is called ‘Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe’. It now extends from the Azores in the West and including the Canary Islands and Madeira, the whole of mainland Europe, the islands of the Mediterranean (except Cyprus), Morocco, Turkey and the former Soviet Union countries of Eastern Europe.
Since 1867 the congregations at St. Paul’s and Holy Trinity in Sliema had kept their separate identities, but the declining number of Anglicans in Malta and financial problems had to be faced. A combined Chaplaincy was introduced by Archdeacon John Evans in February 1985 so that there was just one central fund and both churches kept open.
The Reverend Kenneth Roberts had accepted a three-year contract and was installed as Chancellor on Sunday 14th September 1986, and departed at the end of his three years on 9th January 1989. Five acting Chancellors then ran St. Paul’s. Canon William Roan for ten weeks, the Reverend Russell Harrison for eight weeks, Canon John Whitelaw for four weeks, Archdeacon George Davies for seven weeks, then the Reverend Harrison again for six weeks.
A permanent Chancellor was sought and the Reverend Philip Cousins accepted the position. He was installed as Chancellor and Senior Canon on Sunday morning 29th October 1989. Chaplaincy funds were at a low ebb so once again it was necessary issue an appeal. It was launched in the summer of 1990 with a target of £25,000 and over a period of eighteen months around £26,000 was raised.
At the end of May 1992, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II flew to Italy to join the Royal Yacht Britannia and sailed to Malta for a State Visit. On the morning of the 29th she unveiled the large Siege Bell Memorial close to Lower Barracca Gardens in Valletta. During the afternoon she paid a short private visit to St. Paul’s, with the Duke of Edinburgh. They were entertained to tea in the lounge of the Chancellor’s Lodge, where the Chancellor and his wife and members of the Church Council had gathered and were able to have an informal conversation with Her Majesty.
With the total withdrawal of British Servicemen and their dependants in 1979 Malta need a new source of income, and the tourist industry was born. In that year around 150,000 tourists visited Malta, the majority were British, often ex-Servicemen and their families. The tourist industry continued to grow and the total number was close to 800,000 by the early Nineties, and exceeded 1,000,000 by the end of the decade. A significant percentage came from the British Isles.
The increase in the number of visitors to the island also benefited St. Paul’s. The basic congregation is mostly made up of middle-aged and elderly British who have made Malta their home. There are only a handful of young families. At the Sung Eucharist on Sunday mornings quite a number of holidaymakers help to fill the pews especially during the winter months.
As the 150th Anniversary of the Consecration of St. Paul’s was on the horizon a Committee was set up in 1992 to decide upon and to arrange all aspects of the celebrations. One of the proposals which had a decorative and practical value as well, was the production of new kneelers. Many people helped with the needlework and over 100 were completed in a variety of colourful designs.
The Archbishop of Canterbury and his wife arrived in Malta on 31st October 1994 by air from London. The same evening they attended the Sesquicentenary dinner at the Phoenicia Hotel, Floriana. Among the large number of distinguished guests were the President of Malta, Dr.Ugo Mifsud Bonnici with his wife, His Grace the Archbishop of Malta, the Right Reverend Monsignor Annetto Despasquale – Vicar General, H.E. Archbishop Pierre Luigi Celela - Apostolic Nuncio, Sir Peter and Lady Wallis - British High Commissioner. The Right Reverend John Hind, Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe presided, and the top table was completed by Mrs. Hind together with Canon Philip Cousins and Mrs. Janet Cousins of St. Paul’s.
The next evening the Consecration Anniversary service at St. Paul’s was set to commence at 6.30p.m. The church was full to capacity and the President of Malta together his wife was present. The service was taken by the Bishop of Gibraltar, assisted by the Archdeacon Eric Devenport and Canon Philip Cousins.
A Commemorative Postage Stamp on first day cover was issued by the Maltese Post Office to mark this event.
After six years Canon Cousins left Malta in October 1995 to carry on his work as a Clergyman at Llandudno in North Wales. His successor was the Reverend Alan Geoffrey Woods who was installed as Chancellor and Senior Canon on Saturday 10th February 1996.
Along with millions of people throughout the World, when the Maltese woke up on Sunday morning 31st August 1997, they were stunned to hear the news that Princess Diana, or Lady Di as she was more familiarly known, had been killed in a car crash in the early hours of the morning in Paris.
Over 400 men, women and children filled St. Paul’s for an ‘Ecumenical Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Diana, Princess of Wales 1961 – 1997’ on 6th September 1997. Canon Woods was assisted at this service by the Reverend Colin Westmarland of St. Andrew’s Scots Church and the Reverend Father Charles Carabott, Chaplain to the English Speaking Catholics. The collection was a remarkable £M 700 plus (around £1,200 sterling) which was forwarded to the Princess Diana Memorial Fund in London.
One of the local band clubs ‘Is-Società Filharmonica Nationale “La Valette”’ who traditionally play funeral marches during the Good Friday procession, needed a venue at short notice to hold a concert during Easter Week 1999, and were offered the use of St. Paul’s. It was very well attended by the families and friends of the musicians as well as the general public. Since then a number of visiting choirs and orchestras have given concerts in St. Paul's and these are now a regular attraction.
In 1999 financial problems arose again and during his visit the Bishop of Gibraltar said that he wanted to quash once and for all the rumour that he had come to Malta to close Holy Trinity. He wished to see a full time priest appointed as quickly as possible, and the money for a full stipend needed to be found. Such a man would be given a three-year contract. The present system of using retired clergymen as locum tenens, on a three months basis, so only paying half stipend, should be stopped.
The Bishop also gave his opinion that in future voting for churchwardens at St. Paul’s and Holy Trinity should only be made by members of the electoral roll of each church, he was not in favour of the combined electoral roll making these decisions.
The Annual Remembrance Day Service was held on Sunday, 14th November, during which a newly placed Memorial Tablet, was dedicated:
The retired Admiral was in Malta for the re-hallowing of St. Paul’s and also visiting the grave of his son who was killed whilst serving with the Royal Air Force during the battle for Malta in 1942.
Arrangements were made for the Canadian Flag to be displayed in St. Paul’s to remember men of the Canadian forces who died during WWII. The ceremony took place on Sunday 5th March 2000. The unveiling of the flag was carried out by Mr. Dennis Cole, the First Secretary of the Canadian Embassy in Rome who was visiting Malta with his wife. Prior to the dedication by Canon Woods, the choir and congregation sang the Canadian National Anthem ‘O Canada’
The roof of the cathedral was in a bad state of repair and prompt action needed to be taken before the Autumn rains. A loan was taken from HSBC Bank, and the contract for a replacement roof was placed with Malta Drydocks Enterprises. The estimated cost of the work was £M 30,000. A Restoration Appeal was launched with President Guido de Marco as the Patron. The British High Commissioner hosted a drinks party at his residence on 22nd September 2000 as the first event to raise funds.
As a result of a meeting of the General Synod a major change throughout the Anglican church was announced. The Alternative Service Book ceased to be the authorized text from 31st December, and its replacement entitled ‘Common Worship’ was available from Advent Sunday the 3rd of December.
On 23rd April 2001 a service was held to unveil a Memorial plaque dedicated to the Merchant Navy that had been installed in a blank area on the right hand side of the cathedral. It was attended by the President of Malta, Professor Guido de Marco, the British High Commissioner, Howard Pearce, the Apostolic Nuncio Luigi Gatti, together with representatives of the George Cross Island Association and the Merchant Navy Association. The service was led by Canon Alan Woods, with the Reverend Dr. David Craig from the Immingham Seafarer’s Centre as the preacher.
About a month later a second Memorial Plaque was dedicated on Sunday 27th May. It was in honour of Sir Maurice Dorman, the last British Governor of Malta from 1962 to 1964. When Malta became independent in 1964, his role became that of Governor-General from 1964 to 1971. The congregation was led at the dedication by President Guido de Marco. Also present was the British High Commissioner Howard Pearce, and Sir Maurice's daughter Johanna with her husband.
The Sung Eucharist on Sunday 12th May was attended by members of No.603 Squadron Royal Air Force. They were holding a Reunion in Malta, and the group consisted of Shackleton and Nimrod aircrew who were based at Luqa RAF station. Their Honorary Chaplain, the Reverend Colin Westmarland, formerly of St. Andrews Scots Church, Valletta preached the sermon.
In May Canon Alan Woods loaned Bishop Knight’s Crozier to the new Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe, the Right Reverend Geoffrey Rowell which he will use during his visits throughout the diocese.
Also in May some discussion took place regarding the Hymn Books used at services in the Cathedral. Hymns Ancient and Modern and A Hundred Hymns for Today were being used, but it was felt that some newer Hymns should be added to the services. Therefore it was proposed to buy the new Common Praise hymnbook.
In June 2002 during an afternoon when the cathedral was unattended two candlesticks and the Tiarks Crucifix were stolen from the Royal Marines Chapel.
The Royal Air Force Ensign which had flown at RAF Luqa during World War II had been placed in the Cathedral. It was held inside netting but this was insufficient to prevent deterioration and it could no longer support its own weight when suspended from a pole.
It was decided that this important relic of Malta’s heroic survival should be correctly preserved, and it was handed over to the Textiles Department of the Malta Centre for Restoration. After checking for colour fastness the ensign was carefully washed. A base was prepared, consisting of a wooden board covered with a layer of absorbent paper and unwoven cotton fabric onto which the ensign was laid. A sheet of glass was placed over it as protection from air pollution and excessive light. The final operation was to place the whole onto a stainless steel sheet and a stainless steel frame was fitted. To maintain the real and genuine appearance, the tears and bullet holes suffered during the War were left unrestored.
On Sunday 8th September 2002 at Holy Eucharist the preserved ensign was re-dedicated by the Right Reverend Richard Garrard, the Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome.
Also 2002 was the 60th anniversary of ‘Operation Pedestal’, better known to the Maltese as the Santa Marija Convoy which saved the island in World War II. With the participants now becoming very elderly the commemoration services were moved to the end of September. At Holy Eucharist on the 29th September the Cathedral was full to overflowing. As part of the commemoration the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal was moored in Grand Harbour, and the senior Naval Officers together with the new British High Commissioner Nicholas Archer were present. The sermon was given by the Chaplain of Ark Royal, the Reverend John Green. Wreaths were laid in front of the Merchant Navy Memorial, alongside was the bell of the legendary tanker ‘Ohio’.
In June it was announced that Canon Alan Woods had been appointed Dean of Gibraltar and would take up that post in December. He officiated at his last Sung Eucharist on Sunday morning 14th September 2003.
By November a new Chaplain for St. Paul's Cathedral had been found. The Reverend Tom Mendel who had served in Milan before moving to Denmark in 1996 as Chaplain of Copenhagen was installed as Chancellor on Wednesday 24th March 2004.
From January 2005 the Undercroft was closed for several weeks whilst renovation and re-decoration work was carried out. Upon its re-opening all agreed that the appearance was considerably improved.
In March 2007 the Military and Hospitaller Order of St. Lazarus, held a service to lay up their banner in the Cathedral. Canon Tom Mendel one of the Order's Chaplains conducted the service, whilst a Senior Chaplain, the Reverend Colin Westmarland delivered the homily. Major David James, Grand Commander of the Order and Commander Chevalier Geoff Fosberry presided over the ceremony.
How does St. Paul’s appear to the visitor today. Externally very little has changed since the church was originally built.
On the north side facing Marsamxett Harbour is the tower and graceful spire housing the belfry, joined to the main building by a short passage. Before WWII the spire was only illuminated for special occasions such as the Jubilee of King George V and the Coronation of King George VI, but nowadays it can be clearly seen every night on the Valletta skyline as it is continuously floodlit. Affixed to the base of the tower is the plaque commemorating the men of the Royal Naval submarines, who were based on Manoel Island during WWII.
At the rear of the church after a narrow terrace confined by black iron railings, is 12 feet wide flight of stone steps down to Marsamxett Street, with the door to the Undercroft about halfway down on the right. On the other side of the steps are ‘St. Paul’s Modern Buildings’, which were erected in 1908 on the site of Beverley’s Hotel, where Sir Walter Scott stayed in 1831.
The Portico of St. Paul’s is supported by six Ionic columns above which is the inscription:
"Queen Adelaide with a grateful heart dedicated this Collegiate Church to Almighty God 1844"
Under the portico is a marble plaque identifying the site as the former location of the Auberge d’Allemagne, which was arranged by General O’Callaghan in 1903.
Due to Bishop Tomlinson’s alterations in 1842, the two main doors of St. Paul’s under the portico now only serve as decorative panels, since they are almost never opened, and visitors have to use the door at the northwest end from Strada Ponente (West Street). The building on the other side of the Square the Auberge d’Aragon, which was known for a time as ‘Gibraltar Palace’ when the Bishop had it as his residence, is now used as offices by the Ministry of Economic Services.
The Square itself has had a few name changes. At the time of the church’s construction it was called, Piazza Celsi, a corruption of Piazza Gelsi (Mulberry Square). Later it was re-named very appropriately, Queen Adelaide Square, but this was subsequently changed to Independence Square. In the centre is the Freedom Monument to Dun Mikiel Xerri and other Maltese patriots who rose against the French occupation in 1799 but were captured and shot. This memorial was unveiled by the President of Malta, Agatha Barbara, on 31st July 1986.
Coming up the steps from Strada Ponente, one enters the building and there is a small lobby with notice boards on the walls including a light oak board listing the Chaplains and Chancellors since 1844. Above the inner door is a large painting received in 1995 on permanent loan from the Fine Arts Museum of “Christ among the Children”, thought to be the work of Giuseppe Cali’s son.
Once inside St. Paul’s it still appears plain in comparison with the Maltese churches. However, the history and events commemorated within cover a very wide spectrum. Above the door is a marble tablet in memory of Major Leonard Barrett, Royal Artillery. For several years he had been a Churchwarden, and died in Valletta on 17th July 1898, aged 40 years.
On the left hand side of the door is a brass plate in memory of Attilio Sceberras, the late Lieutenant-Colonel of the 98th Prince of Wales’ Regiment. Born in Malta on 26th July 1826, he joined the 80th (Staffordshire Volunteers) Regiment as an Ensign on 21st April 1846 transferring to the 70th (Surrey) Regiment in 1849. He was Adjutant of the 70th in India during 1857/1858, and was present at Peshawar when the native garrison mutinied, and the 70th helped to disarm them. Later he was involved when the 51st Bengal Native Infantry mutinied in August 1857 and were annihilated. During this conflict his charger was shot beneath him. He was awarded the Indian Mutiny medal. He joined the 98th Regiment in 1860 and remained with them until retirement in 1880, having being appointed to the rank of Lieut-Colonel on 14th September 1878.
On the right hand side is a brass tablet in memory of Maye Fremantle, the wife of Sir Arthur Fremantle, Governor of Malta. An officer in the Coldstream Guards, he was sworn in as Governor during January 1894 and served until December 1898. He married Maye Hall, the daughter of Richard Hall in 1864. She was engaged in philanthropic work whilst in Malta, in particular the introduction of Military midwives. She died on 16th August 1898. In addition to this tablet the marble altar steps, now in the Chapel of Our Lady and St. George, were given in her memory.
In the first bay is a memorial to William Hardman.
On the pilaster there are three tablets. The first one in white marble is to Lieutenant Bertram Holman, Royal Artillery, an Aide-de-Camp to Sir Arthur Fremantle, the Governor of Malta. He died in London on 4th November 1896, aged 24 years.
The second in brass is in memory of Evelyn Emily Grenfell. She was born in London, the daughter of General Robert Blucher Wood, and married General Sir Francis Grenfell in 1887. Her husband was Governor of Malta from 6th January 1899 until 18th March 1903. She suffered from ill health, and died at the Governor’s Palace in Valletta on the 21st June 1899, aged 43 years. She was buried in Ta Braxia cemetery.
The third tablet is also in brass by Comper. Elizabeth Ann Coldwell, M.B.E., R.R.C., sometime Q.A.I.M.N.S., the first wife of Captain Godfrey J. Coldwell, a Churchwarden of St. Paul’s. She was Honorary Secretary of the Malta Girl’s Friendly Society, and from 1928 to 1931, when the Coldwell G.F.S. Hostel was opened, her house was used for its meetings. She was born on 17th January 1874 and died on June 12th 1936. Her white marble grave can be seen in Ta Braxia cemetery.
In the next bay is the memorial to Sir Edward and Lady Houlton
In the next bay is a large white marble memorial tablet to Sir Edward and Lady Houlton. Dame Hyacinth Henriette Houlton. She was the only daughter of Richard Wellesley and married in 1860 Sir Edward Houlton. He was the youngest son of John Torriano Houlton, of Farley Castle, Somerset, where he was born.
High on the adjacent pilaster is the preserved Royal Air Force ensign and below a memorial to Midshipman, John L. Gordon Paterson. His tomb in Ta Braxia cemetery is very distinctive. The whole of the white marble top is carved and features a large draped Union Jack, on which is a Midshipman’s cap, belt and sword also carved in white marble.
The next bay contains the white marble memorial to George Tomlinson D.D.
He was the first Bishop of Gibraltar and very much involved with the building of St. Paul's and the early years.
The following pilaster carries a marble tablet to the memory of Sir Edward Peter Stubbs Bell.
In the next bay is the memorial to the Venerable John Cleugh, who devoted his life to serving the Anglican community on Malta.
Archdeacon Cleugh and his wife were buried in the Ta Braxia cemetery, but the top of their granite tomb was badly split and damaged when a bomb landed nearby during WWII.
Beneath this tablet is a small glass case containing a book listing the ‘Friends of St. Paul’s Cathedral’. Alongside, in a metal holder is the Standard of the Malta Branch of the Royal British Legion.
The Chapel of Our Lady and St.George
A dwarf wall bearing a dagger design supports a wrought iron screen, with wrought iron gates in the centre. The ornate screen and gates were given by the Royal Marines. At a special service on Friday 4th July 1958 the Chapel of Our Lady and St. George was dedicated by the Chaplain of the Fleet as the Royal Marines Memorial Chapel. The gates and screen were painted light blue and gold for the 150th Anniversary of the Cathedral in 1994.
Set in the left-hand wall is a cast of an inscribed stone from the Auberge d’Allemagne discovered when the foundations of Chancellor’s House were being dug.
Above it is a framed photograph of ‘The Memorial Chalice to Jean Bartolo 1926 – 1990’.
The white marble altar steps carry the inscription:
‘IN MEMORY OF LADY LYON FREMANTLE 1898’
Behind the altar is a panel of blue and silver brocade similar to that in the baptistery.
On the altar sat the Tiarks Crucifix. Geoffrey Lewis Tiarks (1909 – 1987) was a Royal Naval Chaplain from 1934 to 1947. On 14th November 1934 whilst serving on HMS London, he married Betty Lyne Stock in St. Paul’s, and the couple held their wedding reception on board his ship. The crucifix is believed to be of Flemish origin, and is carved from Rosewood and Blackwood. It was donated to St. Paul’s by his widow, Betty Tiarks, and was brought from England to Malta on board the Royal Yacht Britannia during a goodwill visit in January 1997, but was stolen in June 2002.
On the right hand side is a stone screen erected by the Freemasons of Malta in memory of Alfred Bumstead, whose marble memorial tablet is high up beneath the stone cross. He died 18th December 1906, aged 36 years.
In the centre of the screen is a panel of coloured mosaic depicting the Virgin and Child, which was used in the temporary churches for the British Forces in Italy between 1943 and 1945, and was presented to the Cathedral by the Chaplains of the Eighth Army. In the right hand niche is a figure of the Virgin and Child, donated by Mrs. Hicks, the wife of the Chancellor from 1944 to 1954.
Within it is the pulpit, with the carved and coloured arms of St. Paul on the front.
On the pillar adjoining the pulpit is the crucifix given by the Royal Malta Artillery in memory of Sir Winston Churchill, with a small brass plate below suitably inscribed.
Running along the wall are six Canon’s Stalls, and in front of them two rows of Choir Stalls. Above each of the Canon’s Stalls is a Saint’s name or decorative emblem, with the name of the designated occupant carved on the back of the seat. In August 1997 the Bishop of Gibraltar conferred saint’s names on five Stall’s so that all twelve now bear the name of a saint. These are shown in brackets. From the pulpit towards the altar, the sequence of stalls is:
Bishop of Gibraltar St. Paul
Archdeacon of Malta St. Silas
Canon St. Polycarp
Naval Chaplain St. Helena
Army Chaplain St. Catherine of Siena
RAF Chaplain St. Agnes
Beyond and above the stalls is the organ. The organ case is older than the Cathedral, having been built originally by Father Smith (c.1630-1708) for Chester Cathedral. Below the organ pipes are the Royal Coat of Arms of Queen Adelaide, and the large Banner of Queen Adelaide.
A double doorway leads into a storeroom, which has an exit into Strada Ponente. Pre-1949 this was the entrance into St. Paul’s. To the left of the doors is an alcove containing a framed sketch of Queen Adelaide, by Sir Martin Archer Shee, and below a description of Queen Adelaide’s banner and to the right another alcove containing a framed white embroidered cloth. The embroidery is in gold and silver thread, and is a collection of religious symbols. Above each alcove is mounted a wooden panel, the left hand one records that the new roof was constructed during 1962/1963, and the right hand one that the re-hallowing of the Cathedral took place in 1949.
The adjoining wall of the Sanctuary is the start of the Memorial Shrine. It has four panels, which combined are about sixteen feet long, and ten feet high, listing Army Units; similar panelling on left hand side of the altar has three panels listing Naval Units, and to the right side three more panels of Naval Units, then to complete the Shrine on the right hand side of the Sanctuary, one panel of Royal Air Force Squadrons, and three panels listing Merchant Navy ships.
Above all these panels are the carved and coloured badges of the Army, Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service, the Royal Navy, Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service, the Royal Australian Navy, the Royal Marines, the Royal Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the South African Air Force, and the Merchant Navy.
On the left side of the altar is the Archbishop’s Desk. The altar itself was built as part of the new design for the church in 1949. Though not visible, the foundation stone laid by Queen Adelaide in 1839 is located in the wall behind the altar.
In front of the altar, on the riser of the second step appear the words:
TOWARDS THE COST OF THE ALTAR AND REREDOS THE EDITOR OF THE
SPECTATOR RAISED THE SUM OF TWO THOUSAND POUNDS AS A MEMORIAL TO THOSE WHO FOUGHT IN THE BATTLE OF MALTA 1940-1943
On the right of the altar is kept a small oak Credence Table inscribed LAUS DEO on the front, which was a gift from the architect, Alban Caroe.
Next to it is a three-place oak prayer desk presented by the Royal Marines in 1954. It bears the inscription “TO THE GLORY OF GOD AND IN MEMORY OF THE CONSECRATION IN THIS CATHEDRAL OF COLOURS PRESENTED BY H.R.H. THE DUKE OF EDINBURGH TO 40 42 AND 45 COMMANDOS ROYAL MARINES 29TH NOVEMBER 1952. A small Royal Marines badge is on the left and the dagger emblem on the right.
The door on the right gives access to a lobby. Alongside is the Bishops Throne; its alcove is attractively lined with heraldic embroidery. A large motif of the Arms of the Diocese is in the centre, with the initials of the earlier Bishops of Gibraltar around the perimeter.
The six Canon’s stalls on this side of the Chancel are:
Bishop’s Chaplain St. Ignatius of Antioch
Chaplain of Holy Trinity Sliema St. Titus
Canon St. Mark
Canon St. Barnabas
Canon St. Timothy
Chancellor St. Luke
The right hand spur screen contains the ‘Winston Churchill Lectern’
Right Hand Aisle
On this side of the building from the double doors of the Vestry. The memorial in the first bay is relatively new, placed there in April 2001 by the Merchant Navy Association. Below it in a small glass case is a Remembrance Book with the names of Merchant Seamen who lost their lives in WWII.
On the neighbouring pilaster is the only pictorial memorial in the Cathedral, a fine mosaic of St. Michael. It is in memory of Admiral of the Fleet, John Michael de Robeck. Born 10th June 1862, died 20th January 1928. He commanded the Naval forces in the Dardanelles during 1915 and was C-in-C Mediterranean Fleet 1919 – 1922. The memorial was improved shortly before WWII by the addition of the blue border.
In the next bay is the large memorial to the Venerable and Reverend John T. Howe Le Mesurier, who for thirty-three years was Chaplain to the Forces. His wife Martha Le Mesurier died in 1839, aged 52 years, and was buried in Msida Bastion cemetery, Floriana. He spent his later years living on the Isle of Wight where he died.
Affixed to the next pilaster is a marble tablet in memory of Henry Roger Hancox.
In the next bay is a large memorial. Henry Lumsden Gale.
On the following pilaster are memorials to two distinguished Admirals, but from different eras, Fisher and Cunningham.
The bronze tablet is to Admiral Sir William Wordsworth Fisher. During his service career Admiral Fisher, a distinguished sailor and loyal churchman, served in the Mediterranean on many occasions; on HMS Hawke 1896 – 1898, HMS Canopus 1901 – 1903, he was Chief of Staff to Admiral De Robeck (the C-in-C Mediterranean 1919 – 1922), Rear-Admiral First Battle Squadron 1924 – 1925, Second in Command Mediterranean Fleet 1930 – 1932 and Commander-in-Chief 1932 - 1936. He died in 1937.
The white marble tablet to Admiral of the Fleet Viscount Cunningham of Hyndhope, was dedicated and unveiled in 1967, at a ceremony which has already been described.
In the last bay is another recent addition dedicated in May 2001. A memorial to Sir Maurice Dorman, who was the last Governor of Malta from 1962 to 1964, but remained on the island after independence as the Governor General until 1971.
Below it is a large glass fronted oak display case, presented to the Cathedral in 2000 by Dr. Andy Welsh and his wife Jenny. Inside are a number of important historical objects.
The boxwood mallet used by Queen Adelaide when laying the Foundation Stone on 20th March 1839, together with the silver trowel used on the same occasion. She took the trowel back to England with her in 1839 but King George V had it returned to St. Paul's in 1912.
The Silver Gilt Chalice inscribed 'Malta Government Chapel A.D. 1809' and a 19th Century Flemish Requiliary donated by Chancellor Reginald M. Nicholls.
There are a number of books, 'Compendium of Ancient Geography' donated by Captain Thomas Graves, Superintendent of the Dockyard, who died in 1856, a Decorated Book of Common Prayer donated by Air Commodore Malcolm Jolly, the books 'Political Essays' by John Stuart Mill and 'Travels in Turkey and Greece' by Captain Adolphus Slade c.1833, both donated by Bishop Trower, plus a recent book recording the history of the Cathedral, 'Queen Adelaide's Church' donated by the author Alan Keighley
At the end of the aisle is the second vestry. To the left of the door is a brass memorial plate recording the names of NCO’s and men of the 3rd Battalion Royal Garrison Regiment, who died whilst stationed on the island between September 1901 and April 1904.
Below in a glass topped light oak display cabinet is a Remembrance Book of Royal Marines book presented in 2002 by 'Royal Marines in Foreign Fields', a small group of volunteers who maintain and restore Royal Marine graves throughout the island.
As explained earlier pre-1949 this area was the Sanctuary, when the six pilasters were carved and gilded, in an attempt to make the Sanctuary more decorative. The curved wall contains the five panels covered with blue and gold fabric, and below each panel is an oak bench. These were presented by the Corps of Royal Engineers to mark their special connection with Malta, having served on the island continuously from 1798 to 1979.
The white Carrara marble font was a gift from the late J.W. Bowden and is inscribed:
DEO. OPT. MAX. IOANNES. GUL. BOWDEN. ANGLUS. SUB. COELLO. METITENSI. REVALESCENS. AD.MDCCCXL.
ANGLICAN CIVIL CLERGY OF MALTA
Chaplains to the Government.
1814 - 1824
1824 - 1877
1877 - 1878
1878 - 1895
John Castleton Miller.
John Cleugh D.D
Henry White M.A.
Edward Ambrose Hardy M.A.
Church and Pro-Cathedral of St.Paul.
1844 - 1877
1877 – 1878
1878 - 1895
1896 - 1901
1901 – 1903
1903 - 1905
1906 - 1907
1907 – 1908
1908 - 1910
1908 - 1909
1910 - 1912
1912 - 1913
1913 - 1919
1919 – 1922
1922 – 1926
1925 - 1926
1926 - 1931
1931 - 1944
1942 - 1944
1944 - 1954
1955 - 1958
1959 - 1963
1964 – 1965
1965 - 1966
1966 - 1967
1967 - 1969
1969 - 1973
1973 - 1977
1977 - 1981
1981 - 1985
1986 - 1989
1989 – 1995
1996 – 2003
2004 – 2008
John Cleugh D.D.
Henry White M.A.
Ambrose Hardy M.A.
Arthur Babington Cartwright M.A.
Frank Bullock Webster – Locum tenens.
Franklyn de Winton Lushington M.A.
Daniel Collyer M.A.
Charles Samuel Gustavus Lutz – Locum tenens.
Charles George Gull M.A.
Walter Naish M.A. – Locum tenens.
Somers Percy Smith-Heriz M.A. – Locum tenens.
James Houssemayne Du Boulay M.A. – Locum tenens.
Edward Hay Crane Cawood M.A. – Locum tenens.
Richard Courtier-Forster – Locum tenens.
Arthur Fowler Newton M.A., Chancellor.
William Emery Barnes D.D., M.A. – Locum tenens.
Francis Peel Mears – Locum tenens.
Frederick Davies Brock, Chancellor.
Erasmus Austin Ommanney M.A. – Locum tenens.
Archibald Hugh Conway Fargus M.A., Chancellor.
Arthur Cyprian Moreton M.A., Chancellor.
George Charles May M.A. – Locum tenens.
Noel Ambrose Marshall, Chancellor.
Reginald Morton Nicholls M.A., Chancellor.
Harold Edward Stevens M.A. – Locum tenens.
Francis William Hicks B.A., Chancellor.
Charles Paton OBE., Chancellor.
Henry Rupert Colton M.A., Chancellor.
Robert William Pope L.Th., R.N., Acting Chancellor.
Launcelot MacManaway Q.H.C., M.A., R.N., Acting Chancellor
Donald Young OBE, R.N., Acting Chancellor.
Henry George Warren MacDonald M.A., B.D., R.N., Acting Chancellor
Gordon Hyslop CBE, O.St.J., M.A., Chancellor.
Howard Cole Q.H.C., B.Sc., Chancellor.
David Inderwick Strangeways DSO, OBE, M.A., Chancellor.
John Walter Evans M.A., Chancellor.
Kenneth William Alfred Roberts, Chancellor.
Philip John Cousins M.A., Chancellor.
Alan Geoffrey Woods TD, FCCA., Chancellor.
Tom Mendel SSC, M.A., Chancellor