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1909 Dedication of the chapel

Chapel dedication

Reported in the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday, 18 September 1909, the School’s new chapel was dedicated by Bishop Taylor-Smith, Chaplain-General. The report is interesting for the tenor and character of
the Bishop’s sermon, difficult to imagine so maudlin, mawkish and mushy an address being delivered from the pulpit today. Bishop Taylor-Smith’s sermon reflects the mood and temper of Edwardian society. The butchery and carnage of the First World War had yet to change society. In light of the changes to come, the sermon speaks volumes. So, incidentally, does the utterly accurate reporting of the newspaper. Here is what appeared in the Friday issue of the dedication ceremony that is presumed to have taken place on Sunday, 13 September 1909.

The School Chapel
Interior of chapel
The School Chapel
designed by Sir Henry Tanner
Interior view of Chapel before the School and King’s colours were hung
Colours of RHMS
Close up of the King's colour
The colours of the RHMS were hung when the Phoenix Park School closed in 1924
Close up of the King’s colour
(George V 1865-1936)

Report of the dedication of the School chapel that appeared in The Dover Express and East Kent News on Friday, 9 September 1909 follows.

Duke of York’s School Chapel

Dedicated by the Chaplain General

Bishop Taylor-Smith, Chaplain-General to the Forces, on Tuesday dedicated the new chapel at the Duke of York’s School, “to the glory of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and for the temporal and eternal welfare of all who shall assemble and worship in it.” The chapel, a handsome structure of red brick and stone, stands midway between the Deal and Guston roads, facing the centre of the crescent of the school buildings. It was designed by Sir Henry Tanner in a conventional style to match the rest of the buildings on the site, and has accommodation for over 500 worshippers. The building consists of a nave, which is used by the boys and students, and small transepts, in which the officers and visitors are accommodated. Two flights of stone stairs in small hexagonal towers give access from the entrance lobby to a spacious gallery. Five circular arches spring from octagonal stone pillars on either side of the chapel, which is lighted by three-light windows of semi-opaque glass, and six roof windows. Throughout the building the brickwork and stone courses with which it alternates have been left plain, the effect being a very tasteful one. The roof is of timber and white plaster, supported by unstained open roof timbers. The interior is very tastefully furnished. Like the gallery, all the fittings are of oak with the exception of the pulpit, which in colour matches the roof beams. The altar, which is approached by steps, is of oak, beautifully carved and stained. The seats are of oak, with open backs, fitted with book racks. The choir stalls are of the same material, and similar in design. The floor is of wood blocks, with mosaic paved aisles. The chapel is lit by ten hanging electroliers of massive hammered iron; and heated by hot water fitted into recesses in the side walls, and supplied from the School steam boilers.

There were few people present at the dedication service besides the School officials and pupils. Among those who attended were the Commandant, Colonel A.H. Morris, C.M.G., D.S.O., Lord George and Lady Hamilton, Major Dyke, M.V.O. (School Adjutant), Major Thomas (late Adjutant), Captain Fitzgerald, R.A.M.C. (School Medical Officer), General Lloyd, and Colonel G.H. Bittleston (commanding the South-Eastern Coast Defences). The clergy present, besides the Bishop, were the Rev. G.H. Andrews (School Chaplain), the Rev. E.R. Day and the Rev. A.G.M. Wetherall (Chaplain to the Forces at Dover), and the Rev. D.A. Townend (Vicar of River). Over 350 of the boys and a number of students of the School were present, their uniforms lending brilliant colour to the scene. The clergy were preceded to their places by the School colour-bearers and Sergeant Drummer, the School Chaplain receiving the colours and installing them on either side of the altar. The service opened with the hymn, “Onward Christian soldiers,” which was very heartily sung, the singing being led by the string band of the Royal Garrison Artillery, under Mr. P.F. Battishill. After the appointed prayers had been offered, and the Lesson read by the School Commandant, the Bishop, in the following words, dedicated the chapel: “To the Glory of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and for the temporal and eternal welfare of all who shall assemble and worship here, we dedicated this chapel. May it ever be the birthplace of souls and the armoury of saints.”

The Bishop took as his text Matthew xxi. 12: “And Jesus went into the temple of God.” He said it was very interesting to notice the different places of worship that are mentioned in the Bible. They read first of all of how God came down to earth and dwelt with our first parents in the Garden of Eden, and as they walked up and down He talked with them. That was the first Holy Communion, which meant Holy Common union, betwixt God and His creatures. Then he remembered how sin entered into the world, and God no longer communed with sinful men except He be approached by sacrifice of blood. There must be an acknowledgement of sin. By rejecting Cain’s sacrifice, because he brought the fruit of his hands and did not comply with God’s Commandment, and accepting Abel’s, God showed that He was willing to received men if they would remember how God commanded Moses to build a tabernacle, in a time when everything was taught after the Kindergarten system of teaching. Everything was ceremonial, all the ceremonies having hidden spiritual meaning. Right on from that time God had been teaching His children that He was willing to have their fellowship and their love and sacrifice if only they would approach Him with reverence and in a Godly way. When Christ was on earth, though He taught that temples of wood, stone, canvas, or any other material were not necessary, and that God could not truly be worshipped in material but in a man’s heart, He used the temples of His day, and they believed that He graciously allowed them to use the temples of their day as special meeting places where they might meet Him and praise His Holy Name. When Christ died the holy curtain which screened the Holy of Holies was torn from top to bottom, and the Holy of Holies laid bare. After speaking of the various places in the church - the font, the pulpit, the altar, - and their uses, the preacher said at the dedication of their new and beautiful chapel he wanted to remind them that whenever they entered it they should remember God’s presence. Christ found when he entered the temple that people, because of greed, had brought in their oxen - right things in the wrong place - and He took a whip and drave (sic) them out. Sometimes, when they came to worship in God’s House their thoughts were of football, the gymnasium, or games in the field; all those things were right at the right time, but not in God’s House. Sometimes there was whispering and talking. Let those things which Christ drave out of the temple remind them., when they came to the chapel they had dedicated, what a privilege it was that they should have been present at the service. In the days to come, how many soldiers would look back and wish they had been present at the service. When they came to the chapel he wanted them to remember that Jesus entered the temple, and He was to be found within those walls if they looked for Him with the eyes of Faith. He thought of what that chapel might be to them, not only in their school days, but in the days to come. He had prayed that it might be the birthplace of souls, as well as the armoury of saints, that many a new life might begin in that place, and that many a one in that chapel might find the Spirit of God. Many of them were already on the Lord’s side. He prayed that the chapel might be Sunday by Sunday the armoury wherein they buckled on the spiritual armour; and that they might be true soldiers of Jesus Christ, and keep up that dedication prayer.

At the request of the Bishop the boys repeated the test, “And Jesus entered the temple of God,” three times in order that it might be impressed on their memory.

After the School hymn - a very beautiful composition from the pen of the School Chaplain - had been sung, the Bishop pronounced the Benediction, and the service concluded with the singing of the National Anthem.

[With acknowledgement to the research of A.E. (Bill) Rogers]

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