NEW PARISH CHURCH
In 1821, the project was first mooted of building a new Church. It was felt that the old one in Seapatrick was unsuitable in size and site. The proposal aroused determined opposition and was often defeated in the following years. No doubt there was a conflict of opinion between the traditionally minded villagers and the residents of the newly expanding town of Banbridge but there was even greater opposition from the community at large. Other denominations naturally resented the prospect of paying increased taxes to help build a new church for the Establishment. Other matters that greatly exercised the minds of parishioners and Vestry at this time were foundlings and tithes. Both had financial implications, a not unusual cause of contention, either then or now.
The Parish meeting held in 1823 was for the purpose of taking into consideration, "the growing EVIL of Foundlings and deserted infants laid down in this Parish". It was agreed that "the Parishioners feel that the present Burthen on the parish in providing for three deserted children, in the present distrefsed state of the country is as much they can or are disposed to support - and in order to prevent, in future such a growing Evil - the Parishioners of the respective Townlands agree & are requested to give private information to the Minister & churchwardens of any unmarried female known to be pregnant or supposed to be so . . . in order that the necefsary precautions may be taken immediately to prevent the same". (Whatever the precautions were, they didn't work, for in 1840 the Parish was supporting 17 children.) It was also agreed not to support any child after it was ten years old and 'that the person entrusted with the care of any child was obliged to produce such to the Vestry at every Easter meeting thereof, before he or she be paid for its support.' The payment at that time was usually £3-10-0 per child, per annum.
The question of tithes was the subject of a meeting of parishioners called in 1824 "to regulate and provide for the regular payment of Vicarial Tythes". It was agreed that in consequence of an unsatisfactory answer from the Dean of Dromore relative to the tythe, "that a petition should be prepared and presented to Parliament in the next sefsions praying them to take such measures as may be efficacious to relieve the people of Ireland in the mode of paying Tythe". (The Dean's Rectorial tythe from Seapatrick was still worth £273 in 1833.) In 1833, a series of resolutions authorising the building of the new Church in Banbridge, was carried by 129 votes against 76. Mr. W. E. Reilly was again appointed Treasurer with the following committee.- Rich. Hayes, John Welsh, Fred Hayes ,Thos. Crozier, Samuel Law, Rev. D. Dickinson, John Hale. On 10th June, 1834, the resolutions were passed over again. Among the signatories is the name of Jane Crozier, a precedent for the admission of women to vestries. The resolution's succeeded in the end, mainly because of a free grant of £1,500 from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The parishioners were assured that they would not be assessed for this. The foundation stone of the new Church was laid in 1834.
On November 7th 1837, by consent of the Primate, Lord J. G. Beresford "to the changing of the Church of Seapatrick", the new Church, Holy Trinity, was consecrated by the Bishop of Dromore, the Right Reverend James Saurin. How fitting that, in a parish owing so much of its employment to the pioneer work of the Hugenot refugees, our Church should be consecrated by a descendant of a distinguished Hugenot family. James Saurin and the Rt. Hon. William Saurin, Attorney-General for Ireland from 1807-1821, were great-grandsons of Louis Saurin, who with his two brothers took refuge in England from religious persecution in France at the end of the 17th century. Louis became Dean of St. Patrick's, Ardagh, one brother was a Captain in William's Army and the other, Jacques Saurin, became the greatest of the Protestant preachers at the Hague.
The complete report of the consecration in the Newry Telegraph, re-printed in the Newsletter on the 14th November, 1837, is as follows:
CONSECRATION OF THE NEW CHURCH AT BANBRIDGE, On Tuesday the 7th instant, about 12 o'clock, the Lord Bishop of Dromore, having been met at the tower door of the Church by the Marquis of Downshire, who presented him with the petition for the Consecration, proceeded up the main aisle, reading the 24th Psalm, assisted by the Very Rev. Dean Waring, and the Venerable Archdeacon Saurin, as Chaplains, and by the Rev. Mr. Dickinson, Rector of the Parish, and Rev. Mr. Pratt, his curate; and followed by a great body of the Diocesan Clergy in their gowns.-The petition having been then read by the Registrar, the beautiful dedicatory prayers appointed for this service were repeated by the Bishop in a clear and audible voice. The Consecration service being over, the morning service followed. The "venite" and "jubilate" were chaunted, and Psalms 118th, verses 19, 20 and 26,-122d, verses 1, 2, and 3, sung. An eloquent and impressive discourse was then delivered by the Rev. J. H. Thomas, from John, xviii. 36,-"My kingdom is not of this world." Having briefly, but delicately and in appropriate terms, alluded to the exertions made by the Noble Proprietor of Banbridge and the Parishioners of Seapatrick, in erecting the Church, he concluded by an eloquent appeal on behalf of the building, which was handsomely responded to by the sum of £109 being contributed at the close of the discourse. The following persons kindly acted as Collectors :- The Marquis of Downshire, Right Hon. the Earl of Hillsborough, Trevor Corry, William Edmund Reilly, and Richard Hayes, Esqrs. The attendance was most respectable. We observed the Marchioness of Downshire, Countess of Hillsborough, the Ladies Hill, and all the neighbouring Gentry and Clergy, of whom some were from the Dioceses of Armagh and Down and Connor, with many of the Presbyterian Clergy. A very handsome dejeune was given after Church by Mrs. Crozier to the Nobility, Gentry, and Clergy who attended Nearly £900 have been given by Lord Downshire and family to this Church. A handsome stained glass window in the chancel is principally the gift of the Marchioness. The building is in the form of a cross, having, besides the main aisle, a transept. It is surmounted by a tower and spire 300 feet high. The design and building reflect great credit upon Mr. Farrel, the provincial Architect, and Mr. Sands the Contractor. Newry Telegraph.
A less effusive description of the Church taken from a trade journal in 1876: "The cruciform Church with spire was of the Carpenter's Gothic type of forty year ago - a wide nave with a transept at either side, a flat roof, no chancel, galleries an a bald, ineffective interior of the type then usual". It cost about £3,000, of which £1,500 was given by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, £600 by the Marquis o Downshire who also gave the site, and the remainder came from voluntary subscriptions. The Church had seating for 300. There was a baptism on the day of consecration of Sally, daughter of John and Mary Patterson and the first marriage in the Church on 9th November was of John McCullough and Jane Greer.
With the new Church there came a change in the status of the incumbent. The Parish was separated from the Deanery of Dromore and the Vicar in 1837, Reverend Daniel Dickinson, became Rector, as did subsequent incumbents. The Deans of Dromore who had been Rectors of Seapatrick from 1609 to 1837 were now no longer entitled to the Rectorial tithes. The vestrymen appointed to collect those tithes must have welcomed the Act of Parliament in 1838 that made tithes a rent charge payable by the owners of property and not as hitherto by the occupier. It also allowed owners one quarter of the tax for collecting it. By this measure, unpleasant confrontations with collectors were avoided.
With the demand for 'status' pews far greater than the number available, the rights to pews were a source of competition and contention. The Vestry found it necessary issue this edict in 1837 "That no pew owner do any time dispose of his accommodation in said Church any person not a parishioner and that the same be also subject to the approval of the Bishop of the Diocese and Incumbent of the Parish. That no pew owner put a lock on his seat, the same to be considered as free for accommodation of any of the Parishioners, if not required by the proprietor or family before the commencement of the first lefson. That no pew owner be permitted to make any alteration on his seat by Carpenter work, Painting or otherwise without the consent of the Incumbent and the Committee, It is said that Captain Crozier on one of this returns to Banbridge when the new Church was being opened showed a fine example, he modestly took a pew at the extreme end of the building saying "One seat was as good as another"
The Bishop of Dromore, the Right Reverend James Saurin, who had consecrated our Church in 1837, died in 1842. On his death the 1833 Act of Parliament was implemented and Dromore Diocese formed part of the union of United Diocese of Down and Connor and Dromore, pretty much as the Synod of Rath-Breasail left it in 1118. The Act reduced the Archbishoprics to two and the other Sees to eight.
The potato was introduced into Ireland about the year 1600. By the end of the 18th century the average Irishman was eating little else and consuming an incredible 12 to 14 pounds per day. Presumably women and children ate somewhat less. This amount, with a pint of milk, gave about 3,800 calories per day, but more important, provided over 90 per cent of the daily protein requirement and almost all the necessary minerals and vitamins. The potato allowed the size of the subsistence farms to be even smaller and tenants sub-divided their holdings to their sons, making it possible for young rural folk to marry earlier. Many rented an acre or less to grow potatoes and on the strength of that, married and had their families. This, combined with a decline in the death rate, through modest improvements in living conditions, was probably the main factor in the rapid growth of the population. Between 1777 and 1841 it more than doubled from 3,740,000 to 8,175,000 and that does not take into consideration the estimated one and three quarter million who emigrated. By 1845 the population was probably about 8,500,000 the highest it had ever been or has been since. It had grown, but on nothing more substantial than the potato, a plant very susceptible to disease. Even those with enough land to grow grain had to sell that to pay the rent. Many were to face the unenviable choice-pay the rent and starve or use the produce and face eviction. The landless poor or cottiers did not have that option. They rented land for potatoes and like the other poor had to exist between crops on a meal diet made from oats, hence the term 'meal months'.
There had been many partial failures of the potato crop but in 1845 it was almost totally destroyed by blight. This fungus infection which came to Europe from America, blackened and withered the potato stalk in a few days and caused the potato to rot in the ground. Even if lifted quickly the potatoes only lasted a day or so. The 1846 crop was also an almost complete failure, the 1847 crop was small because of a shortage of seed potatoes and disaster struck again in 1848. The effect of all this was horrific, especially as the British Government showed throughout, a lack of understanding of the Irish economy. It relied on totally inadequate short term measures and non-existent self help. Ireland, governed and controlled by the British Establishment and landlords could not show the enterprise and resourcefulness of other European countries. Although these were also affected by crop failures, they were less dependent on a single food supply and could better afford the rising cost of imported food. In Ireland also, cooking skills had been lost and other food sources such as fish neglected.
No part of Ireland was unaffected, but the worst hit were Connaught and Munster. For those weakened by hunger and lack of nutrition there was little resistance to the scurvy, dysentery, cholera and typhus that spread quickly, helped by the unsanitary conditions in which the poor lived. The flow of emigrants in 1846 became a flood in 1847 and 1848. Panic and fever stricken, ragged and starving they fled in their hundreds of thousands from the land they loved. Survival was now the only consideration. Many with only a few shillings crossed the Channel to Liverpool, Glasgow and South Wales. Others with a few pounds or with landlord assistance set off for the U.S.A. or on the subsidised passages to British North America (Canada). Most of the latter intended to continue their journeys to the U.S.A. But thousands never reached their destinations or died soon after, for they faced 6 to 8 weeks of extreme hardship on the many aptly named 'coffin' ships. Wherever they went they were unwelcome, for their travelling companions were death, disease and destitution.
In Ulster, the linen trade in Down and Antrim and the industrial expansion in Belfast, provided about the only source of wages in Ireland, other than Government Work Schemes. But the linen trade was then changing from home to factory and this meant a severe loss of income for many. Those who continued with the home trade were also finding, that without the cheap food of potatoes, they could not live on their loom income alone. So there was a move from the rural areas. Some went to Belfast where the population mushroomed from 20,000 in 1803 to 100,000 in 1851 and 273,000 in 1891. Others joined the national exodus. For the destitute who stayed the only refuge was the workhouse - if they could get in , or a doubtful existence from soup kitchens or other outdoor relief. In the light of our present standard of living, the records of the Banbridge Workhouse and Union Infirmary during the famine years make grim reading and our District was one of the more fortunate.
Founded in 1841 on the site of the present hospital, the Workhouse had accommodation for 800. This proved to be totally inadequate during the famine and despite extensions and overcrowding, it was necessary to hire part of the brewery building. 300 boys were sent there in December, 1847. In the week ending 5th February, 1848, the number of inmates reached the astonishing total of 1,495 of whom 137 were in hospital and 80 in the fever hospital. There were 15 deaths that week and in the main famine period, from October, 1846 to December 1848, a total of 843 deaths. The pressure on accommodation and the repeated objections from the Medical Officer about the effects of overcrowding on the spread of dysentery and fever, meant that any applicants were refused admission. Often over 100 were left outside the gate each week and had to be forced to leave by the constabulary.
At a Vestry meeting in February, 1848, a resolution was passed "That all the children hitherto supported by the parish be sent to the workhouse". There was probably no alternative, when faced with a problem of such magnitude. Also an applotment of one penny in the pound was assessed on the valuation of the Parish "for the purpose of providing coffins for the destitute poor, who are not entitled to receive such relief from the workhouse". This continued for many years and is a reminder that life outside the Workhouse was also grim. The clergy regularly visited members of their churches in the Workhouse but it must have been extremely difficult to give comfort and hope to people in such circumstances.
Within the Workhouse there was work for some in the spinning of wool and flax and the weaving of linen. Others were sent out to work when it was available and there was a Workhouse farm. Food was basic, but sufficient to keep people alive. The cost of maintaining each inmate was 1 s.8d (9p) per week. In January, 1847, it was "Resolved that in consequence of the high price of food that soup and bread for dinner be limited to one day in each week, in place of three at present and that stirabout be substituted" - a description of the latter is mercifully omitted. Also in October, 1847, it was "Resolved that wine be discontinued in the fever hospital and whiskey substituted in its place". Now for the bad news, "and that the Medical Officer be requested to mix it with something to make it unpalatable for other tastes".
The Banbridge Workhouse existed for almost 100 years until 1930. By all accounts it was well run and as merciful as conditions allowed. The most severe punishment was to be discharged, and this happened in 1849 to a family because the husband neglected work and feigned sickness and to a woman for refusing to spin 8 cwts. of yarn daily. In 1846, a man was denied breakfast for one week and put to break 5 cwts. of stones per day for one week for being insubordinate to a porter and in 1848, another man was sent to prison for 3 weeks for setting his bed on fire when smoking. At least the workhouse was clean. An extract from a poem by Mr. Henry Mulligan, a local poet:
"Such constant washing every day
Must doubtless wash their house away".
An interesting insight on the relative pay scales in 1847
Sarah Arnold, Charge Nurse, Fever Hospital, £15 a year
Hugh Lyons, Baker, £52 a year
Shoemakers and tailors, 6 shillings per week.
During the famine years there was a revival of some of the policies of the United Irishmen. John Mitchel of Banbridge, son of a Presbyterian minister, was a revolutionary leader in the Young Ireland movement. He openly advocated rebellion against England in his paper, the United Irishman. Again there was disunity in the movement and no real support from a people demoralised by hunger. John Mitchel was sentenced to l4 years transportation and the planned rebellion failed.
There was a gradual improvement in the famine situation after 1848 due in a large part to the decrease in the population. By 1851 it had fallen by some 2.5 million to 6.5 million, allowing for a natural rate of increase between the censuses of 1841 and 1851. Between 1846 and 1851 nearly a million persons emigrated so the rough estimate is that about 1.5 million perished during the famine. The emigration continued at a high rate for many years and was given an impetus by a further crop failure in 1879. But the great famine period of 1845-1849 had brought about a change in outlook. There was no longer the total reliance on the potato and the economy reacted and adjusted to the famine experience. In the new Ireland which gradually emerged from the chaos of the famine years, the distinctive character of the north eastern counties was even more sharply marked than before.
OLD PARISH CHURCH
In 1847 the old Church was sold to Frederick Hayes for £25 and the proceeds from this vandalistic transaction applied to building a wall around the Churchyard." This judgement in Richard Linn's history is perhaps somewhat harsh. The sturdy wall built by James Watson, mason, with the assistance of a further sum of £30 from the Vestry, has certainly protected the churchyard and this was at the height of the famine when a deconsecrated church had little priority. Replacing the ancient edifice de-stroyed in 1641, it had, for almost 150 years, served the Parish well. Around and within its area lies the dust of the "rude forefathers of the hamlet". " . . . a spot of holy ground Where from distress, a refuge may be found".
Edward Trevor, eldest son of Hugh Trevor of Loughbrickland who died in 1789, aged 84 years was buried inside the Communion rails. The last baptism in the Church was on October 29th 1837, of a daughter of James and Elizabeth Shaw of Edenderry and the last marriage was that of James Poland and Mary O'Hare on November 1st 1837. Now only the west wall remains in the old graveyard at Seapatrick. The site certainly merits the regard and protection of all denominations. Up to the mid 17th century the Parish Church was the only church. Although the Roman Catholics left it by 1630, there is little doubt, judging by some headstones, that they continued to use the graveyard until the early 19th century. The early Presbyterians would also have used the Church and graveyard; indeed for a time, Andrew McCormick, the Presbyterian Minister, looked after the Parish. Many of the old headstones have disintegrated or are obliterated but it is hoped to record the lettering on those of the 19th century or earlier that are still decipherable. An extract from an article by Mr. J. Harris Rea in the Parish Magazine (October, 1981): "Its HOLY WELL, used by pilgrims who believed in the faith healing of its water, was used until some fifty years ago, when it was filled in and lost. Fortunately the well site has been re-discovered, and the water is being used with beneficial results. It is hoped to have the well deepened so that water may be available throughout the year". Alas the well has been dry for many years but perhaps some restoration work and a low stone wall around it would be just recognition for its former renown.
One of the parishioners who attended services both in the old Church, where his brother Graham Phillip was curate in 1828, and in the new Church, was Captain Francis Rawdon Moira Crozier R.N., F.R.S., F.R.A.S. He was the fifth son of George Crozier Esq., Attorney-at-law, Church Square, Banbridge and was born there in September 1796. After distinguished service on many voyages of exploration, he sailed on the 19th May, 1845, as Captain of H.M.S. Terror and second-in-command to Sir John Franklin, on an Expedition to the Arctic. The purpose was to complete the search for a North-West Passage, a navigable water link that would allow passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean through the Arctic.
There were no survivors of the Expedition and little trace of it for many years. The most important news came from two notes written on a naval record form and found in 1859, on a search expedition commanded by Captain F. L. McClintock and sponsored by Lady Franklin.In the first note dated 28th May, 1847, and signed at the bottom, Lieutenant Gore reports "All well". The '1846-7' should be '1845-6'. He left the note in a cairn which he thought marked the place where Sir James Ross had built a cairn (pillar) in the 1831 Expedition. Two weeks later Sir John Franklin died and Captain Crozier would then have promoted Commander Fitzjames and Lieutenant Gore to Captain and Commander respectively. Commander Gore died less than a year later. In that part of the second note relating to the finding of his message by Lieutenant Irving and its placing in the correct position, reference is made to the late Commander Gore. (See photograph). It is this note, written around the edges that is more significant. It was dictated by Captain Crozier to Captain Fitzjames and signed by both of them :"April 25th, 1848 - HM's Ships Terror and Erebus were deserted on 22nd April, 5 leagues N.N.W. of this, having been beset since 12th September, 1846. The Officers and crews, consisting of 105 souls, under the command of Captain F.R.M. Crozier, landed here . . . Sir John Franklin died on 11th June, 1847; and the total loss by deaths in the Expedition has been to this date 9 officers and 15 men.
James Fitzjames, Captain HMS Erebus.
F.R.M. Crozier, Captain and Senior Officer.
and start on tomorrow, 26th, for Back's Fish River."
Further light on the tragic Expedition now comes from a new investigation described in the book "Frozen in Time". From forensic and anthropological analysis of bones and the incredibly well preserved bodies of 3 members who died in 1846, it is concluded that lead poisoning was a major factor in the disaster. The lead came primarily from the soldering of the tinned cans of food. This was then a comparatively new process and the danger of inside sealing was not appreciated until later. It is also Every likely that the quality of the tinned food supplied to the Expedition was affected by incomplete sealing.
In the absence of the Expedition logs, the second note is the main guide to the situation facing Captain Crozier when he took command in June, 1847. The ships had then been held in the ice for 9 months; the food stock was probably deteriorating in quality and there were severe problems with health. The deaths of the 3 men in 1846 must have been a shock. Indeed when exhumed in 1984 - 86 it was found that an autopsy had been carried out on one of them by an Expedition surgeon. The effects of lead-tin solder were then unknown but the further deaths and general symptoms, to which the 4 surgeons were themselves subject, would probably have made them highly suspicious of the canned food - a new element in their provisioning. Even before the Expedition sailed, Commander Fitzjames had expressed concern, that price not quality was the deciding factor in the purchase of meat.
Now, during the long months trapped in the ice, they must all have discussed and agonised over their situation: why was the ratio of officer deaths three times that of the men - were they eating more canned food? - could they find alternative food in those frozen wastes? - would there be a thaw next summer? - would the ships be crushed by ice? - would their health last? - would help arrive? - should they take the very high risk and try to march out now? Perhaps they were already doomed whatever they did, but they stayed on the ships through another winter, in conditions it is difficult and painful to envisage.
When they finally left them on the 22nd April, 1848, after 19 months in the ice, one fifth of their number had died and their 3 year food stock must have been very low. But the strong religious convictions, so apparent at the beginning of the Expedition, did not weaken now. Although their position was desperate, there is no hint of that, no bemoaning their plight, in that factual last note. It is dated 3 days after leaving the ships and when he wrote the next day's task after his signature, Captain Crozier showed an undefeated calm and resolve. "So sad a tale was never told in fewer words" was the comment of Captain McClintock. He gave the name "Cape Crozier" to the western extremity of King William Island, where they had landed from the ships and the actual landing place is known as "Crozier's Landing".There is fragmentary evidence of the horrors of their last march; that some turned back but never reached the ships and that starvation caused a few to turn to cannibalism of some of those who had died. Perhaps the final irony was the discovery that King William Land, on which they had landed, was not part of the mainland but an island. Captain Crozier, thought to have been leading the party at this time, would have known that this meant the completion of the search for a North-West Passage. But perhaps also, the realisation that if they had sailed down the eastern side of the island, they would probably have avoided that second winter in the ice - the final 'if in the sequence of factors leading to their deaths. No single factor was by itself the cause of the disaster. The inside soldering of the cans - banned in 1890 - was an unknown danger, but only one of the many they faced. They had sought a challenge in the search for knowledge. It is cause for thankfulness that there are such people.
A mural tablet depicting the ship wrecked among icebergs was given to the Parish Church in 1856, by Captain Crozier's surviving brothers and sisters. The tablet is the work of the eminent sculptor J. R. Kirk R.H.A. as is the statue of the monument. There is also a memorial plaque on Captain Crozier's birthplace in Church Square.
The Fermanagh branch of the family was also associated with Seapatrick through the appointment of the Reverend John Winthrop Crozier as curate in 1903. The second son of the Most Reverend John Baptist Crozier D.D., Archbishop of Armagh (1911), he married in 1910, Bertha Elizabeth, daughter of C. H. McCall J. P., Dunida, Banbridge whose son 2nd Lieutenant Robert Alfred McCall, killed at the Battle of Loos 1915, is commemorated by a bronze tablet in the Church. The Reverend J. W. Crozier served as a Chaplain to the Forces during the Great War and retired in 1957 when Lord Bishop of Tuam.
The increase in church attendance was such that more seating was needed. In 1862 it was resolved on the motion of Richard Hayes, seconded by Dr. George Tyrrell that the parish church be enlarged to provide additional seating for 300 persons and in 1867 the additions to Holy Trinity Church were made from designs by W. J. Barre. These took the form of a double-aided transept of unusual depth as long as the Church itself, superseding the older transept on the north side, and a short north aisle with heavy pillars and low arches opening into the nave in Early French style. A shallow chancel of unsatisfactory proportions and detail was also added. These additions gave the extra sittings at a cost of over £3,000 but doubtless, because of the restrictive conditions imposed, left a Church wanting in either symmetry or balance of arrangement. Mr. Barre, a talented Newry man, also designed the pedestal for the Captain Crozier monument in 1862, the Ulster Hall and Albert Memorial, Belfast.
The linen trade, and with it Banbridge, took on a new momentum in the 19th century. A brown linen market was established in Banbridge in 1817, to provide farmers and weavers with an outlet for their unbleached cloth. In the following years, from about the 1830's onward, the merchants (bleachers) in the district showed great enterprise. Learning from the mechanisation of the cotton industry in Belfast they transformed the trade and in the process became very large linen manufacturers. They built spinning mills, spun their own yarn, gave it out to weavers, collected the cloth and finished it. Power looms were mostly installed during the 1850's and later, stimulated by the emigration of many hand-loom weavers after the famine. Banbridge became the largest linen market in County Down and one of the best in the Province for the sale of fine lawns and linens. Of the many families in the linen trade, two benefactors of our Church were the Hayes family of Seapatrick and Millmount of whom a daughter, Margaretta, married the Rector, Reverend Daniel Dickinson, and the Ferguson family of Edenderry of whom a daughter, Helen, married George Smyth from the well-known family of Milltown, Banbridge. Two sons, Lieutenant Colonel Gerald B. Ferguson Smyth D. S. O. and Bar and Major Osbert Smyth D. S. O., M. C. gave distinguished service in the First World War.
The town grew apace, helped by the Downshire family, from the first Marquis who laid out the wide streets, to the third Marquis who helped finance the Downshire Bridge and Cut (1832-1834). The latter was constructed to facilitate the daily mail coach service between Belfast and Dublin begun in 1790-there had been threats to bypass the town because of the steep hill. Another welcome facility was the coach staging-post, the Downshire Arms Hotel, built in 1816. During this period also, most of the present day churches and large houses in and around Banbridge were built.
DISESTABLISHED AND DISENDOWED
Representing about one eighth of the total population of Ireland and about one fifth that of Ulster, the privileges of the established Church of Ireland had given rise to much discontent and unrest. After intense controversy and debate over several years, the Act, by which the Church of Ireland was disestablished and disendowed, received the Royal Assent on 26th July, 1869, to take effect on 1st January, 1871. Some of the provisions of the Act were:- the union with the Church of England was dissolved; the Church of Ireland ceased to be established by law and had no further connection with the State; her bishops were no longer to have seats in the House of Lords and the whole of her property including glebe houses and lands, tithe-rent charges and funds were taken from her and vested in The Commissioners of Church Temporalities. "The Church Representative Body" was authorised by the Church Act to receive an manage any property that might be entrusted to it on behalf of the Church. In this were vested all the churches then in use and burial grounds adjacent to them.
Although the Church of Ireland had strongly opposed disestablishment, it was soon realised, that it was in fact a blessing. Many of the faults ascribed to the Church in the past, were, in reality, the outcome of the connection with the State. Now the Church could again make its own decisions, with Christ its authority.
A United Synod called in 1869 to start the constitutional process, set the tone for future policy with the declarations that, "it is now called upon not to originate a Constitution for a new Communion, but to repair a sudden breach in one of the most ancient Churches in Christendom" and "under the present circumstances of the Church of Ireland the co-operation of her faithful laity is more than ever desirable". The first meeting of the General Convention was held on 15th February, 1870, with bishops, clergy and lay representatives. "St. Patrick's Cathedral has been the scene of many important functions in the history of the Church, but not since 27th January, 1660, when twelve bishops were consecrated for the Church of the Restoration, did the children of the Irish Church gather within those hallowed walls with deeper thankfulness, higher hopes, and a more splendid spirit of adventure."
A few months before these momentous changes took effect the Rector, the Reverend Daniel Dickinson M.A., died on the 9th September, 1870. He was the last Vicar from 1832 to 1837, when the decision to build the new Church was made and the first Rector in 1837 when Holy Trinity Church was consecrated. Under his leadership the Parish had come successfully through a period of great change. He regarded every family in the Parish as part of his responsibility. On the occasion of a death it was his custom to make a call of sympathy and condolence, no matter what the denomination - and in no instance was a door closed against him. His kind, mild, Christian manner made his presence acceptable and comforting. A marble medallion, with inscribed tablet, was placed on the Chancel wall and a beautiful Caen stone pulpit was erected by the congregation in memory of his 38 years service to all the people in the Parish.
The new Rector, the Reverend Henry Stewart, and the first Select Vestry showed great industry and zeal in securing the voluntary subscriptions that replaced the ancient endowments and in setting up the new machinery. Aided by Messrs. Hayes and O'Reilly and other influential parishioners the Rector raised a fund for the purchase of the glebe house and lands and organised a sustentation scheme for the maintenance of the Church. This was a challenge that was met with spirit and devotion throughout the Church and in the words of one historian, "At no period in her history was the Church of Ireland stronger in the affections of her people. The Act which disestablished her, gave her back her ancient freedom and full of life and vigour she rose at once to the necessities of her new position".
At the time of disestablishment the Representative Body considered it advisable to clarify the position regarding the name "Church of Ireland". A Legal Committee was set up and their report was adopted by the Representative Body in 1871. An extract from the report is as follows: 'The name "Church of Ireland" is the name uniformly given by the Irish and Imperial Legislatures, the Act of Union and the Irish Church Act, 1869, and has been, ever since the Reformation the only "Church of Ireland", as well in fact as in law.'
The alteration of the old Seapatrick school-house, close to the site of the old Church, into a Chapel of Ease, was undertaken. The foundation stone was laid in 1880 and the Church, dedicated to St. Patrick, was consecrated in 1882 by the Bishop of the Diocese, Dr. Robert Knox, afterwards Primate. An extract from the Deed of Consecration:- "Whereas a church has been erected out of funds raised by means of private sources supplemented by a Grant from the Representative Body of the Church of Ireland on the site of the old Parochial School situated at the village of Seapatrick . . . for the ease of such inhabitants of the same as by reason of distance cannot conveniently resort to their parish Church . . . do consecrate devote and dedicate the said Church of "St. Patrick" Seapatrick . . . that the said Church shall be and remain as a Chapel of Ease . . . unless and until the same shall hereafter be lawfully and canonically erected into a Parochial Church . . . Dated and Given under our Episcopal Seal this fourth day of February one thousand eight hundred and eighty two". Dr. Pakenham Walsh, Bishop of Ossory and brother-in-law of Bishop J. B. Crozier, was the Preacher. The Church cost £800 with accommodation for 200 (under unholy pressure) and reflected the strong wish of parishioners in Seapatrick to maintain the tradition of a church in the village.
Further major additions and alterations from designs by Thomas Drew were made to Holy Trinity Church in 1883. These consisted of the removal of the West gallery, raising the roof about 6 feet and restoring it somewhat on the lines of the old one, new seating of the entire Church with open benches, the enlargement of the chancel to its present beautiful design with space for a choir of forty voices, the addition of the side aisle next to Church Street and an organ chamber. To harmonise the style with James Bane's aisles and to obtain the maximum of lighting from the two aisle walls, a perpendicular style of treatment was adopted throughout the work.
The Church's Restoration
Has left for contemplation
Not what there used to be.
How well the ancient woodwork
Looks round the Rect'ry hall,
Memorial of the good work
Of him who plann'd it all,
Of marble brown and veined
He did the pulpit make;
He order'd windows stained
Light red and crimson lake.
Sing on, with hymns uproarious,
Ye humble and aloof,
Look up! and oh, how glorious
He has restored the roof!
(John Betjeman's Hymn, Verses 1 and 4)
The effect was to alter the whole Church into the aspect of a new one of considerable proportions and dignity. The tower and spire were considered to be graceful and well proportioned. However it was proposed to improve some of their features and through a subscription raised chiefly among the Roman Catholic community and members of other religious denominations in the town, these improvements were carried out and a clock installed. These improvements gave upward of 200 additional sittings, enlarging the Church to seat 800. The cost was upwards of £3,000 of which the Rector, Dean H. Stewart contributed £1,000 and the Trustees of the Marquis of Downshire £500. The cost of the organ (£500) was raised by the ladies of the Parish. The Chancel furniture, prayer desks and choir stalls are of English oak tastefully carved by Henry Hems of Exeter and once owned by the Admiralty and stored for 60 years for ship construction. The floor is laid with tiles, facsimiles of those in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin. The steps to the Communion Table are of white marble and the walls are panelled with red and black marble with diapered work in alabaster, the panelling being surmounted by a richly sculptered cornice in Caen stone. The credence table and sedilia are composed of marble and alabaster and the marble reredos was purchased from Christ Church Cathedral.
The re-opening ceremony took place in June 1883 when the Bishop of the Diocese, Dr. Robert Knox, dedicated the new portions. Among the many gifts then presented were the marble panelling behind the Holy Table by the Misses Dickinson in memory of their father; the rails in the Sanctuary by Reverend E. D. Atkinson (former Curate) and the brass lectern by Reverend Canon William Hayes and Reverend R. Hayes. At the evening service the preacher was the Reverend J. B. Crozier, later Primate. It is interesting to see the recently discovered original plan (1876) by Thomas Drew, which was not approved. This envisaged a new axis to the Church at right angles with its former one, that is facing North rather than the traditional East, with the older portions of the nave becoming transepts in the re-arrangement. The plan has been mounted and framed and is on view. Sir Thomas Drew was also the architect for St. Anne's Cathedral in 1895.
The Curates who have served and continue to serve our Church and Parish are not often mentioned in this historical record. That is for reasons of simplicity and the short time most of them stay. One who wrote in his book "Dromore : An Ulster Diocese" that he wished he could have stayed longer in Seapatrick was the Reverend E. D. Atkinson, mentioned in the previous paragraph. He was our Curate from 1880-1884 and later Archdeacon of Dromore. Extracts from his book have been used in this history. We owe all our curates a great debt for their work in the Parish and to illustrate our good fortune and their excellence, brief notes on their later careers are given at the end of this record.
At the 1887 Easter Vestry, the Rector, Dean Henry Stewart, referred to the confirmation of 300 young people, the first held by their new Bishop, Dr. William Reeves. This was a record for the Parish and the Bishop had written to him that it was also a record for the Diocese. What a splendid way ,to mark the 50th anniversary of Holy Trinity Church. The Rector thanked the Sunday School teachers, 60 in number, with 1,100 children on the rolls. The five parochial schools under his management had also been enlarged and improved and the attendance was now at its highest ever.
(William Reeves was one of the outstanding figures of the Irish Church in the 19th century, both for his learned researches in the antiquarian field and his work as pastor and bishop. Many extracts from his works have been used in this history.)
Dean Henry Stewart D.D., Rector from 1870 to 1887, died in September, 1896. He was appointed Rector at a critical period in the history of the Church when the Parish was left without any endowment, and his success in replacing this income has already been mentioned. During his incumbency the Rectory house was rebuilt, parochial schools enlarged, the major alteration to Holy Trinity in 1883 carried out and the former school-house in the village converted into the "Church of St. Patrick". In all of these works the Rector played a leading part by personal financial contribution and initiative. His concern was especially with the poor and he believed the increase in parishioners at a time when the population was declining, was gained "by their looking after the poor who perhaps had none else to look after them". In the Gospel Lane mission room every Friday evening, a 'gathering in' of children, most of them bare-footed, was held and Parish donations to missions, schools and orphan society were maintained at a high level. The contribution to the Church in effort and gifts by the Rector and Mrs. Stewart was immense and it was a great loss when he resigned the living through tragic circumstances.
The Dedication Services on the re-opening of Holy Trinity Church took place on April 3rd and 4th 1897. Extensive decorations and improvements had been carried out, making it one of the most beautiful in the Diocese. In 1894, Lord Arthur Hill had given Hymn wall frames for the hymn numbers and in 1897, the Misses Maria, Jane and Anna Tyrrell who lived opposite the Church, had given a window in the Baptistry, depicting the Good Samaritan, in memory of their parents and brothers. 'The window was given on condition of a stained glass window being placed in the centre window of the Chancel.' No doubt their father and former vestry member, Dr. George Tyrrell, would have approved of this pressure in aid of a good cause. We owe our thanks to these determined ladies for their offer was agreed by the Vestry and the Rector empowered to collect money for an East window, the subject to be the Last Supper. Later in 1920, a niece of the Misses Tyrrell, Beata Wahab Sutherland, gave a window portraying Faith, Charity and Hope, the marble Chancel steps and a gift to restore the tower, in memory of her aunts.
The magnificent East window portrayal of the Last Supper is a copy of the Leonardo da Vinci painting (1495-1497) on the refectory wall of the Santa Maria delle Grazie monastery, Milan. The traditional interpretation of the painting is that Christ has just spoken the words "One of you shall betray me" and that Leonardo, chose to fix that exact moment for all tune. He also apparently had in mind, Christ's central act at the Last Supper, the institution of Holy Communion "and as they were eating, Jesus took bread . . . and gave it to the disciples and said, Take and eat; this is my body. And he took the cup . . . saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood. . ."
The window of five lights was given in memory of members of their families by the Mulligan, Young, Hale and Card families and by the Rector, Reverend Canon C.T.P. Grierson and his Mother.
In 1898 the Rector was appointed Chaplain to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, a position he held for 19 years. Church Street School was rebuilt in 1904 at a cost of £1,100, to also serve as a parochial hall.
At the end of the 19th century there was much to be thankful for in our Parish. Two well attended, fine new Churches and if not prosperity, then at least the famine years and extreme poverty seemed things of the past. Much of the inequality in religion had been removed with the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland and the settlement of the remaining grievances of the Presbyterian Church had improved relations between Protestants. In this extract about the 19th century, taken from a book presented to the Church of Ireland by the other Churches on the centenary of disestablishment, Michael Hurley, Society of Jesuits, writes:- "A prominent feature of the apologetic writing of both Irish Anglican and Roman Catholic Historians in the nineteenth century is the emphasis placed on hierarchial descent from the early Irish Church, demonstrated in two parallel lists of bishops, claiming in each case, to show an unbroken succession for over fifteen hundred years and diverging only at the Reformation. The early Irish Church is a graphic reminder of that one faith which was the unifying principle and priceless glory of our people."
There was little unity on the political front with the struggle for and against Home Rule, but at least there had been no major civil strife for many years. What would the new century bring, with the ever quickening pace of change?
The 20th century began with some rejoicing in 1902, over a hard won victory in the Boer War. And the Royal South Downs were there, as territorials in the 5th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, commanded by Colonel R. H. Wallace. They gave an excellent account of themselves and received a great welcome from the Lord Mayor, Sir Daniel Dixon, and people from all over Ulster, when they returned to Belfast via Queenstown, on the 25th July, 1902. At a celebration dinner, Colonel R. H. Wallace brought his song up-to-date, with a personal rendering of :
When Kruger heard the regiment was landed at Capetown,
"De Wet," says he "we're bate." Says he, "They've sent out the South Downs."
Says De Wet, "If that's a fact, me son, we'd better quit the Rand,
For them South Down Mileeshy is the terror of the land."
For ye talk about your King's Guards, Scots Greys and a,'
Ye may sing about your kilties and the bonny Forty-Twa,
And of ev'ry other Regiment under the King's command,
But the South Down Mileeshy is the terror of the land.
There must still be many families in the Parish related to men who served in the South Downs and holding South African War medals. But that war was a mere curtain raiser for the main events, the two World Wars that were to dominate the first half of the century. The omens of trouble ahead for Britain and Ireland were very clear; the increasing military might and aggressive policies of Germany and the growing Nationalist resistance to British rule in Ireland. The crunch came in 1914.
A Home Rule Bill for Ireland was about to be introduced by the British Government. The Ulster Unionists, under the political leadership of Sir Edward Carson (from a Dublin Church of Ireland family) were pledged to resist it. In open defiance the Ulster Volunteer Force, under Lieutenant General Sir George Richardson, was being trained and armed. With the Nationalists taking counter measures it seemed that the passing of the Bill could start an appalling civil war. But everything was transformed with the outbreak of war against Germany on the 4th August. The Ulster Volunteer Force offered its services in support of Britain and it became the nucleus of the Ulster Division. Many of the battalions then formed, retained their territorial associations as can be seen from the Colours of the West Down Regiment, Ulster Volunteer Force 1914, in the Parish Church. It was agreed that the Home Rule Bill should be passed into law, with the proviso that it should not be put into operation until after the war and not until an amending Bill dealing with Ulster had been passed. The call for volunteers to serve in the Forces was readily answered by Nationalist and Unionist alike. Over 200,000 from Ireland, of whom almost 50,000 laid down their lives, served during the war. It is estimated that as many more Irishmen or of Irish descent, living in Britain and elsewhere joined up. They recognised that this was not a war for power or material ends on the part of the Allies, but a life and death conflict for freedom transcending their own struggles. The 1914-1918 war became the Great War, the war to end wars, World War I. Although impossible to convey the horror of that war in a few words, it demands more than a passing reference.
At the beginning of the War, in September, 1914, there was a farewell service in the Parish Church for the volunteers to Lord Kitchener's Army. An immense crowd of the general public attended. Most of those who enlisted joined Regiments in the 36th Ulster Division, with many local volunteers joining the 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. After a week spent visiting the Division in France in January, 1916, the Primate, Archbishop J. B. Crozier, wrote :- "A more capable, energetic and cheerful body of men I have never come across .... officers and men working in splendid harmony, and taking the keenest interest in any and every job they were given to do. One night I met a couple of hundred men coming back from eight days' weary work in water-logged trenches, and they were singing so lustily that I really thought at first they were coming from a concert . . . whether at Sunday services or at weekday informal addresses there were no restless or inattentive men, they seemed to welcome every word that spoke of God's presence and guidance in all life's difficulties and dangers. "
The War in France and Belgium soon developed into one of trench warfare. With opposing armies unable to achieve a decisive breakthrough, it became a war of attrition and annihilation. Amongst its tragedies was the Battle of the Somme, which began on the 1 st. July, 1916. On that first day, the 36th Ulster Division - one of the few to achieve any of its objectives - had 5,104 casualties, more than half its attacking force. At the same time the Newfoundland Regiment, with men from practically every family in that thinly populated country, had 684 casualties out of a force of 752. They had scarcely left their trenches, in this, their first battle in France.
The "Twelfth" holiday was voluntarily abandoned that year to keep the war work going and there were no parades or demonstrations. But in Belfast at midday there was a five minute silence with work, business and traffic stopped as a token 'of mourning. Services were held in some Churches and in the Cathedral by our former Rector, Dean C. T. P. Grierson. And in Newfoundland, such was the impact, that after the War, the grief-stricken people bought from France, the ground where their men fell. A bronze caribou stands there as a memorial. As in Ulster, July 1st. is marked by special services and "Even a lifetime afterwards, the events of that day still bring tears to many eyes". But these were only two of the many tragedies on a day of almost 60,000 British casualties and in one battle which, when it ended some four months later, had a toll on both sides of over 1,300,000 killed, wounded and missing. It was a war which cut down the flower of a generation, leaving the dead lying in millions, millions more with shattered lives, a river of tears across the world and poets
" At the going down of the sun in the morning
We will remember them.
The pallor of girl's brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
My heart was shaken with tears, and horror
Drifted away....O but everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing
Will never be done,"
The number of men from the Parish who served was 371. Of these the large proportion of 80 laid down their lives, 77 were wounded and 13 taken prisoner - a total of almost half those who served. Seventeen of those killed lost their lives on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, including brothers Richard and William John Jennings of Seapatrick. Other multiple family losses during the War were Robert and William Close of Newry Road, James and Stanley Curran of Rathfriland Street, Ernest and John Ervine of Linenhall Street, twin brothers John and Robert Flanagan of Newry Street, Alex. and James Jardine of Railway Street, Edmund and William John Jess of Dromore Street, Edward and Robert Henry McClean of Reilly Street, Robert and William J. Poots of Scarva Street and Arthur C. C., Gordon L. and John Edward Simms of Moorlands.
In 1915 the Vestry "recorded their pleasure and pride on the appointment of the Rector, the Reverend R. Ussher Green M.A., as one of the chaplains of the 36th Ulster Division, whilst realising the loss to the people of the Parish". Soon afterwards he died suddenly at the age of 46. In August, 1916, the Reverend John Crozier, curate in Seapatrick in 1903 and just returned after service as chaplain to the Forces at Gallipoli, was welcomed as the visiting preacher in a packed Church. During the War there were 10 marriages in Holy Trinity of girls from the Parish to local men serving in the Army. From a panegyric written by R. Webster Glass, LL.B., R.M., a native of Banbridge, who loved the place and people - "That tragedy and those changes have left their mark in Banbridge and the Valley of the Bann - a mark deep-scored and sombre, which the weathering of many generations may soften down but never wholly efface."
Another devotee of our Church and Town died in New Zealand in 1911. Richard Linn was a Vestry member of the Parish Church and a member of the Town Council. His historical researches were recognised with Fellowships in the Royal Historical Society of England and Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. In 1880 he and his family left Banbridge for Christchurch, where he lived until his death. He loved his birthplace (born in Banbridge, 1837) and the collection of material for its history, completed in 1908, was one of the abiding enthusiasms of his life. This History of Banbridge was eventually edited by our former Rector, Dean William Kerr, and published in 1935. Richard's sister, Grace Isabel, had married Joseph Morton and in memory of their Mother the Morton family contributed funds for the publication. The Government of Ireland Act, 1920, reflected the influences of the War, the 1916 Easter rising by Sinn Fein and the continuing troubles. It repealed the 1914 Home Rule Act and provided for separate Parliaments for Northern and Southern Ireland with the Northern Parliament responsible for local affairs only in the six Northeastern counties. The arrangement met with little approval from any quarter. In 1921, the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed leading to the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922. The political split over the Treaty led to civil strife in the South which lasted until May 1923. When the partition took .place the Church of Ireland retained its all Ireland basis and its offices in Dublin.
The presentation in 1920 of a chime of ten bells and town clock not only enriched our Church but the district. The gift was from Mrs. White of Chicago (a daughter of James Fryar of Tullyear) and her sons, in memory of her husband, James White, and his father, John White. James White was a native of Banbridge and a loving benefactor of the Church and town. The beautiful chiming of the bells is a pleasant feature of the locality and 'Home Sweet Home,' played at Hallowe'en each year is a reminder of all the emigrants who left the Parish, often under conditions of extreme hardship. The preacher at the Dedication Service was the Right Reverend Dr. Irvine Peacocke, Bishop of Derry, whose son, Cuthbert Irvine Peacocke, was later a curate in Seapatrick in 1926 and was himself elected Bishop of Derry in 1969. The old bell, given by William Waugh, is now used at St. Patrick's Church. Also in 1920, a window depicting marriage in Cana of Galilee was given by the family in memory of Mary Jane Ardery, married in Holy Trinity Church in 1850.
Memorials of a different character were dedicated on the 26th March, 1922. These reflected the service and sacrifice in the 1914-1918 War. The quality of the memorials indicates the impact of that War. They were dedicated by the Bishop of the Diocese, the Right Reverend Dr. Grierson, former Rector of Seapatrick (1888-1911) and included: a stained glass window unveiled by Major-General H. H. Tudor, C.B., C.M.G., showing a British soldier and badges of Ulster Regiments alongside the legendary St. George and from the Old Testament, David and Jonathan; a Marble Tablet with the names of the Fallen, unveiled by Mrs. Norman D. Ferguson and a Roll of Honour, with those killed, wounded and taken prisoner denoted, presented by Mr. J. U. Finney and unveiled by Major Alick Knight, D.S.O., R.A.M.C.
The 1920s and 1930s will hold many memories for our older parishioners. For the ex-servicemen looking for jobs after the war the experience was often a bitter one for the words of Rudyard Kipling proved so true - "O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' Tommy, go away But it's 'Thank you, Mister Atkins' when the band begins to play". Not surprisingly there was a resurgence of emigration to the U.S.A. while under our new Northern Ireland Parliament there was an uneasy peace in the Province. This was an era of high unemployment, low wages and a very slow recovery. In the words of the Rector, Canon W. S. Kerr, in his 1930 report, "We have had to face bad times in trade depression such as probably were never known before". But despite the hardship, Church improvements and innovations continued. In 1922-1923, the envelope system of giving was introduced and proved 'a great and inspiring success'. The system was devised by the Honorary Treasurer, Mr. N. D. Ferguson assisted by Mr. J. Hozack and they received the thanks of the Vestry: In 1922, the Second Banbridge Boy Scouts Troop was formed. It owed much to the determination of the Curate, the Reverend H. F. O. Egerton who was the first Scoutmaster. There were some 40 boys in the first Troop of whom 3 are still alive, including our evergreens Hugh Anderson and William Anderson. The assistant Scoutmaster was the well known Billy Quail - the bugler Quail - and all the boys came from the Parish Church and Village Church. The Cub pack was started in 1927 by Mr. J. Harris Rea, yes, the same Jack Harris Rea, M.B.E., F.R.S.A.I. in our choir to-day.
So the 60th anniversary of the Cubs is an indication of his enduring service to the Church in many capacities, which incidentally includes the design of the aforementioned offering envelopes, and there is also the great value of his work as a local historian. The present Troop is an open one, sponsored by the Church, with members from all denominations. There are 18 Scouts and 32 Cub Scouts. The Scout Leader, Mr Tom McMaster, after long and dedicated service, may retire in 1988! Electric lighting was installed in Holy Trinity Church and Church Street School in 1925 and later in 1937 in the Rectory and St. Patrick's. All very satisfactory but soon to bring problems with the blackout far the menace of a second world war was looming. First there was something to celebrate.1937 was the centenary of the consecration of Holy Trinity Church. In its 100 years it had undergone three alterations and acquired the memorial tablets, windows and decorations that reflected the devotion of parishioners. It is a tribute to the efforts of past generations of clergy and parishioners that despite difficult economic circum-stances and disendowment, they left us such a fine Church. The centenary was marked by the rebuilding and enlarging of the Church organ at a cost of about £1,100. The organ was dedicated by Bishop John MacNeice, Bishop of the Diocese and father of the celebrated poet and writer, Louis MacNeice. At the Confirmation Service in May, 145 young people were admitted to full Church membership. At that time the Service was only held every 2 to 3 years and this figure includes some from smaller neigh-bouring parishes.
In 1939, just 21 years after the blood-bath of 'the war to end wars,' the Second World War began. How could it happen? How could the same countries, with the scars so fresh, the memories so painful, find themselves at war again? "How could the democracies acting together in war and demanding the most fearful sacrifices from their peoples, fail to act together in peace?" When asked what the war should be called, Winston Churchill said "the Unnecessary War . . . how the middle course adopted from desires for safety and a quiet life may be found to lead direct to the bull's-eye of disaster . . . the malice of the wicked reinforced by the weakness of the virtuous".
The Second World War from 1939-1945 avoided the trench warfare of World War I. The casualties in our Armed Forces were fewer, but it was a war in which the battlefield came to the home. Death rained down an Belfast and other cities in the war zone and in the concentration camps, man's inhumanity set new records. The war ended with the dropping of the first atomic bombs. Total war was now a reality with Armageddon just the touch of a button away. Exact records are not available but about 135 men and 14 women from our Parish served in the Forces during World War II. Fourteen gave their lives. An innovation from World War I was the valuable service of women in the WRNS, ATS and WAAF., in addition to the medical services.
Before the War about 80 men from the district, including about 20 from our Parish had enlisted in the Supplementary Reserve. They received their part-time training in the 3rd Ulster Searchlight Regiment R.A. The highlight of this training was the two week summer camp, so spirits were high, almost in holiday mood, when they set off for Portstewart in August, 1939. But at the camp they were mobilised for full time service - World War II began on the 3rd September. Two months later they found themselves in England, then France in December and the evacuation from Dunkirk in June 1940. On leaving the Army some 6 years later, they could be excused for thinking - Some 2 weeks!
With the Irish Free State staying neutral, Northern Ireland became much more important as a training and accommodation area for the new armies. Up to D Day in 1944 it resembled a vast military camp. They came and they left in their thousands English, Scots, Welsh, Belgians and Americans. During these years there was always a welcome in the Church for the many Service visitors from the numerous Army camps in and around Banbridge, one of these being the Rectory and its land, requisitioned by the Army in 1940. It was but one of the many buildings, with some ground, which almost overnight became mother lens to broods of Nissan huts. The old Brewery building, which never seemed to fulfil its intended function, again housed young men. But not now the hungry and homeless, although the soldiers there would probably have disputed that. Indicative of the vast and varied military presence, were the marriages in Holy Trinity Church of girls from the Parish - 42 to soldiers from English regiments including 3 to soldiers of the Rifle Brigade, taken prisoner at Calais in 1940; 20 to soldiers from Wales, mostly in the Welch Regiment and 3 to Belgian soldiers. There were also 12 marriages to local men serving in the Forces.
For Rector, Reverend Thomas Parr, Curate, Reverend Ernest Beacom, and parishioners, Parish life went on much as before during the war years. Services, visiting and all the church work still had to be done. But the horror of war was brought to our doorsteps in April, 1941, with the blitz on Belfast, when over 500 were killed and some 1,500 injured. As in other towns all possible help was given to young evacuees and those fleeing from the bombing. Frequent requests came from Army Units for the use of the Parish Hall (Church Street School) and on parade Service Sundays the Army 'took over' the side of the Church where the new Side Chapel is, with the Army Chaplains assisting in tfic Service. There were some out of the ordinary incidents -- when a somewhat startled Curate was asked to hear confession from a High Church soldier, the High Church Colonel who would only attend Communion Services and the Sunday wedding hastily arranged because of the sudden impending departure of the Rifle Brigade. On the social side, Friday night was music night in the Church Hall, usually with Anderson's Band, and the Hall was always open to the soldiers for dances and concerts. The Youth Guild and Mothers' Union did great work throughout these years in organising social events, and in running the canteen.
Some of the ladies involved in the organising were Mrs. Holton, Mrs. McMurray, Mrs. Gallaher and Mrs. Harper. The soldiers were also made welcome in the homes of parishioners. The Reverend T. E. Beacom was very involved in the social welfare side but he felt very unsocial when, as was his kindly custom in the blackout, he was leaving a car load of young ladies home after the dance and was stopped at a Home Guard check point in Church Square. After producing his licence and undergoing a grilling about his residence and place of work, to his great credit he departed speechless, when his officious interrogator and Church member collapsed in mirth. Yes, who else, but Hughie Anderson. However they were in more accord and no doubt their dialogue was just as convincing in the Dramatic Society, founded by the Reverend T. E. Beacom and still going strong. Some other stalwarts in the Society at that time were Frank Larmour, William Anderson, Phyllis Close, Jim Herron, Harriet Rush, Rita McCagherty, Tommy and Marion Wilson and Robert McMaster. Performances were given in the Parish, in the local area, at Festivals and in the Group Theatre, Belfast. The Reverend Beacom particularly remembers "The Auction at Killybuck".
The hospitality of parishioners and townspeople was repaid by the good behaviour of the thousands of troops stationed in the area during the six years. There were very few serious or even minor offences. Indeed many with memories of those days find it difficult to remember any offence. Their general memories are of the immense activity; hedgerows sprouting with soldiers on exercises, roads lined with soldiers on route marches, and streets, dance halls, pubs and the picture house crowded with soldiers at leisure. There are also sad memories of tragic war-time 'incidents', perhaps epitomized by the death of Gunner Robert Dixon, aged 22. On Saturday 29th November, 1941, on his first night in Banbridge and in the blackout, he vaulted the Cut wall near the bridge, in the belief that the road was the same height on the other side. No doubt many more of the soldiers who passed through, later lost their lives in action. But there is reward in the many who return on visits with their families and in their tributes to the friendly reception they received during those historic years. That friendliness, then and now, is a tradition which adds much to the quality and enjoyment of life in Banbridge. and mention was made of the great loss to the Church through the deaths of some well known members, Mr. J. U. Finney and Mr. Joseph McConkey (1942) and Mr. Tom Stanage (1945). They had given devoted service to the Church they loved.
A Memorial Tablet, similar to that for the First World War, with the fourteen names of those from the Parish who gave their lives, was unveiled and dedicated at a Memorial Service on November 9th 1952. Earlier in 1940 a window telling us of the Easter message, with the Resurrection of Jesus, was given by James Thompson in memory of his wife Mary, of Holyoke, Mass., U.S.A., daughter of James and Eliza Jane Diamond. There was great satisfaction in the Parish and a letter of congratulation was sent from the Vestry when William Shaw Kerr, Rector from 1915-1932, was elected in 1944, the first Bishop of Down and Dromore, after the separation from Connor. This took effect on 1st.January, 1945. He was author of "Memoir of Reverend Andrew Boyd" and "The independence of the Celtic Church in Ireland" and it was his editorship and additions that enabled Richard Linn's "A History of Banbridge" to be published. The notable contributions to Parish life of Mrs. Kerr and daughters Rosaleen and Dorothy are mentioned later in the Mothers' Union and Girl Guides' sections.
The Republic of Ireland Act was passed in 1948 declaring Ireland a republic and taking it out of the Commonwealth. The Republic was formally inaugurated in 1949.
We have now had over 40 years without a world war, more than twice the period between World War I and II. For the over 50's sensitive about their age, the last war is no longer a memory but in the heard or read category. Keeping war in that category, implies keeping the fight for peace continuous. It is a fight that never ends. The victory is in retrospect. Yesterday there was no war, so the fight continues today, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. The use of the word 'fight' in association with peace may seem a contradiction, but it emphasises the effort needed and is the word often used in the Bible, Hymns and Prayers. "Because there is none other that fighteth for us, but only thou, O God," where'us' means all people. Maintaining the fight, and continually updating it, has never been more important. A Third (and last) World War would not allow us 4 years or 6 years to recover from neglect, perhaps only 6 minutes. Survival has to be won in peacetime. The horrific consequences of a war are some protection against complacency, but as the years of peace lengthen, it becomes increasingly necessary to alert succeeding generations to the danger. That alone is justification for Remembrance Sunday and for this Chapter, for in remembering, there is also reminding. Only by being constantly conscious of the danger, can we give the fight for peace priority in our thoughts, words, deeds and prayers and in the words of the Primate at Enniskillen become "peacemakers, not merely peace lovers".
NEW CHURCH HALL
In the second half of the century we are living through a technological and communication revolution which is affecting every aspect of our lives. Most of the technological changes are beneficial but there have been casualties. One of these is the linen industry which has been decimated by competition from man-made fibres and new fabrics. The communication revolution and especially television, has disseminated the values or lack of them in other societies. We have yet to come to terms with these new influences and the inevitable behavioural problems that follow, when traditional disciplines are weakened and not replaced with others. It is no coincidence that the trend towards secularism, materialism and a changing outlook on morality, coincides with a drop in attendance at all churches.
Hopefully these trends represent the exaggerated movement in attitudes that often accompany big social changes. Christian values have been attacked and disregarded many times before, to the detriment of humanity. Their truths will inevitably prevail, so perhaps the next revolution we experience will be a moral one. At the 1953 Easter Vestry the Rector said they were pained to learn of the death of Mr. William de Pauley, their faithful and painstaking organist for many years. (He was appointed in 1929.) Later, in 1955, a beautiful Prayer Desk was presented to the Church by the Very Reverend Dr. Cecil de Pauley, Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral and Miss E. O. de Pauley, in memory of their father William de Pauley and his wife.
In 1960, Canon Thomas Parr moved into the new Rectory. The old one which had been in need of repair and renovation was sold. At the Easter Vestry in 1961, Canon Parr, Rector since 1939, announced his impending departure. The Bishop had very kindly offered him first refusal of the light-duty Parish of Killough. "I hope by accepting this I will be able to carry on and you will be able to get a younger man. I am deeply thankful to all who have carried out the work of the Parish so splendidly in past years. It is a great break and I will feel it when I leave here." The regard for Canon Parr was shown on the 20th May when about 200 parishioners travelled to Killough for his installation. They, and all who knew him, find it very easy to recall his personality, features and twinkling eyes. No doubt also, many will have the same memories as Dr. W. H. Crowe, when he wrote about Canon Parr in his book "Bridges to Banbridge" - "his arrival was usually signalled by the sound of music, for he was a man of music, and could never resist the sight of a piano without playing it".
At the 1962 Easter Vestry the new Rector the Reverend Noble Hamilton paid great tribute to the work of Canon Thomas Parr - "It was not easy to take up the reins of leadership- after such a capable man." Among other matters the Rector congratulated Mr. J. Harris Rea and the choir on raising over £200 for the Choir robing Fund. The impressive and colourful result of their efforts was seen on Sunday 30th September 1962, the occasion of the Choir robing. At the services, stimulating addresses were given by the Dean of Belfast and the Bishop of Meath who reminded us that the Choir was there to lead in worship and not to give a recital. Later at the 1970 Easter Vestry, the Rector referred to the honour which the Choir had brought, not only to the Parish but to the town, in the winning of three cups at musical festivals. He congratulated the members and the organist and choirmaster, Mr. H. Anderson, B.A., A.T.C.L. In 1980 a Processional Cross in memory of four former members was donated by the Choir and dedicated by the Right Reverend C. I. Peacocke M.A., former Bishop of Derry and former curate in Seapatrick, 1926.
In 1965 St. Patrick's Hall was acquired in the Village for £600. This was the former village school and it provided a much needed centre for community activity in the Village. In the same year a new organ was installed in St. Patrick's Church. The introduction of the family service and Parish Communion on the first Sunday of each month had resulted in the former becoming one of the best attended services in the Parish and an increase in those making their communion monthly from about 40 to upwards of 200. The most ambitious building project, since the alterations to Holy Trinity Church in 1883, was undertaken in 1968. On the site of the former Church school, the foundation stone of the new Holy Trinity Church Hall was laid by Patricia A. Hamilton in the presence of the Lord Bishop of the Diocese, the Right Reverend F. J. Mitchell, D.D. and the Rector, Reverend Canon N. R. Hamilton, T.D., M.A. Covering an area of 8,850 square feet the building would comprise a main hall 65 feet long with stage, two minor halls, coffee bar, Parish office with strong room, choir robing rooms, committee rooms, cloakrooms and toilets and would cost about £67,000.
The new hall was opened by His Excellency the Lord Grey of Naunton G.C.M.G., K.C.V.O., O.B.E., Governor of Northern Ireland in September 1969. The packed Church, including representatives from other Churches in the town, the robes of Bishops, Clergy and Choir, the red tunics and black bearskins of the Irish Guards' band and the green of the Light Infantry trumpeters, all combined to make it an unforgettable spectacle of colour and ceremony on a gloriously fine day. During the course of the service, the Lesson (I Cor. 3, 9-23) was read by His Excellency Lord Grey and a bidding was read by Archdeacon S. B. Crooks. In his address the Right Reverend F. J. Mitchell, Bishop of Down and Dromore, expressed the pleasure of all, at the presence of the Queen's Representative, Lord Grey, and the many Clergy from other Christian communions in Banbridge and district. He congratulated the Rector and Select Vestry on having first, the vision and then the courage, to go ahead with the project. Also the people of Seapatrick Parish for their support of this great enterprise, while at the same time pledging themselves not to reduce their support for the Diocese by one penny. The Bishop also congratulated not only the people of Seapatrick Parish but the citizens of Banbridge in general, on their commendable record of good community relations.
After the service there was a choir procession to the new hall, for the ceremonial opening and dedication. People's Churchwarden, Mr. Robert McDonald, on behalf of the Select Vestry and people of the Parish, invited Lord Grey to open the hall and the Bishop dedicated it "to the glory of God, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost".In the speeches: the Rector welcomed Lord Grey, Bishop Mitchell, Bishop Perdue (an old friend of the parish), some 24 visiting clergy, including his father, Dean Hamilton and 2 former curates, Canon Beacom and Mr. McCarthy. He paid tribute to the main contractors, Finney Building Company, to two of their own parishioners, Mr. Victor Duke and Mr. Hugh Anderson and everyone else who had worked on the project; Lord Grey mentioned the tragedies of recent days, but only to make the point that they had met that afternoon to rejoice in something both beautiful and useful - a building not a destroying. He complimented the architect, Mr. Morns Ferguson, and those who had carried his design into such excellent effect. It was comforting in these dark days to find that not only on his Civic Week visit in June was there sound constructive effort in education, industry and community affairs but now on this visit that church life was flourishing. A splendid tea, provided by the ladies of the Parish, was the perfect end to a day which had lived up to all the hopes and planning of the Arrangements Committee. The new Holy Trinity church hall had been launched in great style and there were no doubts that it would justify the efforts of the Rector, Select Vestry and Building Committee and be of great value in the life of the Parish.
At an ordination service in Holy Trinity Church in 1969, believed to be the first ever held in the Parish, eight men were ordained by the Lord Bishop of the Diocese, the Right Reverend Dr. F. J. Mitchell. The candidates, presented by the Archdeacon of Dromore, the Venerable Samuel B. Crooks, included the Reverend George Hilliard, appointed curate in Seapatrick. Appointed Dean of St. Anne's Cathedral in 1970, Samuel Crooks showed great energy and courage in raising funds arid working for the completion of the Cathedral building, brought to a glorious conclusion in 1981, and he became a national figure with his Christmas appeals outside St. Anne's. The Cathedral had been built by the United Diocese of Down and Connor and Dromore. With the division in 1945 into the two Dioceses of Down and Dromore and of Connor, both Dioceses have a common interest in St. Anne's and the Clergy of both are associated on the Chapter. Apart from fund raising, our Parish in 1958, bore the cost of the Canons Stall in the Cathedral.