The Altar Cross

The story is an unusual one and begins (as so much at St. Augustine's does) with George Hamilton Douqlas, Priest in Charge, 1928 1937. He was a man of taste and discernment and he may well. have wished for a better Altar Cross than the one he had, which was of brass on a stepped platform base, the arms having trifoliate ends. In appearance it was heavy and clumsy, although it was extremely light in weight, being made of sheet material and quite hollow. It lacked even a closure at the back and was merely of U section, like a trough. This is the Cross which can be seen in some old Photographs.

At about this time GHD appears to have obtained a rather beautiful chased bell and he talked my father (Tinsmith, Sometime People's Warden and Chauffeur to the Church boiler) into producing a new Cross using the bell as a base. Now Bert Long was not primarily a worker in heavy metal but he was willing to try anything (once) and out of a length of brass bar he fashioned the present Cross and set it upon the upturned bell. What contribution each made to the design we cannot now say, but between them, artist and artisan produced a structure of notable elegance; and of course it was unique.

In order that the old Cross should not be thought of as 'lost' or as having been summarily and heartlessly discarded, it was cut up and incorporated with the lead ballast in the base, where some of the pieces may still be seen. This small act of intuitive wisdom seems to be typical of what I used to regard as the St. Augustine's style, where History is made from the simple acts of simple men.

The rest of the story is soon told. The figure was added at a later date, most probably also by my father. It is quite well modeled after the conventions of its day and was originally gilded, although this has nearly all been rubbed away. Being made of rather soft pewter like alloy the attachment could not be well engineered, with the result that it has required attention a number of times and it has usually fallen to my lot to render first aid.