Gibraltar The Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Trinity

Rock Of Gibraltar aerial view

When Britain took Gibraltar from the Spaniards in 1704, there were about twenty churches, chapels and convents in existence. Of these only two were retained for religious purposes, the Church of Saint Mary the Crowned, now the Roman Catholic Cathedral for the use of the inhabitants and the Church of the Franciscan Convent, now the King’s Chapel. This was used as a garrison church, while the Convent became the residence of the Governor, as it is to this day.

At the end of the Eighteenth Century and especially during the Napoleonic Wars, a civil population grew up on the Rock which included representatives of many British trading companies. Anglicans found nowhere to worship. They could be baptised or married at the King’s Chapel when it was not being used for military purposes, but it was only large enough for the wives and families of the Garrison on Sundays, when the troops paraded in the open air for Divine Service.

General Sir George Don, the Lieutenant Governor, was sympathetic, and a meeting was called in 1819 to consider “The means most eligible” for building a Church. This matter was still under discussion when the second Earl of Chatham, son of the famous Prime Minister, and elder brother of William Pitt the Younger arrived as Governor. Lord Chatham persuaded the British Government to sell a derelict building in Irish Town, which had originally been a monastery and later a naval storehouse, and to use the money to build “a plain church”, estimated to cost about £5,000. Building began in 1825. The architect is unknown and Colonel Pilkington, at that time the Commander Royal Engineers was in charge of the work. It was considered most suitable to build in the Moorish style as commemorating the fact that the Moors first landed in Europe at Gibraltar in 711 and had remained on the Rock for over seven centuries.

An epidemic of yellow fever broke out in 1828 and the building was sufficiently advanced to be used as an emergency hospital. Holy Trinity Church was completed in 1832, and consecrated in 1838 by the Archdeacon Edward Burrow in the presence of the Dowager Queen Adelaide, widow of William IV.

In 1842 it was raised to Cathedral status with the creation of the Diocese of Gibraltar at the time of the enthronement of George Tomlinson as first Bishop. The Diocese then included all Anglican chaplaincies from Portugal to the Caspian Sea. The Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe as is its correct title now, was inaugurated at a service in this Cathedral in January 1981 in the presence of the then Governor, General Sir William Jackson and the Diocesan Bishop, John Satterthwaithe. The new diocese includes the former Diocese of Gibraltar, together with the former Jurisdiction of North and Central Europe. As a result of this the Bishop of Gibraltar is one of the most travelled prelates in Christendom, spending a large part of every year visiting his scattered Diocese from his headquarters in London, and seldom able to stay in Gibraltar for more than a few days at a time.

There have been two organs in the Cathedral. The first was built in 1842 on a purpose built wooden gallery, high on the West wall, above the present gallery. Access was via the “belfry” steps which are in the west wall to the right of the present gallery. This organ was subsequently moved to the Lady Chapel.

The second organ (the one in use at present) was built in 1880, in the Lady Chapel, by London Organ builders, Bryceson Bros. and Ellis. At this time the seating was improved, though the military continued to sit on benches. Hence reports of the early period say the Cathedral could seat up to 1,000. In 1952, this organ was moved by Manders of London, to its present position on the specially constructed “musicians” gallery.

The organ underwent extensive rebuilding and tonal re-modelling, by Richard Bower & Co of Norwich, in 1992, and the “Chair” organ was added in 1993.

Between 1862-64 the walls and ceiling were coloured. Much of this work was carried out by convict labour, giving rise to a local legend that the Cathedral itself was built by convicts.

Over the years the Cathedral has collected silver ware, bibles and prayerbooks dating back to the very early days of the building. In 1853 the Governor, General Sir Robert Gardiner, gave two silver-gilt chalices and patens, a flagon and an alms-dish, still in use on ceremonial occasions.

The present marble floor replaced the original brick in 1909 during Dean Govett’s time. He was the first Dean and is buried in the Sanctuary.

During World War II when Canon James Johnston was acting Dean until 1943 and the Revd. William Ashley Brown Dean until 1945, the only damage suffered by the Cathedral was in an air raid in September 1940, when a stick of bombs fell in the area. One buried itself in the road outside the Lady Chapel, and a second lodged in the south wall. Fortunately these bombs failed to explode and were subsequently removed intact.

After hostilities were over, Bishop Buxton, who wrote an account of his time as Diocesan Bishop, made an appeal for funds, which was entitled “Saying Thank You to Malta and Gibraltar.” The proceeds were to be devoted to improvements to the Cathedral in Gibraltar and the Pro-Cathedral in Malta. In Gibraltar it was decided to build new vestries outside the main building, to move the organ to a gallery at the west end, to beautify the interior and to create a second chapel, to be dedicated to St.George (shown in the photograph below), in memory of all those who gave their lives in the Mediterranean area during the war.

The congregation was about to return to full services when on April 27, 1951, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary “Bedenham” blew up while unloading explosives. Damage and casualties were widespread throughout Gibraltar and the Cathedral was badly hit. The stained glass lay in pieces on the floor, daylight could be seen through the ceiling in several places, and the roof had been lifted and moved. The new Dean, Dean Lloyd, set to work to deal with the effects of the explosion and the Cathedral was ready for use by Christmas.

Bishop Horsley came in 1952 to dedicate the Reredos, (made by Mr. E. 1. Kirby in his garden), the Bishop’s throne and the gallery. The Bishop returned at Christmas to dedicate the two new side chapels. He died suddenly soon after and his ashes were buried in the Sanctuary in the presence of the Governor General Sir Kenneth Anderson and a large congregation. During Dean Lloyd’s time, the Trafalgar Day Ceremony was started and a site found for the Mediterranean Missions to Seamen on the North Mole was opened by Bishop Eley in 1961. At Dean Giggall’s installation in the presence of the then Governor, Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Varyl Begg and Lady Begg, the Roman Catholic Bishop, Dr John Farmer Healey, sat robed in the Cathedral choir. This was the first time this had happened and relations have been excellent since with frequent visits of the Roman Catholic Bishop to Holy Trinity and the Dean to St. Mary the Crowned.

In 1971 further redecoration work was carried out to the exterior of the Cathedral and in 1972 a daily Eucharist and daily offices were able to be held. The work of the Cathedral continued with Sung Eucharist on Sundays and the holding of an annual Nine Lessons and Carols service at Christmas. Before and since the Second World War, there has been a faithful band of servers and a choir to lead the services.

In 1980 General Synod agreed to the formation of the new Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe and a special service was held in the Cathedral for the inauguration of the 44th Diocese of the Church of England at which Lord Coggan, former Archbishop of Canterbury preached.

Some additions to the Cathedral in 1982 were the Altar and Communion rails from the Headquarters Chapel of the Missions to Seamen. Two years later, at the time of the closure of Chatham Dockyard the pews from the Naval Church of St. George, H.M.S. Pembroke were given to the Cathedral and are in use now. This reminds us again of the link there has always been between Gibraltar and the Royal Navy.

The Cathedral is a large building with excellent acoustics and is often used for musical events of all types.

Among recent notable events since 1989 when Dean Horlock arrived have been the retirement of Bishop John Satterthwaite after the second longest episcopate so far in the Cathedral’s history and the enthronement of Bishop John Hind on January 6, 1994.

Archbishop George Carey visited the Cathedral on 1 November 1997 and on 1 November 2001 Bishop Geoffrey Rowell was enthroned.

On 23 October 2005 the Cathedral held a special Service of Thanksgiving for the Silver Jubilee of the Diocese in Europe and the centenary of the establishment of the Deanery when, for the first time in history, the Bishop, the Suffragan Bishop, the Dean and all the Archdeacons in the Diocese concelebrated.

A WALK AROUND THE CATHEDRAL AND THINGS TO NOTE

The Cathedral is seen to be full of light as you come in through the portico at the West end and pass through doors given in memory of Bishop Horsley. The inner swing doors are in memory of W. J. Smith from a well-known local family, who played a considerable part in building up the shipping of the port. The chimes rung sometimes before and after Sunday service are a memorial to his mother. Turning to the left the large memorial to E.W.A. Drummond-Hay, Consul and Legate in Morocco, recalls a family which had served Britain in Morocco since the Nineteenth Century. There are more memorials in St. Andrew’s, Tangier.

Through the north door we gain access to the vestries and over the doorway hangs a model galleon S.S.Trinidad, the gift of a Gibraltar pilot, Alexander Undery.

The Lady Chapel (shown in the photograph below) has an altar of bronze coloured marble from the Sierra Nevada and an ornamental doorway serving as a reredos. The three tombs in the Chancel are those of Dean Govett, Sir George Don and Lady Houston. In the Sanctuary lie the ashes of Bishops Horsley and Eley. Sir George Don had been responsible for the building of the Cathedral, though he did not live to see its completion. Lady Houston was the wife of General Houston who succeeded Sir George Don. Dean Govett ministered in the Cathedral first as chaplain, then as Archdeacon and then became the first Dean. Memorials to Sir George Don and Lady Houston face each other across the Chapels and Chancel. Dean Govett chose as his memorial the marble angel which was situated in the Cathedral Garden and is now inside the Cathedral.

The brass in the Chancel is not a tomb, but a memorial to the much loved William Edward Collins, Bishop from 1904-11 who was consecrated at the age of 36. He died at sea near Smyrna – Izmir, and is buried in the crypt of St. John’s. Izmir. His Cope is displayed in the Lady Chapel.

The present East window replaced the one shattered in the “Bedenham” explosion together with all the other stained glass and is in memory of John Mackintosh, a generous benefactor to the poor of Gibraltar.

On the reredos are figures of the Madonna and Child and St. Bernard of Clairvaux, patron saint of Gibraltar since Christian arms finally captured the Rock from the Moors on St. Bernard’s Day, 20th August 1462.

The original altar bas some excellent carving in the Moorish style, and was extended by the addition of two marble slabs in 1964.

To the north of the Sanctuary stands the Bishop’s throne. The Crozier belongs to Bishop Collins as did the Cope in the Lady Chapel. On the South side of the Sanctuary are memorial tablets to four previous Bishops. The Communion rails arc a memorial to Bishop Hicks and have the arms of Gibraltar and Lincoln as he was translated to Lincoln in 1933. The Blessed Sacrament is reserved in an Aumbry in St. George’s Chapel given in memory of Col. J.C. Brinton. The screens in both Chapels are of wrought iron from Ronda, about fifty miles into Spain.

Among notable memorials further west is one to Marcus Hill Bland. who died in 1858. The firm still bears his name and conveys passengers and goods to many parts of the world.

In the South aisle hang the Union Flag, the White, Red and Blue Ensigns of the Royal Navy, Mercantile Marine, Royal Fleet Auxiliary and the Red and White flag of Gibraltar.

In St. George’s Chapel hangs the Standard of 202 Squadron of the Royal Air Force which had been stationed in Gibraltar for most of the Second World War. This was laid up in September 1987. The font is in memory of Miss Henrietta Hepper, responsible for the education of many young Gibraltarians towards the close of the nineteenth century. Nearby on the South wall is a Canterbury Cross and a stone let into the wall from the bombed Coventry Cathedral. Recently a plaque to commemorate his visit was unveiled by Dr. Carey, Archbisbop of Canterbury.

The two photographs below show the stained glass details in the memorial screen to the left of the main door.

Bishops of Gibraltar

GeorgeTomlinson,1842-1863
Walter John Trower, 1863-1868
Charles Amyand Harris, 1868-1873
Charles Waldegrave Sandford, 1874-1903
William Edward Collins, 1904-1911
Henry Joseph Corbett Knight, 1911-1920
John Harold Greig, 1921-1927
Frederick Cyril Nugent Hicks, 1927-1933
Harold Jocelyn Buxton, 1933-1946
Cecil Douglas Horsley. 1947-1953
Frederick William Thomas Craske, 1953-1960
Stanley Albert Hallam Eley, 1960-1970
Jobn Richard Satterthwaite, 1970-1993
Jobn William Hind, 1994-2001
Geoffrey Rowell, 2001-

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