The Church Plate of St. Helen’s - Cliffe History

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St. Helen’s Church

(A brief pen-portrait of the interior)

The Church Plate of St. Helen’s

Only the pieces required for normal use are retained permanently in the parish. Most of the plate is stored in the vaults of the bank, including the pre-Reformation silver gilt paten of which the Reverend Peter Hawker, M.A. wrote on 15th September 1976

The Cliffe-at-Hoo Paten
This is one of three patens with a print of the Trinity in the centre. The other two are at Oscott Roman Catholic College, Birmingham and the Royal Scottish Museum in Edinburgh. This latter is hall-marked for 1527, whilst the other two are unmarked but are dated by Mr. Oman (who is the great authority on these matters) as just before the Reformation (1534). All bear the words, in Latin, ‘Let us bless the Father, and the Son, with the Holy Spirit’ in black letter script with the Edinburgh example in Capitals. The position of the Dove, the Holy Spirit, is different in all examples. At Cliffe He is shown above the head of the crucified Lord. At Oscott He whispers into the ear of the Father, at Edinburgh He is above the right hand of Jesus. About 150 pre-reformation patens remain but few are as beautiful as the Cliffe-at-Hoo one”.

During his incumbency the Reverend H. R. Lloyd appears to have copied the following into the Registers. It could well be a record of an outgoing curate handing over the church plate into the care of the Churchwarden:

“Received Mar. 30 1752 of Mr. Thomas Hall Curate the Communion Plate viz., Two silver bread plates and one silver Flagon with this inscription upon them Ministerium Coenae Dominicae D.D.D. Georgius Green S.T.B. Rector et Commissarius de Cliffe 1735. And one other silver plate gilt formerly used as a bread plate with this inscription round it Benedicamus Patrem et Filium cum Spiritu Sancto embossed in the middle Christ on the Cross supported by God in the shape of an old man. And also one silver pint Chalice. I say received by me.

John Proby Junr.
Churchwarden

John Smith Overseer
Thomas Pakman Clerk
The Red. Wm. Lewis A.M. Curate of Cliffe December 25th. 1759
Mr. Lewis lodges at Miss Rolls House in the Old Deanery Rochester
.
 
N.B. The above was copied exactly by me from a contemporary writing in ink inside the cover of this book before it was rebound in October 1872.
 
Henry Robert, Lloyd. Rector”
On the reverse of the photograph of the silver-gilt paten which hangs in the Porch
Room are these words:—
“Paten, silver gilt, with enamelled medallion of the Trinity. The rim inscribed Benedicamus Patrem et Filium Cum Spiritu Sancto Circa 1525 Diam. 6¼” (16 c.m.) This Paten was displayed at the Exhibition of English Medieval Art at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1930”.
 
It has also been loaned to various other exhibitions.
 

A note in the Parish Magazine for November 1946 refers to the wartime security of the paten. “The Pre-Reformation Paten, one of the treasures of the parish of Cliffe, is on its way back from its wartime hiding place, and on its arrival the Church Council will write to Captain J. Wyndham of Bathealton Court near Taunton, to acknowledge its receipt, and to thank him for taking care of it”. The Reverend Canon F. S. Gammon was the Rector at that time.
 

This entry appears in the Register of 1735— “December 24th. 1735 George Green B.D. Rector and Commissary of Cliffe gave one Flagon & Two Bread Plates for the use of the Communion Table    
                                                                                               Oun     pw.
weighing                                                                                53:       14
     

Witness our hands
     
     
Tho: Hall. Curate
     
     
Tho: Pemble
James Etell                                                              Churchwardens
     
     
     
     
 

Is it possible Rector Green had a “conscience” concerning certain “spoilation” of the building he had carried out a few years previously and was this gift an effort to redeem himself? It is noted that he made it on the Vigil of the Nativity of our Lord, on which, even in those dark times and faithless days, Holy Communion would have been celebrated in some parishes. A further reference to church plate appears in the Magazine for August 1936:— “The family of the late Mr. and Mrs. Lane have presented to our church a very handsome Silver Chalice and Paten in memory of their parents; the gift will be consecrated at the 8 o’clock Celebration of the Holy Communion on 26th. July. Personally I am very grateful indeed for this generous present, it supplies a need of which I have long been conscious, and it is also a most welcome expression of the feelings of a devoted Church family. I had hoped that the Archdeacon of Rochester would have been able to take this service, but I have just heard that he had been prevented by pressure of other work”.
(Rector—The Reverend A. T. Wallis).

Ada Sarah Lane died at the age of 70 and was buried 29th August 1934. Henry Stephen Lane was buried on January 12th 1935 at the age of 72.

There appears to be no mention of the remainder of the plate which, whilst ancient and of good quality and design, seems to be of no particular significance.

 
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