St Michael’s and Empire

Some of the clergy went a very long way after St Michael’s. J. W. Williams (curate 1890-91) left for Cape Town and eventually became Bishop of St John’s, Kaffraria. 1 Empire saturates the discussions of the church, and its clergy. In 1908 T. H. Kett (curate 1903-20) took a seven-month holiday chaplaincy at Roodeport in the Transvaal, where he met three of his siblings for the first time since their emigration twenty-five years before. 2 E. H. P. Carter (curate 1885-90) ‘worked in West Bromwich and Ceylon’ before coming to St Michael’s. He subsequently also went to Africa and worked in Zululand. 3 It is impossible not to be aware of the breadth of the British Empire and the impact this had on clerical careers.

The Empire also animated the parish as a whole. They kept in touch with Williams in South Africa, from where he wrote numerous letters about the local population and where the parish sent gifts, including ‘another parcel of fifteen frocks has been sent to him from St. Michael’s for the children of his kafir mission.’ 4 For some years, the parish funded an ‘African Child’ in Central Africa, who was reportedly very good at Holy Scripture, but ‘not very sweet in her intercourse with her companions.’ 5 The church often hosted lectures by visiting colonial dignitaries such as that in 1913 by Wilmot Vyvyan, Bishop of Zululand6. The Rev Edmund Charles Radiger Pritchard, vicar of St Cuthbert’s, Winnipeg, Canada led the parish’s Temperance Mission from 3 to 7 February 1912 – one of that Mission’s secondary aims was stated by the 1923 History as “arousing deeper interest in the work of the Church abroad”.

The parish magazines also featured regular reports on the Anglo-Catholic Universities’ Mission to Central Africa. 7, whilst St Michael’s as a whole aimed to spend 10% of giving to overseas aid. Less pacifically, the church also supported a collection for ‘all those engaged in the [Boer] War, for the wounded and the dying.’ 8 Those wounded and dying included the server George Roberts, who died of enteric fever aged 20 during the campaign whilst serving with the City Imperial Volunteers. On 17th May 1901 a memorial tablet to him was erected in the south-west corner of the church, beside his usual seat – it can still be seen. 9


The writings of the parish suggest a community that was large, confident, and open to the world. It is no surprise that in 1914, the same Magazines were the place where practical details of the outbreak of war and what must be done were also recorded.

William Garrood


  1. Parish Magazine, XVI.11 (Nov 1901)
  2. Parish Magazine, XXIII.6 (June 1908)
  3. Parish Magazine, III.2 (Feb 1886), Parish Magazine, XII.2 (Feb 1897)
  4. Parish Magazine, VI.7 (July 1892)
  5. Parish Magazine, XX.4 (May 1905)
  6. Parish Magazine, XXVIII.2 (Feb 1913)
  7. Parish Magazine, XXVIII.4 (Apr 1913)
  8. Parish Magazine, XV.1 (Jan 1900)
  9. Parish Magazine (June 1901)