A tribute to the life and work of Brian Torode
Photographs and Postcards of Llanthony Abbey from my collection.
From ‘Transactions of the Woolhope Club, 1898’ :-
“… The majority of the members proceeded first to the left to pay a visit the latter-day monastery of the celebrated Father Ignatius. We wound up along a narrow lane, moist with recent rain, and then appeared a silence about the place that could be almost felt.
Past the tiny school (this is a small, green-painted, corrugated iron building – still standing … but no longer, of course, a school) on past the ‘pilgrim’s rest’ (this also still stands – a small stone-built, slate-roofed hut, with a chimney, just within the gate to the monastery domain. It appears to be now merely a garden-shed cum lumber-room), we went to the porch of the monastic buildings, the door of which bears the inscription: ‘Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord. Jesus Only. Pax.’ (all this, of course, has long since been painted out).
No one, however, answered our repeated rings at the bell (how like my recent experience at the Monastery of St. Mary at the Cross, Glasshampton!), perhaps owing to the fact that a service in the church was not quite over at that time, so after waiting a few minutes the party proceeded to inspect the church.
Huge grilled gates shut off the secular from the monastic church, and by peeping through the grill we were enabled to obtain a look at the high altar.
In the secular church we saw another altar, at which I believe visiting married clergy officiate at Mass, only celibates being allowed to officiate at the high altar.
Here was also the life-size image of ‘Our Ladye of Llanthony’, the story of whose appearance in a meadow nearby is well known.”
From Donald Halliday: July 11th, 2000: Father Ignatius was a fascinating, but near impossible, character . I do not envy anybody who tried to live under him in community! Fr. Asaph Harris, whom I got to know when he spent a few weeks at Belmont in 1935, was quite devoted to him – and looked upon him almost as a saint! Fr. Asaph also thoroughly believed in the Apparition of Our Lady at Capel-y-Ffin (which I do not believe in at all).
In the 1870’s/1880’s Francis Lyne, Father Ignatius’s father, lived at 5, Segrave Place, Cheltenham, near to Pittville Gates, now renumbered as part of Pittville Lawn. In 1878 the Reverend John Edwards (Del la Bere), Vicar of Prestbury, described Father Ignatius as “an old dear friend of mine”. At first Father Ignatius and those taking part in the Mission attended St. John’s Church but later on they attended Mass at Prestbury.
Cheltenham Looker-On, July 22nd, 1865 :-
TWO LECTURES ON THE MONKS AND MONASTERIES OF ENGLAND were delivered by an eccentric ecclesiastic known throughout the kingdom as “Father Ignatius,” at the Town Hall, last Thursday afternoon and evening. The afternoon Lecture was by no means well attended, but in the evening an audience numbering between two and three hundred were present, and appeared to be exceedingly interested with the Rev. gentleman’s discourse, which occupied upwards of an hour-and-a-half in its delivery, and at its close was loudly applauded. A collection was made at the doors in aid of a new Church proposed to be erected by “Father Ignatius” at Norwich.
Cheltenham Looker-On, March 23rd, 1878 :-
FATHER IGNATIUS, an ecclesiastic who some years ago caused quite a “commotion” in the religious world by his eccentric notions and utter disregard of church discipline, but of whom very little had been heard of late years, has caused quite a Lenten sensation in Cheltenham during the past week. Engaged in a self-imposed Mission” for the purpose of raising funds for the sustentation of an Orphanage attached to a Monastery somewhere in Wales, in which he appears to be much interested, the Rev. Father commenced a series of services last Sunday in the Assembly Rooms, and has continued them each afternoon and evening since, preaching to large congregations with a fervour and eloquence rarely evinced in religious appeals. Alone on his platform, attired in the garb of a cowled Monk of the olden time, with Bible in hand, the Reverend orator by his impassioned elocution has, upon each occasion, effectually riveted the attention of his hearers, and, possibly also pierced the consciences of some among them, who, startled by the earnestness of his manner and held captive by his declamatory utterances, have thought themselves to be on the wrong road to Paradise. Father Ignatius completes his mission to Cheltenham to-morrow with afternoon and evening services – the former throughout having been intended for those who feel themselves to be Christians; the latter for the public generally, whom the Reverend orator hopes to prevail upon to become so. Not the least remarkable part of both services is the singing, which, without the aid of instrumental music, is singularly impressive, being led by the preacher, who possesses an exceedingly powerful and melodious voice, which without apparent of fort adapts itself readily to the key-note of whatever audience he addresses.
Cheltenham Looker-On, March 30th :-
Sayings and Doings of Cheltenham.
HITHERTO THE SAYINGS AND DOINGS OF LENT have partaken of a more than usually sensational character. In the Church, and out of the Church, Society has been abundantly provided with congenial topics of conversation, so far as congeniality may be supposed to co-exist with antagonism. While the Churches generally have been unobtrusively observing the Holy Season in accordance with their prescribed ritual, the adjoining Parish of Prestbury, into which Cheltenham has long since obtruded itself, has been somewhat roughly handled in the Law Courts – its Vicar, the Rev. J. Edwards, having shad judgement definitely pronounced against him by the Court of Arches, and his ministrations suspended, for practices repugnant to the received usages of the Church of which he avows himself to be a member. As was to be expected, no small commotion has been produced by this overt act among the faithful of the followers attending his Church, a very large proportion of whom, however, are not his parishioners, but lured by the sensuous character of the Prestbury performances have preferred those to the simpler services observed in their own places of Worship where Ritualism had not yet cropped up. But the Sayings and Doings consequent upon the suspension of the Vicar of Prestbury, have after all, been comparatively trifling to those produced by the more sensational performances of Father Ignatius, whose “Mission” Services at the Assembly Rooms, noticed in last week’s Looker-On, were continued with increasing intensity up to last Sunday, when they attained their climax in excited audiences, whose feelings the Amateur Monk of St. Anthony understood well how to “ruffle” – taking good care to profit thereby; striking the iron was hot, and collecting, it is said, at the close of his fervid appeals over a hundred ponds, exclusive of ladies’ trinkets, for the support of his Anglican Monastery.
Cheltenham Looker-On, March 4th, 1882 :-
FATHER IGNATIUS, the Anglican Monk of Llanthony, whose Sayings and Doings have for several years past excited, at not infrequent intervals, the attention of the public by their exuberant eccentricity, has been holding sensational services every day of the past week in the Assembly Rooms, attracting large audiences and gathering a plentiful pecuniary harvest; his fierce denunciations of all existing religious organisations, and of those by whom they are administered, finding especial favor with “the million”, and with those who habitually refrain from subjecting themselves to the influence of milder forms of devotion. A rhetorician of unquestionable power, with an exhaustless vocabulary of emotional terms at his command, enforced by action bordering upon the theatrical, the Rev. Father’s philippics arrest the attention of the congregations who attend his services as no ordinary discourses could possibly do; the spell of his declamation, and the startling antitheses in which it abounds, holding the popular mind in involuntary thraldom, and, while the spell lasts, extorting admission as readily to some paradox as to the most common truths. Hence the run which has been upon the Monk’s utterances, which are to be continued during to-day and to-morrow as well, the occurrence of Lent favouring their repetition, supplying the place, as they do of other and more worldly entertainments.
One of the Cheltenham newspapers, February 28th 1883 :-
FATHER IGNATIUS gives a Lent Mission in the Assembly Rooms for 8 days from Sunday the 4th of March. His hortatory address to his followers runs – “Christians! Ask our Lord Jesus to come among us and glorify His Precious Name at this Mission by the conversion of Sinners, the Confirmation of the Saints, the Recall of Wanderers.” One of his sermons is stated to be on, “Gideon’s Salvation Army with only Lamps and Empty Pitchers”, from which it would appear that the Monk does not work in harmony with the Army organization.
Cheltenham Looker-On, March 3rd 1883 :-
THE NOTORIOUS FATHER IGNATIUS, whose theatrical addresses on the most solemn verities of the Christian religion have been usually delivered in Cheltenham during Lent, is to hold his Recitals next week in the Assembly Rooms, and will no doubt reap as golden a harvest as he has been accustomed to do, having many admirers among the fair sex who advertise the Sayings and Doings of the eloquent Nonconformist in their respective circles free of charge.
A RIVAL to the Monk of Llanthony – Pastor Chiniquy – a Converted Roman Catholic Priest – is announced to deliver four Lectures next week in the Corn Exxchange, which he proposes to give his reasons for having left the Church of Rome, and to discuss other subjects pertinent to those reasons, and dealing with some of the fundamental doctrines of Religion as interpreted by Romish expository.
Cheltenham Looker-On, March 10th 1883 :-
Saying and Doings of Cheltenham
PROTESTANTISM AND THE PAPACY have been the specialities of the past week, the Sayings and Doings of Father Ignatius daily at the Assembly Rooms, and Pastor Chiniquy Thursday and yesterday in the Corn Exchange, pretty well monopolising public attention, the eloquent and impassioned appeals of the former, and the sensational and suggestive addresses of the latter, equally attracting overflowing audiences, who, luxuriating in the excitement of the hour, have cheerfully “turned away” the ordinary currents of the day to admit others of a deeper and darker complexion. Whether the impassioned oratory of the Monk of New Llanthony evoke more intense excitement than that produced by music and dancing, acting upon natures differently constituted, must be left for meta-physicians to determine, but the reality of religious convictions arrived at by processes so strangely at variance with the solemnity of their subject may not be unreasonably questioned, and, it is to be feared, may soon pass away, like the Summer cloud which leaves “no vestige where it flew.”
Cheltenham Looker-On, March 8th, 1884 :-
THE MONK OF LLANTHONY, who for the last two or three years has favoured Cheltenham with his company for a week in Lent, for the purpose of replenishing his exchequer by his fervour in support of its institutions, is announced to commence his appeals in the Assembly Rooms next Sunday, when doubtless a large congregation will attend his sensational services; enjoy the excitement they are designed to produce, and reward the orator with contributions of coin and convertible trinkets for which they have no further use. Such, at all events, is said to have been the effect of Father Ignatius’s former visits to Cheltenham, and, unless his eloquence has lost its power, may be reasonably expected to follow the dramatic recitations with which he proposes to captivate his audiences throughout the ensuing week.
February 24th 1897 :-
Assembly Rooms, gave 3 addresses on ‘The Devil and the Churches’. Distributed pernicious literature on the 2nd coming of Christ. (Miles)
Cheltenham Chronicle and Gloucestershire Graphic, April 30 1904 :-
FATHER IGNATIUS, who held a mission in Cheltenham lest week. This portrait was taken in August, 1903, while the photographer (G.H.B., Gloucester) was on a visit to Llanthony. The doorway is that in which the Father was standing when he experienced his reputed visions some years ago.
MRS ANN WINIFRED CATON’S NOTES CONCERNING HER GREAT AUNT, MISS ANN EASLEY (SISTER WINIFRED). MRS CATON, FORMERLY LACK, DIED IN CHELTENHAM IN 1982.
‘Ann was her Christian name, Winifred her religious. She came under the influence of Father Ignatius in about 1875, in fact all the family at Hargrave Park did. He was a ‘revivalist’ and used to preach at Portman Rooms and started the Order of Benedictines in the Anglican Church and she became a ‘lay’ sister. She gave him £2,000 for his church at Llanthony Abbey, Abergavenny. She had a hut where she lived in the Summer and she always had a hamper from a farmer for Christmas, Turkey, hare, ham – wasn’t it a worry till it arrived safely! I have also heard that some of the Easley silver was melted down for altar vessels.
Father Ignatius often came to see us at Talbot Road, when Auntie was with us. How we used to giggle, especially Eustace, as he wore sandals and in the winter a shoulder cape of skunk fur!! Sad to say, on his death, the Abbey, I believe, went to a ruin, or was taken over by the Roman Catholics. How about reading ‘The Life of Father Ignatius, O.S.B.’? I remember your aunt (Ann Easley) was like his shadow. She used to take me to Schoulbreads (Shoolbreds) in Tottenham Court Road and order his habit, black serge.’
ANN EASLEY, DAUGHTER OF JACOB AND SARAH (NEE EUSTACE), WAS BORN IN 1822 AND DIED AT 48 TALBOT ROAD, LONDON, IN 1908.
Ann Easley died, aged eighty-six years.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Hugh Allen, ‘New Llanthony Abbey – Father Ignatius’s Monastery at Capel-y-ffin’
Peterscourt Press, 2016