St Saviours History 1858 – 2008
A Brief History -
The Origin of the Parish of St Saviour’s
St Saviour’s Parish is as a daughter of the ancient parish of Kilmore, as are today’s parishes of
Mullavilly (formed in 1755), Richhill (1837), and Diamond (1867). St Saviour’s was originally constituted as a District Curacy within the Parish of Kilmore, but was however elevated into an Incumbency in 1871.
In 1979, the Parishes of Kilmore and St. Saviour’s were joined as a Parochial Group and Kilmore was
deemed to be the principal Parish of the group due to its great antiquity, but the incumbent has
resides in St Saviour’s due to its greater population.
Townlands included within the Parish of St Saviour’s include :- Clonroot, Derryhale, Battlehill (or Bottlehill), Mulladry, Ballintaggart (or Ballinteggart) and Drumnahuncheon (or Drumnahunshin).
St Saviour’s Church was built in the townland of Mulladry, near the bank of the ‘Dobbin Water’,
hence the name of ‘Dobbin Church’. (the date 1856 found above the front door of the church
recording the laying of the foundation stone)
The Church and its Buildings
The foundation stone of the church was laid on 7th June, 1856, and the first gift to the new church
was a silver chalice inscribed ‘The Gift of Miss Harriett Ann Magennis, 1856’. The donor was the
sister of Mrs Richardson of Richhill Castle, and aunt of Miss Isabella Richardson, through whose
generosity the church was established.
In the Parish’s Centenary Year Book, newspaper reports that were observed led the author to assume
that services took place prior to the church’s consecration in April 1858. There have been some
discrepancies as to the actual date of the consecration of St Saviour’s Church. Some sources cite
that it took place on the 5th April, 1858. A newspaper article found in the Armagh Guardian, dated
Friday 9th April, claimed that the service of Consecration took place on Thursday, April 8th. However, the Church’s Preacher’s Book records that this ceremony actually took place on Friday, April 9th. What is not disputed is the fact that the church was consecrated, not by the Diocesan Bishop, Primate Lord J.G. Beresford, but by his cousin the Rt. Rev. M.G. Beresford, Bishop of Kilmore.
The aforementioned newspaper article made the following observations. ‘Notwithstanding the severity of the weather, the building was crowded in every part by a congregation gathered from the thickly peopled district in which this beautiful church was so judiciously placed. A most appropriate and impressive sermon was preached on the occasion by the Lord Bishop, who took his text from Genesis. xxviii 16,17. The good taste displayed in the architecture of this Church is highly creditable to the officers of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, by whom Miss Richardson’s benevolent intentions were carried into effect. And the execution of the work is such as to add to the reputation of Mr. Richard Cherry, the builder employed in its erection.’
In an article from the Armagh Guardian dated March 5th, 1869, it would appear that the Rectory
by this stage was on the verge of completion. The journalist declared that ‘This part of the country
can boast few houses more adapted for its purpose than this. Facing the line of railway between
Portadown and Armagh, it has been erected within a few yards of both church and school-house.
The entire series of buildings afford a most gratifying proof of the deep interest which the kind and
considerate owner of the soil has in all that concerns the welfare of his tenantry.’ The article continued by reporting that the school house had been built about two years previously and that the cost of the house and associated buildings was around £1,000.
The earliest record of both a Morning and Evening Service taking place at St Saviour’s was on 4th July
1858, when 172 people attended the Morning Service and 94 attended the Evening Service. This seems most impressive, until one observe the records for the following Sunday when 244 people attended the Morning Service and 238 people attended the Evening Service! Attendance at both services in the months and years following fluctuated considerably.
In 1900, a brass eagle was presented to the church in memory of Matthew Boyd Bredon and the present pulpit was presented by the Rev. R. Thacker (Rector 1891 to 1913). In June, 1919 a Reading Desk was installed to match the pulpit by the parishioners in memory of their former Rector, Rev. R. Thacker who died in 1913.
It seems that Church Attendance and Finances have always been a major issues in Church life. At a
bazaar and sale of work in September, 1935, the guest speaker invited to open the event, Lord Justice
Best, expressed that ‘All sorts of excuses were made for not attending church. Sometimes young people said that church was too cold, and yet they could stand on a cold and wet field watching a football match without any complaint whatsoever.’ His Lordship also commended the parish on their initiative commenting that when it was considered that a parish of ‘… not more than 100 Church of Ireland families, and was expected to raise year by year the large sum of £175 so that the minimum stipend could be paid to their rector, they would realise the tremendous task the parish had to face.’ (C. of I. Gazette – 20/9/1935)
In 1948 a Sale of Work was held in order to raise funds for the interior renovation of the church
and the installation of electricity. As a result of this sale, over £1,000 was raised and in 1949, extensive
repairs and renovations were carried out, including the pointing of the spire and portions of the exterior of the building. In the same year a new Communion Table with reredos and panelling in oak were presented to the church with many gifts from the parishioners. Following this work, the church was reopened on 6th January, 1950, and a new boiler and furnace were installed. However, on Sunday 20th January, 1952, the church was extensively damaged by fire and had to be closed for repairs once again. Services were held in the parish hall for two years, when the church was reopened again for public worship. (Parish Centenary Year Book)
The current east window was installed to replace the original window which was badly damaged in
the fire and was dedicated by the Archbishop of Armagh on Tuesday, May 31st, 1955.
On Friday, April 11th, 1958, St. Saviour’s celebrated it’s Centenary year with a special service at which
the Archbishop of Armagh was the preacher. The lessons were read by Mr James R. Lindsay, O.B.E.,
a member of the Select Vestry and the Archbishop’s Assessor at Diocesan and General Synods. The
Choir sang the anthem ‘O Saviour Friend’ and the service was conducted by the Rector, Rev. John
Albert Ford (Rector 1944 to 1961).
The St. Saviour’s Chuch Lad’s Brigade and Church Girl’s Brigade Companies were formed in 1962
during the ministry of the Rev. T.P.R. Kenny (Rector 1962 to 1966). The Brigades have since been
highly successful and well supported organisations. At one stage of the organisation’s history, the
CLB could not fit in the Church Hall, so some members had to meet in an overflow shed. Like in
areas of the Church’s various ministries, the Company benefits greatly from its most committed
volunteers. Founding CLB Officer, Mr Perry Cloughley, served the Company for forty years,
twenty three of which were as Company Captain, before retiring on the Brigade’s 40th Anniversary
in April 2002.
On April 5th 1963, the Church of Ireland Gazette recorded the passing of St Saviour’s Sexton, Mr
Richard Hobson. Mr Hobson had served his parish for over 50 years as Sexton and his two sons,
Tom and then Robert served in this role until 1986. The current Sexton, Mr Robert Hobson,
succeeded his father and continues in this family tradition. Robert’s mother, Mrs Lena Hobson,
is St Saviour’s most senior Parishioner and seen in the following photograph at home with her
family members, including her great, great grandchildren.
(The Hobson / Young Family – four generations of St Saviour’s Members)
On Saturday, September 10th, 1983 current Church Hall was dedicated by the Archbishop of
Armagh, the Most Reverend Dr. John Armstrong and officially opened by Mrs Betty Livingstone
(wife of the Rev. F.K. Livingstone – Rector 1966 to 1983). On this occasion a collection in aid of
the Hall Building Fund raised over £1,600, which contributed to the sum total of £60,000 spent
on building the Hall the Parish continues to use and enjoy.
Many memorable occasions have been enjoyed in St Saviour’s in recent years, one of which
must be a service held on Sunday evening 2nd January, 2000. Extra seating was required to
accommodate the 270 people who came to share in the dedication of a number of gifts including
an oak cabinet for use by the choir, Church Wardens Wands, a stained glass window, and the
church floodlights. Amongst those attending this service were former Rectors, Canon T.P.R Kenny
and Canon F.K. Livingstone, and prayers were led by Rev. E.P. Dundas, son of Rev. E.T. Dundas
(Rector 1984 to 2004).
Today, St Saviour’s continues to be a vibrant worshipping community with much to celebrate,
as it marks its 150th Anniversary. With many organisations such as the Mother’s Union (joint
with Kilmore Parish), Bowling Club, Sunday School, Bible Fellowship and Craft Class, the Parish
Hall, which is now in its 25th Year, is in very regular use. As we look back with thanksgiving,
we can look forward with expectancy, as we seek to serve the Lord Jesus and grow in faith together.
May God bless us as we strive to give Him the glory that He alone deserves.
Rev. M.T. Kingston
(Rector of Kilmore and St. Saviour’s)
This brief Parish History was produced to mark the occasion of St Saviour’s 150th anniversary
since the consecration of the Parish Church. Source material include the St Saviour’s Parish
Centenary Year Book (1858), Armagh Clergy 1800 – 2000, by Rev. W.E.C Fleming (Dundalgan
Press 2001), The Church of Ireland Gazette, The Armagh Guardian Newspaper, Church Records
and Parishioners personal contributions