19th and 20th Centuries – All Saints

In 1810, Nicholas Carlisle noted in his Topographical Dictionary that All Saints was in an indifferent state of repair. Beginning in 1813, during the tenure of Rev. Thomas Robinson, the church was rebuilt on a large scale with a handsome tower and spire, at a cost of £3,554. This construction work was still being paid for in 1828, as parish records indicate that the vestry agreed to pay £42 5s to continue paying the outstanding amount due for the erection of the steeple. Later in the same year, the vestry is recorded as having paid £10 for flagging the chancel and £70 for erecting the pulpit.

In 1856, Rev. John Hopkins, a cousin of Sir Francis Hopkins of Tudenham, outside Mullingar, became rector of All Saints. During his incumbency, galleries were erected in the north and south transepts, the vestry room was built, and the semi-chapel known as the Lyons Den was added.

Framed plans of the building works

 Plans for additions and alterations to the fabric of All Saints in the 1860s, including the erection of galleries in the north and south transepts

According to a report in The Westmeath Guardian of September 13, 1860, on the proposed alterations, the galleries would contain 80 sittings, the vestry room would be conveniently located at the south side of the chancel, and the north side of the chancel would feature a “commodious seat for John Charles Lyons, Esq., of Ledeston,” who contributed £110 towards the improvements.
 IMAGE: 6. Al Saints south side

View of All Saints from the south, showing the vestry, which was added circa 1860IMAGE: 7 Lyons den

The semi-chapel popularly known as the Lyons Den

Rev. Hopkinsdied in 1864 at the age of 52, and his grave is located in the northeast portion of the churchyard. The chancel window behind the communion table is a memorial to him. The Westmeath Guardian of April 6, 1865, reported on the installation of the stained glass window, which was made by the Messrs O’Connor and erected at an expense of over £120 by parishioners and friends of the late Rev. John Hopkins, “whose kindness of heart deservedly endeared him to all”.

IMAGE: 8. Lge chancel window

The large chancel window memorialises Rev. John Hopkins and was erected by parishioners

IMAGE: 9 Chancel window detail

Detail of chancel window showing dedication to Rev. Hopkins

Dr. Charles Parsons Reichel became rector of Mullingar in 1864. The son of a Moravian clergyman, he was educated in the University of Berlin and in Trinity College, Dublin, where he was a classical scholar of note. Reichel was professor of Latin at Queens University Belfast and subsequently held the Chair of Ecclesiastical History in Trinity College. He was a skilful debater and orator and played a prominent role in the General Convention of the Church of Ireland in April 1870, where he drew up a new system of nomination to vacant parishes. In 1875, Reichel was appointed to the Incumbency of Trim and became Archdeacon of Meath. He subsequently became Dean of Clonmacnoise in 1882. In 1885, he became one of just two rectors of Mullingar to be appointed Bishop of Meath.

 IMAGE: portrait of C. P. Reichel. 

During Dr. Reichel’s tenure, funds were collected to purchase a church bell for All Saints. The bell was cast by Messrs J. Murphy of Dublin at a cost of £300, according to parish vestry records from November 13, 1870. It was reported to be one of the largest bells of its kind in Ireland, weighing two and a half tons. The bell pealed for the first time on October 2, 1870, as noted in The Westmeath Guardian of October 6 and the Ecclesiastical Gazette of October 22. The bell reportedly measured more than 15 feet in circumference, stood nearly 5 feet high without its stock, and rang out in C-sharp tenor. The Westmeath Guardian of March 2, 1871, noted that the smaller of the two bells that formerly hung in All Saints was for sale and would be very suitable for “a small church, or for a gentleman’s offices and farm yard”.

Rev. Francis Swift of Keoltown, Mullingar, succeeded Dr. Reichel in 1875 and began redesigning the church furnishings and layout. It was reported in The Westmeath Guardian of September 26, 1878, that All Saints reopened after very extensive repairs and restoration, costing around £2,000. This included the removal of the galleries and the installation of modern pews. The Conacher organ, paid for by public subscription, was erected at this time.

IMAGE: 10. organ

The Conacher organ, installed in 1880, is a two-manual pedal instrument with 776 pipes

This phase of development saw the addition of a new roof, the raising of the chancel walls, the replacing of the square pews with open sittings, the installation of a new chancel arch of carved Caen stone, the addition of a new pulpit, the erection of “a very artistic and costly font, the gift of Mrs Woodward, widow of the Dean of Down, sometime Vicar of this Parish, and the tiling of the chancel, nave and transepts“.

IMAGE: 11. Pulpit

The pulpit, which bears a dedication to Susanna Swift of Keoltown, who died in 1865, replaced a wooden pulpit that stood at the centre of the chancel.

IMAGE: 12. Font

Plaque text: “This font was the gift of Mrs Woodward, widow of the Dean of Down, who was rector of All Saints from 1850 to 1856”

Rev. Swift, who was appointed Dean of Clonmacnoise in 1885, was interred in All Saints’ graveyard after his death in 1892. The Ascension window in the south transept, attributed to the studio of Heaton, Butler & Bayne, London, is dedicated to Dean Swift. It was erected by his widow Charlotte after his death. According to Canon George T. Berry, rector 1926–1958, the window was displayed at the Paris Exhibition in the 1890s, where it was highly commended.

 IMAGE: 13. Swift grave

Grave of Dean Francis Swift

 

IMAGE: 14. Ascension Window

South transept window, depicting the Ascension and dedicated to Dean Francis Swift

In 1893, Dr. Robert Seymour was appointed rector of the parish. He established the parochial hall as a cultural centre, where touring opera companies performed and concerts, plays, whist drives, and dances were held.

IMAGE 15: Parochial hall

Front elevation of parochial hall, Church Avenue

During Rev. Seymour’s incumbency, a new steeple was erected at All Saints. According to a report in the Westmeath Guardian of September 28, 1894, the new steeple, an elegant and imposing structure, greatly improved on the steeple it replaced in terms of its general appearance and dimensions. Dr. Seymour left Mullingar in December 1925.

 IMAGE: 16. Front elevation

Front elevation of All Saints’ Church showing the 19th-century steeple

 

No further major work was undertaken in All Saints until the incumbency of Rev. Ian W. MacDougall, who arrived in Mullingar from Moate in 1958. In 1961–1962, a huge restoration of the church fabric was completed, including the stripping and pointing of the walls. Rev. MacDougall received help and support in his efforts from the select vestry, especially well-known local businessman Thomas Lewis Hutchinson, who suggested that the graveyard be redesigned.

IMAGE: Canon Ian MacDougall 

At this time, many old tombstones were set into the grass, a series of steps and a small wall at the choir door were added, paths were widened and tarred, and the organ was taken down and retuned. T. L. Hutchinson also paid for the carpeting of the chancel and aisles. In 1981, Rev. MacDougall was appointed a Canon of Meath and left the Mullingar Union of Parishes in 1983. He subsequently took up a temporary position as Bishop’s Curate to Kilbixy until his retirement in 1985.

IMAGE: Rev. Frederick Gillmor 

Rev. Frederick Gillmor, during whose tenure a major refurbishment of the old parochial hall was undertaken

In 1994, Rev. Gillmor was succeeded by Rev. Canon D. Patrick Carmody, during whose tenure All Saints underwent extensive alterations, taking on its current form. The parochial hall and church were in need of refurbishment. The hall had some serious structural problems, lacked a heating system, and had substandard plumbing. The church’s roof was in urgent need of re-slating, the wiring and heating needed to be upgraded, the supports of the bell were rotten, and the east window was unstable. A decision was made to sell the parochial hall and to invest the proceeds into the church in such a way that the parish would have a comfortable and usable hall area and the church structure would be renovated and preserved. The proceeds of the sale paid for major repairs of the tower, the raising of a new gallery inside the church, the creation of a hall on the ground floor, and the addition of modern seating in the nave and transepts.

 IMAGE: Photographs of the church prior to the alterations .

 

 

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Rev. Alastair Graham
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Mullingar
Co. Westmeath

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