July 31st: Founders' Day Sung Requiem Mass
Josephine and John Bowes were the inspiration and patrons of St Mary's Church. Lady Josephine Bowes, Countess of Montalbo, and Sir John Bowes of Streatlam (to give them their proper titles) had planned to build a church for Josephine next to the Museum which they were building to house their huge collection of pottery, paintings and art. When Josephine died, John continued building the church beside his museum, but when money to finish the museum ran short John stopped the work on the church. By this time the walls of the church were complete, and the 'church' stood as a kind of folly for fifty years until 1926 when the trustees of the church negotiated with the trustees of the museum to move the whole thing to a new site on the corner of the estate, where the church was rebuilt and completed in 1928. The bodies of John and Josephine, which had been resting in a crypt at Gibside Hall, near Dunston, were brought to Barnard Castle during one night in July 1928 and reinterred in a grave behind the apse of the church and facing the Museum.
Each year towards the end of July I celebrate a Mass in the Extraordinary Form (the Latin Mass) for the repose of their souls and in thanksgiving for their gift of this beautiful church to the people and parish of St Mary's Barnard Castle. The weather has been fine today, but holidays have kept the numbers attending down. The choir too was reduced to one (Mike Forbester of the Rudgate Singers). But between us we celebrated a Sung Requiem with a procession out to the Tomb to perform the Absolutions.
Afterwards we retired to the marquee on the lawn for tea and coffee, biscuits and 'my world famous sausage rolls' - at least, that is what I like to tell newcomers, before adding that they only take fifteen minutes from frozen in the oven and that they come from England's largest grocery store!
For obvious reasons, I could not take a photo during the Mass, but here is the altar all ready to begin the Mass. The candles are as yet not lit, and it was only at the end of the whole service that we realised that the candles had never been lit!!!