touching placeAll Saints’, Monkland, Herefs
Heading west from Leominster into that open country towards the Welsh border, Monkland is the first village that you come to, and you soon spot this little church with the shingled timber broach spire. Closer up, you see it had a fairly thorough Victorian restoration, by GE Street (who also provided the lychgate you’ve just passed through). Street was what the Tractarians would have termed a devout churchman, and he was working with a Tractarian incumbent, the Rev Sir Henry Williams Baker; a man who was happy to be vicar of this rural backwater for the last 26 years of his life.
He paid for the rebuilding of the chancel and dictated the design of the organ (built by JW Walker), whilst Baker’s sister gave the pulpit, with figures of the four Latin Doctors. The east window was the gift of the compilers of Hymns Ancient and Modern, which reminds us that Baker was editor-in-chief of the C of E hymnbook par excellence.
He was no middle-of-the-road Anglican, though, mixing as he did with clergy like the inhibited John Bacchus Dykes, a great church musician who worked himself to death in his Durham parish. Although Baker is best known for his harvest hymn: ‘Praise O praise our God and King’ (sung to Monkland) and:
‘The King of Love my Shepherd is’ (said to have been on his lips as he died), he also wrote the Marian hymn: ‘Shall we not love thee, Mother dear’.
It is only fitting that, as you walk away, you see hard by the wicket gate, Baker’s memorial; a cross with the figure of the Good Shepherd, inscribed with the last two lines of the Dies Irae (which is in A+M):
‘Lord All Pitying Jesu Blest Grant Him Thine Eternal Rest
In the month of the Holy Souls, remember them in your prayers particularly at Mass.
OS Grid Reference: SO 460 577Simon Cotton
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