Entering our lovely church each Sunday through the front doors, many walk right by a piece of the ecclesiastical furnishing that is used exclusively for one of the two sacraments of the Anglican Church. One sacrament is, of course, Holy Communion. So what is the other sacrament, and what item in the nave am I referencing? If you guessed the sacrament of Baptism and our beautiful baptismal font, you are correct. Well Done! Three Weatherbottom points to you!
As in many Roman and Anglican churches, our font stands at the entryway to the church. Its placement represents how one enters the faith. As we step into the church, we pass the font where Baptism allows each new Christian an entryway into the family of God.
Having survived our church’s more recent fire (albeit with some telltale discolouration), our font was carved from stone and donated by Richard Wolfenden in January of 1869. Around the outside you’ll find inscribed these words: “Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not.” The cover was not added until 1927. It was carved in oak and donated in memory of Ann Rabeth Wright, the wife of the then Rector. The brass basin for the font was donated in 1917, in memory of Ashleigh Rice who was killed in action.
Our 137-year-old font is in continuing use today. I am sometimes asked if it is permissible to use a more portable font at the front of the church. Though this is certainly quite possible, for those who are more traditionally liturgical in their approach to the sacrament, the choice is clear—baptismal candidates enter into their convenant with God in the place where they enter into God’s church.
~Bertie Weatherbottom, Notes & Queries Reporter for the 150th