St Vincent’s Altrincham Magazine

St Vincent’s has published The Vineyard, the parish magazine, for many years. A voluntary editorial team produce the magazine twice a year with articles written by parishioners. The aim of the publication is to reflect the life of the parish. While the current magazine has a ten year life, the church has a strong publishing history. During the 1930’s, the parish published St.Vincent’s Altrincham Magazine. It was a quarterly magazine, cost three pence and was published by Taylor, Hobson and Shepherd, of Viaduct Road in Broadheath.

The magazine began with a rather formal editorial, which was usually used to lecture and even scold parishioners. One theme concerns the throwing of confetti at weddings. The first edition of the magazine in March 1934, described the activity as “senseless.” The September edition of the magazine again remonstrated with parishioners who used confetti at weddings: “In spite of what has been said and written, we regret the untidy and senseless custom of throwing confetti after weddings on and about the church grounds still continues.” The article goes on to remind parishioners that a wedding is a sacred sacrament and “not a popular event for spectators to look at and talk.”

The editor of the magazine also chose to tell off parishioners who arrived late for mass. He describes the practice as “abominable” and as a “scandal.” In the September edition he also critisises veterans of the Great War for not marching to the church on Armistice day, and advises parishioners to “get as near to the altar as possible.” He comments: “ There is something incongruous in the priest being one end of the church and most of the hearers at the other.”

One year later, in the September of 1935, the issue of confetti remains: “It would appear the appeal against the throwing of this stuff about the grounds at weddings has been partially heeded. There was one exception when not only the paths but the porch itself were littered with this untidy and senseless rubbish.”

In the same edition of the magazine, one elderly parishioner reminisces on the old St Vincent’s school and Church on New Street. We learn that pupils provided a weekly wage to the teaching staff, which paid for the salary and contributed to books and other materials. The anonymous parishioner also discusses Father Alcock. The article brings this important man to life, with a vivid description of what he looked like: “He used to wear an old fashioned tall hat, shabby black suit, patched shoes or boots and always had a walking stick.” We also learn that he was an emotional man, weeping at the generosity of the poorer children, disciplining children with his stick, then weeping again with regret.

The Rev C A Bolton also contributes to the same edition. His article, titled “Why do you go to Mass?” considers the plight of Christians during the Roman Empire. He recounts the rule of Emperor Valerian, who walled entire congregations alive in catacombs. While we appreciate the point being made, it a very strong image to create for a parish magazine.

The June edition of 1936 again chooses to criticise St Vincent’s parishioners. Members of the congregation that cough are instructed to stop their “barking.” The article also accuses individuals of coughing intentionally: “Sometimes it seems that there is a competition to see who can make the most noise.” Parishioners are then castigated for sitting at the back of church and daring to kneel during the Gospel.

The September edition of 1936 chooses to address slightly weightier issues, such as the Spanish Civil War. The article initially advises parishioners to search out the facts, but then moves onto to comment: “It must be said it is a war between Religion [sic] and the forces of darkness as spoken of by Our Lord Himself.” While this quotation makes St Vincent’s position on the war clear, it is hardly suprising, given the horrors inflicted on the Catholic church during the Spanish Civil War.

The December edition of 1937 also addresses an important issue of the day; the emergence of trade unions. The magazine states that they support the role of trade unions, and quote Pope Leo XIIII:“to enter into a society of this kind is the natural right of man.” The magazine then furthers the point, arguing that non-unionised labour can be taken advantage of by “ less conscientious competitors.” The article is also articulate, pointing out that unionised labour receive better wages, hours and working conditions than their non-unionised counterparts. Pope Leo XIII advises Catholic workers to demonstrate the following characteristics: “industrious, hard-working, assiduous, peaceful.”

This edition of the magazine also includes one article based on the Spanish Civil War, and the implications for Roman Catholics in England. The article, titled Theory and Practice, advises parishioners on how to discuss the Spanish Civil War with non Catholics. They are advised to state that the Church in Spain has been subject to vicious attack. The same article also criticises the BBC and the media for a “callousness toward the suffering of fellow Christians.”

The article points out that a lot of public opinion in England supported the Spanish Government, and not the church. It is argued that while a list of democratic organisations in England offered support to the Spanish Government, Christian organisations have not supported the church. The argument suggests that if English clerics were marched from their beds and shot by marxists, Englishmen would not consider the wealth and status of the dead cleric. They would arm themselves and fight to defend them. This article is a reminder of the dark forces at work in Europe during the 1930’s, such as communism, fascism and political violence.

This photograph is of the May procession, at the parish school. The image was taken in 1930

Vineyard Editorial Team

The voluntary editorial team