Ecclesia De Drum

By Matthew Neill



The Venerable William Barnett Neill M.A
Archdeacon of Dromore

Like most parishes, we have contributed at various times to the number of candidates going forward for ordination to the ministry of the Church of Ireland.

The photograph of the six deacons reproduced to illustrate the career our Primate also included one of our own candidates, William Barnett of  Neill. Bill Neill was a true Son of Drumbeg in the fuller sense of that word. As a boy he attended Charley Memorial School. In the year, 1992 the centenary year of the school, he renewed acquaintance with many past pupils when he preached the sermon at a Memorial Service held to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the school. Like many clergy he spent several years in industry before sitting the Trinity entrance exam. He was a Sunday School teacher, Sunday School Superintendent. and a member of the choir before going up to Trinity College in 1957. Following a successful academic career where he was elected a Foundation Scholar of Trinity, he graduated with a B.A. (Hons.) degree in Oriental Languages. He was ordained in 1963 for St Clement's Parish in Belfast with the late Revd. T. Gibson, M.A. In 1967 he took up the curacy of St Elizabeth's Parish, Dundonald, where he helped establish the new church of St Mary, Ballybeen. In 1972 he became Rector of the united parishes of Clonduff, Drumballyroney and Drumgath and in 1976 of Drumgooland, based in the rectory at Rathfriland. Following seven years of ministry there, he returned to Belfast to the Church of the Pentecost at Mount Merrion, and from there to the Parish of Dromore Cathedral. He was soon appointed to the Cathedral Chapter where he was installed as Archdeacon in 1986. We are grateful for his permission to reproduce his photograph.

In 1973 he married Anne, a nursing sister at the Ulster Hospital, Dundonald, who has ably supported him and, in her own right as an active member of the Mothers' Union, has made a singular contribution to the life of the church in the diocese as well as at Dromore Cathedral.


Revd. Frank Robinson M.A., Dip. Th.

Revd. Frank Robinson M.A., Dip. Th.

The Robinson family came to live in Sandy Hill Avenue near Ballyskeagh in 1959 or 1960. From their arrival they linked up with Drumbeg Parish church. Frank and his sister Christine were soon members of the choir and shared with us many happy days.

Although he writes that his links with the church were short and slight we remember him as a sincere, devout and eager young man with obvious abilities that were to carry him far in the service of his Lord and Saviour.

Following three years (1961-64) at St Edmund's Hall, Oxford, where he obtained 2nd Class Honours in English Language and Literature, he spent a year in St Mark's Church, Gillingham (Kent) testing his vocation and helping with parish affairs, seeing, as he puts it, life at parish level.

From 1965-1968 Frank was enrolled at Clifton Theological College, Bristol, qualifying with G.O.E. and Diploma in Theology. In the year 1966 he was married to Adeline, and they now have four children, Mark born in 1967, Claire born in 1969, Simon born in 1971 and Philip born in 1973. In fact they now have twin grand daughters.

Frank was ordained by the late Bishop Stuart Blanch as Curate at Christ Church, Southport, Diocese of Liverpool and then returned to Ireland to become Curate at St Patrick's, Coleraine. He was Curate at Coleraine from 1971-1974, then became Deputation Secretary for Ireland with B.C.M.S., now Crosslinks. From 1976 until 1981 Frank was Team Vicar in Marfleet Team Ministry, Hull, before becoming Vicar of the Parish Church of St John the Evangelist, Yeadon, near Leeds.

We are grateful indeed for the opportunity to recall the career to date of one of the `Sons of Drumbeg' and for the photograph which he has kindly sent us for this book.

Revd. Charles D. Moore B.Sc., B.ARCH. (Hons),
R.I.B.A., Dip. Th.

Revd. Charles D. Moore B.Sc., B.ARCH. (Hons), R.I.B.A., Dip. Th.

Charles Moore was a bell-ringer, Sunday School pupil and was confirmed in the Parish: a member of the Junior choir and later of the Parish choir. He is the son of David and Mary, whose daughter Joan was not only in the choir, but played the organ on many occasions, and whose other son Richard also took a prominent part in the activities within the Parish. When the family left to go back to their old home on the shores of that beautiful lake near Ballynahinch (where in fact Charles was born on 5 November 1959) they left behind many warm memories of their sharing with us in worship, in the choir and at concerts and musical evenings. Many of us still remember those years when the family contributed through Joan's playing and Mary's solos to the enrichment of our music in Drumbeg.

Although Charles had not the musical ability of his sister, it was always apparent that he would be able to use his obvious talents in other ways. He is a Queen's Scout and received the Gold Duke of Edinburgh award. Educated at Finaghy Primary School and Methodist College, he qualified as an architect in Dundee University. He practised architecture for six years, latterly in London, before being accepted for training for the ministry at St John's College, Nottingham. He is now a curate in the Church of St Mary the Virgin in the Parish of Deane, Bolton and was priested in October 1994.

Charles is married to Sara, a nurse who also studied at St John's College for the Certificate in Theology and Ministry. Our best wishes go to this 'Son of Drumbeg' and to his wife Sara for God's blessing on their ministry together in His Service.


In the account of the progress of visitors through the church, mention is made of the tablet inscribed as follows:

In memory of William Arthur Anderson, D.L., M.A., M.D.

M�daille d'Or des Epid�mies of Ballyowan House, Drumbeg

For 42 years Surgeon at the Benn Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital, Belfast

1885 - 1956

It is a reminder of the lifetime's work of this eminent eye surgeon, who enabled a great many people who might otherwise have been condemned to a life of darkness to enjoy the precious gift of sight. Such a skill is its own reward, partaking of that ministry of healing which is in itself one of the greatest Christian attributes. To the local people he was Dr. Anderson, but to the patients who were healed he was a miracle worker for 42 years.

Mention of Ballyowan House brings back memories of those great occasions when Mrs Phebe Anderson put her house, outhouses and gardens at the disposal of the Parish for the garden fetes held in the nineteen sixties and seventies. She was a keen gardener and horticulturist with propagating units for the successful rooting of cuttings of difficult species of plants which would have been the envy of specialists. She must have had reservations about having hordes of children and adults crowding through her pathways, over lawns, into stalls set up in outhouses, all round the courtyard and even into the house, where the kitchens were utilised for tea making, but she never showed it in any way. The money made at these garden fetes was a very useful increment of parish funds at a time when developments within the parish sorely needed funding, but mostly it was the pleasure of getting together in a beautiful setting that made these events so memorable.

Dr and Mrs Anderson had two sons Colin and Allen, each of whom in different ways has made notable contributions to the church in the wider sense, Colin through his son Timothy, and Allen through a long membership of the Select Vestry (since 1957), as a member of the Diocesan Council and latterly as a member of the General Synod, which is the Parliament of the Church.

It is fitting that we should include Timothy Anderson as representative of the next generation of clergy in our profiles of the Sons of Drumbeg.

Revd. Timothy George Anderson,
B.A. (Hons. Buss. Studies) Cert. Theo. (Ox)

Revd. Timothy George Anderson, B.A. (Hons. Buss. Studies) Cert. Theo. (Ox)

Born on 30th June 1959 at Stone House near Donaghadee, the son of Colin and Denys Anderson, the youngest of their three children, Timothy George Anderson was educated first of all at The Warren, Holywood, then Mourne Grange Preparatory School. After two years at Abberley Hall in Worcestershire he started in 1973 at Shrewsbury School, following in the footsteps of others in the family.

Working in the family business in Belfast and as a volunteer for the Africa Inland Mission in Kenya was a preparation for a four year honours degree in business studies at Ealing College of Higher Education. From 1983 - 1986 Timothy trained for ordination at Wycliffe Hall Anglican Theological College in Oxford. He was ordained on 28th September 1986 at Chelmsford Cathedral. His first curacy was at St Peter's Church, Harold Wood in Essex, and the second at Whitfield Parish in Glossop, Derbyshire, where now he is ministering and witnessing to the Christian faith in 'a non-Christian and pluralistic society'.

Whitfield Parish has two churches - St James's and St Luke's; he describes his work there as demanding and rewarding. As a Son of Drumbeg (once removed as it were) we wish him God's richest blessings on his ministry and tender to him our grateful thanks for permission to reproduce his photograph.

Colonel J.E. Wilson O.B.E., J.P,

Colonel J.E. Wilson O.B.E., J.P,

Over the years there have been many men and women whose services to the welfare of Drumbeg church or the community life of their times have singled them out for recognition above their fellows. The list would be very long indeed if we were to try to evaluate the contribution each has made to their day and generation.

However invidious it may seem to those who have given a great deal, it is not possible to pass over the outstanding achievement of one who was a member of the Select Vestry from 1963 - 1995. During part of that period he was covenant secretary, Rector's and People's church warden in successive years and a constant attender at this church since the early 1930's.

Colonel James Elliott Wilson, O.B.E., J.P., whose photograph we reproduce with his permission, served in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, as did his brother Henry Alan Wilson, who was killed on active service in Burma in 1942. We noted elsewhere the plaque on the south wall of the church and the gifts made by his mother as a memorial to her son's memory. The surviving son, Elliott, who served from 1943 - 1948 soon entered the family business founded by his grandfather, where he remained for 32 years.

Over these years his connections with the T.S.B., or First Trust Bank as it is now known, with hospitals, and Citizens' Advice Bureaux are too numerous to list here. He has been to us in Drumbeg a quiet, courteous, kindly friend and adviser, faithfully attending at worship in the same pew for nearly sixty years. It seems fitting to see on television the Lord Lieutenant for the County Borough of Belfast escorting visiting Royalty on official occasions with a dignity appropriate to his appointment. We are proud that this son of Drumbeg has attained the recognition that is his due and which (D.V.) he will continue to enjoy until the year 2000. We wish him well.



We are fortunate to possess so much stained glass throughout the Church. The north side of the nave has three windows containing some of the best work of this kind. Erected in memory of the members of the Reade family of Wilmont, they are dealt with later.

Irresistibly, the visitor's attention will be drawn to the chancel windows: three pairs of traceried windows, each pair joined at the top by a small rose light. They are so beautifully executed that they have been the subject of a number of sermons; indeed, they are sermons in themselves!

The description given in the notice of the Consecration of the Church was so well worded that we may be forgiven for repeating it again here. 'Each side of the Apse towards the east, south-east, and north-east, is finished with a gable filled with a traceried window'. Each of these windows has been filled with stained glass of great brilliancy and tone, executed by the well known artists Messrs. Heaton, Butler & Bayne of London. The subjects in each being as follows: NE., the sacrifice of Isaac and the brazen serpent; E., the Passover, and the institution of the Lord's Supper; SE., the agony and the journey to Emmaus. The south-east windows were erected in memory of James Charles Montgomery who died at Nice on 1st March, 1870. The north-east window was given in memory of 'the dear ones who are sleeping' by George Ellen and Charlotte. The centre window was erected by Isabella Charley in memory of her husband and sons in 1870. We cannot leave the chancel windows without looking more closely at the subject matter of each and seeing how the artists have dealt with it.

Starting from left to right (north-east to south-east) the text inscriptions are as follows: the sacrifice of Isaac 'Now I know that thou fearest God'. Here the artist has depicted the ram caught by its horns in the thicket - the scapegoat. The brazen serpent window shows Moses lifting up the rod in the wilderness. The serpent is twined around the rod. It is the emblem of the B.M.A. today*. The text below reads 'Every one that is bitten when he looketh upon it shall live'. The centre window on the left is the Passover. The blood is being daubed on the doorposts, so that the angel of death shall not touch them and the text is 'It is the sacrifice of the Lord's Passover'. The right window is the Last Supper. Our Lord celebrating the Last Supper with his disciples. Notice how the artist has placed Judas Iscariot low down in the foreground, sombrely garbed and apparently not involved with the others, but ready to leave the company as soon as possible. The text is 'This do in remembrance of me'.

* Dr Brian Turner believes that the B.M.A. symbol is the so-called Caduceus of Mercury, which (in Roman mythology) was reputed to have the power of instant healing.

On the right side of the chancel are the two sections of the southeast window. The left half is the Garden of Gethsemane. The disciples are asleep as Jesus goes to pray. The text is 'Father if this cup may not pass from me thy will be done'. The last half of this window shows the two disciples walking home along the road to Emmaus joined by the Stranger. The text is 'He expounded unto them the things concerning himself. Notice how the artist has cleverly avoided showing two men, where the Scriptures say two disciples, maybe a man and his wife? There is a lot more information to be drawn from the chancel windows. For instance, each pair is joined at the top by a rose-type light filled with beautiful stained glass. In the left window is depicted what appears to be a helmeted warrior, in the centre the king crowned in glory, and on the right-hand side what appears to be a bishop, complete with mitred headpiece. Is this Prophet, Priest and King, the offices of Christ, or is there some other interpretation? We don't know now but maybe someone will tell us. Marvellous traceried windows indeed. The north transept has four stained glass windows. The long lancet windows at the end of the transept are also a matching pair joined at the bottom by the inscription `Erected in memory of Hugh Montgomery who died 17th June, 1867 and Emily his wife who died 4th November, 1857, by their surviving children Thomas Montgomery and Ellen Caldwell'. They are signed by Ward & Hughes of London. On the west side is the delightful, quiet little window full of soft colour, erected in memory of Dorothea Emily Florence Reade by her husband A.D. 1884. She was only 31 years old when she died. On the opposite side of this transept is one small window full of violence, showing David holding the severed head of Goliath. Erected in memory of Arthur Smith, Captain 14th Foot, died at Natal 27th November, 1857. A contrasting pair of windows indeed. The two long lancet windows in the south transept are erected `To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of Hugh Montgomery, 13th Light Dragoons, killed at the Battle of Balaklava October 25th, 1854, by his sister Ellen Montgomery 1870'. The subject matter is the death of Jonathan in battle and the covenant between David and Jonathan.

Standing at the crossing of the nave and transepts and looking back towards the west entrance, the visitor's attention is compellingly drawn to what has been described as 'The Arcade of Lights', that is the six windows which fill the gable end. At the time of the resiting of the organ, much discussion took place at Select Vestry meetings as to the wisdom of erecting a platform above the bottom five windows to carry the organ pipework, bellows and motor. It was feared that the isolation of the sixth window above this platform and closed in on each side by ranks of pipes would damage the aesthetic presentation of the whole gable end. It was only after a detailed painting made by a local artist, demonstrating the visual effect of the addition of the platform and the pipework on the windows, that the project was approved and completed. Now it is part of the fabric of the building which is a great delight to many visitors.

The brass tablet below the centre window reads `To the Glory of God and in Memory of Joseph Braddell and his elder son William Henry'. These six windows were erected 1880 and these are reputed to be amongst the finest sets of matching windows in Ireland. They illustrate our Lord's Birth, Baptism, Crucifixion, Burial, Resurrection and Ascension. The Ascension window most fittingly placed above the other five is given new illumination by the organ pipework on either side. As the Newsletter reporter put it in 1870, `A fine arcade of lights' indeed, now ten years later filled with colour. As we look at the baptistry we cannot fail to observe the window immediately behind it. Made by Rosenkamf of London in 1915, it is, according to the experts, the gem of our stained glass. We call it the 'Joseph' window because it illustrates Joseph attired in the robes of a pharoah in Egypt. Below him the little panel depicts scenes from the Israelite occupation of the land, complete with heirographical script. We could spend a half hour interpreting the detail of this window and still not have exhausted its message. It could well be called the Micah window. The text is that well-loved passage 'What doth the Lord God require of thee but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God'. Immediately adjacent are the other two windows of this north side of the nave. Again they are companion windows, linked by the scrolls top and bottom and the inscriptions underneath. Indeed these three windows, together with the quiet little window in the north transept, referred to elsewhere, were all given by the Reade family who had bought Wilmont House in 1879. In chronological order, the north transept is the earliest erected by R.H. Reade in memory of his wife Dorothea Emily Florence Reade in 1884. The two windows 'Faith' and `Purity' are memorials to two of their children. The left window 'Faith' commemorates the death of their second son Robert Ernest Reade, D.S.O., born 1879, killed in the Boer War on 2nd February 1901, he was 22 years of age. An angel is shown placing a crown of gold upon a warrior's head. The sword he carries is held point downward signifying the end of violence. In the second window of the pair, the angel is placing a wreath on the head of a kneeling young woman illustrating `Purity'.

Both these windows are linked by scrolls at the bottom, with the legend 'Lovely and pleasant in their lives and in their death they were not divided'.

The panel on the right of the two commemorates the death of their daughter, Harriet Ethel Stewart Reade, who was born 3rd September, 1880 and died 7th June, 1897.

The last window in the chronological sequence is that of the memorial to Robert Henry Sturrocks Reade, D.L., of Wilmont, Co Antrim. Born May 1837, died 24th February, 1913. He was attending a meeting of the Representative Church Body of the Church of Ireland in the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin when he took ill and died. He was 76 years of age. Among the many honours conferred upon him for his services to the Linen industry, the city of Belfast and the community at large, was his appointment as High Sheriff of County Antrim. He was People's Churchwarden of Drumbeg from 1884 - 1888 and Rector's Warden from 1889-1912.

Having already examined the modern stained glass in the porch made by Caldermac Ltd of Belfast, our survey is now complete, although the subject is so absorbing that much more could be written about this aspect of our heritage if space would allow.


When in our music God is glorified, and adoration leaves no room for pride;
It is as though the whole creation cried Alleluia!

F. Pratt. Green

The first mention of music in Drumbeg occurs in the Select Vestry minutes of 27th November 1872. The Rector (Mr Payne) was authorised to obtain `the services of not more than six young persons to form a choir between now and Christmas at 10/= each'! Evidently there was no regular choir or perhaps they needed new blood.

We know that Miss Payne, the Rector's daughter, played the harmonium until a new organ was installed in 1881-2. At the Vestry meeting held on 26th March 1883, it was agreed to pay M/S Conagher and Sons �100 for the new instrument and, at the following meeting on 22nd May, it was agreed that "the organist be paid for the next six months a sum sufficient for her to have 24 lessons from F.C. Smithe". This may well be a reference to Miss Emily Gardiner, who succeeded Miss Payne about this time, and she probably continued as organist until Robert Gurd, L.T.C.L. was appointed in 1893.

For a number of years after the building of the church in 1870, the question of an organ chamber had exercised the minds of the Select Vestry and again in 1893 Mr Robert Gurd raised the question of turning the back porch into a chamber to house the organ which was being improved and cleaned. The organ chamber never was built but, years later, when the old Conagher had finally failed and a new organ was installed, it was possible to have the console in the south transept and the organ above the nave at the west end of the church where it is today (but that is another story).So we know that Robert Gurd, L.T.C.L. was organist in 1893 and was to serve in this capacity for 47 years through the Great War years and under the Rectorship of four clergy: Canon Ryder, Revd. C.C. Manning, Archdeacon Hemphill and Revd. S.R. McGarvey. He was a unique man and he occupied a unique position in Drumbeg. In addition to being organist, he was Treasurer of the Parish Sustenation Fund from 1914-19, fully committed to every activity of church work: Sunday schools, fetes, bazaars and of course choir practices and special musical evenings in church and in the Parochial Hall (see the illustration). Shortly after coming to Drumbeg he married Harriett Corken from Glenavy and she was a tower of strength to him over all the years, singing soprano in the choir and keeping a watchful eye on the members while `Robbie', as he was affectionately called, sat with his back to the choir at the old Conagher organ which was then situated in the south transept, just beside the back door of the church.

But it was perhaps as headmaster of Charley Memorial School that he most influenced the several generations of young people who were pupils there during his forty years service in education. With all the austere rectitude of the old Victorian tradition, he tolerated insubordination not at all, and rarely had recourse to the cane which hung in the tall cupboard so well known by the pupils. But he carefully groomed all the promising boys and girls who had singing voices, in the rudiments of music as they sang hymns and songs by the aid of the modulator draped over the blackboard at 'singing time'. He made sure that a constant supply of partly trained singers was available to fill the places in the parish choir. Indeed it was an honour to be 'invited to the choir', and on occasion even the acceptance of a chorister from another church was dependent on a voice test before being allowed to sing in Drumbeg.

Surely an organist has a most responsible job in the church. He can never doze or allow his thoughts to wander like normal parishioners, and never can he (or she) put a foot wrong without all present being aware of it, especially if the organ is temporarily quiescent and the foot happens to be on the loud bass pedal in the midst of the sermon!

Two young chaps stayed a short time after 'Robbie' retired, before a young lad of 18 took over as organist in 1941. His name was Tom Boreland and he was to remain in Drumbeg through the long dark days of the Second World War, often having choir practices in the unheated church by the light of lanterns below the black-out curtains in the nave. He was to endear himself to many choristers for 29 years until his sudden death on Saturday, 10th October 1970.

Our present organ is largely the brain child of Tom Boreland. Some of the pipe work from the Conagher organ was used as facing pipes in the present organ but much of it is new. A plaque on the organ records his contribution to Drumbeg. After the usual debate and discussion, the Select Vestry agreed to place the organ on a platform to be erected over the font at the west end of the nave, and the problem of where to place the organ was solved at last

It has proved very satisfactory acoustically and when played with the sensitivity possessed by our present organist Michael Richards, M.A., A.R.C.O., it is a great help in the worship of God.

Robert and Margaret Gurd.

Robert and Margaret Gurd.

We rarely get the opportunity to speak to our organist except when we have a wedding in the offing and then he becomes a most important person indeed! As an indispensable part of our worship, the organist deserves our greatest thanks. Three other organists served the Parish for shorter periods of time but with equal devotion: Alasdair MacLaughlin, Desmond Turner and the late Norman Walker. Indeed Alasdair is always willing to cover for the holidays and so on until this time of writing.

There is a hairy old monster of a clich� that we trot out from time to time in an attempt to explain contiguous events without ascribing too much credence to the hand of God. The long arm of coincidence' is the glib expression to trip off the tongue. Yet we still have a lingering feeling of dissatisfaction with this explanation. Consider the following sequence of events.

Year after year from 1893 until 1938, with the exceptions of the years 1895/96 and 1904, Mr Gurd carefully stored up for 43 years the harvest festival leaflets containing the details of the special preachers and music morning and evening. These were printed every year for at least forty-five years. A copy of one of these is reproduced with this article. When Mr Gurd retired, he carefully bound all these copies in a brown paper cover, inscribed it 'Music in Drumbeg Parish Church, 1893 - 1939', and preserved it with all the copies of the anthems for Harvest, Easter and Christmas, which he had taught the choir during his 47 years as organist and choirmaster. He had, of course, acquired a library of organ music; bound copies of Handel's Messiah, Stainer's Crucifixion, Gounod's Redemption, Elgar's Caractacus, Sullivan's The Golden Legend, lesser known works and anthems; a whole legacy of a lifetime's dedication to music, including some of his own compositions. Upon his retirement from Charley Memorial School, Harriett and he bought a piece of ground in Carson's Lane at Hillhall and built a house there which they called Baylin. When they died, the property was sold and passed through several ownerships until 1993 when Mr and Mrs Kirk bought it. As soon as they decided to renovate the house, they began to clear the attic of all the clutter that had been stored away for fifty years or more. Now for that long arm of coincidence. The article entitled `Music in Church' had already been written when Mrs Valerie Kirk got in touch with the Rector, Canon Cooper, to say that she had discovered some old papers with Drumbeg church on them which she thought might be of interest to us. Rather than burn the lot she felt we should have a look at it, and so we now possess a library of Robbie Gurd's treasured music, thanks to the thoughtfulness of Valerie Kirk, who quite accidentally decided to clean out the old attic and tell us of her find just as, for the first time, a written recollection of past events in Drumbeg was being prepared for printing, including an article called 'Music in Church'. A Long Arm, indeed!


For those interested, choristers or just musically inclined, there is preserved a small booklet 5" x 4" and about one inch thick, containing 90 short anthems or other items with the title: Congregational Church Hymnal - Anthems. It alone is a gem of a find. Supplied by Erskine Mayne Ltd of Belfast, one of the press notices appendices gives us the date 'in the year of Jubilee' - 1897 - almost a century ago. It is in excellent condition and entirely singable by any choir today, containing anthems that have resounded through the church for many years; O Taste and See by Sir John Goss, Rejoice in the Lord by J G Elvey, I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes by J Clarke-Whitfield, What Are These That Are Arrayed by J Stainer, and many, many more, ninety in all.



In the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of Ireland, following 'A Penitential Service' will be found 'a form of thanksgiving for the blessings of harvest'. The fact that it is a part of the liturgy of the church may lead many to believe that the Festival of Harvest Thanksgiving was, like Easter, Christmas and so on, established hundreds of years ago in the early days of Christianity. It comes as a surprise to find that it is only of recent vintage, so to speak.

In a parish in Cornwall, the Revd. Stephen Hawker had the idea of instituting a service of thanksgiving for the safe gathering in of the crops of the land and the sea in the autumn of each year. He held the first such service about 1850 and that was the very first 'Harvest Thanksgiving'. The idea was immediately taken up by surrounding churches and in a very short time the festival had spread throughout these islands and far beyond. In an age when the immediacy of food from the land around about was apparent to all, the rendering of thanks to God for its safe garnering set the seal on the season's labours. That it met a need in Christian practice is evident by the rapid adoption of the Harvest Thanksgiving as part of the year's festivals and its subsequent incorporation into the Liturgy of Common Prayer.

In a way it did have a much more ancient derivation from the Jewish Church long before Christianity, to be found in the Old Testament book of Exodus in the 34th Chapter, verse 22, 'and thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the first fruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year's end'. The feast of Tabernacles or of Ingathering was celebrated on 15th of the seventh month and lasted seven days. It was the most joyous of all the festivals, being a feast of thanksgiving for the completion of the ingathering of the fruits and of the vintage. A harvest thanksgiving, indeed, four thousand years ago. When the Christian church began to celebrate this festival (not with seven days feasting, of course), the enthusiasm with which it was observed is reflected in attendances in our own church in Drumbeg.

Summary of Harvest Attendances Recorded























Note the decline in evening attendances and the increase at morning Prayer (and general decline in Harvest attendances).

N.B. The figures for 1985 - 1990 are actual counted attendances, whereas earlier figures are suspect.

These were, by far, the most popular services in the church's calendar. Around the countryside the normal congregations were augmented by visitors from other churches and other denominations. Overflow congregations were expected each year at the Harvest Thanksgiving; special music was practised by organist and choirs to celebrate the occasion; benches and chairs were laid in readiness beside the church door so that the nave and transepts could be filled after the pews could take in no more. Only like this could most of the intending worshippers be accommodated, and the attendance figures given above should bear some resemblance to reality. Since Drumbeg church, even with all the additional seating used, could only hold about 400 people (maximum) some degree of exaggeration must be allowed for, although it is possible that about fifty persons could have stood in the front and back porches during the Service.

They were great occasions for the decorators. Ballydrain and Wilmont gardens were the main suppliers of flowers and fruit. Each year Bob Foster, head gardener at Ballydrain, and his counterpart Alex Hodgins at Wilmont vied with each other for the largest vegetable marrows, turnips, potatoes and, especially, the brightest and largest chrysanthemums and dahlias. Ornamental trees in tubs were kept in their greenhouses from year to year, then brought down on the farm carts to the church and placed in the chancel. Specially made wooden trays, about ten inches high at the back, with a ledge at the front, were placed in every window and smothered in flowers and fruit. For the three windows in the chancel, the trays were filled with red dahlia heads on which, picked out with neat lettering in white blossoms, were the words God is Love. (The communion table was then without the high reredos that we have today).

The pulpit had a netting-wire surround with a large container suspended at the centre. Into this went the best of the season's flowers, especially gladioli or chrysanthemums, beautifully arranged, flanked by smaller flowers and foliage. The finished display was a real work of art around which the special preacher had to manoeuvre, careful not to dislodge the tomatoes or apples tastefully displayed along the top edge of the pulpit, where he might reasonably expect to rest his arm to emphasise his intimacy with the congregation. On at least one occasion the desire to illustrate a point with outswept arm cleared the lot from one side!

Although overflow congregations are mostly a thing of the past, the Harvest Thanksgiving is still one of the best attended services of the year; justly so, since we are still dependent upon the fruits of the earth wherever they may be grown for our continued existence; dependent too upon the promise of Genesis 8, verse 22 - while the earth remaineth seed time and harvest shall not cease.


About 40 years ago an inventory of our silver was made and the list then was:

Chalice London 1648, Maker's mark T? (untraced). Ht. 6 ". Wide bucket-shaped bowl, slightly everted rim, baluster knopped stem, bladed above and below. Plain round foot with ribbed border.
Paten Dublin 1717. Maker probably Thos. Sutton (still a quarter Brother in 1717). Diam. 8 �". Ht.2 �".
'A Gift to Drumbegg Church'. Plain salver with narrow raised rim; hollow waisted foot.
Patens (2) London 1950. Wakely & Wheeler. Diam. 6". Drumbeg Parish Church, presented to Revd.
S.R. McGarvey, Rector 1927 - 1953'. Plain flat type, Wide flat border and moulded rim.
Flagon Dublin 1842. Maker: Richard Sawyer, sold: Gray. Ht. 9 ". "Presented to the church of Drumbeg by Elizabeth Jane Charley of Finaghy, 25th December 1842. Revd. J.L.M. Scott, Rector, Andrew Durham Esq., and Francis Crossley Esq., churchwardens. Short wide body with slightly terraced base. Curved handle, ending in heart-shaped piece. Low domed cover, acorn finial 1HS in sunburst on side opposite inscr
Alms Dish Sheffield 1932. Walker & Hall. Diam 17". 'Presented by Mr & Mrs J. Quee, Ballygowan House, Drumbeg. To the Glory of God and Loving Memory of their daughter Elizabeth who died 14th December 1931'. Large deep bowl with wide flat rim engraved with crosses, garlands of shamrocks and Celtic interlacing patterns. Raised moulded edge.
*Ciborium London 1630. Maker's mark BF - Benjamin Francis. Ht. 10 ". Wide hemispherical bowl parcel gilt, which unscrews from tall slender baluster stem, reeded around widest part; round foot rises in centre to meet stem. Cover is double domed with tall finial and ball resting on several rings. No inscription.
Baptismal Mug London, possibly 1961. Maker: WH. Ht. 4 ".  Thistle-shaped body with 4 ribs and repouse� acanthus leaves between. Pedestal foot, with shell pattern grooves. Curved handle with leaves in relief.
Baptismal Bowl Chester 1910. Maker: GN/RH (Jackson p.395). Ht 4 ". Inscription `Benedictus Deus im Dona suis ame'. Wide shallow straight sided bowl on thick stem, widening to high round foot. Relief decoration on bowl and rings of semi circles on stippled background. Stem is reeded, the foot like a jelly mould. (This is a replica of a font shaped bowl, hallmarked 1521 illustrated p.690 of Jackson 'Illustrated History of English Plate').
Baptismal Shell . Birmingham 1954. Maker: D & F. Scallop shell with silver handle in shape of maltese cross. IHS in Centre; Diam. 1 "

To this we have to add further gifts from parishioners:

Silver Chalice Thank offering from a member of the Select Vestry and his wife.
Pair of Small Silver Vases. Useful for small posies at Font. Anonymous gift.
Pair of Flower Vases Anonymous gift.

The ciborium marked with an asterisk above is an unusual item in church plate and has a rather unusual story attached to it.

For years the bowl had been used as a chalice in the Communion service and was accepted as such. Also housed in the safe was a round perforated box which made an ideal container for those odd coins that turn up in collections and sometimes freewill offering envelopes. Another old brown-looking lid just fitted it and by custom was used to cover the box of coins. Idly, one of our lady helpers, Margaret Neill, at the freewill offering counting, turning over the old lid discovered that it had a silver marking on it. The Rector, Revd. Horace Uprichard. suggested that she should take it home and clean it up. It was certainly silver and resumed its use as a lid for the coin box. Less than three weeks later, we had a visit from a silver specialist from London, who was surprised to see the small stemmed bowl which we used for a wine chalice. Explaining that it was really a ciborium and demonstrating that it could be unscrewed into two pieces, he casually mentioned that there ought to be a lid for it, and suddenly the purpose of the recently cleaned silver was revealed. It fitted exactly and was indeed the lid to complete the ciborium. These were originally used to hold sacred bread, described by the Universal Dictionary of the English Language as `covered chalice for reserving the Blessed Sacrament'. It is believed that the three pieces may have been stored in a wooden case, now lost or perished, used to transport the sacred elements for use at small gatherings around the parish: perhaps with the idea of concealment in troublesome times. It is our oldest piece of silver, dated London 1603.

In 1993 the old safe was considered unsuitable for the storage of our increasing silverware and valuable records. During the quest for a suitable replacement, on a visit to Mr Savage's premises at Crossgar, a delegation including the Rector, Canon Cooper, spotted a discarded strongroom door which looked an exact fit for the wardrobe cupboard in the old vestry. Subsequent measurements proved that, with a little readjustment to the wall surrounding the door, the new strong room door would indeed fit. With its steel framework housed and bricked into the wall we now have commodious secure storage for all the precious silver and records belonging to the church, at a cost very much less than might have been incurred for a less practical, new safe! The photograph was taken with the door as a background.




The earliest reference to this family in our Parish records concerns the conveyance of land around the Church from Letitia Maxwell to the Church Wardens, John Charley and John Kelsey, and their successors forever, confirmed by Act of Council on 2nd December 1795. The name John appears repeatedly in the family records but this one was probably John Charley of Finaghy House, who was born in 1744.

The Charley family or Chorley(s) gave their name to the town of Chorley in Lancashire, where they resided before or soon after the Conquest. Their arms included blue bottles (cornflowers) and a tree vert. Later, King Edward III gave new Arms to the family - argent on a chevron gules between three blue bottles slipped proper, which they have borne ever since and these heraldic emblems are still used by the Charley family of Northern Ireland. The crest is a falcon's head on a cap of maintenance (the latter to denote eminence) and the motto 'Justus Esto et Non Metue' translates 'Be Just and Fear Not'.

The name Charley is almost synonymous with linen. From the earliest days of the linen industry, their factories and bleach greens were dotted along the Lagan and its tributaries: J & W Charley & Co. of Dunmurry, Seymour Hill, Mossvale and others. Indeed William Charley of Seymour Hill published a book 'On Flax' in 1862, which is still a classic. But it is as benefactors to Drumbeg Parish for over a century that we recall their philanthropy, which manifested itself in works of practical value that remain part of our heritage today.

They were keenly interested in forwarding the cause of education and were motivated to provide schools where a good elementary education could be had by the children of the Parish. They were also strong church supporters of antidisestablishmentarianism.

The year 1992 was the Centenary year of the Charley Memorial School in Drumbeg, endowed by sisters Mrs Anne Jane Stevenson and Miss Emily Charley, in memory of their brother and sister-in-law Mr & Mrs William Charley of Seymour Hill. In Dunmurry these two ladies also endowed the Stevenson National School, which opened in 1899, and the school at Woodbourne, which was opened around the same time. When the new Rectory was built in Drumbeg in the year 1894, it cost �1800. By the sale of the old Rectory at Hillhall, the sum of �700 was raised and the balance of �1100 was given by Mrs Stevenson and Miss Charley, quite a considerable sum of money in those days. We can never forget the most visible gift made by John Charley of Finaghy. Every Sunday that we enter the porch of the Church, the memorial tablet referred to elsewhere greets us with the reminder that the spire blown down in 1831 was rebuilt by John Charley in 1833. Just recently Canon Cooper led a team of volunteers who, in the space of a few weeks, raised over �20.000 to repair the spire, where the weather cock had become adrift and cracked the surrounding masonry. For nearly 160 years it had served to point the heavenward way to pilgrims and, with the restoration now carried out, it may well serve this purpose for another century.

We have seen that the font in Drumbeg was given by Miss Emily Charley, as was the font in St Colman's, Dunmurry. This generous lady, with her sister Mrs A J Stevenson, also gave many more benefactions to the new church in Dunmurry, which are remembered there.

What is not so apparent to the casual visitor is the inscription below the centre window in the chancel of our church in Drumbeg. It reads, 'To the Glory of God and in Memory of her Husband William Charley of Seymour Hill and their Sons John and Edward, this window was erected by Isabella Charley, 1870'. Unfortunately this inscription is now hidden behind the reredos and not easily seen.

Two tablets are erected on the walls of the Church. The large brass memorial at the very end of the nave on the north wall recalls the death of Major Charley at the battle of Colenso, 15th December, 1899, while the small tablet on the north transept is erected in memory of Mrs Letitia Maria MacKenzie, youngest daughter of Matthew Charley of Finaghy and of her two baby sons, Kenneth and Walter.

Colonel Robin Charley.

Colonel Robin Charley.

Colonel W.R.H. Charley, O.B.E., J.P., D.L., is the last in direct line of the Charleys in Ireland. He was born in Dunmurry in 1924, educated at Elm Park, Co Armagh, Cheltenham College, and The Queen's University of Belfast. Enlisting in The Royal Ulster Rifles in 1943, he served in Europe and in Korea. He was a graduate of the Army Staff College and commanded Queen's University Officers Training Corps from 1965 - 1968. He retired in 1971. Colonel Charley's many-faceted career since his retirement includes:

Justice of the Peace, North Down, 1977
Honorary Curator of the R.U.R. Museum and Regimental Association Secretary Royal Irish Rangers 1974 - 1989 High Sheriff of Co Antrim, 1978
D.L. for Co Down 1986, O.B.E. 1989, Kt. of St John 1993
Honorary Librarian for the St John Commandery of Ards and Knight of Justice of the Order of St John
Chairman of the Somme Heritage Centre, and President of the British Korean Veterans (Ireland Branch).

As if that were not enough, he lists as his interests: Militaria, Genealogy, Military History and Gardening! We are indeed most grateful to Colonel Charley (Robin) for this profile to complete our account of the Charley family and for the photograph of himself taken some years ago. He is married and has three daughters, and one grandson, Charley Reynolds.


In the chancel of our church there are two identical chairs made of solid oak. Both have similar plaques on the sides: `The gift of Margaret Airth Coates, 1870'. Amongst the earliest records of People's Churchwardens the name Coates appears: Matthew Coates 1851 - 1857/58; Adam Coates 1859. Often the appellation of Rathmore occurs, a name which prompted the first part of this article; but in order to bring the Coates family more fully into the history of our parish it is well to look briefly at their records. Sometime around 1791 the first Victor Coates to appear in Northern Ireland history is reported to have established the Lagan Foundry, Victor Coates & Co., general engineers and boilermakers. They were also makers of engines of up to 3000 H.P., one of which is on display in the Ulster Museum. They had foundries and boiler works at the Lagan Village, off what is now the Ravenhill Road, and at Prince's Dock, off Corporation Street. Coates & Co., became the most important steam engine and boiler manufacturers in Ireland, supplying numerous local mills, factories and pumping stations, and exporting engines throughout the country. Towards the close of their career, the Lagan Foundry even built and installed large triple and quadruple expansion units in Britain, in the face of local competition. The foundry closed down in 1906 and several of their engines can still be seen at work in the province today.

Rathmore House.

Rathmore House.

In family records 'Establissements Victor Coates, Paris (2)' the architect of Rathmore House in 1865 is given as Paxton, but in Belfast Illustrated Architectural Guide by Paul Larmour, Rathmore is described as `probably by Lanyon, Lynn and Lanyon. A substantial mid-Victorian house built of sandstone. Italianate in style with Tuscan columned porch and a very impressive coffer-vaulted hall with coloured roof light and Corinthian Columnade'. However, the author of the family record already mentioned saw it differently: 'it was quite modern with light from the roof and central heating; the first in Ireland and considered for many years most unhealthy. The rooms were too large to be heated by fires and this central heating made the house too comfortable'. This was the house that Margaret Airth Coates lived in when she donated those two chairs for the chancel. She was the daughter of Jonathan Richardson, M.P., of Farmhill, Dunmurry, and was married to Victor Coates in 1863.

Immediately there springs to mind the Quaker home from which she came and her family's connection with the Linen Industry. These family records contain a rare glimpse of the appointments of country estates in the 19th Century. The house was built on a hill of 120 acres with extensive stables, gas works, gardens, greenhouses, wash house and two lodges; the front drive was a mile and a quarter long'. The inside staff were three menservants and nine maids. Outside were the head gardener and his workmen, grooms and helpers, farm manager and labourers. (Ballydrain would have employed as many people or maybe even more). This was the background of Margaret Airth Coates, whose gifts to Drumbeg church remain with their little plaques dated 1870.

Rathmore is now a flourishing Convent Grammar school, catering for 1400 pupils.


In 'The Antient and Present State of Co. Down', 1744, by Walter Harris, the following description of the property is given: The house of James Hamilton Maxwell Esq. stands on a small rising hill in view of the river which here meanders down to Drum Bridge on the road from Belfast to Lisburn, the place is adorned by goodly plantations'.

E.R.R. Green writes: Hamilton Maxwell of Drumbeg was given a grant of �40 a year for three years by the Linen Trustees in 1725 as wages for the Dutch bleacher `who shall bleach after the best manner used at Harlem'. This is further amplified by J. Stevenson - Two Centuries of Life in Down. An example of the kind of contracts which the Board were willing to make will be found from their minutes of Saturday, August 21st, 1725: `We the Committee appointed to consider the proposals of Mr. James Hamilton Maxwell, for setting up a bleach yard at Drumbegg, in the County of Down, and to give our opinion, how the bleaching of this Kingdom may be improved, have met, and are of opinion, that the best method that can be taken for the improvement of the bleaching in this Kingdom, will be, to bring over bleachers from Holland, who have followed the business there, and are well skilled therein. We are therefore of opinion, if Mr Maxwell will enter into articles to make a bleach yeard and build a buckhouse, and provide the same with the utensils mentioned in the plan hereunto annexed, and also bring over from Holland, a bleacher well skilled in the Dutch methods of bleaching, who shall bleach after the best manner used at Harlem, and shall bring such cloths as he shall bleach, to be as good a colour as those whitened in Holland, and shall be under contract to stay in this Kingdom for three years, and follow the said trade, and instruct three apprentices in the best methods of bleaching used in Holland, that then Mr Maxwell be allowed the sum of �40 per annum for three years as wages for the said bleacher, but we are further of opinion, that after the said three years, he the said Mr Maxwell be obliged to carry on the bleaching trade, after the Dutch manner for seven years, at his own expense, without any further encouragement from this Board. Your committee are likewise of opinion that Mr Maxwell be obliged to send over some pieces of his bleaching, every year during the first three years, to be laid before this Board'. The site of the bleach yard is not now known, but is believed to have been where the Thompson's Dye works and dam were situated, now a housing development, The Hermitage.

Drum House.

Drum House.

Letitia Maxwell, who conveyed the land to the church in 1795. was probably the daughter of this James Hamilton Maxwell who died on 21st February 1751. Another linen merchant and bleacher, William Hunter, occupied the property for a time and seems to have been succeeded by William Henry Smyth in 1840. Miss Moore, treasurer of the Ragged School, Barrack Street, Belfast, was occupier in the 1860's. She was followed by Mrs Kilpatrick and then John Arnott Taylor of Arnott & Co in the 1880's. Robert Thompson was in possession in the early years of this century, as was Lady Keatley. Following a number of tenancies, the present owners and parishioners, Morrell and Mrs McNeice, came to Drum House in 1959. The grounds, laid out in large gardens are now known as the Drum House Nurseries. The house is reputedly of some antiquity but is unlikely to be earlier than the late 17th Century. It was extended by the Arnott family around 1880. The architect was Thomas Jackson, 1807 - 1890, who also designed Wilmont House, St Malachy's Church in Alfred Street, the old Museum in College Square and the old Music Hall in May Street, now demolished* .During the last war the Home Guard had a strenuous weekend romping over the fields around the Drum Bridge and along the towpath on either side, down to near Edenderry. The purpose of the exercise was to provide this volunteer army with practical experience in the defence of the bridge and the high ground around the Lagan. It was a very tense time, with news awaited hourly of the dropping of German paratroopers prior to the expected invasion of Britain. The Drum House was a key position to the success or failure of the 'defence' forces, and a fierce 'battle' raged around it for several hours, in which a large amount of blank ammunition was discharged.

Fortunately, Hitler's military advisers accepted the Fuhrer's direction that an attack be made on Russia instead of an invasion of Britain and the Home Guard never had to defend the Drum bridge or Drum House against a hostile invader.

* Lisburn Historical Society Journal, Vol. 7, 1989. Eileen Black - 'A Glimpse of Drumbeg', 1750-1800.

Few of those taking part in that weekend exercise would have known that history was repeating itself in a most remarkable way. Just one and a half centuries earlier the Drumbridge Volunteers were deployed in the same area and a great mock battle took place in and around the Drum House. A very full account of that day's activities is contained in the Belfast Newsletter** , and what a day it was! Saturday 4th November, 1780.

The proceedings began at about twelve noon, when the arrival of the Reviewing General, Roger McNeill Esq., was announced by the firing of a cannon. Seven companies made up the two battalions taking part. The Blues battalion comprised: Lambeg Volunteers (Capt. Bell), Lisburn Blues (Capt. Burden), Dunmurry Volunteers (Capt. Johnson). Opposing them was the Red battalion made up of: Drumbridge Volunteers, Lieut. Michel (Capt. Stewart acting as director of the mock engagement), Purdysburn Volunteers (Capt. Wilson), Ballylesson Royals (Capt. McNeill), and Lisburn Fusiliers (Capt. Jones). The objective of the Blues battalion was to force a passage over the river at three points, first at the weir downstream from the bridge, second at the Drum bridge and third by pontoon on the tongue of land between the river and the canal. Under their commanding officer, Capt. Johnson. the troops ably performed the whole of the day's service, without indulging themselves in any refreshment. The land around Miss Maxwell's Drum House was most suitable, the weather favourable, the spectators were delighted, and the troops returned to their quarters in a regular and peaceable manner.

** Belfast Newsletter - 8.14 November 1780


Nestling in the valley of the Lagan surrounded by woodlands and green fields, the village of Drumbeg is secured, for the time being, from the encroachments of the suburban sprawl of the City of Belfast.

Between Drumbeg and Lismoyne, the two great bulwarks of Wilmont and Ballydrain estates protect the immediate green area, round the church, from being swallowed up by the voracious speculative development suffered by so many similar areas on the perimeter of the city. These two estates were founded by the Stewart families: Ballydrain, built on a fortified farmstead or Bawn in 1608, by William Stewart, whose family was reputed to have been of Scottish lesser Royal blood, was occupied by them until 1834. They appear constantly in our parish records, connected with the 'Free Howse' account and the earliest headstones now placed against the wall of the new Vestry.

The estate was sold to Hugh Montgomery in 1834 and the close connection of the Montgomery family with the parish is illustrated under various references in this book, i.e., Stained Glass, the Lych Gate, the Reading Desk and the Yew Walk. Later, the Morrisons placed their grounds at Ballydrain at the disposal of the Parish for the annual Sunday school outings and the centenary events described elsewhere. The first Wilmont was built about 1760 by William Stewart, son of John Stewart of Ballydrain. By 1837 the house and offices were in a state of decay in spite of an enlargement carried out by William Stewart between 1760 and 1770, when a new front was added

.Ballydrain House.

Ballydrain House.

The estate was bought by James Bristow about 1858. In the following year it was pulled down and the present building, designed by Thomas Jackson, was built. James Bristow, whose initials can be seen on the side of the entrance porch, was succeeded by his son James Thomas Bristow in 1866. When he died at the age of fifty, on 25th July 1877. the estate passed into the hands of his trustees and was sold in 1879 to Robert Henry Sturrocks Reade.*

The Bristow family burial ground is along the East wall of the churchyard, but little else remains to connect them with our parish, although they undoubtedly contributed to the maintenance of the church during their tenure of Wilmont.

R.H.S. Reade made many benefactions to our church. Under the heading of 'Our Stained Glass', we have examined the windows by the baptistry and the little window in the North Transept provided as memorials to the Reade family. They also have as a memorial the extension to the Parochial hall, where the brass plaque above the entrance door records their gift.

* Lisburn Historical Society Journals - Articles by Eileen Black: Wilmont. Dunmurry - A Profile. Vol. 5, 1984.

Ballydrain - An Estate Through the Ages. Vol. 5, 1984.

Wilmont House.

Wilmont House.

Wilmont estate passed into the possession of Sir Thomas and Lady Edith Dixon in 1919. They were both distinguished public benefactors, especially to the Borough of Larne, where from 1939 to 1941 they served as first Mayor and Lady Mayoress. Their gifts to Larne included the donation of Dixon Park to the Council, Cairndhu to the Hospitals Authority for use as a convalescent home, and a gift of �10,000 towards the cost of converting and renovating the former Technical College into Council Offices, which are now known as Sir Thomas Dixon Buildings.

Sir Thomas Dixon died at Harrogate on 10th May 1950. As the culmination of a lifetime's benefactions, on 3rd April 1963, Lady Dixon officially handed over Wilmont Estate to Belfast Corporation. The grounds consisting of 134 acres were designated 'the Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park' and opened to the public, as she had requested. The house served as a home for old people until 1993. when it was closed. Lady Dixon made many gifts in her long life of public service, among her bequests a sum of money to the Parish of Drumbeg, the interest of which is to be given to the augmentation of the Rector's stipend.

While Wilmont remains in the hands of Belfast Corporation for use as a public park, and Ballydrain is now in the ownership of Malone Golf Club, the future of the Green Belt looks secure for the time being, although the Parish has survived at least one very close encounter with the planners, who in 1959, seemed about to swamp the area with five hundred houses. So serious was the threat that the Diocesan Council urged the Rector and Select Vestry to take steps to acquire a site for a church and hall within the area proposed for development, which was bounded by the Quarterlands Road, Hillhall Road to Ballyaughlis, Drumbeg Road to the corner and by the Ballyskeagh Road to Quarterlands Road.

On 27th November 1959, the Rector and Select Vestry met to consider the situation and examine the idea of a new church and hall to be built on a site in the Quarterlands, overlooking the Hillhall Road, and a further evening of discussion took place in the Rectory in December 1960, when the immediate threat of inundation seemed to have been averted.

After some months of anxiety, the Belfast Corporation decided to develop a large site at Dundonald , which, in due course, became the housing estate of Ballybeen. Indeed the Revd. W. B. Neill, now Archdeacon of Dromore, was the first curate-in-charge of the new church of St Elizabeth, Dundonald, established to cater for the Church of Ireland families who moved into the estate. It is now a flourishing parish with about 800 families in the care of the Rector, Revd. J. McK. White.

As a corollary to the decision of Belfast Corporation to abandon plans to build on the land of the various farmers in the area which had been earmarked for development, they were compensated by cash payments instead, thus creating a green belt on which no future building should take place, as long as the legislative powers observe this moratorium.

If we are to preserve this green hedge between us and the city of Belfast, and a beautiful oasis of calm and peace by the side of the River Lagan, we must be wary of any attempt to infiltrate beyond Lismoyne, where development for housing is presently taking place right up to the demarcation line of Dunmurry Lane, or further encroachment from within. Such a concept may appear selfish and perhaps snobbish, but it is based on the belief that the maintenance of the Lagan Valley Regional Park as an amenity area for all the residents, both of the city and of the countryside, can only be for the enrichment of the lives of future generations who may yet live to bless the wisdom that created it.


The Bridge House was used by Drumbeg Sunday School in 1893 when 117 pupils attended. We do not have earlier records to say whether this was an exceptional event or the last year of several. For the following six years, the Annual Report returns thanks to Mr Reade for providing magic lantern shows in March each year in the Bridge House, for the Sunday School pupils. They were much appreciated at a time when entertainment was minimal. Although the house was presumably the Lock House designed by Thomas Omer and now restored as a listed building, the lock keeper had vacated it and was living on the other side of the road in a two storey slated cottage closer to the locks.

The Bridge House.

The Bridge House.

Thomas Omer was a Dutch engineer brought over to finish the stretch of the Lagan Navigation's new canal from Belfast to Lisburn. The first vessel to celebrate the opening of the canal in September 1763, was the sixty ton Barge `Lord Hertford' owned by Thomas Greg, merchant of Belfast, who, with his wife and a large party of ladies and gentlemen aboard, accompanied by a band playing suitable music, arrived at Drumbridge where they were met by the principal gentlemen of Lisburn. As they proceeded to Lisburn they were accompanied along the towpath by hundreds of people. The town of Lisburn was en fete for the occasion of their arrival, illuminated by lights in every house and bonfires in the streets, while the populace was regaled with barrels of ale, set up in the square by the benevolence of Lord Hertford.*

Acclaimed as a cheap and easy method of transporting coal and timber to the various factory quays along the canal to Lisburn, and eventually to Lough Neagh, in anticipation of return cargoes of bricks from Coalisland and so on, it never really flourished. The coming of the railway provided quicker and more certain transportation of goods; the petrol driven vehicles and improved roads sounded the death knell of the Lagan Navigation Co. Omer's Lock House remains to us as a memorial of his endeavours, of the time when the 117 Sunday school pupils attended the Bridge House and of the wonderful evenings of magic lantern shows provided by Mr Reade.

It is great to be able to record that after an interval of fifty years when the canal was practically derelict, the towpath from Belfast to Lisburn has been recently renovated and resurfaced, providing an excellent walkway.

As part of the Lagan Valley Regional Park new efforts are being made to restore the ecology of the area so that future generations may enjoy this wonderful amenity, perhaps watching the silver salmon negotiating the weirs, on its way to the spawning grounds at the foot of Slieve Croob, or seeing with pleasure the fresh water mussels which used to abound in the clear, unpolluted waters between Drumbridge and Ballyskeagh.

* see Once Upon The Lagan - by May Blair


High on the slopes of Collin Hill overlooking the Lagan Valley, the Glen river has its birth and flows through a rugged glen in a place formerly called Ballycullo (now Suffolk) near Mulliganstown, providing power for the beetling factory and linen bleaching plant of the partners David and William McCance, and George McCarron, a printer of calicoes over 200 years ago. They were well established linen merchants prior to 12th January 1795 when the dissolution of the partnership was announced in the Belfast Newsletter of that date.

The extent of their interests is reflected in the various records of shipments of linen goods to England; for instance, on 7th January 1797, a box of linen was shipped to a Mr McIvor, sailing for Liverpool on the first fair wind with the following note in the bill of lading: There is a French fleet on our coasts. You will no doubt insure'. This entry reminds us that Great Britain was at war with France just eight years after the French Revolution, and that a fleet of thirty-five French ships, their decks crowded with French Republican soldiers, had sailed into Bantry Bay in Co. Cork on 21st December 1796 at the call of the United Irishmen, putting all of Ireland and indeed Great Britain itself, in very

real peril. However, a series of strong northerly gales and wintry weather scattered this French Armada, with their brilliant young commander General Roche and Wolfe Tone, who sailed with them. The last ships of this French fleet had to cut their cables and return, much battered, to France.5

Only 400 men of the Bantry Militia, poorly trained and indifferently armed, had been available to repulse an invasion had it come. As Wolfe Tone later remarked, England had not had such an escape since the Spanish Armada.

In all this, the McCance's business seems to have continued as usual and the Rebellion of 1798 when it did come, does not appear to have disturbed the peace of Dunmurry in the least. All engaged in the linen trade there, whatever their sympathies, continued with their business as usual.

It seems remarkable that such momentous events, culminating in the execution of Henry Joy McCracken in front of the Market House in Belfast on the evening of 17th July 17986 should have caused so little disruption to the daily lives of the parishioners of Drumbeg, whose new church was almost ready for consecration.

The McCance family were linked to Drumbeg by the marriage of John McCance with Jane Charley, daughter of that benefactor family so often met with in our records. Their son John McCance was an M.P. for Belfast in the Westminster Parliament in 1835. Sadly, he died in London on 11th August of that year, and is buried in Kensal Green cemetery.

They were also linked to Drumbeg by the fact that they acquired extensive burial rights, suggesting that before our parish records began, they had been notable parishioners. This attachment is still maintained by the regular attendance of that quiet, courteous gentleman whose letters to the press on current events are signed quite simply R. Finlay McCance, and by whose co-operation we are enabled to use these extracts from an extensive family history and reproduce his photograph, the last surviving member of the McCances of Suffolk.

5"John McCance M.P." - McCance Family Papers.

6 The Life and Times of Mary Ann McCracken 1770 - 1866 by Mary McNeill.



Beside the back door of the church there are two reminders of the functionary whose activity is mostly unremarked until something goes wrong.

Children are much more observant than their elders and often remark on the peculiar piece of ironwork protruding from the bottom step on the left-hand side, as they leave after a guided tour. It does look odd to a generation who rarely, if ever, have to dirty their footwear, but when it was inserted in the step, probably in 1870, it was an indispensable tool in preparing to enter church, for who would think of carrying the muck and mud from the lanes and the Lagan tow path into their place of worship. There are two of these foot scrapers on the front steps, not so easily seen since the provision of the hand railings in 1955 by Mrs E. Whittock, in memory of her husband Frederick, a freeman of London.

There were no electric cleaners to dust out the carpeting in 1870; indeed there were no carpets to clean! The passageways were covered by patterned brown and yellow linoleum, tattered remnants of which were still to be found within living memory. Today, when hardly a sound announces the arrival of parishioners to their accustomed seats, it is hard to realise that the clitter-clatter of boots, shoes and sometimes clogs accompanied their progress from the porch to their eventual destination in a pew. The din was an accepted preliminary to the commencement of morning and evening prayer, and passed unnoticed unless a larger-than-usual contingent arrived together, or the occasional latecomer tried to sneak in. The foot scrapers served a very useful purpose in those peripatetic days!

The Sexton used them frequently after his or her labours in the churchyard. Yes, we did have a lady sacristan called Mrs McCann, who succeeded her husband William, who died in 1864. However, she only held it for one year before agreeing to vacate the Sexton's house, one of a terrace of four cottages in the back lane, the lintel stone of which is now in the grounds of 89 Drumbeg Road (the Sexton's house built in 1928). The inscription on the stone reads `Sexton's House 1842'. Detached bungalows now occupy the grounds where these cottages once stood behind the Parochial Hall. The Revd. G.T. Payne has written in the first page of the baptism register for the years 1827 - 1876 as follows:

'After the death of Wm. McCann, Sexton in 1864, his widow held the position for one year and then resigned; when James Leathem was appointed to the situation. Mrs McCann was given �10 by the Rector in consideration of any repairs which he (William) might have done to the Sexton's house, which is the property of the Rector, in trust for the parish, and said James Leathem signed an undertaking that he would give possession of the Sexton's house at a week's notice, without requiring any compensation for any repairs, etc. All repairs required on 14th November were done by me' - Signed: G.T. Payne 1865.

At a Select Vestry meeting held on 18th April 1881, it was resolved that a room should be added to the Sexton's house when funds were available. Apparently they never were available, as the annual report for 1895 states: 'at present the whole house consists of a kitchen for living in and a bedroom to contain eight people. The late Sexton succumbed to sickness brought on by damp and cold to which no doubt the state of the house contributed somewhat'. The illness of James Taggart was mentioned at a vestry meeting held on 25th September 1893 and he died shortly afterwards.

On 30th October 1893 there were 41 applicants for the post. Robert Cooper was appointed and served for about 10 years until he retired. On 28th December 1903 there were three applications for the job and George Cooper was appointed Sexton. He may have been the son of the previous Sexton, but he held the pest for only a short time, according to a minute in the following year when the question of Sexton is again under consideration. Thomas Irvine was nominated and received four votes, William Morrison received five votes and was appointed. The minutes read: `Cooper to cease as at Monday morning 8th July when Morrison will take over. Mrs Cooper and family to leave the house by August 15th. Messrs. Cloughley, Dugan and Garrett were appointed to inspect the Sexton's house during the week 16th - 22nd August, when it would be empty and have it whitewashed, cleaned and repaired'. On the 23rd July 1908 the Hon. Secretary was instructed to write to William Morrison to say that his services were no longer required after 31st July 1908. He had acted as Sexton for four years. Thirty-eight applications for the position were considered at the Select Vestry meeting held on 23rd July 1908. Ten were very good. Matthew Neill was appointed on a temporary basis as from the Easter Vestry 1908 at ten shillings per week, with a free house. He could not have regarded the free house very highly, since he walked morning and night from a two storey cottage in Glenburn estate in Dunmurry lane for many years before the new Sexton's house was built beside the Parochial Hall in 1928.

Matt Neil, Sexton 1908 - 1937 and his wife Mary.

Matt Neil, Sexton 1908 - 1937 and his wife Mary.

He was soon in trouble with the Church Wardens in his new home! The fencing around the house was not fowl proof, and the many organisations using the hall had occasion to complain of the transgression of his flock around the hall, particularly of their habit of sheltering in the doorways during inclement weather.

He was failing in health in 1934 when his son Alex Neill took over the work and was instrumental in laying out the graveyard extension plots and paths, and planting the trees around it, which are now mature conifers. At Matthew's funeral service, on 15th January 1938, the Rector, Revd. Samuel McGarvey, in an emotional tribute to Matt Neill, described him as a faithful friend and servant of the Church for nearly 30 years.

He had held the Sextonship for 28 years, standing in the porch with an old black gown hanging round his gaunt frame, ringing the bell Sunday by Sunday, morning and evening for most of these years; challenging the more expensive time-pieces of organist or Church Warden with his stubborn faith in the old Silver English lever which weighed down his waistcoat pocket, in the years before the correct time was known by all from the `wireless'.

At the beginning of this article, mention was made of two reminders of their labours around the church: one was the boot scraper and the other is hardly every visited by anyone else. The description of the church of 1870 refers to `a hot water apparatus situated under the vestry room for heating the church'. By the back door there is a steep flight of stone steps leading down to what is now known as the boiler house, but was usually described colloquially as the `stoke-hole', before the oilfired boiler was installed by the gift of a member of the Select Vestry on 26th October 1969.

How many tons of coal, coke and slack were carried down these precipitous steps may be judged by the way each step has been worn away at the centre, making for a hazardous descent during frosty weather. The firing of this heating apparatus was a delicately skilled operation, requiring a judicious presentiment of what the weather was going to be at the weekends or whenever the heating would be required. Light the fire too late and the congregation grumbled about the cold of the church, or fail to make a correct guess as to the ratio of slack to coke to coal for the last firing at ten or eleven o'clock on a Saturday night, when the boiler either ate up the fuel and expired, or slumbered all night doing nothing; either way the result was a dissatisfied congregation. With experience these rarely happened and anyhow the hardier folk, unused to central heating, hardly ever felt the cold! Today we throw a switch, set the clock and unless there is a power failure, we have a comfortable temperature of sixty two degrees Fahrenheit to greet the congregation in the winter days.

On 18th October 1969 Alex Neill died, having been Sexton for 33 years. At his funeral service the Rector, Horace Uprichard, described him as 'the faithful steward and the silent witness of every baptism, marriage, and funeral for more than 30 years'. During his period as Sexton, over one thousand burials took place in the churchyards. In order to make the job easier for him, a number of assistants were employed from time to time over the last ten years of his service. One of these was the late George Dougan, who made a worthwhile contribution to the furnishings of our church.

George, who had been an upholsterer earlier in life, while helping in the church noticed the poor state of the kneelers used at the communion rails and was prevailed upon to undertake the renewal of them, provided the materials were acquired to his specification. When this was done, he and his good wife Eva, working in their own home in Charley's Cottages, spent many fruitful evenings (and sometimes acrimonious evenings!) braiding, sewing and buttoning those two long cushions used by communicants ever since. George also took the stool from the Rector's reading desk and remodelled it tastefully with brass pins in the shape of crosses around the edges. The cushions in the two large chairs in the chancel and the rear of the church at the door, are his handiwork.

George, a staunch Presbyterian, died suddenly in September 1981. His memorial work is still in continuous use to the comfort of Rector and congregation and to the glory of God in Drumbeg.

Cleaning, polishing, providing for the orderly conduct of services, repairing things that are within his competence, reporting on structural defects and generally taking care of the buildings and grounds belonging to the parish so that they are preserved for posterity, conscious always of the 'slenderness of the thread that separates life from death', the Sexton works; so that when the key is turned in the door each Sunday night he may reflect on the gathering of the faithful which makes all his work worthwhile, the assembling of that church which is the living body of Christ in every place where two or three are gathered in His name.

Spare a thought then for the Sacristan, 'Keeper of holy things'; 'person employed in a parish to open, warm and light the church, ring the bells, and dig graves'.


Around the old graveyard, the pines by the road, home for the squabbling rooks, donate a harvest of cones each year to the annoyance of the groundsman and the delight of visiting small children. Behind the two hundred year old beech tree beside the church door, the first heralds of spring appear; a galaxy of snowdrops, and a free seeding panoply of crocuses, purple, gold and white. By the back wall of the church, a golden carpet of sedum clothes the base, while the old walls and tombstones provide the black, grey, green, and golden lichens sought out by environmentalists.

On either side of the carriageway leading into the first extension, the four pseudo-acacia trees, planted close to the Masonic symboled tomb of Stirlings, are so dilatory at clothing their gnarled branches each year that they look as though they had perished in the winter.

Although there are now three extensions, including the memorial garden, it is the old churchyard that excites most interest from visitors. Inevitably, the first query is, 'what is the oldest grave', as though that in some way sets a seal on the sanctity and antiquity of the churchyard. We can only refer them to the three headstones attached to the wall of the Vestry with the Stewart Coat of Arms above. These are mentioned earlier as part of the 'Free Howse' story. They are our oldest known headstones, but by no means the oldest grave. When we consider that the earliest record of a church on this little hill is dated 1306, who can say which is the oldest grave? Certainly, long before the 1641 of the Stewart tombs or the 1657 of the Haddock grave, hundreds of unknown men, women and children must have been buried here.

The larger monuments of the wealthier parishioners of days gone by certainly occasion comment. There are a number of these just outside the back door of the church along the wall, dominated by the Charley memorial which is at right-angles to the wall in a high railed enclosure, erected by John Charley of Finaghy. Further down the wall towards the Drum House side are the twin panels of the Bristow memorials, the large Celtic cross marking the last resting place of the Revd. G.T. Payne, then another Celtic cross of more elaborate design indicates the grave of R.H.S. Reade whose benefactions included the stained glass windows at the baptistry and the extension to the Parochial Hall called the Reade Memorial Hall. Next is a plain square cross marking the burial place of that great Rector, Canon A.R. Ryder, and his family. Following the line of graves along this wall, we come to the Ward memorial, then the McCance enclosure, another Reade plot, then the Bristow memorial (Dean of Connor), and lastly the Ward enclosure by the gateway into the field.

If we then turn right at the back door of the church to the line of graves along the east wall of the churchyard in the opposite direction to those already described, we will find the elaborate monuments so typical of the commercial and landed interests of the last century continued: first another Ward enclosure, then the three matching panels of the Montgomery graves, the rather unusual enclosure of John Charley, and lastly the slightly isolated monument to Matthew Walter Charley. Scattered around this old graveyard are a few other large monuments; the McCance memorial near the path to the new churchyard is probably the largest.

A great deal of history is enshrined in this row of monuments along the old churchyard wall, but how much history is concealed by the grassy mounds that mark the last resting places of hundreds of people, young and old, who have been interred here for perhaps seven hundred years. Our records tell us of the burial plots for the last hundred years or so, but how many burials were made here in the long history of the parish is now unknown.

For those who are pursuing their family roots, the gravestones are an invaluable source of information. Indeed the records preserved in Gravestone Inscriptions of Co. Down Vol. 3, state that 'there are a larger number of Coats of Arms in the graveyard than is usual in County Down', and goes on to detail the inscriptions to be found prior to 1865.

Most of these inscriptions are lists of those interred over the years, often adding a scriptural quotation, but one adds the following epitaph as an abjuration:

Weep not for me my friends so dear
I am not dead, but sleepeth here.
My debts are paid when this you see
Prepare for death and follow me.

It is lettered on the centre one of three large brown headstones marking the graves of the Chapman families; to be found near the gate into the new extension.

Not far away, nearer the wall and behind the Haddock grave, is a small plain cross often sought out by historians. It is inscribed at the base 'In memory of William Gouldie, an Irish Volunteer of '98, died 8th April 1873 aged 104 years'. He was almost certainly the last of the Volunteers. Some inscriptions mention place names now almost forgotten, such as Mulliganstown, Lane Ends or Loan Ends, Drum, Drumbridge; some give a glimpse of the occupations of the deceased, M.P., baker, soldier, sailor, cooper and painter, and some indicate the widely dispersed family members who died far from home, in South Africa, the U.S.A., Italy, at Balaclava and so on. Within this enclosure of the old graveyard what a lot of history is enshrined!

There are two other interesting memorials in the old graveyard which are reminders of events now nearly entirely forgotten.

Almost exactly sixty years ago on 12th June 1935, the four masted barque Hertzogin Cecilie was discharging her cargo of wheat from Port Lincoln, Australia, when the two ton boiler of her donkey engine exploded, ripped through the thick panels of her deck, soared over a hundred feet into the air, crashed through the sturdy roof of the quay shed, before coming to rest on the sacks of wheat stored inside.*

The two young Finnish sailors in the engine house were killed instantly, and two other members of the crew were injured. The Hertzogin Cecilie was the oldest of these famous clipper ships afloat. She had been 110 days sailing into Falmouth and a further seven days to Belfast. As she sailed into Belfast Lough in mid June 1935, she looked the picture of beauty and tranquility; no one could have forseen that for two young sailors of her crew it was their last voyage.

A small square, rough-cut granite Celtic cross marks where they are buried. The names are as follows:

Bror Hellstrom
Oiva Mustonen

Seamen of the barque Hertzogin Cecilie, died at Belfast 12th June 1935.

Their grave in the centre of the old graveyard on the right-hand side Df the path going towards the steps into the first extension. Bror Hellstrom was 22 years of age and Oiva Mustonen was 21. Further back, closer to the south wall, is a large polished granite monument to the Ward family. Halfway down the inscriptions on the headstone is the following:

Isaac W Ward (Belfastiensis),
Chronicler of his native city.

Isaac Ward was an authority on the social, political and topograpical history of Belfast, skilled in research, with a passionate love of accuracy and a retentive memory for the minutest details. He could trace his ancestry back to Roger Ward who came to Malone with a colony of settlers in the seventeenth century.**

Under the pen name of 'Belfastiensis' he contributed numerous articles to the Belfast Newsletter, dealing with topical and historical subjects. As a student of astronomy he made a great deal of original investigation, and formulated theories and conclusions which were readily accepted by recognised authorities.

The governors of the Linen Hall Library passed the following resolution:

'That the Board of Governors have heard with great regret of the death of Mr Isaac Ward, who was an honorary member and a good friend of the library, in which he took an active interest. By his death the community has lost a man of unique literary and antiquarian accomplishments and of high and amiable character'.

* See Belfast Newsletter account - dated 13th June, 1935.
** See Belfast Newsletter - 14th October. 1916.

His death was occasioned by a rare accident on 2nd October 1916, when he was knocked down by a pony and trap in North Street, Belfast, and sustained injuries from which he died in the Royal Victoria Hospital ten days later.

A member of the Church of Ireland, Isaac William Ward was interred in the family plot in Drumbeg.

With the extensions made in 1935 and again in 1976, our grounds extend to four acres and all are pervaded by that peace so often felt by the bereaved. In this oasis of quietness the little activities of life go on. The wood pigeon and the chaffinch garner the beech mast under the beech trees, the little brown wren, great tits and blue tits, and the song thrush flit from their nests in spring in the safety of the yew arches, the ubiquitous robin, the grey wagtail along the roof, the mistle thrush often nesting on ledges on the tombstones, tree creepers who favour the large sequoia trees, rarely gold crests in the conifers by the road side, the silent owl quartering the area at dusk, the wandering wild duck in the field, the rare pheasant stepping daintily over the lawn at dawn, the wandering fox and the sleepy hedgehog, all these and many more are vivid reminders of the continuity of life.

Some of the calmness and peace of these 'God's acres' seems to permeate the very walls of our church, or maybe the peace of God which passes man's understanding seeps out from within our hallowed house to join together in the psalm of praise and thanksgiving for the great blessings we enjoy in our worship in this heritage of Drumbeg.

List of Curates who assisted the incumbents

1872 W. Wilson
1875 A. Byrne
1893 Gerald N. O'Grada Beere
1894 S.H. Ponsonby Harmon
1895-96 T.T. Fenner
1897-98 J.E. Browne
1899-1900 Wm. M. Weir
1901 Andrew Boyd, M.A.
1902-05 Arthur Webb
1906-08 Gerald Farrington
1909-12 J.S. Houston
1913-17 T.H. Blackburn, M.A.
1918-20 H.E. Gick
1921-23 W.B. Jones
1924-28 Richard Whitehead

List of Curates and Rectors from earliest records

1609 Down Cathedral was reconstituted and the Archdeacons were endowed with certain Parishes, one of which was Drumbeg.

So from 1609 the Archdeacon of Down was Rector of Drumbeg and parochial duty was carried out by Curates (or Vicars).


William Forbes


Simon Chichester was presented by the crown to be Vicar


Claudius Gilbert


Oliver Frennd


Thomas Finlay


William Vesey Hamilton


William Lindsay

In 1823 Drumbeg was a perpetual Curacy and in 1834 Drumbeg was disappropriated from the Archdeaconry. The perpetual Curate then became Rector.

1823 - 43 J.L.M. Scott, M.A. (Curate until 1834, then Rector); Chancellor of Down Cathedral 1843

1843 - 56 G.W. Tyrell, M.A.


Thomas Walker, M.A.


G.T. Payne, M.A.


A.R. Ryder, B.D. (made Canon 1905/D.D.1910)


C.C. Manning, M.C., M.A.; Archdeacon 1930


Samuel Hemphill, D.D., Litt. D. (Treasurer of Down Cathedral)


S.R. McGarvey, M.A.


Horace L. Uprichard, M.A.


Cecil W.M. Cooper, M.A. (made Canon 1986)


Rectors Peoples
1823 Wm. Hunter A. Macklin
1824 John Charley Wm.Johnston
1 825 Allen Brown Edward Curtiss
1826 John Charley John Hunter
1827-28 Wm. Hunter John Kelsey
1829 John Charley John Kelsey
1830 Ed. Curtiss Joseph Denham
1831 John Charley George Innes
1832-34 John Charley John Kelsey
1 835 Matthew Charley J. Cunningham
1 836-37 Wm. Hamilton Smyth J. Cunningham
1838 Andrew Durham George Montgomery
1839 Andrew Durham George Caldwell
1840 Robert Calwell Wm. Malcolmson
1841-42 Francis Copley Andrew Durham
1843 Matthew Charley Robert Calwell
1844 Hugh Montgomery William Smyth
1845 William Smyth Matthew Charley
1846 Robert Calwell Matthew Charley
1847 William Calwell John Charley
1848 George Calwell John Charley
1849 James Robinson John Charley
1850 Hugh Montgomery John Charley
1851 George Calwell Matthew Coates
1852 John Charley John Harrison
1853 John Charley George Calwell
1854 James McConnell Major Watt
1855 John Charley John Harrison
1856 Hugh Montgomery John Charley
1857-58 Geo. Caldwell Matthew Coates
1859 James Bristow Adam Coates
1860 Hugh Montgomery Matthew Coates
1861 James Bristow Adam Woods
1862 Hugh Montgomery George McDonagh
1 863 James Bristow George McDonagh
1864 Hugh Montgomery Joseph T Murphy
1865-66 James Bristow Joseph T Murphy
1867-70 J.T. Murphy John Charley
1871 John Charley Isaac Murphy
1872-77 J.T. Murphy George Macklin
1878 William Smyth (Drum House) J.T. Murphy
1879-83 William Smyth (Drum House) George Caldwell
1884 Willliam Smyth (Drum House) R.H.E. Reade
1885 James Crawford R.H.E. Reade

Rectors Peoples
1886-87 D. McWilliams R.H.E. Reade
1888 J.A. Taylor R.H.E. Reade
1889 R.H.E. Reade
1890 R.H.E. Reade John Crone
1891 R.H.E. Reade William Macklin
1893-1905 R.H.E. Reade James Crawford
1906-12 R.H.E. Reade W.R. Oakman
1913-16 W.R. Oakman Fred Hall
1917-23 W.R. Oakman Adam Woods
1924-27 E. Smyth A. Willis
1928-29 A. Willis W.V.P. Thompson
1930-31 W.V.P. Thompson R. Gurd
1932 R. Gurd W.V.P. Thompson
1933-37 T. Garrett W.V.P. Thompson
1938 T. Garrett A. Willis
1939-1956 J.H. Craig A. Willis
1957 J.H. Craig Lois C. Gotto
1958-62 A. Willis N.M. Scott
1963-77 W.B. Maxwell N.M. Scott
1978 W.B. Maxwell W.G. Hastings
1979 W.B. Maxwell R.J. Edgar
1980-83 A. W. Anderson R.J. Edgar
1984 R.J. Edgar J.E. Wilson
1985 J.E. Wilson R. Fry
1986 Mrs T. Scott J. R. Baird
1987 A. MacLaughlin T. Martin
1988 P. Price R. Jordan
1989 B. Holliday Mrs R. Turkington
1990 Mrs S. Brown J. Wadsworth
1991 Dr. D. Maltby Dr. D. Connolly
1992 N. Latham T. Martin
1993 M. Neill R. Kerr
1994 D. O'Hara S. Knowles
1995 M. Boyd Mrs M. Boyd


'And yet the past comes round again And new doth old fulfil'

'And yet the past comes round again
And new doth old fulfil'

John Greenleaf Whittier 1807 - 1892

Front Cover:
St. Patrick's Drumbeg, the 1798 Church
Back Cover:
The present Church
In-House Publications, Portadown
Printed by:
The Universities Press, Belfast