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Intertwined history of our old churches should be cherished

 

Gail Walker's piece on 'Churches such as St Patrick's ...' (July 18) reminds me of the last time I passed Donegall Street's St Patrick's Church, some years ago.

 I felt it a great pity, on reading the history plaque outside the church, that there was no reference to Lord Castlereagh, the then Foreign Secretary, being amongst the donors to the earlier St Patrick's - Castlereagh having donated 100 guineas to its building.

Again on recently passing the Presbyterian Church in Rosemary Street, the history plaque outside now omits reference to Alexander Stewart being of the congregation in the 18th century.

A link between St Patrick's and Rosemary Street Presbyterian, and more, is thus missed in that Alexander Stewart was the grandfather of Castlereagh - whom Henry Kissinger rates as one of the UK's great foreign secretaries and of whom John Bew has recently written an appreciative biography.

And so continuing the link down to St George's Parish Church in High Street.

The recently published history of St George's by Brian Walker has a print of the original St Patrick's, above a report from the Belfast Commercial Chronicle on a marriage ceremony of a Roman Catholic bride and a Church of Ireland bridegroom being jointly solemnised - probably in the parish church of St Anne, where the cathedral now stands - on December 24, 1816 by the rector of the recently built St George's Church (which was not licensed for marriages until 1817) and the curate of the recently built St Patrick's.

These are the inheritances (and what went wrong - the faults not being all on one side alone) that all too many of our young people nowadays know all too little about.

WA MILLER

Belfast

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