During the year, the colours used on the altar at Old St Paul’s change, as the liturgical year changes. On Palm Sunday, which is the Sunday before Easter, the staff at the church change the colours on the altar to red. At St Paul’s the ‘Red Set’ of altar frontals is made of red silk damask with a Tudor rose on the fabric, which can be seen in the left image above. They were made in Australia in 1940 and dedicated by Bishop Holland on Christmas Day 1940. The letters IHS is an abbreviation of the name of Jesus Christ.
On Easter Sunday, when the church turns to a time of celebration, the altar frontals are changed again, to the beautiful white ‘Festive Set’. This set is also used at Christmas.
The large altar frontal was made for the Duke of Gloucester’s visit to the church in 1934, by Emily Steele. Emily Steele was a prodigious maker of church textiles – we have written about her here.
The smaller frontlet was made for Queen Elizabeth’s visit to the church in 1954, by the women of the parish. It is a real treasure, and features deep red cut jewels and pink roses.
If you are visiting the church, you can see the collection of altar frontals and other church linens up close in a large custom-made cabinet recently installed in the church, a project which was supported by the Friends of Old St Paul’s .
See the sequence of photos of the staff changing the altar frontals:
Photos: Heritage New Zealand