the past

A fuller history


The sale of the chaplaincy house and the purchase of the chaplaincy apartment were synchronised for February 14th.  The apartment was secured for FF760,000 plus legal fees of FF52,000, which with removal fees brought the whole cost a little over FF15,000 over budget.  A house-warming luncheon was held on the 6th May combined with a fund-raising effort for the St. Luke’s Hospital appeal.

On the social front, a series of 4 gourmet lunches were held, and a Food and Wine Fair.



In September Rev David Sharpe left the chaplaincy after 5 years service, and returned to England.  The new chaplain, Rev Canon Ben Eaton, was appointed in October, entering retirement after 14 years in Maisons-Laffitte, near Paris.  He and his wife, Anne, bought their own property in Fréjus, which meant that the chaplaincy flat could be rented out as a source of additional income.

Sister Cecile and Sister Jean decided to focus their efforts on their conventual house, Prasada, in Montaroux.  St. John’s recorded its grateful thanks for their support and help over the years.

The church expenditure for the year exceeded income by €5,000, some of which was blamed on the introduction of the Euro.  Fundraising activities included the gourmet lunches, paella lunch, a quiz lunch, curry supper and harvest festival picnic.


Services continued weekly at St. John’s, with monthly services at the Maison des Pères (a retirement community for French Catholic priests) in Lorgues.  Bi-monthly services took place in Seillans, and in the summer season services were also held in Port Grimaud.  In this period, it became evident that there was a growing number of regular “visitors” to St. John’s(people with a second home in the Var) who would spend periods of time in the area but who were not permanent residents.  The St. John’s web site was inaugurated to facilitate communications with these itinerant worshippers, and also with those in the further reaches of the Var who could not always get into St. Raphaël or one of the monthly services.

Social activities included a Paella Party, a Curry Lunch, a Gourmet Lunch, the Ascension Day Picnic at Prasada, and the Harvest Festival Picnic.  Ben and Anne also introduced a monthly parish lunch at their house, held on the third Sunday of the month after the service.


The same service format continued in 2004.  In the autumn it was decided to formalise the existence of a Church Choir, in recognition of the musical and singing skills of a number of members of the congregation, with regular choir practices after the services.

It was also decided to inaugurate an appeal to raise funds to put the fabric of the church into a good state for its approaching centenary (2007)

Social events continued alongside fund-raising events, beginning with a New Years Eve Wine and Cheese evening, Quiz evenings, the Ascension Day picnic, Paella Lunch, Curry supper and Harvest Festival picnic.  The monthly lunches at the Chaplain’s house continued, including one which fell on Mothering Sunday, when the men offered to do the washing up!  Particular highlights were the musical evenings, held at the beginning of September and featuring the young pianist Robert Scamardella.


In February, a meeting took place with the Archdeacon to discuss the possibility of amalgamating St. John’s  with St. Mark’s Sophia Antipolis.  At that time, the chaplaincy at Marseilles would have found it difficult to continue without the financial support from St. Raphaël, however, Marseilles was expanding westwards towards Perpignan.  Amalgamation with Holy Trinity Cannes was ruled out on the grounds of administration differences; St. Raphaël being administered by the U.S.P.G., a missionary society which is basically High Church, whereas Canneswas administered by the Intercontinental Church Society, also a missionary society but basically Low Church.  The new church to serve the technology park at Sophia Antipolis had the advantage of being closer than Marseilles and administratively compatible.

Discussions on this merger continued through the summer, but towards the autumn it became clear that the needs of the two communities were very different, and their criteria for a chaplain differed.  St. Marks was looking for someone with experience as an industrial chaplain.  St. John’s favoured the appointment of Rev Tom Unsworth, who had recently retired, and after due consideration a deal was worked out whereby St. John’s would provide his accommodation and an allowance of FF4,000 per month.  The first “permanent” chaplain for St. John’s had arrived!


The arrival of a permanent full-time chaplain brought about other changes – following the 1990 Christmas carol service, a monthly service was initiated in Bagnols-en-Forêt up to October, and in Port Grimaud for June to September.  The tradition of an Ascension Day picnic at Prasada began.  On the financial front, the budget had to be increased by FF40,000 to take into account the costs of the full-time chaplain.

Temporary accommodation was made available by Katherine Tanner who allowed them to use her apartment in Bagnols-en-Forêt, but by the end of the year a project to buy a small house in La Bouverie, Roquebrune-sur-Argens at a cost of £85,000, was underway.  Katherine Tanner later very generously gifted her apartment to St. John’s, and the proceeds assisted with the purchase of the chaplaincy house


The housing project was recognised as a major undertaking, with a budget of 10 times the 1983 restoration budget.  Greater emphasis was placed on extending the planned giving scheme to as many members of the church as possible.  The revised pamphlet on the church history was being prepared for issue.  In the summer, BBC Television broadcast the service from Port Grimaud on 16th August as part of its “Summer Sunday” series.

A working party tackled various items of maintenance, including repainting areas which had been affected by rising damp, repainting the toilet, and clearing the garden area.

In January, Cyril Maplethorp, probably the oldest and certainly the longest serving member of the congregation, sadly died.


Fund-raising continued to be high on the agenda to cover the costs of the chaplaincy house and full-time chaplain.

A choir which had been formed in the Alpes-Maritime came and gave a concert performance of “My Fair Lady” in the church on the 8th May.  A series of video films were shown in congregation members’ houses during the autumn to help with funds.

A long-standing anomaly, that the Seillans area was under the care of the chaplain at Cannes, was resolved, with the chaplain at St. John’s having his licence revised to cover the whole of the Var.

At Christmas, Carol services were held in Bagnols-en-Forêt and Port Grimaud, as well as St. John’s.


The year began with a boost to the financial situation through the wonderfully generous bequest by Mr Wilfred Edleston of his apartment in Le Dramont.  This produced some useful rental income until its sale in 1996 for FF340,000, the proceeds of which helped to repay some of the loans associated with the chaplain’s house.

A recipe book called “After Grace in Provence” was initiated, with the intention that 200 copies would be printed at a cost of FF2,500, for sale at FF50 per copy.

Ted Anderson, a longstanding member of the church and a churchwarden until the spring, sadly died.


Much of the year was occupied with discussions on the disposal of the apartment donated the previous year.  Problems started arising with the drainage at the chaplain’s house, and at one point consideration was even given to selling the chaplain’s house and retaining the gifted apartment as the chaplain’s accommodation.

Services continued in Seillans on a quarterly basis.  The possibility of starting a Sunday school, at least one Sunday per month, was discussed.  The new Bishop decided that the Riviera Churches Archdeaconry should be subsumed into a single Archdeaconry for France.

Meanwhile the heating in St. John’s was once more giving cause for concern, and despite some improvements to the electrical system, it was decided to buy a Canon gas heater which used bottled gas.


The donated apartment was finally sold for FF340,000 (including contents) and this sum enabled the main loan taken out for the chaplaincy house to be repaid.

Social events in the spring included coach trips to the Villa Thuret and the Fondation Ephrussel, also to the Hanbury gardens, a Kenya curry lunch and a shrove Tuesday party, a talk on a pilgrimage to St. James at Compostella, and a one-man show on “Keats”.  In the summer, another curry party took place, also a luncheon party and Harvest Festival picnic.

Discussions began on the need to replace the organ, and it was decided later in the year to buy a Viscount Classic 4500, costing FF22,270.

The chaplain (Rev Tom Unsworth) announced that due to personal circumstances he would have to leave the chaplaincy at the end of December.  In the event, he remained until virtually the end of 1997.

It was agreed to buy 80 copies of a new hymnbook “Hymns old and New”


The diocesan loan relating to the chaplaincy house stood at £19,008.41.  It was proposed to offer £10,000 in “final settlement”, on the basis that St. John’s had not received any financial benefit from the sale of All Saints at Valescure or the sale of a plot of land to the S.N.C.F.  The Diocese responded that it would accept £14,504.20 as final settlement, and this was agreed.  This and all the outstanding loans relating to the chaplaincy house were repaid by the end of the year.  However, the Diocese now required the church to meet the costs for insurance, previously reimbursed by the Diocese.

Rising damp was back on the agenda, following repaving to the pavement outside the church.  A letter was sent to the Mairie, who agreed to attend to the sealing between the paving and the church.

Sister Cécile of the Community of the Glorious Ascension, Prasada, Montauroux, was ordained a Deacon on the 31st of January by Bishop John in St. John’s, and later that year went on to be ordained a priest by the Archbishop of Canterbury in Canterbury Cathedral.

Social events included a performance by the “Riding Lights” religious theatre group, a one-man show on “Lord Byron”, an Aioli lunch, bingo and musical evening, food and wine fair, Paella Party, Curry party (2) and Harvest picnic.

Steps commenced to find a successor for the chaplain, Rev Tom Unsworth, and it was agreed, “that we were unwilling to have a woman priest as chaplain.”  In the event, the Rev David Sharpe was appointed before the end of the year, and his induction took place on 24th January 1998.


The new 3-year lectionary came into force, rendering the ASB obsolete.  In St. John’s, the changeover took place at Easter 1998.  The new chaplain emphasised the need for “outreach”, with services continuing in Grimaud, Seillans and possibly Dramont.  He was also concerned about the distance of the chaplaincy house to the church, and it was proposed to sell the house and seek an apartment closer to St. John’s.  It was agreed later in the year to put the chaplaincy house up for sale, and to seek a 3-bedroom apartment in St. Raphaël or Fréjus.

The church fabric gave cause for concern, after flooding on Whit Sunday.  However, it was determined that there was no structural problem which had given rise to the flooding.  It was agreed to set about repositioning the altar, to allow the chaplain to serve from behind it, as had become customary.  This would entail removing the elevated part of the altar.

The possibility of holding services in Lorgues was discussed, with a view to commencing in September.  A proposal was made to ask the library, a feature of the church for many years, to find alternative accommodation.  The possibility of opening the church during the week was also discussed, but this seemed impracticable with so many people living at significant distances from the church.

Social events included a paella lunch, a barbecue evening, a curry evening and a Sunday lunch at the chaplaincy house, as well as the harvest festival picnic and 2 curry luncheons.

The church finances showed a deficit on the year, but there had been “exceptional items” relating to the chaplaincy house and the change of chaplain.

Technology was coming to the fore, with the provision of a computer and printer (together with lessons in their usage for the chaplain!)


Attendance at Lorgues was disappointing, and some discussion took place on perhaps holding an Evensong in Fayence. (this was later dropped)  The Ascension Day picnic took place at Montauroux.   However the outreach service seemed to do little to bring people into St. Raphaël.  The Rev David Sharpe said “The movement of the ex-patriate population from St. Raphaël into the hills is bound to present difficulties, which at some point is going to need an imaginative response.  Even at the moment, some people have a long journey to church.”

On 13th April there was a celebration of 50 years since the reconsecration of St. John’s church after the war.  Gifts were made to the church of a new chalice and paten, a silver paten to match the existing chalice, and a baptismal shell.

Social events included the paella party and curry lunches, a chaplaincy lunch on Whit Sunday, and the harvest festival picnic.

A stewardship committee was established with a view to improving income, which was barely meeting current needs.  The chaplaincy house was put on the market at FF890,000, after a valuation of FF850,000.  By the end of the year, an offer of FF800,000 had been received for the house, and this was accepted.  The search began in earnest to find a suitable apartment, and eventually a suitable apartment in Fréjus was identified.

A break-in took place at the church, with no significant damage.  Meanwhile, the Diocesan office was compiling a list of church property, which raised the question of who actually owns St. John’s church building – the land having originally been bought by U.S.P.G.


The newly appointed chaplain for Marseilles and St. Raphaël was the Rev. Ronald Jennison.  When Rev Jennison arrived, he emphasised that he intended to give an equal number of services in St. Raphaël and Marseilles, holding services in each place at least twice a month.  It was proposed that he should hold services in St. Raphaël on the second and last Sundays of each month.  It was agreed that St. John’s should pay FF1,000 towards the income of the chaplain, plus petrol costs for visits from Marseilles.  It was agreed that he and his wife would use a caravan belonging to Mr and Mrs Topham during his visits to St. Raphaël.

The church roof was giving problems.  An estimate for repairs to the tiles came to FF10,200.  The diocese promised help, with a contribution of up to FF12,000 towards these repairs (using the monies handed over by the U.S.P.G.).

Preparations were being made for the entry of all the European chaplaincies into the new Diocese in Europe, and an electoral roll had to be established.

The credence table, which had been donated to the church by the family of Miss Pamela Darley in her memory, was dedicated on 16th March 1980.

The new silver cruets donated by Mrs Yeomans in memory of Richard Yeomans, to which the church had added a small silver tray, were dedicated on Maundy Thursday.

At the end of 1980, the chaplain summarised “There is a warm friendly atmosphere in the church, appreciated by visitors and those who returned regularly.  A study group has been started in the spring, which those who had attended had found helpful.  There is still a lot to do to the church fabric.”


In 1981 it was recognised that St. John’s had to be made “official” and have Articles of Association under French Law.  However, with less than 30 persons on the electoral roll these could be very simple.

The repairs to the vestry roof escalated to FF23,000, of which FF21,000 was contributed by U.S.P.G., and the builder allowed a FF1,000 discount.

A “Royal Wedding Garden Party” was held in Mr and Mrs Farr’s garden in Le Muy to raise funds, and a music event was organised in the church by Mr Clayton.  These raised FF6,600 towards church funds.


At the beginning of 1982 Rev Jennison announced that he would be leaving to take up an appointment in Nice.  The Rev Canon Donald Macnaughton would be arriving in February, initially for 3 months, and if all went well, to become chaplain of St. Raphaël and Marseilles.

The church began the year with FF11,000 on deposit, earning 4% interest.  If the church could be recognised as an “Association Cultuelle” this would be closer to 8%.  It was decided that “more should be given away” as it was not necessary to keep so much on deposit.  If a serious crisis arose “The Lord will provide”.  The chaplain proposed a target to give away 10% per year.

In the event, it was towards the end of the year that Canon Macnaughton and his wife Diana were welcomed to St. John’s at the October council meeting.

The accounts were in a very healthy state, with FF16.476 in the current account and FF11,055 on deposit.  However, of this, FF10,000 was brought in by the “Bring-and-buy” sale, and this would not be repeated in 1983.  Nevertheless, a total of FF10,500 was given away this year to various charities.

The vestry was painted by volunteers, and estimates for painting the sanctuary and library professionally came to FF19,442.  Damp patches on the roof necessitated an inspection by a painting expert and a surveyor.  Steel shutters and “anti-vol” bars were purchased for the vestry after a burglary attempt which had badly damaged, but not opened, the safe.  These cost FF2,616.


In 1983 the building crisis came to a head.  Estimates for repairs to the roof came to FF51,000, electrical rewiring would cost FF6,300, treatment of timbers would cost FF9,880, restoration of the bell tower FF7,000.  A fund-raising initiative, with the objective of raising FF80,000 was undertaken, reaching over half its target by the end of the year!  The diocese and U.S.P.G. promised £3,000 towards the works.

In this year also the formalities were completed for the church to be registered as an “Association Cultuelle”.


The year started with the good news that the restoration fund now stood at FF104,157.  The roof was finished, the timbers treated and the bell overhauled.  A sum of FF22,500 was allocated for internal painting.  The ceiling was a major concern.  It was desired to retain the Victorian designs, but repainting would be very expensive and might not last.  It was agreed to follow an approach of creating stencils on linen, which would then be stuck to the ceiling.  If future repairs were needed, these could be removed then stuck on again.  An estimate of FF44,000 was accepted for this work.  An additional FF5,000 was budgeted for painting the walls, vestry and lavatory.  The work was completed by the middle of the year, to the delight of the council.

Sadly in this year Walter Farr died at Easter, a man who had given many years of service to the church and was churchwarden at the time.  30 copies of the new Alternative Services Book were donated in his memory.  Mrs Farr was nominated churchwarden in his stead.


At the Annual General meeting it was reported that the main object for the previous year had been the church restoration.  Everyone agreed that the church looked marvellous.  There had been an excellent summer congregation, and numbers kept up well during winter months.  Nevertheless, there were still outstanding loans to repay in respect of the restoration.


At the A.G.M. it was reported that the church was now free from debt relating to the restoration work of 1984.  A maintenance and improvement fund was being established, its first objectives being to improve heating by mounting double-glazing on six windows in the nave.  This escalated to address replacement of windows in the dome with double-glazed units, and also the sanctuary.


Church heating was an issue in the winter period, and it was decided to purchase a low-level gas heater, using bottled gas, to reduce the heating costs.  A second heater was bought towards the end of the year.

The chaplain, Rev Donald Macnaughton, announced that he would be leaving after Easter.  A vote of thanks was made for his leadership.

In the autumn, the Rev Ronald Baker took up a six-month appointment.


The Rev R. Baker left in May, and Rev Paul Topham was asked to take services during the summer.  Discussions on other possibilities for sharing a chaplain with somewhere closer than Marseilles took place, without conclusion.  The Rev Michael Coombs arrived in the autumn for a one year appointment.  He reminded the council that the chaplaincy was divided into 3 parts, Aix, Marseilles and St. Raphaël.

The Rev P Ball initiated a series of Lay Training courses to run through the year.

Rising damp was detected in the vestry and a subcommittee appointed to investigate.  A fan was purchased for the summer months.  Repairs were undertaken to the cracks in the wall, and a new lavatory was installed.

Discussions began on the possible sale of All Saints, Valescure, to the Roman Catholics, who already leased it from the diocese.


Bible study groups were initiated for Lent, and the final session of the Lay Training course took place.  It was proposed that when St. John’s had trained lay assistants, it should be open every Sunday during the winter.

The Rev P Ball proposed to restart his courses of instruction in September.  Weekly services were held through the summer.  Meanwhile, the Bishop had advised St. John’s that the Rev Coombs would not be staying on after his one year was complete, and advertisements would be placed for “a man about to retire, but with his own pension”.  No such person had been found by the end of the year, and various temporary arrangements (Rev G Hancocks, Rev B. Smith, Rev P. Ball) were made.

Mr Edleston presented new communion kneelers and a tapestry in memory of his wife.

A fund-raising committee was established and fund-raising events such as a picnic at Prasada, Montaroux, a competitive quiz and video shows were initiated.

Patrick Dudgeon recalls “In the late ‘80’s the organist was a man who had been a cinema organist.  While the communion was being administered he would play selections from his vast repertoire, including “In a Monastery Garden” and “Ride of the Valkyries”.  He developed Alzheimer’s, but continued to play for a time until on Battle of Britain Sunday when it had been arranged that those wearing medals should march out to the tune of the Dam Busters.  What they actually marched out to was “I do like to be beside the seaside””


There are few official records of this period.  It is reported in the book “In a Fair Ground – A Chaplaincy in Provence” by the Rev Donald Macnaughton, that a retired priest, Father Douglas Lockhart took services in St. John’s for several years around this time.  Father Lockhart lived the life of a hermit in Les Arcs, sharing his house with his dog, which he brought to services.  Patrick Dudgeon recalls “The dog sat quietly throughout the services in front of the altar rail.  It became very old, smelly and incontinent, and there would be little puddles at the end of the service.  No one liked to say anything, but a brave soul wrote a note to the Bishop to complain. The Bishop wrote a kind but firm note to Father Lockhart telling him that the dog must be left at home.”


Parish Minute book, 1973 <Editor’s note – this marks the recommencement of detailed reporting on church affairs.>

A meeting was held on Sunday 22nd July, after morning service, to discuss the future of St. John’s church, St. Raphaël.

Canon Tibbetts explained that he had been appointed by the Bishop of Gibraltar and Fulham to look into the affairs of the church in St. Raphaël, and that it could not continue unless it was a viable project.  The first step would be to appoint a treasurer and secretary.  The Canon said he had found in the church safe two sums of money:

  1. FF950 which was labelled “For the church heating”
  2. FF250 which presumably was the proceeds of church collections.

and that he would hand these sums over to the Treasurer who would then open a bank account.

A general discussion then took place and in reply to a question from Cdr. Buckle as to whether there was any income or capital actually belonging to St. John’s church, the Canon stated that there was a small trust for the general upkeep of the church which produced approximately £50 a year, which had been handed over to Father Lockhart (whilst he was conducting services) towards his expenses, and a sum of about £4,000 in the hands of the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, being the proceeds of sale of a piece of land to the railway.  This latter was quite free and could be spent by the church for any purpose.  The U.S.P.G. was intending to hand over all its interests to the Diocese of Gibraltar and Fulham as soon as this was a practical proposition.

After further discussion Mr. Maplethorp and Cdr. Buckle agreed to act as Joint Treasurers and Mrs Phillips as Secretary.  It was decided to have a small committee in lieu of a Church Council, and the following agreed to be members:

Mr Donald Gurrey
Mrs Sapin-Jaloustre
Mrs Buckle

At the next meeting, on Monday 10th September 1973, the Canon announced that he had invited Mme Jacques Courjon, Mme Migeot and Admiral Morris to join the committee.  He also said that he had come to the conclusion that the chaplaincy would be viable for the summer three months and that for the rest of the year a service once a month would be sufficient.  He reported that the church of All Saints, Valescure is the property of the Diocese and is leased by agreement to the Roman Catholic Authorities who use it for their mass on Sundays, but the Diocese of Gibraltar has the right at any time to hold services there if so desired.  The church is heated, which would cost FF9 a Sunday.  There were two alternatives, either to heat St. John’s church or to hold winter services in All Saints.  It was resolved to hold winter services in All Saints.

It was also proposed at this meeting that the church needed to publicise its services, through advertisements in the press and posters for campsites and hotels.  Canon Tibbetts suggested that it might be worthwhile putting an advertisement in the “Church Times” at the beginning of the summer.

It was unanimously agreed that a letter of thanks and appreciation be sent to Father Lockhart who had faithfully come from Les Arcs during the years of his retirement to take the service in St. Raphaël.  Later in the year, Father Lockhart sadly died (15th October in London).

The Canon reported that he had bought two dozen copies of the series III Communion Service for use in St. John’schurch.  Music was also an issue, and there was a discussion about using tape cassettes of hymns “to make the church independent of an organist”!

After this meeting, the Canon departed, and the regime of monthly services at All Saints, Valescure, continued through to the following summer.  Mr Donald Gurrey took over the chairmanship of the committee and played a key role in identifying and communicating with potential chaplains for the summer periods.


The main topics of discussion were the arrangements for chaplains, the music, and the form of service.  The harmonium at All Saints had been tuned and was in good order, however there was a shortage of organists.  Use of cassettes and recordings was discussed as a fallback.  The Archdeacon announced that a new chaplain (Rev. P.E. Goldsmid) had been appointed to Marseilles, and he would be interested in St. Raphaël. It was agreed that St. John’sshould use the 1662 service.  On 15th October, a memorial service for Father Lockhart was held.

The Bishop of Gibraltar confirmed that St. John’s should be in charge of the Rev. P.E. Goldsmid, the new chaplain appointed to Marseilles.  Rev Goldsmid would be taking up his appointment in the autumn, and intended to be in St. Raphaël one Sunday per month.  The Bishop had also arranged that Canon D.G. Davies should come for the summer season.  The Diocese would pay his fare and out-of-pocket expenses, the U.S.P.G. would pay £180 towards his accommodation and board, and St. John’s would have to fund the rest.  A financial statement was prepared which showed that to fund these costs, an additional sum would be required from the U.S.P.G., with the comment “We find by experience that our summer congregation only contribute very small amounts”.  Patrick Dudgeon recalls “At the end of the summer, Canon Davies let it be known that he had accepted an important position which he was unable to divulge.  Rumours abounded, a Canon at St. Paul’s, the Dean of Rochester?  It eventually turned out to be chaplain of San Remo.  He once referred to the then Bishop of Dover, the Rt. Rev. Tony Tremlett, as “that poseur”, unaware that the Bishop had also referred to him as a “poseur””.

On the fabric, the heating in St. John’swas unsatisfactory and an estimate of 14,069.32 francs (about £1,225) had been received for improving the system, but no action could be taken pending an answer from U.S.P.G on the situation with respect to funds.  It was resolved to put a formal request to the U.S.P.G. for the release of £1,250 so that the improved heating could be installed.  Later discussion revealed that it was in fact the diocesan responsibility to agree funds, and this was done later in the year.

The library is mentioned for the first time, also the possibility of printing pictures of the church, from a drawing by Cdr Buckle, for sale to raise funds.


Mr Paul Topham, a Lay Reader, had offered to come for 7 Sundays of the summer season and it was hoped that either the chaplain (Rev Goldsmid) or Canon Wilson, formerly Chaplain at Marseilles and now retired and living in Toulon, would be available to celebrate Holy Communion.  A budget of FF5,000 was proposed, to cover the expenses for the entire summer period (June-September), and to include £25 per week from the U.S.P.G.  In the event the summer season was described as “very successful” with large congregations and collections.  Three Irish chaplains had taken part in eight services, and Mr Topham had taken or assisted in services on seven Sundays.  On the occasion of a visit to St. Raphaël of H.M.S Eastbourne about 30 officers and ratings had come to church.

For the winter season, arrangements were made for hold a parish communion twice a month with the Rev. John Tederstrom, an American priest based in Nice, alternating with Canon Wilson, in addition to the monthly service taken by the chaplain.

The president of the council, Mr Gurrey, said he was “not very optimistic about the future finances of the church.”  There was an ongoing dispute about the holding of assets (from the sale of land to the S.N.C.F.) being held in London by the U.S.P.G.  This was now reported to be in connection with the widening of the bridge, a sum of FF60,000.

An issue came to a head when St. John’s was asked to make a contribution to the chaplaincy in Marseilles towards the rent of the chaplaincy flat.  The arrangements were that the Mission to Seamen paid the chaplain’s stipend, but the accommodation, heating, electricity etc, were paid out of church funds.


Summer arrangements were that Rev R Jennison would take the service for three Sundays.  The Rev Eric Jones would be here until mid August, and Mr Paul Topham would be available to take Matins.  Congregations were high but collections were down, due, it was thought, to the weaker £.

Mr Yeomans, a summer visitor, donated a Hammond organ to the church, which was accepted with appreciation, and Mr & Mrs Kenneth Lindy donated two of his religious pictures to the church.

A note was sent to the Archdeacon to propose that after the departure of Rev Goldsmid it would be desirable to put St. Raphaël in the care of a closer chaplaincy, it being 100 miles between Marseilles and St. Raphaël.

At the end of the year Donald Gurrey, who had done so much work for the church of St. John’s in St. Raphaël, sadly died on Christmas Eve.


It was planned that weekly services should start on Whit Sunday, with Rev Ron Jennison, Archdeacon Shearer and Mr Paul Topham covering June to August.  Rev Goldsmid left at the end of April, and Rev Brian Taylor took over for a one-year appointment.

A proposal was made to the Bishop that St. John’s should have its own full time chaplain, and the Rev Karl Lutge, chaplain in Lugano visited St. Raphaël in August.  He would not need a salary and the only expense for St. John’s would be the cost of his accommodation.

Concern was expressed about the state of the roof of the church, and it was agreed to contact the U.S.P.G. to see if they would help with the cost of repainting.


The formalities to have Rev Karl Lutge licensed as the resident chaplain of St. John’s were completed, and the church of St. John and St. Philip, the Hague generously contributed FF400 a month towards the costs of his accommodation. One of the first proposals made by the new chaplain was that wine should be offered after the service, to allow people to get to know each other, a custom which has continued to the present day.

A new ecumenical church had been opened at Port Grimaud and consideration was given to having summer services there.  During the winter, the chaplain was asked to be in charge of Marseilles.  However, weekly service would continue at St. John’s at least until the end of October.

The roof was giving increasing concern and it was agreed to appoint a surveyor.  His report said that the roof was basically sound with no leaks, although some tiles were broken, which would be difficult to replace as they were old ones.


The chaplaincy of Rev Karl Lutge came to an end on 6th May, and another interregnum began.  Patrick Dudgeon recalls “The Rev Karl Lutge had managed to upset everybody.  He told one churchwarden, in public, that his wig had been put on crooked, another churchwarden was asked not to sing so loudly.  He told a lesson reader that he sounded like an actor in a third rate repertory company playing a duke.”

The chaplaincy had not been a totally successful period; the church council thanked Rev Lutge with the words “everyone was sad that the year had been a disappointment.”  In reply, the chaplain said that the existing congregation should give much more support to the life of the church before attempts were made to bring in new people from areas outside St. Raphaël.  A new chaplain, Rev Jennison, was appointed and his induction took place in Marseilles on 16th December.

A credence table was offered to the church by her family in memory of Miss Pamela Darley, a member of the congregation who died in 1978, and this was gratefully accepted.  Mrs Yeomans also offered £50 to buy a memorial of her husband, and it was decided that silver cruets would be appropriate.

Temporary repairs to the roof were carried out after flooding of the vestry.  Treatment for termites was also carried out at a cost of FF3,000.

Few records exist for this period. If there are any readers of this web site who attended St. John’s in this period, the webmaster would be pleased to receive their recollections of events.


The church council met in the vestry on 27th April 1931.  The Chaplain, the Reverend Theodore Lunt was in the chair.  Council members included Captain Frederick, R.N., Sir Henry Hawkes and Sir John Donald.  Lt Col Logan submitted his resignation from the post of “Honorary Secretary”.  Funds in hand amounted to FF5,700.  An estimate for planning and cleaning the old parquet flooring to make it correspond with the new at a cost of FF850 was approved.

In November two big issues were on the agenda – could the church afford a chaplain for the coming season?, and the widening of the road by the church.

The issue of whether the church could afford a Chaplain for the coming season was put to a General Meeting, which was held on the 30th November, 29 persons being present.  The treasurer went through the costings – FF700 to maintain the church, FF250 per week stipend for the Chaplain, and sundry expenses, including 2nd class Railway Fare from England and back.  The Hermitage Hotel generously offered to put up a Chaplain free of charge, which would save the church finding a further FF300 per week.  This meant that the church would have to raise at least FF500 per week .

After a brief discussion it was agreed unanimously that the meeting was in favour of appointing a Chaplain, and the S.P.G. should be contacted immediately to send out the Chaplain they had identified.  (Rev Francis H.G. Knight)

On the road widening, the church had to loose part of its garden.  In return, the mairie had agreed to undertake the rebuilding of the wall and fencing on the new boundary and the building of a new footpath alongside the church with steps to the main entrance.


A General Meeting was held on the 13th January, chaired by the new Chaplain, and he nominated Captain Frederick, RN, as his warden.  At the end of the season it was decided to leave the chairs in place ready for any services that might be held by a clergyman staying in St. Raphaël during the summer!  In September during a heavy storm, the drains of the church proved inadequate to handle the water, and it proved necessary to install new drainage at a cost of FF1855.  The Church Council tried unsuccessfully to get the S.P.G. to assist with this expense.  At the end of the season, church funds stood at about F4,000, held in the Anglo American bank of W.F. King.


The Rev. Francis H.G. Knight returned for another season, with his wife.  In view of the financial situation, the following appeal was put before the congregation:


In order for the congregation to understand how the funds of the church were spent, it was agreed to post the accounts on the notice board at the church door.

In March the council received notification that the new Bishop would be visiting St. Raphaël.  It was agreed to arrange tea with the Bishop, at FF6 per head in the Hotel Beau Rivage.

The appeal letter proved successful, and at the end of the year there was just under FF7,000 in church funds.


Rev Francis HG Knight again returned.  The season started off well until disaster struck on the 31st January, when the bank of W.F. King “Closed its Doors”.  The church at that date had a holding of FF7,171 with the bank, leaving a mere FF97 cash in hand.  With the appointment of liquidators, it was not clear how much of this deposit would be repaid, and when.  It was decided to put the matter to the congregation after the service to see how the church could remain viable.  Amazingly, this appeal seems to have raised over FF12,000 by the end of February!

Donations of FF600 to the Poor of St.Raphaël and 880 to the Mediterranean Mission to Seaman were made.

A communication was received from Lord Ascombe suggesting that as the Chaplain for Valescure for the next season would not be arriving until Christmas, perhaps the Chaplain at St. Raphaël may be able to take services in All Saints, Valescure during December.  The council declined this proposal and suggested that the congregation of All Saints could come down to St. John’s.

When the English fleet was at St. Raphaël, the Chaplain of the 3rd destroyer flotilla, the Rev Charles Paton, visit the church and admired the cross on the credence table.  He said that if it could be spared it would be of great use in their little chapel in Malta.  After some discussion, during which it transpired that nobody on the council knew where the cross had come from anyway, it was agreed that with the approval of the Bishop it would be presented to Rev. Paton for the chapel in Malta.  However, the Bishop felt it would be creating a bad precedent to give away ornaments belonging to the church, and permission was refused.

By the end of the year the liquidators of W.F. King were in a position to repay 10% of the sum owing, and the church had a balance of FF2,900.


The Rev C Lister James was appointed chaplain for the season, and remained until the Easter.  In the summer there was a visit from the 1st destroyer flotilla, and a service was held in the church for the officers and crew, with their chaplain, rev Ronald Collinson, RN, presiding.

However, church funds stood at just FF917 plus £66, which was just about sufficient to cove the tax bills in the autumn.  At the end of the year the church council met several times to discuss whether they could foresee the church opening in 1936.  A proposal was made to All Saints Valescure that perhaps a joint chaplain could be afforded, but this proposal was turned down.  At the end of the year it was reluctantly concluded that the declining number of residents and unlikelihood of winter visitors meant that it would not be feasible to open the church, and the S.P.G. were notified accordingly.


The church did not open for the season, and by the summer funds stood at FF277 and £61.  FF2868 was still owed by the W.F. King liquidators, payable in 4 equal annual payments.   However, the 1935 payment was still outstanding, and it was decided to accept an offer of 40% in final settlement, from a third party.

Needless to say, a letter of complaint had come pouring in from a winter visitor who had arrived to find the church closed.  The council felt that the very few visitors who did arrive would have been quite capable of getting to All Saints Valescure if they had so wished.

Covers the period 1882-1930

Paper read by Captain G.C. Frederick. C.B.E. R.N. Churchwarden
20th December 193

During the Summer of 1882 the S.P.G. commenced a correspondence with the Rev. A.F. Dyce, the acting English Chaplain at Toulon and Hyères, with regard to opening a chaplaincy at St. Raphaël, which resulted in his gladly accepting the post, it being understood that he would receive the net proceeds of the offertory.

In September of that year he paid a short visit to St. Raphaël and called on the “Maire” <editor’s felix=”” martin=”” note:=””></editor’s>with reference to the possibility of hiring a room or a building as a temporary chapel.  The “Maire” not only offered rent-free a small shop just built belonging to him, and most kindly to alter it to suit Mr. Dyce’s requirements, but also to his surprise informed him that a “subvention” of FF2,400 (£96) would be paid to Mr Dyce during the coming Winter as Anglican Chaplain at St. Raphaël.

It appeared that the Land Societies of St. Raphaël and Valescure, of which the “Maire” was the head, had voted this sum for one winter to induce a chaplain to come to St. Raphaël, and this sum was punctually paid in monthly instalments.

Mr. Dyce took possession of Villa Duval at St. Raphaël on 4th November 1882, but as the temporary chapel was not nearly ready his drawing room had to be used on the following Sunday, converting his bow window into a sort of chapel.  4 persons communicated at the 8:30 celebration, and 5 persons attended matins and evensong.  The other Sundays in November the services were held in a private room in the Grand Hotel at St. Raphaël which was kindly lent by a visitor.

Shortly after his arrival Mr. Dyce made arrangements with the S.P.G. that the chaplaincy should include Valescure and Boulouris, and that the chaplain at St. Raphaël should have the option of accepting the chaplaincy of either Valescure or Boulouris if such be opened there later.  The S.P.G. also made a grant of £5 to be expended on the fittings of the chapel.

On 10th December 1882, the second Sunday in Advent, the temporary chapel was opened, the first celebration being at 8:30 with 3 communicants, the Rev. Archibald Davy, chaplain to Lord Tabley celebrating; at matins and evensong that day only 6 persons attended, there being few present at St. Raphaël.

The little chapel could hold 26 people with a crush, and had a small recess which just held the altar, the hangings and ornaments were of a plain description being gifts from friends of the chaplain.

On Christmas day of that year there were 18 at matins.

The stipend of the chaplain for this first season was £16 from the offertory and £96 from the “maire”, a total of £112.

Towards the end of 1883, as it was found that the chapel was too small, a loan was obtained from the “maire” of another newly furnished shop in a central position, which the “maire” undertook at his own expense to alter to suit the purpose for which it was intended, funds were raised by friends and visitors for the necessary furniture and fittings, and the new building which was capable of seating 70 people without overcrowding was opened on Sunday 10th February 1884.

The “maire” again paid the sum of £96 during the second winter on behalf of the Land Society, so that the chaplain’s stipend for this season was £120, the offertory after paying all necessary expenses for the chapel being £24.

The stipend for the 3rd season was only £53.2.0d of which the offertory was £25.14.0d and donations £27.8.0d., while the season 1885-86 the stipend was only £46.4.0d.

The number of visitors to St. Raphaël having greatly increased, arrangements were made on 1st February 1893 for the purchase of land for a church site, the total cost of which was £400.14.0d. and this amount was raised by donations of £411.15.0d.

The Rev. A.F. Dyce died in 1898, having been chaplain at St. Raphaël for 16 years.

In 1906 the chapel was dismantled for demolition to erect the new church which was to be finished for the next season. <editor’s a=”” account=”” and=”” be=”” been=”” chapel=”” clear=”” demolished.=”” does=”” erected=”” had=”” is=”” it=”” make=”” not=”” note:=”” on=”” temporary=”” that=”” the=”” this=”” to=””></editor’s>

The architect was Sir Charles Nicholson, but I can find no record of the costs or how the account was paid.

On 2nd February 1907 the new church (the western portion of the present church) was consecrated by the Lord Bishop of Gibraltar in the presence of a large congregation.

In 1911 an opportunity occurred of purchasing the piece of land on the east side of the church up to the main road and as it was feared that this land might be utilised for building small houses or shops it was decided to raise the necessary money, the cost being £110.  Through the generosity of the Duchess of Marlborough who was then staying in St Raphaël and gave £105 the purchase was at once completed and the land handed over to the S.P.G.

On Christmas day 1911 the harmonium which had been presented to the church by Percy Crohan Esq., a resident at St. Raphaël, was used for the first time.

During the war the church was closed, and as no chaplain had been appointed for 1919-1920 season, the Rev. G.F. Heslop, chaplain at Valescure, offered, at considerable personal inconvenience and fatigue, to hold services in this church in addition to his services at Valescure.

In 1924 it was evident that the church was not large enough at matins for the congregation, and the Rev. Dr. G. Edmunson the chaplain started a fund for enlarging it; this was taken up by the Rev. A.D. Tupper Carey the next chaplain in 1925, and owing to his energy and gift for collecting, the necessary sum was raised.

The plans for the enlargement of the church of which the architect was Mr. H.J. Goodhart-Rendel were approved by the S.P.G. and the contract for the work amounted to 214,798 francs.

The S.P.G. made the condition that the whole of this amount should be deposited in the bank before any work was commenced, and before the end of 1926 Mr. Tupper-Carey was able to report to them that the whole of this sum that had been subscribed and lent without interest had been lodged in the bank.

The contract was signed and the whole of the work carried out by the S.P.G. without any reference to the residents or visitors of St. Raphaël who had nothing to say in the matter whatsoever.

Work was at once commenced at the eastern end so as not to interfere with the services of the church.

The Bishop of Gibraltar was not able to come to St. Raphaël to lay the foundation stone, but on 2nd February 1927 he visited us and laid a commemoration stone which may be seen in the outer wall of the apse and bears the inscription

“To the Glory of God this stone was laid 2nd February 1927 by John Bishop of Gibraltar”.

On the 15th May that year the church had to be closed as the east wall had to be demolished to join onto the new section.

Very little progress was made during the summer of 1927 so that when the new chaplain, the Rev. G. Summers, arrived on 4th October the church was not ready for services which had therefore to be held in the Parc Hotel until the 6th November when the old part of the church was again available.

Mr. Summers then announced that the S.P.G. had informed him that a further sum of £260 was required to complete the work, due to miscalculations in the original contract by the architect and contractor.  By the generosity of visitors and residents who had already subscribed so liberally this extra sum was raised.

On 15th March 1928 the Bishop visited St. Raphaël and consecrated the new part of the building, a beautiful form of service being used and all the various parts duly blessed.

The altar was given by Sir Frederick Chance in memory of his sister, Miss A. Chance and her cousin Miss E. Dudgeon who were residents of St. Raphaël <in the Villa Oustaon> who both died at St. Raphaël and were buried here.

The pulpit was the gift by Mrs. L. Finch also a resident of St. Raphaël and the altar rails by Mr. And Mrs Smales in memory of their son Charles Bertram Smales who died at Agay.

As the enclosing and laying out of the church property had not been included in the contract for enlarging the church and the land was being used as a dumping ground for all sorts of material by people in the neighbourhood it was decided to take the matter in hand; a small committee met who decided to have the ground cleaned and cleared with an enclosing fence erected to prevent any further nuisance of the property at a cost of 2700 francs which was subscribed for by the committee and the garden was subsequently laid out.

Transcribed from a manuscript held in the church records, June 2004.

covering the period 1882-1991, based on various documents held in the church archives

This document has been compiled for the Web Server in 2004 from several source documents held in the church files. (See “references”)

The early years

1882: Visiting Chaplains held services in a room loaned by a local hotel or in new shop sites offered by the municipality, according to details established by Capt. G. C. Frederick, R.N. in his paper of 1930 and by the regularly appointed Chaplain, the Rev. A. F. Dyce 1880-1897.

The season was always from October until April when unbelievably the church was closed for the summer.  British ships calling at the harbour loading bauxite and porphyry stone, etc. were always visited and invited to our church services.  Collections were made for the Gibraltar Mission to Seamen.

1901: The Chaplain received a telegram authorising purchase of a temporary church for U.S.P.G and this was proceeded with on a minimum land site, at a price of around £400 by donations from important British Visitors for the forthcoming winter season at St Raphaël, Valescure and Boulouris.

1902: A bell and turret was presented to the little temporary church in memory of the late Rev. A.F. Dyce by his friends and the church land was enclosed.

Stained Glass Windows were presented by a member and an exterior church clock mounted below the bell turret complete with an iron ladder.

1905: A new Harmonium was presented to the church. The old one was sold for £40.

1906: The temporary church dismantled for demolition in order to erect the new church for the following season.

1907: A simple little church was consecrated by the Bishop of Gibraltar, among others Lord Amherst (of Hackney) was present in the congregation.

1909: Valescure (all Saints) church (erected -1900) not being reopened for the Season, the numbers in St. John’s church for Easter were 116 Communicants along with a Congregation of 203 (15 new chairs had to be purchased).  For the next 6 months there was a total congregation of 2178 and the collection totalled 3300FF enabling all U.S.P.G. expenses to be paid.

1911: Further land was purchased on the east side as far as the main road for fear of commercial development, again by public subscription, in particular by the Duchess of Marlborough. The completed site was then handed over to the S.P.G. London. “A sweet and powerful” harmonium was procured by the Chaplain from Argelès(Midi-Pyrénées)and presented by Mr. Percy Crohan for Christmas Day, the Chaplain being the Archdeacon of Dunedin, N.Z. (retired) with Capt. Grimes acting as churchwarden.

1913: Capt. G. C. Frederick, R.N. of Boulouris replaced Capt. H.E. Grimes as Churchwarden.

1914: In January the Bishop Montgomery of S.P.G. visited the church and in February the Bishop of Gibraltar celebrated and addressed the visitors from Valescure & St. Raphaël.  The British ship ‘Baron Blantyre’ came into Port followed by the ‘S.S. Fife’ of Newcastle.  During May a gateway and fencing for the church land was arranged and agreement made with P.L.M. (Paris-Lyon-Méditerranée railway company) for a triangular shaped plot of land near the bridge, at this period the Chaplain was the Rev. Herbert Athill.  Because of the Great War, the Church was closed until 1919-20.

Between the Wars

1919-20 At this time a Chaplain had not been appointed but the Rev. G.F. Heslop from Valescure volunteered his services.  The church was opened on the 10th January 1920and closed on Whit Sunday.  Capt. G. C. Frederick acted as Churchwarden, the Chaplain was supported financially by the Congregation.

1920-21: The Church was crowded for Easter week, the Rev. George Edmundson, Rural Dean of Chelsea officiated as Chaplain, residing at Hotel Beau Rivage, where Admiral Sir G. Powe died on 4th April, and the service was held in the church.

1921-22:The Bishop of Gibraltar, Dr. Gregg, visited St. Raphaël 10th-13th February, and a meeting was held at Col. Brooke’s house in Valescure for the British colony with celebration at St. John’son Sunday morning.  The offertory was for Missionto Seamen.

In March, Donald Gill, a mining engineer (Manager?) of Oil-Shale Mines, Bozon (a village destroyed in the 1959 Malpassat dam disaster) was confirmed at Cannes.  Sir John Nixon, K.C.B., died suddenly at Villa Marie in December.

1922-23:  Rev. George Edmundson returned to St. John’sas Chaplain, residing at Grand Hotel.  Bishop John of Gibraltarvisited St. Raphaël, St. Maxime and Valescure in January.

1923-24: Chaplain, Rev. George Edmundson staying at Villa Nicette, gave Armistice Day service on 11th November with collection for British Legion, Paris.  On Christmas Day 89 were at service and the Collection was for the poor of St. Raphaël.

1924-25: Bishop John of Gibraltarpreached in Lent on 9th March.  Ascension Day service Collection was sent to the British Legion, Paris.  During this time the church was found to be too small for the congregation and a fund was started to pay for its enlargement.  In March, confirmation of Jean Muriel Sherring by Bishop John.  Easter proved a record church attendance of 127, many standing.

1925-26: The Rev. Tupper Carey, Chaplain.

January 24th; baptism of Carol Evelyn McNaught from Boulouris;

2nd March, funeral of Mrs. Calthorp;

October 19th, funeral of Miss Anne Chance.

1926-27: The Rev. Tupper Carey. Chaplain

1927-28: The Rev. Somers, Chaplain.

1928-29: The Rev. Canon Jordan, Chaplain

1929-30: The Rev. J. Nelson Blaliston, Chaplain.

1930-31: The Rev. Theodore Lunt of Melksham, Wilts, Chaplain.

Armistice Day offering given to Earl Haig Fund;

4th March, Bishop of Gibraltar- confirmed 4 children at St John’s,

21st March Funeral of George Bealby Gerrard from Golf Hotel, Valescure.

1932-34:The Rev. F. H. G. Knight, Chaplain.

1935-36:The Rev. C. Lister  James, Chaplain.

10th January, 1935, the church council elected Mr. Cyril Maplethorp as a member.

Due to very reduced numbers of British visitors and residents the church found that they could not support a Chaplain of their own so they proposed to have a joint Chaplain with All Saints’, Valescure.  St. John’s was closed for the 1936 season (winter) and visitors and residents were directed to attend services at All Saints Valescure, less than two miles from St. John’s.

Church Council records show that there were ‘no funds in hand’

1937-38: The Rev. Curtis, chaplain, for the season. The average Congregation was then only 10 or 12. When the chaplain was sick a special bus was made available to take the worshippers to the Valescure church and bring them back to St. Raphaël.

As one would expect, the church was closed for Anglican worship following the outbreak of war in 1939 – a state that existed until 1948.  After the fall of Francein June 1940 members of the British community living in the Cannes and St. Raphaël area were collected together and shipped to Gibraltar and England in tiny coal boats.  Cyril Maplethorp describes how he travelled with his wife and infant son in company with the writer Somerset Maugham and Aly Khan, and recalls how the passengers washed on deck with buckets of seawater, and adorned with all their jewellery.

The Post War Years

1948: Mr. Cyril Maplethorp, still resident in the Ave. Paul Doumer, opposite the church, wrote to the S.P.G. advising them that he was prepared to arrange for the repair of the church and to supervise the whole work.  This was agreed and subsequently he contacted the S.P.G.’s representative in Menton to deal with the War Damage claims, etc.  Thereafter, it is recorded that the Bishop of Gibraltar, in a moving ceremony, re-consecrated St. John’s, at a service attended by the majority of the British Colony of St. Raphaël, the church having been closed for nearly 10 years.

The bishop wrote in the logbook: –

‘This church was closed throughout the war period–1939-45–and no Anglican services were held there as far as is known, until today.  Agence Taylor“let” the church, presumably for the cost of taxes only, to a French Protestant sect “Assemblies of God” which blocked up the aisle and sanctuary.

‘In preparation for my visit the sanctuary partition was removed and the church cleaned.  It presented a somewhat unkempt appearance as it had been used by the German TODorganisation, and much damage and desecration occurred.  Assisted by Mr. Maplethorp and the Pastor of the French Protestants we set to work to make the church ready for- the celebration of the Divine Liturgy.  In the course of investigations I found:-

·        The chalice bent and misshapen.  This will be sent to a silversmith. (no paten)

·        Vestments etc. in fairly good order.

·        Ch. Linen – a certain amount (in good order).

·        Prayer and Hymn books – 3 boxes (in S.P.G. boxes) in good order.’

Certain articles were borrowed for the service from All Saints, Valescure.  I gave instructions for the wine fence to be refixed, doors and windows oiled and painted, and a new rope (wire) for the bell.’

At the service of rehallowing appropriate psalms were recited in procession from the West Door, and before the altar, and the General Thanksgiving said, Mr. Maplethorp acting as Bishop’s Warden. There were only nine communicants present at this service and it would seem that the chaplaincy had to begin all over again.

The Rev. Donald Macnaughton, in his book “In a Fair Ground – A Chaplaincy in Provence” wrote:-

“Significant changes took place in the post-war years, the first of which was that St. Raphaël became a summer seasonal chaplaincy, which subsequently has grown into an all the year round church.  Winter visitors rarely come to the town nowadays but the church of St. John the Evangelist is fortunate in having a considerable number of regular migrants at various times of the year in addition to a committed group of permanent residents.  There was a time when people staying in hotels worshipped in the English church.  Today a large proportion of the summer congregation spend their holidays in caravans, mobile homes or apartments.  For a number of: years the Marseille Chaplain came over to St. Raphaël once a month and in addition the S.P.G. supplied chaplains for the Summer season.  For a short time in the 1950’s St. Raphaël was served by the chaplain of Cannes, who conducted a monthly service.

“More recently St. Raphaël has been administered to mostly by retired clergy.  One priest, much loved by those who knew him well was Father Douglas Lockhart, who before coming to France had been Rector of Old St. Paul’s church in Edinburgh.  Somewhat eccentric, he lived the life of a hermit sharing with his dog a small house at Les Arcs, part of which he used as a chapel for his daily Mass.  Hilarious stories are told of how in stormy weather when, his house became flooded, he and the dog had to move upstairs to the first floor.  Father Lockhart made a deep impression by reason of his Spirituality and his ancient car and bad driving were a cause for constant concern.  Some people complained that he gabbled the service inaudibly and advocated the reading at least of the lessons by articulate laymen.

“A character who became well known and appreciated in the post-war period was the late Rear Admiral Bob Morris, a distinguished American naval officer, who played a leading part in the Allied landing at Dramont in August 1944.  Year by year he came to stay in a house overlooking the sea at Agay.  Very much ‘a persona grata’ at the church he was quick to break down any reserve or starchiness among church members.  A deeply religious man, he belonged to International Christian Leadership, an organisation made up largely of businessmen of the Jimmy Carter type.  When invited to read a lesson in church, he always felt impelled to add a message of his own.

“In the autumn of 1975, when there was a staffing problem, he volunteered to open the church on Sundays when no service had been arranged, to welcome visitors, but was told that while his offer was accepted in principle, there was to be no question of his giving an address, because it would really be too American!  Bob Morris took it all in characteristic good humour, although nothing came of his offer because the church was closed to enable new electric heaters to be installed, which by 1987 had become too expensive to operate!

“Today [mid 1980’s] St. Raphaël relies heavily on visiting priests and licensed readers in the summer months on the Sundays when the chaplain is at Marseille, and in an emergency there are laypersons able and willing to conduct Matins.  The future of St. John’s church depends on the continued presence of a committed resident community.  The story of the chaplaincy at St. Raphaël, with all its ups and downs. must be not unlike the story of many other chaplaincies in Europe”.

In 1958 [IR1] the chapel of All Saints in Valescure was transferred to the catholic diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, leaving St. John’s as the focus for Anglican worship in the Var.

Modern times

In 1973 Canon Tibbett arrived in St. Raphaël.  In a meeting after the service on 22nd July he explained that he had been sent by the Bishop of Gibraltar and Fulham “to look into the affairs of the church in St Raphaël, and that it could not continue unless it was a viable project.  The first step would be to appoint a treasurer and secretary.  The Canon said he had found in the church safe two sums of money –

  1. FF950 which was labelled for the church heating.
  2. FF250, which presumably was the proceeds of church collections,

and that he would hand these sums over to the treasurer who would open a bank account.”

It was also stated (erroneously) that the church had the use of a sum of £4,000 held by the U.S.P.G. in London, arising from the sale of some land to the S.N.C.F., and had the income of £50 per annum from a trust fund.  A legacy of £500 (the “Toovey legacy”) was also identified.  (Much later 1979, it is reported that these are one and the same – the income comes from the legacy.)

A small committee was inaugurated, rather than a church council, which comprised the officers, churchwardens and three members of the congregation.  At the September meeting of that committee, Canon Tibbett reported that he had come to the conclusion that the chaplaincy would be viable for the Summer three months, and then for the rest of the year a service one a month would be sufficient.

In 1974 Canon Davies was duly appointed for the summer season, arriving for the service on 16th June, and taking his last service 11th August.  His board and lodging were paid for at the Hotel des Templiers.  For the winter, the Rev. Peter Goldsmid, chaplain of Marseilles, agreed to come the last Sunday in each month.  In addition, a memorial service for Father Lockhart was held on 15th October, the first anniversary of his death.

1975 was a difficult year for the church, with a number of priests taking individual services.  Continuity was provided by the Rev. Peter Goldsmid who continued to visit from Marseilles.  From the end of July until early September Mr Paul Topham offered his services..  Similar arrangements continued through 1976 and into 1977.   The Rev. Brian Taylor was appointed chaplain of Marseilles and St. Raphaël in 1977, however, by this time there was a move to get St. Raphaël under a chaplaincy closer than Marseilles, and by September that year a prospective candidate, Rev Karl Lutge had been identified, as a potential full-time chaplain for St. John’s, to be based in St. Raphaël.

1978 Rev Karl Lutge was appointed the full-time chaplain of St. Raphaël, breaking the long-standing link to Marseilles.  He had a one year assignment lasting until May 1979.  In November there was a visit by the Bishop of Gibraltar and Fulham, accompanied by Canon Taylor, in charge of furnishings and fabrics of the church.  However, in the winter, reversing the previous arrangements, the chaplain was asked also to take charge of Marseilles!  It was in this year that the custom of having refreshments after the service began, a custom which has continued to the present day.

1979 After the departure of Rev. Karl Lutge in May, there was no new appointment until November, when the Rev. Ronald Jennison took on the post of chaplain to Marseilles and St. Raphaël, again based in Marseilles, but now holding at least two services a month in each location.

In 1980 the Diocese in Europe became official and part of the Province of Canterbury.  Bishop Ambrosé, suffragan Bishop in the new diocese, visited St. John’s in November.  In the meantime, problems with the roof had resulted in builders estimates of FF10,000 to repair.  On the 16th March, the Credence Table, donated by the family of Pamela Darley, had been dedicated and installed in the sanctuary.

In 1981 the roof problem escalated, and eventually repairs were carried out at a cost of FF23,000.  Part of this was paid for by the U.S.P.G. and part by private donations.  Fund-raising events during the year included a “Royal Wedding Garden Party” near Le Muy, and a concert in the church.

In 1982 Rev Jennison moved to a new appointment in Nice, and the Rev. Donald Macnaughton was appointed chaplain of St Raphaël and Marseilles.

In 1983 after a survey carried out, free of charge, by Mr. Michael Edwards, a Quantity Surveyor and member of the congregation an important restoration of the church fabric was started.  An appeal was launched with the result that over £10,000 was collected.  The work was completed in just over 2 years, thanks to the enthusiasm of the small group of permanent residents and the generosity of: many seasonal visitors.

1987: After the departure of the Rev. Donald Macnaughton, St. John’s had a series of seasonal and temporary chaplains, shared with All Saints’ Marseilles. However it became increasingly difficult to find suitable retired priests to run both chaplaincies.

Subsequently, the Bishop agreed to St. John’s joining with the new churchof St. Mark’s at Sophia Antipolis, which is only 35 minutes distant via the Autoroute.  A joint development fund was set up and, in less than 9 months, some £4,000 was collected by the joint efforts of both churches.

However, St. John’swas growing despite lack of a permanent chaplain.  When the Rev. Tom Unsworth and his wife Joan appeared, it was found that being recently retired, they would be ideal for St. John’s.  At the same time St. Mark’s realised that they needed a younger full time priest of their own, so the proposed sharing did not materialise.  So, for the first time after many years St. John’s had a permanent chaplain of its own.

From September 1990 the church was served by the Reverend Tom Unsworth.  For the first 18 months of their time in the chaplaincy, he and his wife Joan worked under the great disadvantage of having no permanent accommodation.  In the early part of 1992, following an appeal amongst church members and friends in France and the United Kingdom, a chaplaincy house was bought at La Bouverie in the commune of Roquebrune sur Argens, some 18 kilometres from the church in St. Raphaël.

The story of our church of St. John the Evangelist at St. Raphaël is obviously an unfinished one.  It is a story of many ups and downs, yet always with the presence of an underlying faith.  It is the story of how, through God’s grace and providence we benefit from the labours, vision, and generosity of those who have come and gone before us.  Let us safeguard this inheritance that through our faithfulness those who come after us may be blessed.


[1]        A Short History of St. John the Evangelist Church, Avenue Paul Doumer, St. Raphaël.  Dated November 1990, (believed to have been compiled by Bill Phillips) and including the following acknowledgements_

  1. “Additional notes were supplied by Cyril Maplethorp and Ted Anderson.
  2. “Quotation from ‘IN A FAIR GROUND’ – A Chaplaincy in Provence Donald Macnaughton, published by Churchman Publishing Limited 117 Broomfield Avenue. Worthing. BN14 7SF “
[2]        A Short History of St. John the Evangelist Church, Avenue Paul Doumer, St. Raphaël  Undated, unattributed but seems to have been prepared in the early 1990’s, possibly by Tom Unsworth as an update to the text in [1] [3]        History of St. John the Evangelist Church and Service, St. Raphaël.  Undated, unattributed, runs from 1882 to 1931, much text incorporated in [1]

[IR1]See Church Council Minutes for 10th September 1973 in which it is claimed that All Saints Valescure is still owned by the Diocese and is leased by agreement to the Roman Catholic authorities.

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