St. German's Cathedral in Peel, Isle of Man, possesses three wonderful pieces of communion silver designed by Archibald Knox.
Two were commissioned by Canon John Quine in 1929 and the other was designed by Knox as a commemorative piece to his sister Christina Knox who died in 1931. This last piece is hallmarked 1932 and all three pieces were made for Knox by Liberty & Co. even though he had not worked for them for perhaps 20 to 25 years.
The Archibald Knox Forum wishes to put on record its gratitude to Peel Cathedral and to the Dean for allowing us to photograph the pieces, to the Quine family for their gift to the Cathedral and to Julie Quine for her research and information on these pieces.
The two papers produced by Julie Quine are shown below followed by the images of these wonderfully beautiful and significant piece - they are indeed a National Treasure of The Isle of Man.
St German Cathedral – St Patrick’s Isle and the present Cathedral
Back in the 1870’s it was hoped that the Cathedral on St Patrick’s Isle would be restored to its former glory… R. Anderson carried out some initial restoration to the building in 1877 but it seemed that nothing more had transpired other than the construction of a road to the Isle in 1884.
In 1893 – at a Clerical meeting, John Quine said there ought to be a Cathedral somewhere on the Island… T.E. Brown’s affectionate chaff regarding John’s passion for archaeology and the St German Cathedral was – ‘this strong fierce man has become rapturously enamoured of a historical (1100 year old) Manx princess.’ [IOM Times Mar 9 1940 p7]
In 1894 a St Germain League was set up for the recovery of the Cathedral back into the possession of the Holy Church. The ‘League’ Committee, comprised of Rev. Harrison, Mrs Laughton, Miss Crellin, Mr P. Kermode, and John as secretary, were to investigate St Patrick’s Isle – to provide plans and carry out excavation if necessary.
In his involvement with the ‘League’, in 1896 John reported that a great deal of work had been mapped out at Peel Castle regarding the excavations, but progress was slow due to permissions being granted. In the same year, Knox wrote the letter reminding churchmen of the existence of the League (see letter).
John also gave talks regarding the history of St Patrick’s Isle, Peel and the Cathedral.
Peel Church (the present Cathedral), erected by Bishop Hill to replace the Parish Church of St Peter’s, suffered from bad construction and storm damage, and was in need of a great deal of work. The roof of the Church was partially destroyed by a storm in 1903 and for safety reasons due to subsidence in 1907, the spire had to be demolished; the tower needed to be rebuilt. A Grand Bazaar was organised in 1908 for funding the rebuilding, and John Quine issued a short historical sketch of the Parish in a booklet for the occasion, and was involved with fundraising to restore Peel Church. [Mona’s Herald Sept 2 1908 p.5]
Despite a great deal of ‘talk’ regarding the restoration of St German’s Cathedral on St Patrick’s Isle, nothing came of the plans during John’s lifetime or in the years after John’s death. In various newspaper reports there appeared to be a constant quandary as to whether Douglas or Peel should be the Cathedral town. It seemed likely that something was going to be done in the 1960’s, but again nothing happened, due to controversy.
It was only later in 1980 that it was finally agreed that the ‘new’ Parish Church of Peel should be consecrated as the Cathedral by an Act of Tynwald, and following this, in 1987 the Quine family decided that the Knox silver should occupy a position in the Cathedral, its rightful place; the silver was presented by the Quine family to the Cathedral of German.
By Julie Quine,
St German Cathedral Silver:
Matching Ewer and Bowl with interlacing decoration in relief set with blue stones, and an Alms dish or ‘bason’ with interlacing decoration in relief, decorated with mother-of-pearl – produced by Liberty to designs by A. Knox. 1929 & 1932.
The silver was on display in Canon John Quine’s study at Lonan Vicarage until his death in 1940.
Canon John Quine told the story that: the silver was to remain in the Quine family until such a time that the roof was back on the St German Cathedral on St Patrick’s Isle. If this was ever done, then it had to be formally handed over to the Dean & Chapter of the Cathedral…
WW2 – after Canon Quine’s death in 1940 – the silver was deposited in the IOM Bank for c12 years
1952 – silver removed from IOM Bank put in suitcase under bed in ‘The Spinney’ in Baldrine
1978 – silver loaned to Manx Museum for 5 years. Letter to John Lindsay Quine – it was not to be loaned or removed from Museum without Quine family consent
1979 – silver displayed at Millennium open air Service in St German Church on condition that it was returned to Museum after the Service
1980 – John Lindsay Quine (son of John) died… In the same year, by the Cathedral Church Act of 1980, the parish Church of German was established as the cathedral Church of Saint German
1986 – silver still in Manx museum. Quine family ‘Trustees’ questioned if it would be better to remove the silver from the Museum. Generally it was felt better for it to stay in the Museum on loan…
1987 – in light of Harrison’s comments (Manx Museum), the re-consecration of the Cathedral on St Patrick’s Isle seemed out of the question
2000 – the silver was formally presented to the Cathedral of Saint German in Peel by the Quine family in October; the Bishop of Canterbury took the service.
NB: It wasn’t known by the Quine family until later that one of the pieces had been commissioned by Archibald Knox in memory of his sister, Christina Knox, in 1932. Knox wrote a letter to his other sister, Annie, re the ‘bason’ – saying it was referred to in the prayer book as a ‘decent bason’ and was for use in the S German Cathedral and also a memorial to their sister from Knox family members, and that it should be sent to Canon John Quine at Lonan Vicarage.
The other two silver pieces were commissioned by Canon John Quine in 1929.
On the section opposite is the caption within Peel Cathedral regarding the Lavabo dish and the jug (cruet) which are the container and bowl used by the priest for the washing of his hands before the blessing of the elements during the Communion service.
Both pieces have wonderful Knox lettering and designs and are adorned with lapis lazuli stones.
Below are a selection of images which show the beauty and significance of these two pieces that were commissioned by Canon John Quine in 1929 in the hope that the old Cathedral on St. Patrick's Isle would be restored.
On the section opposite is the caption within Peel Cathedral regarding the alms dish (or as it says in the prayer book - a "decent bason") designed by Knox in memory of his sister, Christina Knox, who died in 1931.
The piece was sent to Canon John Quine at Lonan vicarage in 1932.
This is probably Archibald Knox's final metalwork design and the bason is in silver with three mother of pearl roundels representing the Trinity plus beautiful Celtic knot work.
On the underside of the rim is the reference to Knox's sister - 1857 ck 1931.
Finally there is an image of all three pieces on the altar of the present day Peel Cathedral.