The Last Article

Denis Shaw sent this last article to complete the set celebrating Canon Carter’s centenary just before his death. -Ed

At dusk on the evening before Canon Carter’s death, one of his daughters was about to draw the curtains. He stopped her saying “I want to see the star.” He was referring to the evening star, and, as his biographer records, “he lay gazing at the planet which shone in unusual splendour through the window at the foot of his bed.” If you look at the exquisite small bronze memorial (by W Bainbridge Reynolds) on he north wall of the sanctuary in Clewer Church, you will see the star in the background.

Two days after his death, on the eve of All Saints, Carter was laid to rest, beside his wife, in Clewer Churchyard.

The funeral procession from the House of Mercy was a quarter of a mile long, with 150 clergy and 100 Sisters taking part.

A Solemn Requiem at the Convent was celebrated by Carter’s nephew, William Carter, Bishop of Zululand.

The stone which marks Carter’s grave is carved with passion flowers, and the same motif may be seen embroidered on one of his stoles which is in the Clewer Museum. The symbolism of the flower has been explained as follows: the leaf symbolises the spear which wounded Christ, the five anthers are the five wounds, the tendrils are the cords used in the scourging, the column of the ovary is the pillar of the cross, the stamens are the hammers, the three styles are the nails, the fleshy threads within the flower are the crown of thorns, the calyx is the nimbus or halo, the white tint stands for purity, the blue tint stands for heaven. The flower is reputed to stay open for three days, symbolising the three years of Christ’s ministry.

It is easy to understand how such an eloquent representation of the story of our salvation, found in nature, should have appealed to Thomas Thellusson Carter.

The records of The church Times give a curious, and perhaps rather shocking footnote to Carter’s life. Two years after his death the dean of Lichfield (H.M.Luckock) spoke to the Sisters in the Convent Chapel, about their founder. Towards the end of his talk he felt it necessary to tell the Sisters that they should not address their prayers to Thomas Carter but directly to God.

This completes the series

Denis Shaw