Theodore Mansel Talbot (1839-1876)
Theodore was tutored at home until he went up to Christ Church College, Oxford where he read and obtained a degree in Mathematics. He declined the opportunity to join his father in the House of Commons but persued many interests that his background could afford. Life changed for Theodore when in 1869 he entered St. Columba's Church Haggerston during the London Mission at which Fr. Arthur Stanton was preaching. Theodore approached Fr. Stanton after the service and reportedly said, "Here I am. What can I do?" to which Fr. Stanton responded, "Come down to St. Alban's and help us there".
At St. Alban's Church, Holborn Theodore found his true vocation working with the Vicar Fr. Mackonochie SSC and his Curate Fr. Arthur Stanton. Disappearing from society Theodore was to spend his time in the slums of Holborn where he would nurse sick children, carry the dead to burial, stand in as godfather at street children's baptisms and teach in Sunday Schools. Meanwhile when back on the family estates Theodore promoted the restoration of neglected churches and the appointment of Anglo-Catholic clergy to secure the improvement of Divine Worship.
It was upon a return visit home and resulting from a horse riding fall that Theodore became ill in 1875. He made a slow recovery and finally obtained his doctor's permission to join the hunt for one day. In jumping a small ditch it is thought that he suffered a concussion of the spine rendering him paralysed. In May he was moved to his father's house in Cavendish Square, London. During his final days he received the Blessed Sacrament with faith and fervour and made Fr. Stanton promise that no Catholic rite should be omitted in his last agony.
With St. Alban's Day approaching Theodore sent word, "Give my love to the dear Priests, and wish them all happiness and prosperity at St. Alban's". On 17th June 1876 Fr. Stanton wrote to a friend, "Dear Theodore Talbot is, I fear, dying. Pray for him as such. No words of mine can describe this heart breaking calamity. He is simply at peace with God". Theodore Mansel Talbot died that day.
Where the past meets the present
Theodore and the Talbot family's devotion founded within the Anglo-Catholic spirituality was not a simple affair. It was a time when the Church hierarchy was very suspicious of this resurgence in catholic faith and devotion to the extent that some clergy faced trials. Fr. Mackonochie SSC faced many a dispute with the Bishop of London during his ministry at St. Alban's Holborn which was seen as one of the centres of the Anglo-Catholic revival. It was within this ethos, spirituality and mission that Fr. Mackonochie SSC along with Fr. Charles Lowder SSC and others founded the Societas Sanctae Crucis - The Society of the Holy Cross (SSC). This Society continues today with the former Vicar of St. Theodore Port Talbot, Fr. Amos SSC a member and former Master of the Province of Wales and Local Vicar to the Chapter of St. Dyfrig (serving the four south Wales dioceses).
The weaving of past and present was also celebrated on the 5th August 1987 at the Centenary of the Consecration of St. Theodore's Church when the Reverend Prebendary John Gaskell, recently retired as Vicar of St. Alban's Holborn preached at the service led by Fr. Amos and the Rt. Rev'd Roy Davies, Lord Bishop of Llandaff.
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