St. Michael & All Angels Church

History of St Michael & All Angels

Thomas Trench and his family moved to Millicent in around 1840. His son, Thomas Cooke Trench took over the accounts his father had held as land agent while living at Millicent following the latter's death in 1851. The Church of Ireland church of the area was that of the Abbey in Clane, situated at the southern end of Main Street towards the river Liffey. The roof of the Abbey has come into disrepair during the 1798 rebellion and no satisfactory repair of it had been managed. At one time, attempts were made to expand the Abbey but the surrounding graves made this impossible.

In 1881 the vestry passed a resolution to build a new church following a proposal by Thomas Cooke Trench that he would donate the land in Millicent and most of the cost for the build and interiors if they accepted the plans he drew up. The vestry unanimously agreed and construction on the site of St. Michael and All Angels in Millicent began on the same day, 20th June 1881.

The church was consecrated on Michaelmas day 29th September 1883 by Bishop Richard Chenevix Trench, Archbishop of Dublin and cousin of Thomas Cooke Trench. It is situated on the rising ground around 2km south of Clane village surrounded by a copse of mature trees. The chief material used in its construction was locally quarried limestone with quoins and external dressings of Cumberland red sandstone. Inside, the church, the dressings of the windows and doors, the arches and pillars are of Bath stone: the steps, pulpit base and platforms at the lecterns and font are of red Cork marble. The roof is of pitch pine covered with Welsh slate: the doors, floors and fittings are of Riga oak. The immediate impression is of solidity and beauty.

The stained glass windows on the north side of the church reflect the Old Testament (Adam, Isaac, Joseph, Joshua, Solomon, David and Melchisedek) while those on the south reflect the New Testament ( St. Thomas, St. James, St. Peter, St. Matthew, St. John and St. Mary)The upper east and west walls are decorated in specialised metal artwork known as cloisonne - the work of Clement Heaton. It is extremely rare to find panels of cloisonne of this size. Both panels were cleaned and restored in 2018.The north and south walls in the chancel are decorated with large sgraffito panels - the work of Heywood Sumner. They depict respectively Christ's baptism and His victory over death.

The figures on the pulpit represent five great preachers - St. Patrick occupies the central position with St. Peter and St. Paul on either side of him and beyond them Isiah and Jonah.The baptismal font has an interesting history. The granite bowl of the font was found embedded in the wall of the old church in Clane and had evidently belonged to an older building. After some restoration work, it was lined with lead, provided with a wooden cover and installed in the church.

There is no repetition of carving in the church - there are 75 carved stone capitals, 84 bosses, corbels and finials and no two are alike. Even the principal rafters each have their own distinctive mid-rib.

Early on the morning of 22nd March 1947, the chancel, choir pews, vestry and organ were destroyed by fire. Later that day, parishioners and friends gathered at the church to clean the nave and a tarpaulin was hung across the archway between the chancel and the nave. Next morning Holy Communion was celebrated at 08.30 followed by Morning prayer at 11.30. services were held in the nave for over three years until the damage was repaired. Great care was taken to restore the masonry and the joinery as it was before the fire. replacement stone was obtained fro the original quarry in England which was reopened specially.

St. Michael's & All Angels church remains one of the great churches of the Church of Ireland estate.