The Anglican Church in Menorca
Prepared by Dianne Carter.
The Chapel of Santa Margarita was originally part of a Carmelite convent, comprising living quarters for the nuns, a school and this public chapel. Its history began with a visit to Menorca by one of the founders of the Carmelite order of nuns, Francesc Palau y Quer. Whilst on the island he was introduced to the Turmo family of Menorca, who wished to endow a chapel in Es Castell. The Roman Catholic Church already owned the building in calle Stuart, and in 1880, a request was made to convert it into a chapel, whose first priest was the Turmo’s son, Eduardo. His mother’s name was Margarita, and it seems probable that the chapel was thus dedicated to her patron saint.
The chapel was closed during the Civil War. It re-opened some years later, and the school continued to use it until 1975.
A weekly Roman Catholic mass was said until 1985, when the chapel was loaned to the Anglican Church.
The 20th Century Roots Of An Anglican Centre Of Worship
It was in the 1960s that the Anglican Church, as we now know it, first took shape, following a visit by the Chaplain of St Philip and St James, Palma de Mallorca (the Revd Edmund Capper).
Communion services were held at two-monthly intervals in the houses of residents, and later in both the Catholic Church in Es Castell (in the summer) and the Spanish Evangelical Church in Mahón (in the winter). In 1984 the services were increased to one per month. In 1985 a certain Martin White discovered a little-used chapel, attached to a convent, in calle Stuart, Es Castell. As the community of nuns who had once occupied the building had moved to the premises of the Parish Church, the Catholic Church very generously offered the Chapel of Santa Margarita on permanent loan to be used by the Anglican Church, with the approval of the Carmelite Mother Superior and the Bishop of Menorca.
The Anglican community relied on visits from chaplains from Mallorca for Communion services for the next 25 years. During this time, in 1987, Jake Sanders was licensed by Bishop John Satterthwaite (of the Diocese of Gibraltar, now known as the Diocese in Europe) as a Lay Assistant, thus enabling Matins to be held monthly.
In 1988, Bishop John, on a visit to Menorca, declared the island was ready for its own Chaplaincy. He told the then congregation to start raising money, and a spate of fund-raising and budget projections followed. At this time chaplains from the Intercontinental Chaplains, appointed to look after Saga holidaymakers staying at the Hamilton Hotel, took services in Santa Margarita.
In 1991 the first locum, the Revd Canon David Dixon, arrived to prepare the way for a permanent Chaplaincy. He was followed by the Revds Canon Kenneth Evans and Canon Alan Gibson. Then, on 1st July, 1992 the first resident chaplain, the Revd Stanley Underhill arrived.
He was instituted in December of that year. During his tenure, he established monthly Communion services at Cala’n Porter, and formed a PCC in place of existing committees. A constitution was adopted and Menorca became a separate Chaplaincy within the Diocese of Gibraltar. Jake Sanders was appointed the first Churchwarden. Following Stanley Underhill’s retirement, on grounds of ill health, in January 1994, a series of short-term incumbents and locums maintained the Chaplaincy.
In mid-October 1997, the Revd Dr Simon Stephens RN (Retd) arrived as permanent Chaplain. Simon Stephens’ stay of two years was marked by a notable growth in the enthusiasm for the Church. In October 1999 however, he was transferred to Moscow (also part of the Diocese in Europe) and a member of the congregation, the Revd Alan Stockbridge, stood in for some weeks until the arrival of Bishop Eric Devenport, whose stay concluded with the arrival and institution in March 2000 of the Revd Dr Michael Bunce, who was supported during the first five years of his stay by Alan Stockbridge.
Michael Bunce’s tenure lasted until 2012. The Very Revd Michael Higgins OBE arrived in July 2012 as locum priest until May 2013.
The present Chaplain, the Revd Paul Strudwick, was instituted on 18th June 2013.