Island Life Magazine Ltd December 2008/January 2009 - Page 58

life FEATURE Tick Tock Newport's new clock The wraps are off. On December 3rd the scaffolding came down and the people of Newport could at last see the gleaming newly-gilded faces of the clock tower of Newport Minster. This was not just a much-needed restoration of some crumbling architecture. While both faces, the west and the south, were in a sorry state, the one facing south is a brand new inset. While the repaired face carries the date 1857, when the church was restored, the new face is marked with 2008, the year the Isle of Wight was given its own minster. The minster was inaugurated by the Prince of Wales in October, and it has been quite a year for the church, both for the building itself and for its people. Canon Dr Stephen Palmer explains that becoming a minster symbolises St Thomas’s ministry to the community as a whole. “It’s a space available to everybody,” he says. “The wonderful principle is primus inter pares, 58 which means first among equals. That doesn’t mean we’re better than anyone else. It’s a symbol of recognition, that, as well as being the first thing you see in Newport, it is also the church of the civil community – it’s where the law service is held, and the large remembrance service, among many others.” For Canon Palmer the unmasking of the church from its scaffolding marks the end of “an interesting year”, when, as well as his church’s changed status, he was made a Chaplain to the Queen. The brand new face wasn’t in the original plan, as Simon Armstrong of Wells Cathedral Stonemasons explains. “We could see from the ground it was in need of attention, but it wasn’t till we were close that The Island's new funky radio station