Anglicans have worshipped in Brittany for over 150 years
The story of St Bartholomew’s began in 1852 when William Faber of Darrington in Yorkshire rented a house in Dinard. After his early death two years later, his widow Lyona decided to remain here. In 1860 she built Villa Sainte Catherine overlooking the harbour of St Malo. She followed this by developing numerous plots and building houses for sale to Anglo-American friends from Dinan and wider. With her entrepreneurial encouragement, Dinard grew from a small fishing village to a vibrant Anglo-American seaside resort.
In 1866 Lyona Faber died leaving her estate to her son William Stanley Faber. He gave the land for a church in her memory. It was contructed in the gothic revival style popular in Victorian England. Faber instructed that the churchmanship should be neither high nor low but broad in outlook. The new church was to be named after the Apostle Bartholomew who was known for his love of the Bible and his commitment to preaching. The first service was recorded, as taking place on 16th November 1871. The east window was inscribed with the following words from the Old Testament Book of 1 Kings:
‘I have hallowed this house to put my name there forever’
The original building had a single aisle and seated 80-100 people. The rapid growth of the English-speaking population meant that the building was quickly outgrown. In 1878 the north aisle and south transept were added. This made the church unusually wide; giving it a particularly warm and homely feel. There was now capacity for over 200 people.
As the 19th century turned into the 20th century, the congregation flourished. The ‘English Church’ became a much respected part of the life of the seaside town.
By the 1930s air travel and wider car ownership meant that the warmer climes of the south of France started to draw people away from the coastal resorts of Brittany and Normandy. Then in preparation for the Second World War many of the British and American residents returned to their native lands.
The 1960s and 1970s were years of decline for Dinard. They were also years of struggle for St Bartholomew’s. While many Anglican churches closed. St Bartholomew’s was kept alive by a small band of faithful believers led by the widely respected American Miss Elizabeth Hannay.
Elizabeth Hannay was a committed Ecumenist. Her close friendship with the Catholic priest Charles Le Pelletier and Anglican priest Geoffrey Curtis led to the birth of the 'Groupe de Service Oecuménique des Bords de Rance'. As a church of word and sacrament, St Bartholomew’s Anglican Church was its natural home.
The last decade of the 20th century saw new generations of English-speaking people making their homes in northern Brittany. St Bartholomew’s began to thrive again. In 20o3 St Bartholomew’s formally joined the Diocese in Europe. Today St Bartholomew’s is a vibrant outward looking congregation; drawing people from across Europe and North America.