Ċentru Ħin Ħieles formerly known as the St.Luke's Garrison Chapel (Church of England), Tigne. Sliema. This is the actual and historical name of this delightful little chapel which hosted some meetings of the Assoċjazzjoni Sportiva Tigne, cultural events and Rock Concerts, in the 1980's and Ballroom Dancing in the early 90's. The following is a history of this Church that shall celebrate 100 years on the 27th November of this year (2010).
The need for a place of worship (Church of England) at the area known as Tigne, Sliema was being strongly felt in the beginning of the last century as the community around Tigne and in the Fort Tigne was getting larger and larger. Plans were made by Lieut-Colonel Hemming, Royal Engineers and a draughtsman Mr.Collins from the Office of the Chief Royal Engineers for the building of a Church to meet the spiritual needs of the large community coming from servicemen and residents.
A CHURCH IS BUILT
The building started when the then Governor of Malta, Sir Leslie Rundle laid the first foundation stone on the 16th of January 1910. The Church was built and was open for service some months later on Advent Sunday 27th November of the same year. The dedication was by the bishop of Gibraltar, the Right Reverend William Edward Collins. The first religious service was officiated to the congregation with the Governor of Malta, Sir Leslie Rundle, present. The Church was paid for by private and public donations. Entrance to the Church was three doors situated on the North, West and South sides of the Church, surrounded by a splendid garden and railings. Now this Church could offer full service to the military personal and the surrounding areas as it was planned to host 400 worshippers. The first Chaplin to serve inside the Church was Reverend Douglas Percy.
FEATURES AND ADDITIONS
Inside the Church one could find a chancel, two aisles, nave, an organ site and vestry. The focal point of the stone altar was a triple chancel with Corinthian capitalised style pillars, artistically carved by Corporal Sheppard R.E., forming three panels. A stone altar rail decorated with Maltese crosses with the chancel floor finished off with red tiles and white marble steps. It was a small but a beautiful Church tastefully designed for all worshippers which included the wealthy Hughes-Hallet family as they used to live in the Tigne area. Now, one can find a street in Tigne, named after the Hughes-Hallets. The bell tower, west porch and roof decorations were completed a bit later. In March of the following year a stone memorial pulpit was erected in memory of the service personnel who died in Malta. This was a gift from the NCOs’ and men of the 65 Company, Royal Artillery. In September of the same year, an organ was added to the St. Luke’s Garrison Church. This organ was made by the Positive Organ Company of London. The whole assembly of this organ was under the hands of Staff Sergeant Thomas of the Royal Naval Engineers. Further additions to the Church were a font-in memory of John Henry Locke Jones who died on 17th May 1912 (provided by Captain H.H.H. Jones) and a large brass 24” cross presented to the Church in memory of Colonel H.T. Hughes Hallett.
The Hughes Hallet family were to provide another addition to this Church. It was recorded in 1929, that a beautiful set of silver Communion vessels (a chalice and a paten) were presented in memory of Miss Mary Francis Hughes Hallett-who was very much interested in the total welfare of the Tigne Garrison. As a reciprocal memento in honour of this very generous lady, a brass memorial cross was erected that stood together with the same patterned cross in memory of her two brothers, the Admiral and the Colonel Hughes Hallet. Another cross was presented to the Church in memory of a hero, the 21 year old Gunner Sydney Ernest Picton who jumped into the sea and tried in vain to save a lady who fell into it in the Qui-Si-Sana area.. This cross was given to the Church by his comrade of the Royal Artillery.
CHANGES, ACTIVITIES AND WORLD WAR II
The strong wintery ice cold North East Gregale (referred to the Greek island of Zakynthos) was causing discomfort for the congregation in 1931 and it was decided to erect a porch in order to lessen this nasty and dangerous Mediterranean wind. Together with this porch, the old chairs were replaced by new pews. Payment for this came from donations by the congregation. By 1936, this Church became a hub of activities with the Sunday Schools, The Mothers Union and other groups. It also became a point of respite and help for the distressed and distraught. In World War 11, the St.Luke’s Garrison Church was hit badly and was declared unsafe, so the congregation had to attended the Holy Trinity Church in Rudolph Street, Sliema for divine worship.