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Last resting place restoration for doctor who sanitised Shakespeare; PS1M BID TO STOP ANCIENT CHURCH CRUMBLING.


SEX, violence and foul language - not qualities generally associated with the works of William Shakespeare.

But in the mind of Victorian doctor Thomas Bowdler, the bard's output represented a dangerously corrupting influence on right-thinking everywhere.

So in 1807, Bowdler produced his own sanitised version of Shakespeare's works - and saw his name enter the dictionary as a byword for censorship.

After his death in 1825, Bowdler was buried with little ceremony in the northern part of the tranquil yard of All Saints Church in Mumbles, Swansea.

But nearly 200 years later, his resting place is set to be extensively revamped as part of a PS1m restoration fund which has been launched to ensure the continued survival of one of Wales' most ancient seats of worship.

As well as being Bowdler's burial site, the seafront church is also where former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams spent many of his formative years.

Something of a prude by modern standards, Bath-born Bowdler, the son of a rich banker, produced The Family Shakespeare, his censored versions of the Bard's plays, in 1807.

Changes included the death of Ophelia in Hamlet being referred to as an accidental drowning, omitting the suggestion she may have intended suicide.

And in Macbeth, Lady Macbeth's famous cry "Out, damned spot!" was changed to "Out, crimson spot!" His work became enshrined in the English language, the verb "to bowdlerise" now associating his name with the censorship not only of literature but also of movies and TV programmes.

Bowdler, who travelled widely, spent the latter part of his life in Swansea, hence his burial at All Saints.

A church was reported to be at the spot where All Saints now stands in 1141 but it is believed there was a place of worship there towards the end of the Roman occupation of Britain.

The Roman invaders built a villa on the spot as it commanded strategic views of the waters of Swansea Bay.

Later, the Normans built a tower on the site which is now the All Saints church clock tower and Victorian and Edwardian extensions make the church what it is today.

The PS1m restoration fund has been put in place to deal with pressing maintenance issues which need addressing on various parts of the ancient building.

Both Dr Rowan Williams and miners' leader Tyrone O'Sullivan, now a Mumbles resident, are backing the appeal.

Mr O'Sullivan, who famously led the successful miners' buy-out at Tower Colliery, is chairing the appeal.

Canon Keith Evans, the Vicar of All Saints said: "Tyrone is a modern day Welsh hero.

"He has a passion for doing the right thing, a wonderful way with people and a reputation for getting things done. Tyrone and his wife have now settled in Mumbles and are regular worshippers at All Saints."

The appeal has got off to a good start with PS281,000 being raised to date thanks to personal donations, pledges, major gifts and funds promised from the local parochial church council.

Work is to begin next month on stabilising the church's north wall to prevent "movement" especially around the building's famous "lifeboat window", which commemorates the heroic exploits of the Mumbles lifeboat crew.

Dr Rowan Williams, who grew up in the Swansea Valley and later in Mumbles, said: "All Saints Church is one of the gems among Swansea's buildings, and without doubt one of the finest church interiors in Wales.

"It blends together the atmospheric medieval structure of the old church and the magnificent light and spaciousness of the main nave and chancel in a superb harmony.

"Anyone who has watched the light falling through the windows into the nave on a sunny morning will know the natural drama of the building.

"But it is a drama that serves worship and prayer and has inspired generations, people of all ages and backgrounds, in their awareness of God.

"I first fell in love with the building at the age of 11, and have never looked back. I learned not only from the first class teaching we received but from the whole atmosphere of the building that expresses both a lightness of being and an unforced awe and stillness. "I support this appeal with the greatest enthusiasm and wish every success and blessing to all involved."


All Saints Church, Mumbles, Swansea, yesterday, where Thomas Bowdler is buried
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 8, 2013
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