Tuesday, 13 September 2011
The last time the bells were removed from the tower was over eighty years ago. They have been taken down and sent to the bell foundry for a major overhaul and hopefully will not need further attention for another eighty years!
The work was undertaken by Paul White and his work force and they did an excellent job, although we were all holding our breath as the first bell (the tenor and heaviest of all ) was lowered. It was a fascinating process and we are now looking forward to their return, in the new year, when once more the bells will ring out over the Vale.
Sunday, 11 September 2011
On Tuesday 30 August, 'The Friends' was formally launched by our Patron, Lord Hall of Birkenhead (Tony Hall) with a talk on his life and work. He drew interesting parallels between his life at the BBC and at the Royal Opera House, giving the memorable example of the need for both a news correspondent in a war zone and a soloist on stage in front of several thousand people to get it right under pressure! He talked about the importance of the outreach work undertaken by Covent Garden seeking to bring opera to millions of people who would not otherwise have the experience and of his determination as Chair of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad to ensure that Britain delivered its promise to add a rich cultural dimension to the celebration of next year's Games in London. After the talk, we all adjourned for tea in the garden at Candida House. It was just about warm enough!
Over tea, Nick Mayhew Smith, author of 'Britain's Holiest Places' (in which our church is given 11 stars!) sold copies of his book and donated £10 for each one sold. It was most generous of him to come down from London to attend our inaugural event.
Many thanks to all those people who have already joined the Friends. At the time of writing we have 60 members and we hope to welcome many more. It is important to stress that the aim of the Friends is not solely to raise funds. Of course it is important that in our turn, as many generations who have lived in the village and the Marshwood Vale have done in the past, we should look after the fabric of a wonderful and iconic building. The church means so much to so many in the community, some churchgoers and many who are not. Many projects lie ahead. The
bells, much loved and rung unfailingly by our team of bell ringers, are about to be taken down and will undergo a major refurbishment, the first since 1926. The medieval 6th bell will be heard no more as it is honeycombed and is to be replaced, although it will remain here. The floor, the organ, the electrics and our antiquated and temperamental heating system all require radical attention. So we do face some substantial fundraising.
But it is equally important that the church should be a meeting place for the whole community. In addition to the weekly services, the weddings, christenings and funerals and the recently revived healing services, we want to encourage further and wider use through the Friends. Already the free exchange cafe, our excellent annual Flower Festival and the concert series are drawing more people in. The Friends plan to put on 3 or 4 interesting and attractive events, home or away, each year. On October 22nd, the Whitchurch Purcellians will welcome Friends to to join them for their Gala Concert. She'koyokh, who were such a hit when they played in the village hall some years ago, will be returning to play their Jewish-gypsy-Balkan-Turkish folk music (www.shekoyokh.co.uk). It is an occasion not to be missed. More details elsewhere in the magazine.
A final word of thanks to Tony Hall. We are grateful to him for agreeing to become our Patron, especially at such a busy time with the 2012 Olympics looming. His lively and stimulating talk has given the Friends a resounding start.
Saturday, 30 July 2011
How wonderful it was to see more than 60 people comfortably talking over coffee and croissants at the free eXchange café on Sunday, 11 July. We had people from all around the Vale stopping by to join in, including two riders on horseback - Shelley and Wendy from the Three Counties Bridlepath Group. With so many ancient pilgrim routes leading to Whitchurch, the church is perfectly located to include in a ride, walk or cycle trip - particularly on a café Sunday when coffee and croissants await!
We hope YOU will join in next time. Even if you can't make it, feel free to stop by the church anytime and check out the latest postings on the eXchange board - it's filling up with goods for freecycling and skills and services ready for eXchange. Special thanks to all our café helpers: Clare and Rachel Colby, Yvonne Welch, Nick Ziebland, Briony Blair and Sam Milburn, Michael West and Jane Skinner for creating the mask-making table around the theme of 'Surprise'. Thanks also to Barry Welch for taking photos (you can see them on our website), and to Ken Tubb for making terrific signs! Special mention to Sue Herman for picking up the pastries at Felicity's Farm Shop and to Martin Legg for delivering more invitations with the newspapers. For more info please contact the café organisers: Richard Colby, Stephen Skinner, Betsy West or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The next free eXchange cafés are scheduled for the following Sundays:
10:30am - Noon
St Candida and Holy Cross Church