The Magazine is published monthly except in December (which is combined with January).  These are extracts from the Parish magazine, if you would like to read the full magazine it is available from church priced £0.50 or £5 a year.

Please note all articles published here are the full unedited versions, you may find that the version printed in the parish magazine is slightly different or have been shortened.

This magazine is the Parish magazine of the Parish of St Michael and All Angels, Abbey Wood. Material is not to be reproduced without permission of the copyright owners. Opinions expressed in this are not necessarily those of the Incumbent or the PCC and do not constitute an official opinion of the Parish.

October 2014

George Bernard Burton

feb_2014_art_10_ww1_logo_for_use_with_ww1_series_fr.pngGeorge Bernard Burton is remembered on the plaque in our church, he is also listed in the Woolwich Hospital Memorial Book. He was killed in action 100 years ago on the 13th September 1914.  George is also remembered on the Ulcombe War Memorial outside the parish church in Ulcombe and also on a plaque inside the same church.

George was born in Ulcombe, Kent between April and June of 1892.  His father Jesse was a farm labourer and at the time of George’s birth he had three sisters, Daisy, Annie and Bessie.  His mother Annie went on to have another seven children Lizzie, Harry, John, Alice, Albert, Percey and Lilian.  By 1911 George had left the family home of Shoreham cottage but I cannot trace where he went, it is possible he got married (but as yet I can find no record of a certificate) it is also possible that he had already joined the army (his army records were unfortunately destroyed possibly during the second world war).  What I do know is that in September 1914 he was serving with the 49th Bty, Royal Field Artillery.

On 8th September 1914 the British Expeditionary Force were advancing towards the river Marne and came under heavy fire in La Ferte sous Jouarre, they eventually crossed the river on the 10th and the Germans were in full retreat towards the River Aisne where they took up defensive positions on the high ground on the northern banks of the river by the 12th September.  It was there that both sides started to dig in and it was the start of what we now call trench warfare, and this is when George was killed.  In the next two months series of trenches had been dug, the battle lines draw and they would remain virtually unchanged for four years.  The British forces suffered 13,000 casualties during the Battle of the Marne and this included 7,000 who were killed.

George Burton does not have a grave, his body was not found.  He is remembered near where the battle started on the La Ferte sous Jouarre Memorial to the Missing with another 3,740 others.

As yet I have not fully established George’s connection with Abbey Wood apart from the fact that his unit was based in Woolwich.  I have cross referenced his name with the records held in the Greenwich Heritage Centre and the War Graves Committee and various other public records and, as with all research, the phrase “ongoing” is appropriate. His medals were claimed in 1921 by the Royal Artillery in Woolwich.  What I know without doubt is that George was loved, and loved enough for three memorials to mention his name.

George Bernard Barton you are not forgotten.

Ann Veitch

Should you have any comments on this article or any information about the men on our memorial then please do not hesitate to contact me or the church.  All research is done by volunteers and all research in ongoing and therefore may change if new information come to light or further records are released.

Ann Veitch

Calling all choirs: sing Silent Night!

This Christmas choirs all over the country can help communities to remember a remarkable World War 1 event.  Peace broke out in the trenches.  There was no fighting for 24 hours.  Enemies sang the much-loved Christmas carol, Silent Night, then they ventured out across No Man’s Land to exchange gifts – some even played football.

To mark the centenary of the 1914 Christmas Truce, a new verse and chorus has been written for Joseph Mohr’s famous carol, Silent Night, originally written in German as Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht.  All over the country in schools, sports stadia, cathedrals and churches, choirs, congregations and sports fans will sing Silent Night as part of Silent Night Carols events.

The events have the backing of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, who is President of the Football Association.  He says: ‘Even in the bleakest of times, Christmas offers peace and hope.  This Christmas, the Silent Night carol services are a powerful way to remember the sacrifice made by so many in the Great War and to celebrate the peace we enjoy.

Christmas Fair – Help Wanted

MC900436201[1]Time marches on, and before long the Christmas Fair will be upon us.  (It’s on Saturday 29th November in case it’s not already in your diary).  It is an unfortunate fact that the monies raised by the Fairs are necessary to pay our bills, they are not just ‘nice to have’ events.

We would like to have many of the usual stalls:- crafts, games, tombola, refreshments, cakes, … but can only do so if there are enough willing volunteers to run them.  We have a number of regular helpers but desperately need some ‘new blood’ to bring along their ideas and to help.

If you have some ideas and feel that you could run a stall we would love to hear from you.  If you don’t feel able to run a stall on your own, but have some ideas and would like to help but are not sure quite how to go about it, then again please get in touch.

Could you sell Draw tickets to friends, family, work colleagues …  ?   If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these contact one of the Fund Raising Team (Nigel & Penny Parsons, Carol Ludlow, Ann Carter, Rosemary Warner or Chris Harper).

Failing that please come along on the day to sample the wares and activities.

Finally, if you have other commitments and really can’t help on the day, there are other ways you can help.  We need prizes for the Draw and tombolas, (more information nearer the time), cakes for the cake stall, flyers to be delivered around the parish; Draw tickets don’t just ‘sell themselves’, just ask how you could help.  




Gabrielle Ludlow and James Milverton





















on their marriage at St Michael’s


          13th September 2014

Time to celebrate National Chocolate Week!

Monday 13th October marks the start of National Chocolate Week.  For the real chocolate lovers, there is even The Chocolate Show, being held 17 – 19 October at Olympia West, in London.  We are asking everyone to bring some sort of chocolate to church on Sunday – how about that recipe you have that includes chocolate?   Just mark it up with Fr. David’s name on it!


The Sunday School teacher was describing how when Lot's wife looked back at Sodom, she turned into a pillar of salt. Young James nodded with understanding. "My mummy looked back once while she was driving," he announced, "and she turned into a telephone pole."


Now hear this?

My wife says I never listen, or something like that...

Remembering the First World War – My Family Story

by Barbara Callaghan

This year the centenary commemorations of the First World War have highlighted the horror of that war, the impact on the nation and the terrible loss that affected almost every family in the country.  My husband’s family was typical of many whose lives were ripped apart by the loss of a husband, father, brother or son.

My husband’s grandfather, Thomas Baber, had served in the Royal Navy for many years before the war, at least since 1901 when he married Florence. They had two children, Mabel, my mother-in-law, and Albert.  Like most sailors, Thomas spent years at sea away from home. In 1911 he was stationed in China, by then promoted to a Petty Officer (equivalent to a rank of a Sergeant in the Army). 

Life was very difficult for Florence. She was no stranger to tragedy – her first husband had died at the age of 34 and four of their eight children had died.  By 1911 only the youngest, Frederick, still lived with her – alongside the children from her second marriage, young Mabel, 6 years old, and Albert, a toddler.

The family were poor and Florence worked in a laundry and Frederick as an errand boy to help make ends meet.  Nellie, Florence’s daughter from her first marriage was by then an inmate in a workhouse, working in the laundry.  

When war broke out on 4th August 1914, Thomas, as a regular sailor, would have been immediately engaged in the war.  The main theatre of war for the navies was the North Sea.  Ships patrolled the seas to protect troops and vital food supplies and but also to blockade the transport of supplies and food to Germany.  The British navies dominated the sea but German submarines were an ever present unseen menace.

On 15th October 1914 Thomas was serving on HMS Hawke patrolling the North Sea.  She had just picked up mail from a sister ship when she was

spotted, with two other ships by the German submarine U-9, already responsible for sinking 3 British ships a month earlier.


                                       HMS Hawke

A German crew member described the fateful event:

“The Cruisers, big armoured fellows, came zig-zagging.  We picked one, which afterward turned out to be HMS Hawke, and manoeuvred for a shot.  It was tricky work. She nearly ran us down.  We had to dive deeper and let her pass over us, else we would have been rammed.  Now we were in a position for a stern shot at an angle, but she turned. It was a fatal turning, for it gave us an opportunity to swing around for a clear bow shot at 400 metres.

 ‘Second bow tube fire!' Weddigen
[commander of the submarine] snapped out the order, and soon there sounded the tell-tale detonation.

 We dived beyond periscope depth, ran underwater for a short distance, and then came up for a look through our tall, mast-like eye.  The Hawke had already disappeared. She sank in eight minutes.”

A survivor from the Hawke told of the terrible incident:

 “Those on deck for an instant, immediately after the explosion, saw the periscope of a submarine, which showed above the water like a broomstick.  When the explosion occurred, I, along with the others in the engine-room, was sent flying into space as it were, and must have been stunned for a little.  When I came to, I found myself in the midst of an absolute inferno.  One of the cylinders of the engine had been completely wrecked, and steam was hissing out in dense, scalding clouds, penetrating to every nook and cranny of the engine-room and stokehold.  The horror of the situation was added to when a tank of fuel oil caught fire, and the flames advanced with fatal rapidity. 

I scrambled up the iron ladder to the main deck.  Already the captain, commander, and a midshipman were on the bridge, and calmly, as though on fleet manoeuvres in the Solent, orders were given out, and as calmly obeyed.  The bugler sounded the ‘Still’ call, which called upon every man to remain at the post at which the call reached him.  Soon there came the order, ‘Abandon ship, out boats’. 

Many of the crew had scrambled on to the side of the sinking cruiser as she slowly turned turtle, and from this temporary place of safety were sliding and diving into the sea.  The captain and the midshipman stuck bravely to their posts on the bridge to the last, and were seen to disappear as the ship finally plunged bow first amid a maelstrom of cruel, swirling waters.  As the Hawke went down a small pinnace
[a small boat on ship used to row people and supplies between ships and to shore] and a raft which had been prepared for such an emergency floated free, but such was the onrush of the men who had been precipitated into the water that both were overcrowded. 

On the raft was seen about seventy men standing knee-deep in the water, and the pinnace also appeared to be overfilled.  The cutter rowed around the outskirts of the wreck, picking up as many survivors as the boat could with safety contain.  All aboard who had donned life jackets divested themselves of these and threw them to their comrades struggling in the water, and oars and all movable woodwork about the boat was also pitched overboard to help those clinging to the wreckage, many of whom were seen to sink”

After sinking the Hawke and some merchant ships, the German submarine commander Otto Weddigen was awarded the Pour le Mérite, Prussia's highest military order. But for the British it was a tragedy. 524 men died and just 70 survived.  Thomas was one of who lost his life. He was 40 years old and is remembered on the Chatham photo 3Naval Memorial.

A picture of the Memorial Plaque – engraved with the name Thomas Edward Baber, given to my mother-in-law’s mother.  These were given to the families of all servicemen who died in the war and were often called the Widow’s Penny.

Mabel’s half-brother, Frederick also served in the Royal Navy.  He was serving on HMS Vanguard on 9th July 1917, which had returned from the Battle of Jutland to the safety of the main naval base at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands.  But in a terrible accident the cordite (explosive material) in one of the shells on board the ship caught fire causing a massive explosion. Frederick was one of 845 men who died. Just 2 survived.

My mother-in-law, Mabel, was 10 years old when her father died.  Almost 9 million men from the British and Commonwealth served in the First World War and almost a million of those died. It is impossible to imagine the scars left on our families and communities.  We can only remember the sacrifices made by the men who died - and also of the families left behind.


On 3rd August Gwen and Bill Smith sponsored flowers for Gwen’s birthday on 27th July and Bill’s birthday on 1st August.

There were beautiful flowers in church to celebrate Gabrielle Ludlow and James Milverton’s wedding on 13th September.

On 27th September Michael Edwards sponsored flowers in memory of his mother, Gwyneth, whose anniversary was on 19th April and his father, Caradog, whose anniversary was on 22nd September.

For our Patronal Festival on 27th September the congregation also made donations towards the flowers.


Burnham%20Beeches%20September%2007%202012001_lowres-4Recently I spent 2 nights with my family in the Burnham Beeches hotel at Burnham near Windsor.  There was a history of the Hotel in my room which I found interesting.

Originally built as a Hunting Lodge in what was then part of Windsor Park the house afforded rest to the Royal Hunting Parties before returning to the chase.

In 1737 the English poet Thomas Gray visited his Uncle who owned the house and was inspired to write his 'Elegy in a Country Churchyard'.

Later the house known as Cant's Hill became the property of the Clifton Brown family famous for the association with the Palace of Westminster.

By 1965 the house somewhat depleted was used and converted into a modern hotel.  The house has been extended with all the comforts of a 4 star hotel whilst retaining not only the ambiance of a fine country house but also its proud history stretching back to the 18th Century.

Barbara Callaghan

WI Choir


Here are some of the WI Choir with Hilary and our wonderful musical director Michael Macey MBE at The Friars, Aylesford, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the British Citizenship Awards ceremony by singing some very British songs.  In May this year we sang at the 10th anniversary celebrations at Hall Place and felt very proud to be invited back to sing again.

Anne Stubbington Abbey Wood WI.

WI Trips – Open to Everyone!

Christmas Lunch at The Moorings, Pevensey & afternoon in Tunbridge Wells Thursday 27th November £20.00 which includes lunch which will be served at 12.00, leaving the Community Centre Knee Hill at 09.00, Nuxley, the doctors surgery opposite All Saints Church 09.10, St Martin's church Erith Road Barnehurst 09.20, Hall Place 09.30. 

Coach trip to Winchester Christmas Market in the grounds of the Cathedral, Thursday 4th December leaving Community Centre Knee Hill at 9.00, and as above etc. £14.00 (£5.00 deposit required please)

Coach trip to Milton Keynes Christmas Shopping Friday 12th December leaving Community Centre Knee Hill at 09.00, and as above etc.  £15.00 (£5.00 deposit required please) if you'd like to go on any of the above trips please phone Anne Stubbington 020 8311 7223

There is also a W.I. & Friends  Christmas Craft Fair at St Michael's church hall Saturday 6th December, if you would like to hire a table please phone Anne Stubbington 020 8311 7223

Submitted by Barbara Callaghan

I believe this was written by someone I worked with in the Standard Telephones North Woolwich in the early 1950's. We started doing the payroll for the factory workers on Monday morning and had to finish by early afternoon on the Wednesday. We then carried on with the staff payroll to be checked and once our job was finished they managed to find us work from outside our office.  No computers to help and a cash pay packet every week.  Although a Launderette in Portsmouth in 1956 had a computer, it was the only one I knew of.


Do you ever give a thought folk
When you collect your pay
To department 2131
From whence it found its way?

Sometimes it's really nice in there
When all the staffs complete
You can even turn your head around
It really is a treat.

But when the summer comes, oh dear
And smaller gets the staff
And in between you drops a tear
There ain't no time to laugh.

The shop clerks too they feel the strain
Their figures they get worse
And though you feel you'll get the cane
You just sit there and curse

You plonk away to get some done
The pay accounts and slips
When down comes Georgie at the run
And way with them he nips

It's rushing here and rushing there
It really is a caper
Exciting like! The atmosphere,
like working for a paper.

Yellow gangs and waiting time
We take them in our stride
Together the lot all done on time
Yes everyone has tried.

Now faster faster goes the pace
At last the payroll's done
The cashiers carry on the race
In the nick of time we've won.


May 2014


I thought I’d do an article for the magazine before you all forget who Marjorie is.

I have now been in this care home for 8 weeks and I am very happy here and well taken care of night and day.

I have tea in bed in the morning (just ring the buzzer).  It’s just cereal or toast for breakfast, or both, and a cooked breakfast if you so desire.  We can have help washing and dressing but I don’t need this.  I can either sit in my room, which is quite large or go into the lounge and relax or watch television.

I now have a telephone in my own room so I hope some of you will be able to ‘phone me.  The number is 01634 584 662.

Many thanks to all of you who have sent me cards and letters and I’ve also had quite a few visits from friends in Church.

Paul takes me to church Sunday mornings and sometimes all the family come.  I’ve had to miss a couple of Sundays because Paul has been on night work but one of the Readers from the church calls to see if I am O.K.  Its St. Luke’s in Gillingham and very much like St. Michael’s.

When the better weather comes and there is something special on at St. Michael’s, I will get Andrea to bring me to Abbey Wood.

Sue Naylor and Ann Carter have kept in touch so they can probably give you more information.

Best wishes to everybody.  Hope to see you soon.



It was the start of a new term in hell, and the Devil was giving an induction course to the latest batch of apprentices.  ‘There’s no room for complacency’, he warned them.  ‘You wouldn’t believe the half of what is going on up on earth.  People are getting more and more in touch with God.  They are starting to see God in creation, and even in each other’s hearts.  They are noticing God’s action in the stories of their own lives.  And worse than that, they are starting to realise how important it is to work for justice and for peace.  Even the decline in churchgoing has slowed down!  If things carry on like this, God’s kingdom will come and we’ll all be out of a job.’

There was a long silence, as the seriousness of the Devil’s message sank in.  The apprentices waited to hear what wisdom the Devil would give them for dealing with this perilous situation up on earth.  But the Devil could read the questions in their minds and he turned the whole problem over to them.  ‘So what are you going to do about it?’ he asked them.  ‘Any bright ideas?’  The Devil’s apprentices scratched their heads and furrowed their brows.  ‘Come on’, come on’, urged the Devil, Jeremy Paxman style, ‘I’m waiting.  We don’t have forever, you know!’

Very tentatively, the first apprentice raised his arm.  ‘Sir’, he ventured,  ‘Why don’t we go up there and tell them there’s no God?’  ‘Sorry to disappoint you’, the Devil said, ‘But that wouldn’t wash at all.  They seem to be born with something deep in their hearts that attracts them back to God.  They often can’t name it or even admit that it’s there; but sooner or later they all have a moment when they know that God exists – yes, even the ones who proudly claim that they are atheists.  You’ll have to come up with a better idea that that.’

Crestfallen, the first apprentice sat down, and a second apprentice put up his hand.  ‘Sir’, he suggested, ‘Could we perhaps go up to earth and tell them that there is no such thing as sin, and so they have nothing to fear.  Hell is just a myth?’  ‘A good try’, said the Devil, ‘But unfortunately, the same bit of God that is deep in their hearts also tells them when they are going off course.  They know – if they stop to listen to that inner voice – that it is all too possible to commit sin, and that they’ve all done it – and they know that when they do, they can feel so terrible afterwards, until they have put things right again.  Deep in their hearts they know what sin is and how hell feels.  Think again.’

Then, turning to a third apprentice, the Devil asked, ‘What have you got to say for yourself?’  ‘Well’, answered the third apprentice, slowly and thoughtfully; I’ve been giving it a lot of thought.  You say that it’s no good us telling them that there is no God.  And it’s no use telling them that there is no sin.  How would it be if we told them that there is no hurry?’  The Devil was delighted.  ‘Brilliant!’ he squealed.  ‘That’s exactly what we’ll do.  You’ll go far, young demon.  Well done.’

And so it came to be that the human race carried on believing in God and knowing about sin, but never doing much about it, because, after all, there was no hurry……..

Fr. Derek  -  (remembered from something I read sometime!)

Congratulations - Dot & Don Ray

Congratulations to Dot & Don for their recent achievements.

Dot received a life time achievement award from the Mayor, for her many years serving the community through Scouting and volunteering at Alex McLeod Primary school, Dot has been involved in scouting for the past 40 years, she first came to the 13th Woolwich Scout group when her son joined the cubs and they needed someone to run the homehelp badge, after a few months, and on return from the holidays, a note was given to say that the old Akela had left the group and so Dot stepped in to take the reins, after many years as Akela she decided to step back and let someone else take on the role but by then she had taken the role of Group scout leader and has been in this role ever since and still going strong!!

Dots service at Alex McLeod school lasted 22 years, first as a volunteer when her twins attended the school and gradually climbing the ranks through dinner lady to become school secretary which she served for 14 years.  After her retirement in 1998 she couldn’t bear the thought of not going to school so started to volunteer again when her granddaughters attended Alex.  So she has come full circle and has spent many many hours helping and supporting the children of our community.  Well done Dot for all your hard work over the years.

Not forgetting Don who has just been given the Freedom of the City of London for his services on the River Thames which spans over 5 decades starting back in 1947 when at the tender age of 15 he started work at Machonies wharf on Isle of dogs, the following year transferring to Millwall docks for British & Northern shipping agency (Swedish Lloyd) where he stayed for 18 years before transferring to Tilbury docks where he spent the next 17 years both with Swedish Lloyd and the Port of London Authority as a Docker, the Tallyclerk and a superintendent, finally hanging his coat up in 1983.  The following year the Thames called again and Don joined Catamaran Cruises, first on the Isle of Dogs and then Charing Cross pier.  Another 18 years passed and Don moved over to Crown river cruises where, believe or not, at the ripe old age of 81, is still working 3 days a week.  WOW!!

Many thanks to Sue and Fr. Derek for another excellent Easter breakfast!


Bostall Gardens, From Duke to Mayor

The site of Bostall Gardens has had a few noble owners and visitors over the last 500 years.  In Henry VIII reign the area known as Bostall was owned by Charles Brandon who was the Duke of Suffolk.  The Dukes name continued in the area when farming took a greater hold and Bostall Farm and Suffolk Place Farm were where the gardens are now.  In 1886 the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society (RACS) bought out Bostall Farm and in 1899 they also purchased Suffolk Place Farm.  On 17th October 1900 the first brick was laid for the Bostall Estate with a majority of the building materials coming from the chalk mine built near the now campsite and new flats.  They also built a piggery, abattoir and a jam factory (but no pubs).  The area of Bostall Gardens lay more or less as it had been as farm land but no longer used and when more housing and the Co-operative Stores were built in McLeod Road from June 1912, the little patch of land that was Bostall Farm was left untouched with its few farm buildings and a thatched tithe barn.  A small electric junction shed was built in 1933 which is still there by the Rochdale Road entrance and the barn stood unused.

In 1938 the Woolwich Borough Council bought the Tithe Barn and two acres of the ground surrounding it with the plan to turn it into a public space but work had barely started when the Second World War broke out and work stopped.  Ariel photographs of the time show that some sort of paths and possible planting areas had been laid out.  The Tithe Barn was bombed during the war and completely destroyed and no more work was done on the area until the 1950s. Eventually in 1952 Bostall Gardens was opened, with paths and bedding plants and green lawns, it was encased by walls and railings still there today and the Woolwich Borough Council crest proudly displayed on all of the gates into the park.  Toilets were added in 1956 and the bowling green and a small pavilion and terraces at the rear of the park were added in 1960. In the 1970s a small area at the rear of the park was taken by the council as their nursery where they grew the bedding plants and apparently a lot of wallflowers (according to one of the previous council gardeners).  This nursery continued into the 1980s until the growing of the plants moved to Eltham and the little patch at the back of the gardens was locked up and ignored.  The bowling green was closed and Bostall Garden lost its park keeper (“oi, quick scarper Parkies coming”) and it all became a little bit unloved until 2004 when the old bowls pavilion was refurbished and a children’s playground and basketball court were built on the bowling green.  A couple of years later some exercise machines were installed and the old council nursery site was cleared and used by a charity as allotments for a very brief period before going back to its locked up unused status.

Last year an organization call Groundwork London asked the council if there was any land in the borough that could be used for a project they had in mind for a community garden incorporating allotments and a quiet public area and Bostall Garden nursery seemed to fit the bill.  So for the last 5 months or so every Wednesday afternoon a group of 40 or so keen gardeners led by a very hardworking community gardener called Jack are turning the old unloved little patch at the back of Bostall Gardens into a little oasis of regeneration.  Raised beds for food growing are being installed and a polly tunnel has been erected, a small fruit orchard is planned as are benches and a planted bedding area and small lawn.  A couple of weeks ago The Mayor of Greenwich, Cllr Angela Cornforth, paid them a visit to show her support for the thriving community gardening project and meet some of the people involved, a lot of them are from the Nepalese community.  On the day she came one of the volunteers had been clearing a patch to discover a beautiful slow worm (it looks like a small snake but is harmless and not that common to see round here).

So there we go from the Duke of Suffolk 500 years ago to The Mayor of Greenwich a few weeks ago, Bostall Gardens has seen it all. Hopefully the next few years will see this wonderful oasis in a desert of housing, progress, be used and be loved. Come and have a look at the work done and if it happens to be a Wednesday afternoon go and find Jack and the other volunteers, I’m sure they can find a job for you.

may_2014_soup_and_roll.jpgA big thank you to Sue and Steve who provided us with soup and bread after our family service on Good Friday.  There were three varieties of soup and all very delicious.  Donations were made for the soup and a total of £71 was raised for Christian Aid.


Sorting our books for the local fete, a parishioner came across some well-worn and dusty illustrated encyclopedias, treasured from his childhood. Unwilling to part with them, he put them on a shelf in the garage where his small grandchildren found them and spent many happy hours looking at the pictures.  These books, however, caused him great embarrassment the day the minister came to visit.  One of his grandchildren suddenly said:  “Granddad, can we go look at those dirty books you keep in the garage?”


A rabbi once asked his students how they could tell when night had ended and day was on its way back. ‘Is it when you can see an animal in the distance, and can tell whether it is a sheep or a dog?’ ‘No’, answered the rabbi. ‘Is it when you can look at a tree in the distance, and tell whether it is a fig tree or a peach tree?’ ‘No’. ‘Well then,’ the students demanded, ‘when is it?’ ‘It is when you look on the face of another human being, and see that he or she is your brother or sister. Because if you cannot do that, then no matter what time it is, it is still night.’

Source Unknown



On Easter Sunday Ros Turner sponsored flowers for the Baptism of her twin Granddaughters, Cerys and Erin.

Florrie Newson also sponsored flowers in memory of Hilda James whose 5th Anniversary was on April 22nd.

MC900048271[1]The Easter lilies were sponsored by :-

Sheila Owen, Irene Brown, Phyllis Lewis, Ann Veitch, Christine Fern, Bill & Gwen Smith, Ann & Dave Carter, Carol Ludlow, Susan Harper, Grimilda Jarrett, Gladys Williams, Penny & Nigel Parsons, Adela Johnson, Ros Turner, Lydia Barber, Mary Robson, Joanna Roberts, Mary Mkali, Roselyn Adeleye, Maxine Henley, Sue Naylor and Florrie Newson.

For Easter Sunday, special stands were provided and arranged by Janet Macey, (in front of the altar), Christine Fern (Baptistry) and Sheila Owen (Easter Candle).

Thank you to everyone who made a donation towards the Easter Flowers and to all the ladies who helped arrange them. The Church looked magnificent.

April 2014


I was looked after by some lovely staff during my recent short stay in the Princess Royal University Hospital, Farnborough.  One day, a particular nurse allocated to care for me introduced herself as ‘Lime’, and her name badge confirmed that ‘Lime’ was indeed her name.  I was surprised, and told her that I had never met a girl called ‘Lime’ before, and that it was an unusual, but beautiful name.  Being confined to a hospital bed gives one plenty of time to think, and after spending a while musing on things lime, such as lime juice squeezed over barbecued prawns, gin & tonic with a slice of lime, lime juice cordial, lager and lime, limes carried on board ships in the old days to prevent scurvy amongst sailors, Harry Lime from ‘The Third Man’, Lime Tree Pantry brand pies, lime cheesecake..…….I then tried to think of other fruits after whom people might be called, but I could only come up with ‘Cherry’, and ‘Peaches Geldoff’. Perhaps it just doesn’t sound right to call somebody ‘Banana’ or ‘Raspberry’.

On the other hand, there are plenty of flower names used for people – Rose, Lily, Daisy, Poppy, Jasmine, Iris, Primrose, Myrtle, Honeysuckle…….etc.

All these names, fruit or flowers, are, of course, used exclusively for the ‘fairer/gentler’ sex! But all of us, both male and female, are called to aspire to those other kinds of fruits; what St. Paul calls ‘the fruit of the Spirit’. He writes: ‘…the fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control’ (Galatians 5:22).

In fact, Jesus said that people would know his followers by the kind of fruits they bore (see Matt. 7:16&20), and said to his disciples, ‘Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me…….my Father’s glory is shown by your bearing much fruit; and in this way you become my disciples……I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures.’  (John 15: 5,8, 16).

In the Parable of the Fig Tree (Luke 13:6-9), the gardener asks for one year’s reprieve, in which the disappointing fig tree might bear fruit. Jesus goes further still, asking the Father to give us not just one more chance but as many as it takes for us finally to fulfil our potential in his service.  Though we might repeatedly grieve him through our failure to grow and bear fruit, he never gives up believing in us. And what better time than Springtime to remember and take comfort and strength from that, as we rejoice in new life and growth all around; the beauty of the flowers and the fruits of the earth. And above all, of course, as we joyfully celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, the ‘first fruits’ of those who have died (1 Corinthians 15:20-28, Acts 26:23).

And just to think that these ‘fruity thoughts’ came to me as I lay in my hospital bed recovering from a distinctly ‘unfruity’ operation, and sparked by meeting a girl called ‘Lime’, who was one of a great team of people who, in the work they do, were already demonstrating some of those fruits of the Spirit listed by

St. Paul.  My thanks to them all.

Fr. Derek


A mother who took her fidgety seven-year-old to church finally had an idea: about halfway through the long sermon she leaned over and whispered:  “If you don’t be quiet, the minister is going to lose his place, and he will have to start all over again.”  It worked!

Getting Mucky on the Thames

MC900188453[1]“Mud glorious mud” as the song goes but what is mud?  Well I often wonder that as I scrape the various deposits off the bottom and sides of my wellington boots after a trip along the river bank.  Well the mud that sticks so beautifully from the Thames consists of water, soil, silt, clay, sand and small particles of dead animals, insects and fish and their waste product (yep…poo). People have been wading through it for centuries and from the late 18th century people earned a meagre living from it, they were called Mudlarks.  In fact up until 1904 you could actually list your occupation as a Mudlark for official records. Mudlarks would search the very muddy shores of the Thames and scavenge for anything that they could find and resell or reuse.  Most of them were youngsters and came from the poorer areas of London and the consistency of the mud then included raw sewage and rather a lot of it…yuck. Now there are people that regularly do the same as the Mudlarks and have adopted the name but mainly do this as a hobby.

Wandering along the shore at low tide to see what the river has left behind is a fascinating thing and I can be lost very easily for several hours, tide depending, with my eyes on the floor looking for my latest treasure.  Treasure in the true sense of the word I haven’t found as I would have to report it to the British Museum and anything of archaeological interest needs to be reported to them as well. You don’t need a licence to scavenge the banks as long as you don’t dig or dislodge stones etc., in other words anything freely on the surface you can pick up ( there are certain areas along the Thames that are restricted by law and you can remove nothing from them).

apr13_art_05So I haven’t found my fortune on the Thames but I have found the history of the people that have lived along the Thames.  Bones, tons of them, cow, sheep, pig, horse and loads of teeth from these animals as well, a lot of them have butchery marks on them so they were cut, cooked, eaten and the waste thrown in the river.  Pottery, my earliest piece is a small rim from a Roman pot but I have found broken bits of plates and pots from early 19th C right through to modern times.  Glass, broken bottles and a lot of Victorian and early 20th C.  roof tiles, and bricks, some Tudor and a lot Victorian and Georgian. Clay pipes from the 16th C onwards, now there are loads of these to be found, they were sold cheaply and when they broke or chipped they were simply thrown away. Metal, pins, badges, locks, keys modern and old.  Jewellery, plastic, toys, rubbish in general…..but then what is rubbish, today’s rubbish is tomorrow’s history.  The foreshore of our River is awash with history if you just look at your feet, your muddy feet.

More information on mudlarking can be found on the PLA website and London Mudlark which is a Facebook page.

Go and explore the river and find your treasure but don’t forget your wellies.

Ann Veitch


MC900441786[1]MC900441795[1]What a great evening it was, just before the beginning of Lent, when Chris Harper organised ‘An Evening of Beer Tasting’ (Plus some ciders!) for us.

I like to think I know a thing or two about beer, having been a very early member of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), and staying loyal to the cause ever since.  I would not, however, claim to be as knowledgeable as Bill Smith (Churchwarden of this Parish), who is a member of the Society For The Preservation Of Beer From The Wood, no less! But there’s always plenty more to learn on this most hallowed subject, and it’s not a bad thing to move outside of one’s own comfort zone.

Chris really did give us an education!  He had thoroughly researched the beers he presented, and he accompanied each tasting with descriptive notes, and a little talk about the brewery which produced that particular brew.  Chris being Chris, humour played a great part in the talks too!  There was an interesting range of twelve beers and ciders for us to try – and the samples were quite generous … .  An interesting variety of opinion emerged about each drink.  I came to realise that my own tastes were not those of some of the younger (and female) tasters present – they seemed to prefer the more ‘exotic’ brews, such as the one flavoured with bourbon, and another aged in Barbados rum barrels……whilst I went for the traditional ‘hoppy’ beers – and real scrumpy cider – and the delicious and distinctive Leffe abbey beer from Belgium (of which I always have a bottle at home!)

MC900078815[1]The evening was made even more enjoyable by the plentiful and carefully thought out food – Indian snacks with the lagers; ploughmans with the ciders; pies and quiches with the beers.  Chris was very ably assisted by his mum, Susan, and his friend – another Chris. Young James was also a great help in distributing samples and clearing glasses, and he – alas – is of too young an age to even sample the wares (except for a particularly nasty non-alcoholic lager!).

The price for this thoroughly enjoyable experience?  Just £10 each!  So, a big thank you to ‘Chris Harper Beer Productions’ – and let’s have another one!

Fr. Derek


Further to my item about local road names in the February magazine, a local man, Mr Myke Wilcinskis, has supplied me with the following information – which I have abbreviated:-

Federation Road was named for the cooperative federation of which RACS was a member.

Shieldhall Street was named for the 1887 cooperative manufacturing complex in the Glasgow suburb of Shieldhall.  They started making clothing and footwear and by 1914 had added many other departments employing over 4,000 workers.

Rosemary Warner


‘Be kind and merciful. Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.  Be the living expression of God’s kindness – kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.  In the slums we are the light of God’s kindness to the poor.  To children, to the poor, all who suffer and are lonely, give always a happy smile.  Give them not only your care but also your heart.  Because of God’s goodness and love every moment of our lives can be the beginning of great things.  Be open, ready to receive and you will find him everywhere, Every work of love brings a person face to face with God.’

Mother Teresa


The evangelist Billy Graham tells of a time early in his career when he arrived in a small town to preach a sermon.  Wanting to post a letter, he asked a young boy where the post office was.  When the boy told him, Billy Graham thanked him and said: “If you’ll come to the Baptist church this evening, you can hear me telling everyone how to get to heaven.”  The boy looked surprised, and finally stammered: “But you don’t even know your way to the post office.”

March 2014


A few weeks ago the death was announced of the Right Reverend Albert Peter Hall, at the age of 83.  His parents clearly had a sense of humour when they named him ‘Albert’, and it’s not surprising that, rather than being confused with a grand concert venue, ‘Albert Hall’ used his second Christian name!  Bishop Peter was a highly intelligent and gifted man, who exercised a varied and fruitful ministry both in Africa and here in the UK.  He was Bishop of Woolwich from 1984 to 1996 and indeed, was one of the bishops who laid hands on me at my ordination.  I met him on a number of occasions, and I particularly enjoyed hearing him preach.  His sermons were often ‘homely’ in nature, and usually included true life (and amusing!) stories about ‘his wife, his children, and his dog’!  One such example is the occasion when the bishop and his wife were walking in the mountains of Wales on a very hot day and, coming across a small lake, with nobody around, they decided to do a bit of ‘skinny dipping’……..Hardly had they cast off their clothes and plunged into the cooling waters when an army patrol on exercises appeared over the hill, and headed straight for the lake!  On one occasion – at a ministerial review meeting, I expressed my admiration for Bishop Peter’s preaching style and especially his stories based on his own experience.  Bishop Peter smiled ruefully, and told me that many of his peers criticised him because they said that his sermons were not ‘intellectual’ enough.

I can make no claims whatsoever to being learned or intellectual, yet in my own style of preaching I try to imitate Bishop Peter’s use of personal real life experiences as a baseline, reference point, or starting block, on which to build, and to link with the scripture readings.

After all, the preacher is not supposed to bore people into submission (or sleep) by delivering a dry lecture or expounding a thesis, but should be proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ, and the difference he can make to the life story of anybody who will let him in.

Because that’s the greatest story in human history, that God ‘gave up the dignity of divinity in order to embrace humanity’.  The biggest act of love that is possible, that of God’s all-consuming and unconditional love for each of us.

We are unique individuals, and each of us has his or her own life to live.  No person’s life is the same as anybody else’s, and we all have our own personal story to tell.  It is important to us as Christians to be aware of God present and active in the stories of our lives, in the comedies and the tragedies, the pleasures and the pains, and in the daily humdrum of our existence - not only in the times we put aside for prayer and worship, but in the everyday happenings with ‘the wife, the children and the dog’, or whatever might be our own equivalent.

Lent is upon us (Ash Wednesday is 5th March) and offers us the opportunity to pause and reflect on the stories of our lives so far, to consider who we are, what we do, and why.  Lent is a time for resolving to follow Christ more faithfully, determined to give him our whole-hearted discipleship.  It might mean more disciplined devotion, perhaps more practical service, maybe more effective witness or possibly the offering of previously unused gifts.  Whatever it is, Lent is more than giving something up; it is primarily giving something back to the one who gave us his all. Consider what Christ has done for you; then ask what you can do for him, as part of his Never Ending Story.

Fr. Derek


mar_2014_art_9_ww1_logo.jpgThe trenches are the defining visual image of the Great War.  Both sides created them when it became obvious that for all the ‘pushes’ and counter-attacks not much was happening geographically.  A hilly ridge would be taken, at enormous human cost.  A month later it would be recaptured.  The trenches stretched for hundreds of miles across northern France, once the earlier ones in southern Belgium were abandoned, and they became ‘home’ to hundreds of thousands of soldiers.

The trench was a narrow but deep ditch, designed to shield the men who were on look-out duty from enemy fire. Behind the trenches were the living quarters - dug out of the earth, usually with roofs of corrugated iron, where there were bunks for sleeping and rudimentary facilities for washing and eating.  Hot food came from the Company cook-house behind the lines. ‘Too much bully beef’, my father complained - corned beef, to us.  Very nice as an occasional choice, but a bit unexciting as a regular diet.  Surprisingly, perhaps, to those of us who only know of the War from films and books, in between major outbreaks of fighting the trench provided an adequate if modest degree of normality.  Every day, my father told me, the newspaper seller would visit with copies of the Daily Mail.  No escaping from the football results and news from home.

The trouble was that periodically the senior officers would decide that it was time for another desperate attempt to dislodge the enemy.  Bayonets would be fixed, ashen faced young men would line up in the trenches awaiting the signal - usually a blast on a whistle - which would summon them to climb the steps out into the open, there to face, inevitably, the devastating fire of the German machine guns.  It was some time into the War before the Allies were equipped with these deadly weapons, and it was the multiple, sustained rain of bullets that caused most of the casualties.

Above all this was the constant barrage of the big guns, firing from both sides but well behind the lines.  Their thunderous roar could be heard at times far away across the Channel in Kent.  Most of the shells simply exploded in the soft soil of Flanders or the Somme - they are still being ploughed up by farmers today, a century later.  But some were what became known as ‘direct hits’, and those could be devastating.

In the midst of all this - the mud, the stench, the noise and the imminent possibility of death - were the soldiers themselves.  Among them moved the medics, the nurses, the chaplains - agents of care and compassion in a world which seemed to have gone mad.  Some soldiers simply couldn’t stand it.  ‘Shell-shocked’ was the diagnosis in those days.  The wonder is that anybody could.

By David Winter

Prayer looking forward

Dear Heavenly Father, As we move forward from winter towards the promise of Spring, we thank you for your unfailing love for us, season after season, year after year.

Help us to remember that you, who have walked with us through dark nights and difficult days, perfectly understand all that we have to go through.  Thank you for sending Jesus to die and rise again, so that we need never walk life’s journey alone.

Lead us on Lord, and as we put our trust in Jesus, may we face each new day with courage, secure in your love and in the assurance that to you we are so precious.  We are your children, lovingly made in your image.  May we reflect your likeness more truly, as we grow in our faith day by day.  In Jesus name, Amen.

By Daphne Kitching

Mothering Sunday

mar_2014_art_5_mum_mouse_dn.jpgThere is an old Jewish saying:

God could not be everywhere, and therefore He made mothers.

Mother Church, Mother Earth, Mother of the Gods - our human mothers - all of them have been part of the celebration of ‘Mothering Sunday’ - as the fourth Sunday in Lent is affectionately known.  It has been celebrated in the UK since at least the 16th century.

In Roman times, great festivals were held every Spring to honour Cybele, Mother of all the Gods.  Other pagan festivals in honour of Mother Earth were also celebrated.  With the arrival of Christianity, the festival became one honouring Mother Church.

During the Middle Ages, young people apprenticed to craftsmen or working as ‘live-in’ servants were allowed only one holiday a year on which to visit their families - which is how ‘Mothering Sunday’ got its name.  This special day became a day of family rejoicing, and the Lenten fast was broken.  In some places the day was called Simnel Day, because of the sweet cakes called simnel cakes traditionally eaten on that day.

In recent years the holiday has changed and in many ways now resembles the American Mothers’ Day, with families going out to Sunday lunch and generally making a fuss of their mother on the day.

Ash Wednesday: a good time to admit you are sorry

Have you done something which haunts you?  Which makes you feel restless and defensive, every time you think of it?  Why not deal with it this month, and put it behind you?  Whatever your mistake has been, consider what the Bible has to say to you:

‘I have not come to call the virtuous but sinners to repentance’ (said Jesus). (Luke 5.32)

‘Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55.7)

‘Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing.  Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.’ (Joel 2:12-13)

God is inviting you to come to him this Ash Wednesday.  What a wonderful offer! Make the most of it, and remember how the prodigal son was welcomed back by his compassionate father.

TEEN MEETS GOD: Caitlin’s story

Growing up, I wasn’t raised as a Christian, if anyone asked I would tell them that I didn’t believe in God - in fact the first thing I wrote at the start of my Religious Studies GCSE was that I was ‘a strong atheist.’

However this began to change shortly before my 15th birthday when I was referred to a local charity:  Luton Churches Education Trust (LCET). With them I took part in various support/therapeutic groups and slowly began to make new friends, some of whom were Christian, and who got me thinking more than I ever had about the idea of God.  It was an idea I liked, that felt comforting to me, and I wanted to know more.

Through them, I was introduced to the story of Jesus and my opinion began to shift; maybe there was something more to life after all? Eventually, one of the friends I had made in the group invited me to come to her church for the Christmas service and I haven’t really looked back since.  I loved the atmosphere, the people, the music and most importantly, I came to love Jesus.

Six months after that, the church youth group attended the Big Church Day Out event and over that weekend I gave my life to Jesus and became a Christian.  It just seemed to make sense and I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do; as I sang out in worship, or reached out in prayer, things fell into place.

Through my friends, church, and the continued support of people at LCET, I began to walk through life as a Christian, and took comfort in the words of the Bible during my times of struggle. I found strength and healing in the love of God, and used this to work through past and present difficulties and open up to others.  My faith has definitely brought a new side to my life and offers a great hope that I never imagined I would find.

Caitlin is 17 and lives in Bedfordshire.


A teenager was always asking his father if he could borrow the family car.  Pushed to the limit, the father asked his son why he thought that God had given him two feet.  Without hesitation, the son replied, "That's easy, one for the clutch and one for the accelerator."

Are you addicted to email?

When did you first check your email today?  How often do you check it throughout the day?  Will your iPhone spend tonight in your bedroom with you?

This is a true story: recently a man was driving his family home from Cornwall and four hours into the trip, the man could stand it no longer - while roaring up the motorway at 70 miles an hour with his family in the back, he reached for his iPhone and began reading his emails.  You are supposed to be shocked by that story - but in reality, are you secretly sympathetic?  If so, you are suffering from the tyranny of email.

Some experts explain it this way: the communications technology designed to bring us together is driving us apart.  Where once we used to interact with real people, now we make do with fleeting cyber-friendships on Twitter and Facebook.  We have replaced meaningful conversation between close companions with terse 140-character messages and glib one-liners that are supposed to shock, amuse or annoy people we hardly know.

mar_2014_art_6_lent_logo1Also, over the months, we are doing our heads in.  The more often we scroll down our social-networking pages and the more hyperlinks we follow, the less we are able to concentrate: our attention spans have fractured into a thousand tiny broken fragments.

During this Lent, why not consider curbing your use of the internet?  Keep it to set times of day, and spend more time with the people around you.  Read something from the Bible  each day, and spend a few minutes each morning reflecting on your life and relationship with God. Give God a chance to contact you!  He doesn’t use social media.


In February flowers were sponsored as follows:

On 2nd February Irene and John Brown sponsored flowers to celebrate the birth of two new Great Grandaughters.

On 2nd February Christine Fern also sponsored flowers in memory of her mother, whose birthday fell on this date.

On Sunday 16th February the flowers were sponsored by Irene and John Brown to celebrate their 66th Wedding Anniversary in March.  -  “Congratulations Irene and John”

February 2014


This year sees the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War or as contemporaries called it The Great War.  It is now as far away from us as the Napoleonic Wars were for those alive then, and yet in many ways it is a war which is still close to us, its consequences are still with us from having a passport to enter and leave the country and pub licensing hours, to the country of Iraq, which was a creation of the First Word War, while in the strange voting patterns of recent European Song Contests we can see something of the complex Balkan and Slavic national loyalties which were among its immediate causes, but above all of course it is a war still remembered in families, which hand down mementos of those involved in it from generation to generation.

In commemorating the First World War we must remember the complex and international conflict that it was.  We are all familiar with images of the Western Front and that was a central and horrific part of the War, but we must not forget that it also had an Eastern Front and that fighting took place in the Middle East, in Africa and even in the Far East.  We must perhaps also remember that it was the first ‘Total War’ and that it had a Home Front of which Abbey Wood was certainly part. Its commemoration leaves us no place for shallow patriotism or the glorifying of war.  It also cannot be about just remembering the past, but learning the lessons it has for the future.  As the historian Hew Strachan says ‘If we do not emerge at the end of the process in 2018 with fresh perspectives, we shall have failed.’

We hope to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War in a number of ways at S. Michael’s.  It will of course be central to our thoughts as always on Remembrance Sunday but also on the 4th August we will mark its outbreak at Mass, but because it is a war which has left many mementoes in attics and garages, we hope to have an exhibition in church, probably in July.  So, if anyone has any artefacts from the war or letters or documents that we could borrow or copy, please let us know.  These may be things from the scenes of conflict or perhaps even things that reflect home life at the time. We hope that the exhibition will help us to glimpse what it was like to be involved and to understand the First World War more deeply.

Fr David

Please contact Fr David if you have anything you can share for the exhibition on dasherratt@aol.com or 02083110377.


feb_2014_art_10_ww1_logo_for_use_with_ww1_series_frThe posters were everywhere.  Lord Kitchener, eyes blazing and finger pointing imperiously, proclaimed ‘Your country needs YOU!’ And up and down the land during those first anxious months of the Great War young men, often urged on by families and girl friends, responded by lining up at recruitment offices in order to enlist in the Army.  Those who didn’t, for whatever reason, were in danger of receiving a white feather in an anonymous envelope, the badge of cowardice.

Most, like my own father, needed no such urging.  For him, as he would explain to the end of his life, the war was a moral duty in defence of ‘gallant little Belgium’, which had been invaded by the German army on its way, it hoped, to northern France. Britain was bound by its treaty obligations - the famous Entente Cordiale- to share in the defence of France, so (as my father and millions of others saw it) there was a solemn duty to keep our promises.

That is not, of course, necessarily the way history sees things, but I am sure that most of those young men who queued up to volunteer did it for one of two reasons, or, more probably, both of them: patriotism and public pressure.  Crowds cheered the young recruits as they marched off to training camps.  It would, everyone confidently asserted, ‘all be over by Christmas’.  Defeat was unthinkable.  These young men - many of them barely fit, through poor diet or unhealthy backgrounds - would face up to the Kaiser’s hordes and crush them.  At that point, the country was not an unwilling participant in war, but totally committed to it.

In the event, the euphoria didn’t last long - indeed, barely as far as Christmas.  The German army, well-drilled and equipped, simply barged its way across Belgium.  There were bloody battles at Ypres and Mons, but it was the Germans who did the crushing and the Allies - British and French - who did the retreating.

However hard they fought, at each point where the generals drew a line and said ‘no further’, the German army simply paused for breath and then swept on.  Casualties on both sides were high, and slowly the truth began to filter into the public consciousness at home.  This war would not be short; it would not be easily won; and it would be desperately costly.

By David Winter

Christmas Fair Thank you

Christmas seems a long time ago now, and our Fair (held on the 30th November 2013) but a distant memory.  However, this is the first opportunity we have to put a thank you into the Magazine, and better late than never.  We had a very successful day and The Fund Raising Team would like to extend a huge Thank You to everyone who supported us.  Whether you helped by donating a prize, made something to sell, ran a stall, helped set-up or tidy up afterwards, or turned up on the day to buy something and sample the various activities or helped in any other way, we couldn’t have done it without you. 

Once again Thank You.

Winning draw tickets

We wish to thank everyone who supported this Draw whether by donating prizes or by buying tickets.  The draw was made at the fair held on 30th November.  The winning tickets are as follows:-












Bottle of white wine






Tin of Belgian chocolates









Tea and shortbread hamper



Box of Thornton’s chocolates



Small hamper



Tin of Quality Street



Bag with chocolates



Box of Milk Tray



Basket of pickles



Fox’s biscuit selection



Quality Street and crackers



Belgian Biscuit Assortment



Pairing of Ginger goodies



Box of Milk Tray



Box of Belgian chocolates




Snowy’s favourite food:-

Was Pineapple Fritters which was correctly guessed by Valerie.

Bangers and Beetles!

How do you drive a beetle? For a start there’s no steering wheel. Thank goodness Michael was there to explain!

The main aim of a beetle drive is to draw a complete beetle (the insect kind) but this depends on you throwing the correct numbers on the dice, for example a 6 for a body, a 3 for a leg. The first one to complete the insect yells “beetle” and everybody else who is playing stops too, counting up your body parts to get your score. The winner is the person who scores the most over a number of rounds.

Swapping tables if we won made things very interesting. Playing in pairs, the winning male went clockwise around the room; female went anticlockwise, meaning you ended up at several different tables throughout the course of the evening.

Halfway through a halt was called to the evening so the “sausage supper” could be served. There were several flavours of sausage (old English, chilli, beef, black pepper and pork and apple) all accompanied by mash, roasted onions and gravy. Some people even came back for seconds, or was it thirds?

The frantic beetle action continued, with many more games being played until we were all beetled out. We counted up and Ann Carter had out-beetled us all.

And the cost for all this fun and food? £4.

Such superb value, was achieved by Penny and Nigel, Michael and of course our Barkeeper for the evening, Fr David.

The church hold many events like this a year, why not come along and try one?

Chris Harper


Do you know where the street-names of the Bostall Estate came from?

Having lived on this Estate in St. Michael’s Parish, Abbey Wood, for nearly fifty years, I thought it was time that I investigated the origins of its local road-names.  My researches, primarily in the Heritage Centre in Woolwich, have come up with following information:

To put the Bostall Estate into context, in 1844, a remarkable group of 28 low-paid men set up the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers to combat the poverty of the local workers.  This poverty was exacerbated by the mechanization of the Industrial Revolution and the poor housing available at the time.

By pooling their limited resources (it took them four months to raise the £28 needed for initial capital), they managed to acquire a small shop and to buy their stock of essential foodstuffs at lower prices than their rivals.  This they then sold to local workers so that they in turn could buy without being ripped off.  By ploughing back the profits, the Pioneers were able, at an early stage, to extend the range of goods sold.  This group was the forerunner of the Cooperative Movement, which spread rapidly, both in the UK and later abroad.

 The Royal Arsenal Cooperative Society (RACS) bought the Bostall and Suffolk Place farms, (whose buildings were situated between Bostall Lane and the current Methodist Church), to provide some 1200 properties on a leasehold basis for their workers.  Building commenced in 1900 (but was interrupted by World War 1).

But to return to the road-names, Mr Charles Howarth and Mr James Smithies were original Committee members of the Pioneers, and the latter took down the shutters when the shop in Rochdale opened on 21 December 1844.

Mr Alexander McLeod was the first Secretary to the RACS and is remembered by McLeod Road (the principal road through the Estate) and by the Primary School which bears his name (though built by the London School Board in 1903.

Mr Openshaw was in charge of the London Branch for part of his fifty years’ service to the Cooperative Movement.  He died in 1923.

Mr Robert Owen(ite) was the noted socialist and philanthropist, whose thinking led to the start of the Cooperative Movement.

Mr Broderick was the Secretary of the Cooperative Wholesale Society at its central offices in Manchester.  He was knighted in 1922, but also died in 1923.

Mr Greening was one of the oldest members of the Movement.

Crumpsall was the site of the Cooperative biscuit factory in a suburb of Manchester.

Chancelot is named after the Cooperative Society’s flour mills in Edinburgh (still there in 2012).

Conference and Congress commemorate the Cooperative Movement’s 28th Annual Conference in 1896.

Shornells  - the large derelict house on the Heath demolished to make way for the present Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice – was the Royal Arsenal Cooperative Society’s staff training centre.

I have been unable to find a connection with the Rochdale Pioneers for Shieldhall and similarly for Federation Road.

Can anyone fill in these gaps for me, please?

Rosemary Warner

Who are you really talking to?

In the early 1950s a well-known department store in Birmingham wanted to extend its premises.  Close by this department store in Birmingham was an ideal site.  But there was a problem: it belonged to the Quakers, whose Meeting House had been there for well over two hundred years.

Still, why should a bunch of Quakers stand in the way of commerce?

So, the department store wrote to the Quakers, offering to buy the site.  Very grandly, they said, “We will give you a very good price for the land.  In fact, we’ll send you a blank cheque.  Please fill in whatever sum of money you think appropriate and we will honour it.”

Then they sat back and waited.  Weeks passed.  Finally a letter arrived from the Quakers.  It thanked the department store for their generous offer but declined to accept it.  “Our Meeting House has been here for almost two hundred and fifty years,” they explained, “much longer than your store.  We have no wish to sell our property.  However, if YOU would agree to sell YOUR site to us, we are very interested in buying it.  We will give you a very good price for it.  Just state your selling price and we will honour it.”

The letter was signed ‘Cadburys.’

The department store thought they were dealing with a small, meek congregation of Quakers.  Instead they were dealing with the Cadburys’ empire.  Cadburys could have bought the department store twenty times over!

Sometimes life gives us hard knocks.  Problems mount up and threaten to overwhelm us.  We can feel alone and very vulnerable, very weak. But we can take heart in remembering that we are never alone.  God has not forgotten us.  Only our dimness of vision prevents us from seeing his great presence and power and provision.  We do not need to fear, but to trust God.  He is bigger and more powerful than anything which tries to overwhelm us.

Whatever problems 2014 throws at us, remember, we’ve got ‘Cadburys’ on our side.

Church speak

CHOIR: A group of people whose singing allows the rest of the congregation to lip-sync.

HYMN: A song of praise usually sung in a key two octaves higher than that of the congregation's range.

RECESSIONAL HYMN: The last song at Mass, often sung a little more quietly, since most of the people have already left.

JESUITS: An order of priests known for their ability to find colleges with good basketball teams.

JUSTICE: When your children grow up and have children of their own.

KYRIE ELEISON: The only Greek words that most Catholics can recognise besides gyros and baklava.


In January flowers were sponsored as follows:

On 18th January by Adela Johnson sponsored flowers in memory of her husband, Samuel.

Also on 18th Mary Robson sponsored flowers in memory of her husband, Billy.

October 2013


I’m writing this just after Sue and I have got back from Scotland. We went to North Berwick, a delightful spot on the East Lothian coast, an area renowned for its golf courses. Yet we were not there for the golf, but for a wedding. The bride was Barbara, the daughter of Sue’s oldest friend from her school days at Haberdashers Askes. The bride’s mother, Margaret, had married an Edinburgh man, and moved up there thirty-odd years ago and, alas, is now a widow.  It was a beautiful warm sunny Saturday for the wedding, which took place in a lovely old ‘kirk’ in a nearby coastal village, and the Church of Scotland marriage service was similar to our own Anglican service – except for the piper who ‘piped’ all the guests into the church, and who was to play an important rôle at other times during the day!

After the service we were all taken by bus into Edinburgh, for the reception at the ‘Balmoral’ – a very posh hotel!  After a wonderful ‘Wedding Breakfast’ which concluded with an excellent single malt whisky, came the evening reception and the dancing – or the ‘Ceilidh’. It was a wonderful experience, full of joy and energy. The band were terrific, and in due course, they turned effortlessly from Scottish folk music and country dancing into modern ‘pop’. Sue and I did our bit in the dancing, so far as our poor old limbs would allow, but the best part was watching the young people having such a good time, until eventually, as all good things come to an end, a coach was laid on to take us back to our B&B in North Berwick.

After a few more days in Scotland, we began our drive home, stopping off for a couple of nights in the Lake District. The joyful music from the ceilidh was still intermittently coming back to me and going round in my head when, one day, we were browsing in a shop in Grasmere. It had a lot of the usual tourist tat, including articles with jokes and mottos and ‘nuggets of wisdom’ on them; and one item caught my eye. It was a doormat of all things, and emboldened on it were the words: ‘WHAT IF THE OKEY COKEY REALLY IS WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT?’

It made me laugh out loud! My mind returned to the little kirk,  the Christian marriage service, and the rumbustious dancing that followed it. It made me think of that familiar worship song, ‘Lord of the Dance’, in which Our Lord tells us:

I danced in the morning when the world was begun,

And I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun,

And I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth,

At Bethlehem I had my birth.

Dance then, wherever you may be, I am the Lord of the Dance, said he, and I’ll lead you all, wherever you may be, and I’ll lead you all in the dance, said he.

And so on……

Christians have faith and confidence to know that the Okey Cokey is not ‘what it’s all about’; that life is far, far more, and God’s plan for us far, far greater. But dance in all its forms is indeed one of life’s great joys, whether we are joining in or just spectators – as the viewing figures for ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ testify!

Fr. Derek


God, through your Son Jesus you share our life.

In the child born in poverty

We see you, born in a stable,

Helpless, innocent future uncertain.

In the young family packing together their possessions

And taking to the road for fear of soldiers coming to kill,

Or neighbours turned enemies

We see your family on the road to Egypt to seek asylum.

In the homeless ones, the rootless people,

Shifting from one uncertain lodging to the next

We see an image of Jesus

The travelling man who had nowhere to lay his head.

In the accused, the convicted, the tortured

And the executed

We see the likeness of Christ

Rejected and broken on a cross.

In the care that seeks to destroy poverty,

The call for just housing provision

And better conditions for travellers and asylum seekers,

The struggle for human rights world-wide,

We see Christ’s new life

Rising in hope out of the place of death.

God, through your Son Jesus you share our life

So that everyone can share in your gift

Of life beyond measure.

By Heather Pencavel

And from the book, A Lifetime of Blessing


As my five-year-old son and I were heading to McDonald's one day, we passed a car accident.  Usually when we see something terrible like that, we say a prayer for whoever might be hurt, so I pointed and said to my son, "We should pray."

An instant later a fervent prayer was heard in the back seat.  "Dear God, please don't let those cars block the entrance to McDonald's."

John Wesley’s Elm

The tree we most associate with churches are yews, many of them ancient, and some of these will have provided shelter for ancient worship and rituals long before a church was built nearby.

It is said that St Cuthbert preached to a congregation numbering 1000 under a huge yew on his arrival at the Island of Bernera.

Preaching under great trees was something John Wesley was very used to and several ancient prints along with two stained glass windows in his world famous chapel in the City of London show him with congregations gathered beneath a variety of trees.  But he was particularly fond of elms and one in particular at Stony Stratford, near Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, where he preached on at least five occasions, is where he is said to say that he hoped one day to be buried under an elm.

Wesley died in London in 1791 and was buried in a tomb at the back of his Chapel, but it only is now, over two hundred years later, that he has an elm not quite at his tomb, but close to the front door of his house just yards away.

It is a very special elm because it is a cutting from the elm which he preached under in the Market Place at Stony Stratford, which reached the grand age of 400 years before sadly, suffering Dutch elm disease in the 1970s.  However, the ancient hollow trunk continued to throw up vigorous shoots – before being hit by two fires and finally succumbing to the disease again.  The tree was cut down in 2007, but elm enthusiast, Mark Seddon, took a cutting just before the chainsaws arrived and grew it into a four foot sapling.  He brought the English elm sapling to plant in Wesley’s garden recently.

I was delighted to join Mark at the planting ceremony along with Wesley Museum curator, Christian Dettlaff, Chris Coles of the ‘BB’ Society and Anthony the gardener.

Mark Seddon is delighted that the young tree has been given such a prestigious home.  It had been destined for Central Park in Manhattan, New York, but John Wesley's House is absolutely the right place for it.  "The tree is a living link with Wesley", says Mark "and in its new position in Central London, should be relatively safe from the dreaded Dutch elm disease.  I hope that future generations will stand under it and venerate the great man who once preached under its illustrious parent".

John Wesley’s brother Charles who is thought to have written some 6000 hymns is buried just yards from a rare elm in Marylebone which tree enthusiasts have voted one of London’s ten greatest trees.  Now both Wesley brothers have their special elms.

Written by David Shreeve. the Environmental Adviser to the Archbishops’ Council and also Executive Director of The Conservation Foundation, which he co-founded in 1982 with David Bellamy.


Life is a challenge……………….………MEET it

Life is a gift…………………………………ACCEPT it

Life is an adventure………….……….DARE it

Life is a sorrow……………….………….OVERCOME it

Life is a tragedy………………………...FACE it

Life is a duty…………………….….……..PERFORM it

Life is a game…………….……………… PLAY it

Life is a mystery…………….……….. UNFOLD it

Life is a song……………….……………..SING it

Life is an opportunity……………….TAKE it

Life is a promise………………………..FULFIL it

Life is a beauty………………………….PRAISE it

Life is a struggle……………………….FIGHT it

Life is a goal……………………..……….ACHIEVE it

Life is a puzzle…………………………..SOLVE it

Life is eternal…………………………….BELIEVE it

Life is a dream…………………………..FOLLOW it

From the book, A Lifetime of Blessings

The Stained Teapot

The TV cookery programme was on mute as Laura reflected on the afternoon Bible Study.  The leader had been talking about sin and he had given Laura three Bible verses to look up.  As she searched for the first one, Laura reflected on her life.  She was struggling with her faith and knew there was still a lot wrong in her life.  She had so many faults and Laura wondered if all her sins were forgiven.  As far as she was concerned her life was tainted and could never be clean.

Laura found the first Bible verse:  If we confess our sins to God ... He will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrong doing” (1 John 1:9) Laura gazed at the words and wondered how Jesus could remove every stain in her life?  ‘Surely’ she said to herself, ‘I’ve got to do something myself to be right with God?”

Laura looked blankly at the TV where a chef was making some drinks.  Laura thought about her recent Bible discussion.  Someone had said that the power to remove sin came from God.  She looked up at the next verse and it said: Even if you washed with the strongest soap, I would still see the stain of your guilt’. (Jeremiah 2:22) Laura wondered if these verses were meant for her!

Again she looked at the TV screen and saw a chef pick up an old teapot that was badly stained inside.  He washed it and scrubbed it, but the stain couldn’t be removed.  Then he added some biological washing powder and filled the teapot with boiling water.  A few minutes later the stubborn tea stain had disappeared.  The tea pot looked as good as new!

Laura suddenly realised that the sin in her life was like the stain in the teapot.  The chef couldn’t make the tea pot clean, he had to use something more powerful than himself.  Laura was convinced that only God could remove her sin and wondered what the final Bible verse she was looking up would say.  As she read it, she would never again doubt God’s power to make her clean.

”When the kindness and love of God our Saviour was revealed He saved us .... through the Holy Spirit, who gives us new birth and new life by washing us. (Titus 3:4-5)

Lester Amann


In September flowers were sponsored as follows:

On 22nd September by Michael Edwards in memory of his father, Caradog.

September 2013

Sixty Years on – how the C of E has changed during the Queen’s reign

For the past 60 years the Queen has been ‘head’ of the Church of England.  What changes have there been in our churches since June 1953?  A lot has happened in the past 60 years.

For one thing, the population of the United Kingdom has grown, while church membership has shrunk.  In 1953, church members were a fifth of the population (19%), but by 1973 had dropped to 15%, and by 1993 to 11%, and to an estimated 8% in 2013, a decline not quite so rapid as previously, probably again because many of the immigrants are Christian adherents (a 2000 survey indicated that 24% were Christian).

The number of churches has kept within the 50-55,000 range throughout the Queen’s reign, declining from 1953 to 1993 but growing over the last 20 years, especially in England.  For example, some 700 new churches have started in London alone between 2005 and 2012.

In 1953 there was an average of 180 members per church; in 1983 the average was 140 per church and in 2013 the average is 110 members per church.

There were 42,000 ministers in 1953, dropping to 36,000 by 1983 and staying at about that level until 2003, since when the number has grown to 37,000 in 2013.

Regardless though of varying statistics over the past 60 years, two facts remained unchanged – the privileged position of the Church of England as the bedrock church of this nation and the inspiring unchanging personal faith of our Sovereign Queen.

By Dr Peter Brierley, a church consultant.


John Henry Newman was born on 21st February 1801, within the sound of Bow Bells, so was a true Cockney.  His father was a banker, and a modest but sincere churchman, and his mother was a devout Protestant.  She brought up her six children to have a strong love of the Bible.  At the age of seven, John went to boarding school and rose rapidly to the top of his class in all academic subjects, including Latin and Greek.  One of his masters fed the young Newman with religious books, many of them with Calvanistic leanings.  By the age of 15 John had decided to devote himself to God’s service and to lead a celibate life.

When 16, he entered Trinity College, Oxford, and was devoted to his studies.  After gaining his degree, at the age of 21, and against very heavy odds, he was elected Fellow of Oriel College, where he got to know John Keble, regarded then as the first man of Oxford!  They became firm friends, and often debated great Christian questions.

In 1825 Newman was ordained priest of the Church of England, and launched himself into a life of pastoral service, visiting the sick, helping the poor and preaching at the non fashionable St Clement’s, Oxford.  He continued to work at the University as a Tutor and quickly gathered a following of earnest undergraduates who hung on his every word.   His long discussions with Keble, Pusey and others led him to become increasingly “High Church”.  In 1828 he was made vicar of St Mary’s University’s own church, a position he retained for 15 years.  His preaching changed many people’s lives.  He became part of the Oxford Movement and did much to condemn the growing godlessness of England.  Despite the patient and dedicated ministry of many ordinary parish priests, the Church of England drifted further away from the very people for who it purported to be shepherd.  Newman appealed to clergy and laity to defend their faith and traditions.  The bishops firmly opposed his views.  By 1833, Newman was also Dean of Oriel and got 2,000 clergy to sign a document to the Archbishop of Canterbury, insisting that the church stick to the apostolic doctrine it had been handed down.  By 1841 he was “on his deathbed as regards membership of the Anglican Church”.

He retired to Littlemore, a quiet village near Oxford and formed a community dubbed “The Monastery” and in October 1845 he was received into the Roman Catholic Church.  He established an Oratory in Birmingham and   so many priests and lay brothers joined him that another was formed in London (the Brompton Oratory).  His sermons and writings were once again cutting deeply into the nation’s conscience.  He wrote some wonderful hymns, Praise to the Holiest and Lead Kindly Light, amongst them, and his other writings are highly regarded.

In 1878 he was elevated to the Sacred College of Cardinals and although England already had a Cardinal (another former Anglican – Cardinal Manning) he was allowed to return to England.  His almost 90 years were spent almost equally in the two main churches of this country.  Cardinal Newman was beatified when Pope Benedict visited England.

Dear Jesus,

Bright as in the sun, and the sky, and the clouds;

Green as are the leaves and the fields;

Sweet as is the singing of the birds;

Help us to spread your fragrance everywhere we go

Flood our souls with your spirit and life.

Penetrate and possess our whole being, so utterly,

that our lives may only be a radiance of yours.

Shine through us, and be so in us,

that every soul we come in contact with may feel your presence in our soul.

Let them look up and see no longer us but only Jesus! Stay with us,

and then we shall begin to shine as you shine;

so to shine as to be a light to others;

the light, O Jesus will be all from you,

none of it will be ours;

it will be you, shining on others through us.

Let us thus praise you in the way you love best

by shining on those around us.

Let us preach you without preaching,

not by words but by example, by catching force,

the sympathetic influence of what we do,

the evident fullness of the love our hearts bear to you. Amen

Submitted by Michael Macey

Deliver us...

I had been teaching my three-year-old daughter, Cathy, the Lord's Prayer. Then one evening at bedtime she attempted it solo. I listened with pride as she carefully enunciated each word, right up to the end of the prayer. "Lead us not into temptation," she prayed, "but deliver us some e-mail. Amen”

Be a messy gardener

This autumn, don’t clean up your garden too much for the winter – leave some messy bits.  The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds fears that ‘sterile’ gardens where nature cannot survive are contributing to the decline in wildlife.

Instead, build ‘homes for nature’, urges the RSPB: leave some weeds and garden debris, let the grass stay long, don’t cut all the nettles, leave the odd log to rot, and cut a hole in your fence for the hedgehogs.  You can also fill a bucket with woodchips, soil and rotten branches for insects.  Or fill up an old washing bowl with water and gravel to create a ‘mini pond’.

Many celebrity gardeners applaud this approach. Monty Don of the BBC’s Gardener’s World recently tweeted:  ‘Do not strive after tidiness’.  The RSPB campaign is in response to a report that 60 per cent of species in the UK have suffered declines in the past few decades.  Our sparrows, starlings, grass snakes, frogs, voles and badgers need our help to breed, move around and survive.

Mike Clarke, chief executive of the RSPB, says: “Nature in the UK is in trouble. Gardens provide a valuable lifeline for species like starlings, toads, hedgehogs and butterflies, which are struggling to find homes in the wider countryside.  Although the overall problem is huge, the solution can start on a small scale ... our aim is to provide one million homes for nature across the UK, because if there is no home for nature, then there’s no nature – it really is that serious.”

Fr David please take note and don’t tidy up your garden!

How to get to Heaven

“If I sold my house and my car, had a big car boot sale and gave all my money to the church, would I get into Heaven?" the teacher asked her Sunday School class.  "No!" the children all answered.

"If I cleaned the church every day, mowed the grass, and kept everything neat and tidy, would I get into Heaven?"  Again, the answer was "No!"

"Well”, she continued, "then how can I get into Heaven?"

A five-year-old boy shouted out, "You gotta be dead first!"


In August flowers were sponsored as follows:

On 4th August Jim Webb sponsored flowers in memory of his wife, Pam.

Also on 4th August, flowers were sponsored by the family of Kay Maddox, in her memory.

On 18th August Roselyn Adeleye sponsored flowers to celebrate her 71st birthday on 17th August.  Also in memory of her father whose anniversary was 23rd August, and her Husband who died 40 years ago on 9th September.

August 2013


When we see the letters ‘PTO’, it’s usually at the bottom of a page, and it’s an instruction to ‘Please Turn Over’, because the letter or whatever the document might be, continues on the other side.  But these three letters have another meaning!

When, back in April, I reached my ‘three score years and ten’, under the rules governing clergy retirement I had to return my Licence to the Bishop of Southwark, and relinquish my title of ‘Honorary Assistant Curate’ of St. Michael & All Angels, Abbey Wood.

The system requires that I transfer to ‘PTO’, which in this context means to hold the Bishop’s ‘Permission to Officiate’.  This permission allows me to carry on celebrating Mass, preaching, taking other services, doing baptisms and weddings and funerals and other priestly duties in the diocese.  I have to keep a record of what I do, and apply annually through the Area Dean to the Bishop, for Permission to Officiate to be renewed.  But I have no formal status nor legal attachment to St. Michael & All Angels Abbey Wood!  For all practical purposes, however, Fr. David and I think that I can just be regarded informally as ‘Assistant Priest’ here.

So, ‘Please Turn Over’, because I am continuing on the other side of 70!

Fr. Derek

Summer Fair Thank you

By the time you read this the Summer Fair will be but a distant memory.  But it’s not too late for The Fund Raising Team to thank everyone who supported us.  To all those of you who made things to sell, gave a prize, worked on a stall, helped set-up and tidy up, brought Draw Tickets, turned up on the day to buy things and sample the various activities or helped in any other way, we had a very successful day and couldn’t have done it without you.  - Thank You.

Summer Fair winners

Winning draw tickets

We wish to thank everyone who supported this Draw whether by donating prizes or by buying tickets.  The draw was made at the fair held on 23rd June; the winning tickets are as follows.

At the time of writing some prizes still haven’t been claimed.  Please check your tickets.









£50:00 M&S Gift Vouchers



Garden voucher



£25:00 M&S Gift Vouchers






Champagne and glasses



Bottle of white wine



Bottle of Champagne



Nibble tray



Coffee set



Relish set



Essential picnic selection



White wine



Large chocolate box



Small box of chocolates



Wine picnic set



Chopping board



The Nature of Britain (book)



Riverford Farm Cookbook



Assorted biscuits & chocolates




William the Cricket Bear.

The winner of the Cricket Bear correctly guessed that he scored 151 runs.

Guess the weight of the cake.

The cake was won by Irene Brown who correctly guessed the weight as 2lb 2oz.


Ludolf of Saxony, who wrote this prayer, after thirty years as a Dominican, joined the Carthusians in 1340, and was Prior of the Charterhouse at Koblenz for five years.  After that he became an ordinary monk again and spent the rest of his life in prayer.  His “Life of Christ” contains meditations and prayers.  He died in about the year 1378.

Lord Jesus Christ, by your glorious resurrection, in which you appeared alive and immortal to your disciples and faithful followers, by your forty days abiding and sweet converse, in which by many infallible proofs, speaking of things pertaining to the Kingdom of God, you comforted them and assured them of your actual resurrection, removing all doubt from their hearts; grant that we may be numbered among those appointed to be witnesses to your resurrection, not only by words of our mouths, but by the evidence of our good works; to your honour and glory, for you are alive and reign, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.  Amen

Submitted by Michael Macey


Hi folks! Welcome to Lesnes Abbey.  I’m going to tell you about some of the things I have to do through a typical year.

Here in the WARMING ROOM is the only place in the abbey where a fire is kept burning in the winter and colder months, so we monks like to come here when we can to warm up, everywhere else can be so very cold.

In January I like to stay indoors and get on with writing and copying beautiful books and manuscripts.

February can be very frosty, with snow showers, but I’ve still my chores to do and of course every day of each week we attend seven services in the huge abbey church.  The first is in the middle of the night and we come down the steps from the Dormitory by candlelight.

In March lots of people come to the abbey to see the beautiful wildflowers and primroses we have planted in our woods.  They visit us as well of course.

I hear the cuckoo in April, as I write and study, and the meadows are full of flowers.

Come May I’m working very early in the garden, pricking out our cabbage seedlings and the baby lambs are bleating in the fields too!  We have drained a lot of the marsh land and it is now very productive. 

The sun shines brightly and warms the earth in June – and all the seeds I have planted are growing well. 

In July I enjoy a bit of shade and smell the lovely fragrances in my herb garden.

Every August it is time to harvest many of the herbs, and during this month I make the medicines we use for treating the sick through the winter.

We gather the fruit and harvest our corn, barley and vegetable crops in September, and are very thankful.  We store things very carefully in the undercrofts, so we’ve enough to last the winter. 

In October, as in other months, we get all sorts of visitors to the abbey.  Some might be knights or ladies or rich important people, but many are poor people or those who are very sick.  All are welcome.

November can still be quite mild and I might meet folk coming here from nearby villages with produce to sell or exchange.

We monks look forward to Christmas – we have a feast in the Refectory, whereas normally our food is very basic.  When we are in the Refectory we have to be silent and someone usually reads to us. 

I hope that gives you just a little idea of some of the work I do through a year – and, of course, all this has to be fitted in between our services and prayer-time, so we have much to do!  But it is all very worthwhile, and we feel God is calling us to do this important work.

Submitted by Michael Macey

The Mummy test

I was out walking with my then four year old daughter. She picked up a sweet wrapper from the ground and was about to sniff it. I told her not to do that, and she demanded why.

"Because it's been lying outside and is dirty and has germs that will upset your tummy," I replied.

She looked at the wrapper and then at me. “Wow! How do you know that?”

"Um," I was thinking quickly, "Um, it's on the Mummy test. You have to know it, or they don't let you be a Mummy." My daughter digested this reply in wondering silence, and we continued walking.

Suddenly she stopped. "I get it! If you fail, then you have to be the Daddy."


In July flowers were sponsored as follows:

On 7th June by the Jarrett family sponsored flowers in memory of Julian.

On 21st July Michael and Janet Macey sponsored flowers to celebrate the 7th birthday of Emily Jane Newman

July 2013

Westminster Abbey

After reading Bill Smith’s short article in last month’s magazine I thought I would write a few personal memories.

http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTBefGV0WmHSFVyB-h2cp0-KRTjyTYR6VsPhTJu602SUyoYDJBSparPdtYIn mid 1963 my father was installed as a residentiary canon of the Abbey.  This entailed living in a beautiful modern house in the cloisters (modern because of bomb damage which just missed the Abbey in the war), and being “in residence” for three months each year.  That meant being responsible for services and other tasks and being available if needed for anything at all.

One of his first tasks was the baptism of our son Timothy in the Henry VII Chapel.  A great honour as such events are only open to families of Abbey staff and, of course, as the Abbey is a “Royal Peculiar” i.e. not under any bishop, to the Royal Family.  It was a very special occasion.

Another event the following year was my sister’s wedding.  This was at the Nave Altar as only Royals use the High Altar for weddings.  But it was great fun!

In January 1965 my mother and I stood on the roof of the Henry VII Chapel to watch the beginning of Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral procession leaving Westminster Hall.  Privileged viewing!

Later my father was also made Sub Dean, responsible only to the Dean, and a great advantage was that the Sub Dean’s family pew was in the choir nearest to the High Altar.  Here one could see everything and I have wonderful memories of Christmas Midnight Services with huge numbers of people of all sorts and nationalities making their Communion.

Final memories are less exciting but none the less very memorable.  First my father’s memorial service in 1977 at which the preacher was the Archbishop of Canterbury, Donald Coggan.  Because my father had been prominent in international Church affairs for many years there was a very large congregation.  Secondly, a brief moment when his ashes were buried under a stone in the Cloister.  Thirdly my mother’s memorial service in 1988 in Henry VII Chapel, a more intimate affair after which her ashes joined my father’s.

Rosemary Warner

The Bishop of Woolwich’s Visit.

On the 21 May we welcomed the Bishop of Woolwich, the Right Revd. Michael Ipgrave to our Parish.  He came to get a picture of Our Parish and its life.  On what was a full day he went on a tour of Our Parish, heard about its social make up and the coming impact of Cross Rail.  He had a pint in the Abbey Arms, lunch in the Abbey Wood Café, visited Alexander McLeod School, saw the remains of Lesnes Abbey, attended a tea in church  at which he met a wide range of people from our Congregation and Parish, attended Mass, met the PCC and the finally met the Social Club Committee.

The Bishop had many interesting comments to make about the nature of our Parish and our future initiatives in mission. It was a hectic but enjoyable day.

Later this year we welcome, our Bishop, The Bishop of Fulham, The Rt Revd. Jonathan Baker on his first visit to us to preside at the Parish Mass and to Confirm.

Fr David.


img099At our services in church we observe the garments worn by the Parish Priest and on some occasions even a Bishop, known as vestments, but how many of us know the name and purpose of the various items of clothing.  The picture illustrates:-


Worn when celebrating the Eucharist


(pronounced a-miss) is a piece of stiff linen bearing a cross and often much embroidered, worn around the neck when celebrating the Eucharist.


The bishop’s crook refers to the shepherd’s crook, and is symbolic of the bishop’s position as a shepherd of the people.


This is the ‘ordinary’ dress of the priest.


The chasuble is worn over the top of the other clothes during Communion.  It is often very richly decorated, and chasubles with different colours and decorations can be worn at different times, depending on the stage in the Church year.


The cope can outdo even the chasuble for rich ornamentation.  It is a cloak, roughly the shape of a half-circle, usually with ornate bands running down each seam and with a clasp (Known as the morse) below the throat.  The cope is worn in processions and on particularly important occasions.  It can be used as an outdoor garment.


The cord, also known as the cincture, is tied around the waist of the alb.  It is made of wool or silk and it has been said to be a reminder of the rope with which Jesus was tied to the pillar during the Flagellation.


Derived from a white cravat, it has become the priest’s central symbol, its whiteness symbolizing priestly purity.


Bishops, archbishops, cardinals and some abbots wear mitres.  They are tall hats, arching front and back to two points, split sideways and with two flaps at the rear and usually highly decorated.

The two points of the mitre, which rise above a fairly flat surface front and back, give the headdress a number of meanings.  They are the two points of light that traditionally shone from Moses’ radiant face when he received the Ten Commandments.  They also signify the Old and New Testaments. The two fanons are meant to symbolize the letter and spirit of God’s promise to humankind.


Rings have a long history of religious significance.  Worn by nuns when making their final vows to join their order.  This is to signify that they become ‘married’ to Jesus, and so wear a ring on the third finger of their left hand. (The wedding finger).  Rings worn by bishops and abbots are similarly worn on the Third finger of the right hand: they too are ‘married’, in the meaning of ‘joined’ to God.


This is a long band of material worn draped over the neck and with each end hanging to below the waist.  It is now an important mark of priesthood, although its origins are less noble, since it is derived from the ‘sudarium’, the ancient equivalent of a handkerchief, which was used for wiping the nose.

The stole is worn around the neck or over one arm.  It is usually embroidered with three crosses, one in the middle (which nests behind the neck) and one each end.  The stole is a symbol of humility for the priest.


The surplice is a knee-length, one piece white overgarment with a hole for the head.  It is a late modification of the alb, and the name is derived from ‘superpellicium’, meaning ‘over cassock’.

The surplice is generally worn by assistants in church services, rather than the priest, who wears an alb.

Readers can now attend services in church and be aware of what the priest is wearing and the reason for it.

Bill Smith


Saint Ignatius Loyola lived from 1491 until 1556.  He came from a wealthy Spanish family, and was a soldier.  On becoming a Christian, he formed the Jesuits, as the mobile “shock troops” of the Counter Reformation, to be deployed anywhere the Pope directed.

His Spiritual Exercises are notes to guide a spiritual director who is leading someone through a meditation process that usually takes thirty days.  The strictest form of this would be a retreat in complete silence, except for a daily interview with the director, and four or five hours daily in prayer, in addition to attending all the daily services.

Ignatius’ motto was that everything should be done “To the greater glory of God”.  One of the prayers he wrote is this famous one:-

Dearest Lord, teach me to be generous;

Teach me to serve you as you deserve;

To give and not to count the cost,

To fight and not to heed the wounds,

To toil and not to seek for rest,

To labour and not to ask for any reward,

Save that of knowing that I do your will.  Amen

Submitted by Michael Macey


On the gloriously bright and sunny evening of 5th June, our Jubilate Junior Choir together with the Leaders, strolled along to make a most enjoyable visit to the ruins of Lesnes Abbey, which were dedicated to St Thomas of Canterbury.  The abbey was built as a penance by one of the knights who had murdered the Archbishop.  We learnt a lot about the history of the site, and its layout, and what the various component parts of the abbey were each for.

We started our visit at the Reredorter, and then visited the Warming Room, the only part of the abbey which would have had a fire for the monks to warm themselves by.  Here we learnt of the duties of a monk through the various months of the year, and these were illustrated with very fine pictures showing the monks carrying out varying duties.

Thence through the Undercroft to the Slype and passage to the Infirmary, where we heard of the things the monks did to help the sick (a 13th century health centre – with lots of herbs grown and used for medicines).

The Cloisters were an important part of any monastery and this was where the monks would exercise, read and study and write the beautiful books they illuminated.  We did an activity based on the story about Zacchaeus and then sang lustily the song the choir love so much – “Zacchaeus was a very little man”!  The picnickers enjoyed it greatly!

Next on our visit were the two Kitchens and the Brewhouse – a most important part of the set up!  At the Hatch we collected our cheese and dry biscuit supper, which we ate in silence in the Refectory.  The monks would have listened to someone reading from the Pulpit, but we played Lesnes Abbey Bingo!

Our route then took us to the Chapter House, which was held for meetings, the Sacristy and Three Chapels, the centre one of which contains the heart of Roesia, who was great great grand-daughter of the abbey’s founder Sir Richard de Lucy.  Time was rushing by, so we formed up for our procession at the North Aisle Processional Door.  Led by our Crucifer (Keisha) and the carriers of the six Banners, we processed singing “The Spirit Lives” across the Nave, up the South Aisle, down the North Aisle and up the Aisle until reaching the Crossing.  It was a procession St Michael’s would have been very proud of – and we realised just how very large the abbey church was.  We were now under where the great Tower had been, and between the two Transepts.

From here we processed to the Lady Chapel, where we prayed, and we then sang beautifully the three part round “Father, we adore you” as we made our way to the High Altar Fr Derek gave us God’s Blessing.

Many folk witnessed our visit and procession and some even tried to join in!  It was a most interesting and moving experience which we hope to repeat soon.  There is much history to the site and leaflets are available, or you could look it up on the Internet!

Michael Macey


In June flowers were sponsored as follows:

On 16th June by Mary Robson in memory of her mother.

On 23rd June by Rosemary and Greg Warner to celebrate Timothy’s 50th birthday.

June 2013


I wonder how many readers know of the association between the Apostles and parts of the Creed.  Listed below are the most common examples of the prophets and prophecies that are used to correspond to the Apostles and part of the Apostles Creed associated with them.  It is not a fixed list and local variations may well be found.


PETER - I believe in One God, Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth

ANDREW - And in Jesus Christ His only son our Lord

JAMES THE GREAT - who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary

JOHN - suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried

THOMAS - He descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead

JAMES THE LESS - he ascended into heaven and he sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty

PHILIP - From thence he shall come to Judge the living and the dead

BARTHOLOMEW - I believe in the Holy Spirit

MATTHEW - The Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints

SIMON - the forgiveness of sins

JUDE - the resurrection of the body

MATTHIAS - and the life everlasting.  Amen

Submitted by Bill Smith


swifts 2.jpgMy mummy likes your screeches

My sister likes your wings

I like to watch you fly real fast

At the end of spring

I was sad when you left

I could not hear your calls

But I know that’s what you do

Before the leaves fall

You’re fast enough to grab the bugs

You’re shiny and you’re black

You’re absolutely beautiful

I can’t wait till you’re back.

Nyle Evans, age 7

Winner of RSPB Wild Verse poetry competition 2012

And the swifts have returned at last to St. Michael’s church hall.  At least a dozen have been spotted by a local resident.


MC900022238A lovely time was had by all of us at the Caribbean Evening last Saturday.

Great food and lively music!

Many thanks to Camilla for cooking for us.


Reginald Herber lived from 1783 until 1826.  He was a Shropshire vicar who in 1823 accepted the bishopric of Calcutta, which at that time covered most of Asia and Australasia.  He worked tirelessly for the spread of the gospel, and was dead within three years of his arrival.  He is best remembered for his hymns which include “God that madest earth and heaven”, “Brightest and best of the sons of the morning”, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty” and “From Greenland’s icy mountains”.

O Lord Jesus Christ, who at this time didst burst the prison house of the grave, and open to all that believe in thy name the gate of a glorious resurrection, let the light of thy truth, we beseech thee, shine on all that dwell in darkness.  Have mercy on the great land of India.  Bless all the rulers and peoples of that land.  Bless, guide and enlighten all who are enquiring after truth and hasten the time, if it be thy gracious will, when the knowledge of thy Name shall cover the world as the waters cover the sea, for thine honour and glory. Amen.

Submitted by Michael Macey


I suppose most readers of this magazine have visited Westminster Abbey at sometime or other and been impressed with the splendour and magnificence of the fabric, history and treasures within.  The Abbey was founded as a Benedictine monastery and to this day it follows the Benedict’s style prayerfulness in all its work and operation.  On a recent visit I became acquainted with the following prayer of Saint Benedict which I found quite moving:-

O gracious and Holy Father,

give us wisdom to perceive you,

diligence to seek you,

patience to wait for you,

eyes to behold you,

a heart to meditate on you,

and a life to proclaim you;

through the power of the Spirit

of Jesus Christ our Lord.


Submitted by Bill Smith

By using easyfundraising.org.uk to shop online with Amazon you have now raised 19p for St Michael and All Angels Church - Abbey Wood.

Due to your support St Michael and All Angels Church - Abbey Wood have now raised £1002.76 through easyfundraising.org.uk - Thank you!


Great News!

The above was the start of an Email I received recently.  This just goes to show that small penny amounts really can add up to significant amounts.

Carol Stead registered St. Michael’s with Easy Search and Easy Fund Raising sometime in 2006 I think.  Since then, the small amounts raised by using their internet search engine and fundraising site have added up to over £1000, and all for no cost and very little effort on our part.  Now you might think that £1000 over 7 years is not a huge amount, but in the current climate, every little helps.  The sad part is that there are only 10 registered supporters using these sites, (and some of those possibly no longer active).  If more people registered and tried to use them just think how much we might raise.

How does it work?

There are two methods.

EasySearch is a web search engine (like Google).  If you are registered, then every time that you use it to search the web, we get a donation of ½ p.  Not a lot each time, but it adds up.  So far with very few of us using this search engine we have raised over £180.

The second method is the EasyFundraising site.  If you shop online (with sites like Amazon, Sainsburys, eBay and many other popular sites), the seller will give a donation to us.  Sometimes it’s a small fixed amount, sometimes it’s a percentage.  This is where most of our donations have come from.

If you search the web a lot, or shop on line you can help raise funds for St. Michaels for free.  All you need to do is go to www.easyfundraising.org.uk  and/or www.EasySearch.org.uk  and register.  You need to select your chosen ‘supporting cause’ as “St Michael and All Angels Church - Abbey Wood”

There are apps for some popular smart phones and tablets – have a look for them and help raise much needed funds for St. Michael’s.

If you want to know more speak to Nigel or Penny.

Happy fund raising.

St Michaels FC


Barnehurst FC

FacebookHomescreenImageSt Michaels turned up for their 2nd Cup Final in 2 years, once again as underdogs, against a team that were currently top of the Premier Division.  Despite this, confidence was high and if they could show the same form as they did in the semi final then this could be a very tight game.

It was all square at full time at 1 -1 and extra time was played. Still level, it went to a penalty shoot-out.  Unfortunately St. Michaels missed the first penalty and Barnehurst went on to score all 5 penalties and the trophy was theirs.

We look forward to next year and St Michaels bringing the cup home!

The Garden Diet

Here’s a great diet: start gardening. It seems that regular gardening really can help cut the risk of obesity, as gardeners weigh a stone less, on average, than their neighbours. As well as regular exercise, gardening also can be healthy for you if you grow your own vegetables, and enjoy the fellowship of your neighbours over the garden fence while you are out there.

If you don’t have a garden of your own you can always help mow the church grass!  See Bill Smith for details.

Yesterday’s Kids

by A Baldwin   2002

Do you remember

when we played in the street

With holes in our socks

and dirt on our feet

The summers were hot

the winters cold

And our mothers would say - now what were you told

We all roamed round

doing nothing much

Keeping away from our parents clutch

Playing knock-down ginger

and rounders outside

It’s my turn next the leader would cry!!

Submitted by Marjorie Gillespie

The Bishop of Woolwich, Rt Revd Michael Ipgrave

At St. Michael’s Church we were delighted that the Bishop spent the day in our parish on Tuesday 21st May.  He met quite a few people from our church at the buffet tea party, arranged by Michael Macey, in the church.

There will be more about his visit in the July magazine.


In May flowers were sponsored as follows:

On 19th May by Peter Ludlow to celebrate his birthday.

On 26th May by Michael Edwards in memory of his mother, Gwyneth whose anniversary was on 19th April.

May 2013


Submitted by Michael Macey

imagesCAG3LTBDOn 20th April well over a hundred guests from the area joined in the church hall for a special evening to celebrate St George, the patron saint of England!  We were thrilled that the Mayor and Mayoress of Bexley, Councillors Alan and Ross Downing, were able to join with us, and they certainly added much to the proceedings, which were this year in aid of the Mayor’s charities.  We managed to raise £1,000 and this will be going to Diabetes UK – Bexley Support Group, and Help for Heroes, both very worthy charities.

Our Supper was a very traditional “Ploughmans Supper” followed by a choice of apple pie with cream or custard, or Old English fruit trifle.  Many thanks to Christine, Hilary, Janet and the older girls from Jubilate for preparing and serving the supper, as well as for laying up the tables etc, and making the hall look resplendent, as well as “patriotic”!

Fine entertainment was provided by a number of our friends, and all were very enthusiastically received and enjoyed by those present.

The Plumstead Recorder Consort played a good selection of traditional English tunes, on a wide variety of instruments, including a most eye catching one that was over 6 feet tall!  Apparently this was once mistaken by the Police as a possible shotgun or the like!

The newly formed Cray District Women’s Institute Choir, which meets at St Michael & All Angels, sang a delightful selection of songs, accompanied by Margaret Lockhart, and also led the community singing (Land of Hope and Glory etc – flag waving included)!  They did superbly, and also gave a concert in church on St George’s Day itself, with the Mayor of Greenwich coming to this!

The hand bells rang out in celebration throughout the evening – with a climax of “London Bells” – a most enjoyable finale, following the poem “The Bells of London Town” read by Barbara Callaghan.  We look forward to our friends from St Botolph’s, Northfleet joining us again later in the year to display their hand bell ringing skills.

The piano really “sang” as Richard Southgate played wonderful background music as folk dined and this was much appreciated.

Patriotic Poems were read, drinks were drunk, toasts were made, and quizzes were pondered.  Congratulations to Peter and Carol Ludlow’s team for winning the “table quiz”.  The well supported raffle was drawn and the fancy costume parade judged by the Mayoress and Mayor’s Chauffeur.  There were splendid entries; Gwen Smith won the ladies section.

All in all it was a delightful St George’s Celebration.  Our thanks go to all who came along, and to those who helped in any way whatsoever.

“Musings” from a Visitor

Mar11_art02.tifIt has been my pleasure over the last few years to come and join in your worship and praise, to me a totally different service, but one that has grown in meaning to me.  It has also challenged my faith, and, also enhanced my faith.

On Good Friday my son and I came to the service of praise performed by Michael and the Church choir, and I believe also from churches in the area.  This was a completely uplifting experience as we do not have anything like this in the Church of Scotland.

Thank you Michael, the choir members and soloists.

May I take this opportunity to wish that all at St. Michael and All Angel’s continue to be a beacon in their community and thank you all for your warm welcome to your Church here.

Eleanor Mair  -   Hamilton, Scotland

Thank you

http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTSKz0Fi35diW09ldKyZKzqw6tOPWtyAcS5psClDJF-mqGO1CO_I would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to all those who bought a piece of cake between the service and the APCM on Sunday 7th April.  I raised £65-64 from that sale, making a total of £175 when added to the proceeds from the East Wickham Singers tea the previous week, and cakes Martin took to work.  The money raised has been sent to Classic fm, for their ‘Take the Cake’ appeal, working with Nordoff-Robbins to provide over 4,000 music therapy sessions for children.

In music therapy, a certified music therapist uses music and all of its facets—physical, emotional, mental, social, aesthetic, and spiritual—to help clients, either in groups or individually, to improve or maintain their health. Music therapy is primarily used to help clients with needs including cognitive, functioning, motor skills, emotional and affective development, behaviour and social skills, and quality of life, by using music experiences (e.g., free improvisation, singing, songwriting, listening to and discussing music, moving to music) to achieve treatment goals and objectives. 

Nordoff-Robbins are the largest charitable provider of music therapy services in the UK, specialising in transforming the lives of individuals through the power of music. They reach out to some of the most marginalised, challenging and vulnerable children in our society and a large proportion of their work is with people who have disabilities, severe illnesses or special needs. These include communication disorders, autistic spectrum disorders, physical and/or mental health problems, learning difficulties, brain injuries, trauma through abuse, emotional-behavioural difficulties and terminal illness.

In 1959, Paul Nordoff, American composer and pianist and Clive Robbins, a special education teacher, developed a new form of collaborative music-making to engage isolated and disturbed children, which they termed ‘therapy in music’ and in 1970, the first Nordoff Robbins music therapy service was established at Goldie Leigh Hospital, Lodge Hill, by Julienne Cartwright and Sybil Beresford-Peirse. They are now based in Lissenden Gardens, and have a nationwide network of music therapy services, delivering over 50,000 music therapy sessions per year in care homes, day centres, hospitals, schools and their own centres.

MC900353691[1]Nordoff-Robbins also train music therapists; the first training programme at Goldie Leigh was in 1974, led by Paul Nordoff and Clive Robbins, and one of the East Wickham Singers was among the second group trained.  The son of one of our ex singers (who was at school with Martin) has recently trained as a music therapist too so when I heard that baking, one of my loves could support this appeal, I was keen to do so. When I did my therapeutic play training we had a three-day block covering music therapy, learning how to respond when the children we work with used various instruments.  We spent one day using percussion, in particular drums-I think the large Irish bodhran was a favourite with all of us, and when I left the course that day, I felt I was ready to take on the world!  I am always pleased when the children I work with choose to use my musical instruments, as I remember how empowered I felt that day, and hope they will feel the same!

Penny Parsons (with help from Nordoff-Robbins and Wikipedia)


Every year swifts migrate to Europe.  We always have many come to Abbey Wood and nest on St. Michael’s hall.  I haven’t seen any this year yet and according to the RSPB we may well not see them.  They usually arrive April/May and leave again in August.

I give you two quotes from the Summer 2013 Birds Magazine from the RSPB:

“Hear them scream, or watch them tearing along streets in excitable parties.  Swifts assemble in feeding flocks in spring before they settle down at breeding sites.  They gather over water where they can find plenty of emerging flies to eat.”

“I marvel at the fact that swifts can spend up to four years in the air after flopping out of their nest sites as juniors”.

Marjorie Gillespie


Sponsored flowers for Easter Day:-

By Mary Bailey in memory of her parents Gwen and Tom Bailey on their birthdays

View detailsBy the Women’s Institute, Abbey Wood Branch

For 14th April by Tosin Ogunyemi to celebrate her 14th birthday

For 28th April by Barbara Callaghan in memory of her husband, Tony

Also by Irene & John Brown to celebrate their 65th Wedding Anniversary.

March 2013


‘What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet’  [Romeo and Juliet Act II Scene ii]

The reason why I feel like quoting Romeo and Juliet might be because I’m actually writing this way back on 14th February – St. Valentine’s Day!  And alas, a name and all that it signified – all the history and baggage and hatred -  was pivotal to the heart-breaking ending for the Capulets and Montagues in Shakespeare’s most romantic tragedy.

But, although it might not lead to such deadly consequences, we can all be sensitive about our names, can’t we?  I received a letter last week, in which the organisation had got my Christian name wrong.  A tiny thing, but it made me quite cross!  Like when people occasionally write my name as ‘Derrick’ (as in drilling for oil) instead of ‘Derek’.  Yes, we can get quite touchy about our names – like when people forget them (and when we forget other people’s names).  Names, of course, have meanings, and people often study books which explain the meanings, before deciding what to call a new baby.  But then on the other hand, apparently without any thought at all people nowadays often give their children the most strange and outlandish of names which seem meaningless!

I was privileged recently to do a naming ceremony for a week old baby, in the home of a family whose cultural tradition required that this be done within seven days of the child’s birth.  It was a powerful and touching experience, and the names given had real meaning and significance.  A week or so before that, I baptised the baby of an old family friend in another church not far from here.  This child was given three Christian names; one was the name of one of the four evangelists, one was the name of one of the twelve apostles, and the third was the name of the child’s deceased maternal grandfather, who had been a faithful priest and servant of God.  Names which had real meaning and significance, and which gave me plenty of material for my homily (I was even able to weave the meaning of the surname into it!)

Scripture is full of people with names that have meaning and tell us something about the person – and indeed, many books have been written about the meaning of names in the Bible.  The ‘name above all names’ is, of course, that of Jesus.  You will remember how the Angel Gabriel told Joseph, ‘Mary will have a son, and you will name him Jesus – because he will save his people from their sins.’  (Matt. 1:21).  Jesus is the English form of the Hebrew name Yeshuah/Jeshua/Joshua, which means Saviour.  So as we approach Passiontide and Easter, and remember the saving works of God at this time, then let us pray in the words of that simple but beautiful worship song which includes the verse:

Jesus, we love you,
We worship and adore you,
Glorify your name in all the earth.
 Glorify your name, glorify your name,
Glorify your name in all the earth.
(LHON 254)

AMEN to that!  

Fr. Derek


Blessed are they……

Blessed are they who understand my faltering step and shaking hand.

Blessed are they who know my ears today must strain to hear the things they say.

Blessed are they who seem to know my eyes are dim and my answers slow.

Blessed are they who look away when my tea was spilled at the table today.

Blessed are they who with a cheery smile will stop to chat for a little while.

Blessed are they who never say ‘You’ve told that story twice today!’

Blessed are they who know my ways and bring back memories of yesterdays.

Blessed are they who ease the days and care for me in loving ways.

Blessed are they who make it known I’m loved, respected and not alone.

(author unknown)

And underneath it:

“Make compassion and kindness part of your every day vocabulary and practice. Focus on each individual resident, not on systems and tasks in themselves.”

A message for us all, I think – whether we work in a care home or not!

Fr. Derek

Extract from St. Michael’s Magazine Mid February 1967.
Written by Rev’d A.D.Bailey, Vicar 1960 – 1970.

Night Prayer on Knee Hill

Lord, what lights there are, of varying brightness and colour,
Lights of houses and streets, of buses, cars and the occasional train:
Moving lights of the ships, up and down the Thames;
Neon lights on the distant Church, and the pub sign “Take Courage”,
And Dagenham “Fords” over the river:
Behind all the lights the power station and the night workers.
A light may mean a house and family life:
There are houses filled with your Light, Lord, though perhaps not many.
Lights may mean a street, and traffic, and late returners,
Some from fun and togetherness, and some from mischief and crime:
All night there is coming and going.
Many lights will go out, and bodies and minds will find rest in the comforting darkness.
I see more movement on the Thames,
And think of those whose work takes them far from home.
I think of those left behind, and of those to be met on the journey,
Ready to prey and to spoil, or ready in friendship.
I’m glad of that neon cross, the red glow of hope from Plumstead,
Seen from hundreds of homes, seen by men as they travel.
Lord what lights there are, of varying brightness and colour.

The brightest of lights is Yourself:
Shine, Lord, we pray you, within us.

And more       From Knee Hill in Sunlight

Lord, what I could not see last night............
I see some dogs, but few people. People still must be taken on faith.
I see new the big ships, in the docks at North Woolwich.
I see the tall towers that are people’s dwellings.
I see the marshes that are soon to be Thamesmead,
And, ever surprising, I see the farm lands,
Between us and Ford’s (Dagenham),
Without that neon light I don’t notice St. Nicholas,
And no special thing speaks clear of your Presence;
Yet as all that I see is bathed in the sunlight,
So Your love covers all, and gives cause for rejoicing.


As I approach a milestone birthday, I recall a lovely little story which I remember reading many years ago.  It goes something like this:

An elderly priest was respected by everyone in the London suburb where he lived.  When he appeared in the street, people would acknowledge him with a smile and a cheery greeting.  In fact, such was the man’s reputation for holiness that people would often ask for his blessing - and even give him a little bow or curtsy.  But that made him feel uncomfortable and embarrassed, because he knew that he was just like everybody else, and not special in any way.

He was a jolly, social kind of man, and a popular member of the Rotary Club.  And notwithstanding his advanced years, he enthusiastically joined in activities to raise money for the charitable causes the club supported.  And every time the club met, the old priest would be there, always on time and always seated at his favourite spot in the corner of the room, or else his usual position at the table.

One day the old priest disappeared!  It was as if he had vanished into thin air because, search as they might, the local people could find no trace of him, and feared that something dreadful had happened.

After a month, however, when the Rotary Club met, there he was as usual, sitting in his corner. ‘But, Father,’ everyone cried, ‘Where have you been?’  The old priest looked solemn, and calmly replied, ‘In prison.’  His fellow Rotarians were flabbergasted, and exclaimed, ‘In prison? For heaven’s sake, Father, you couldn’t hurt a fly!  Whatever happened for you to be sent to prison?’  The priest sighed, ‘It’s a long story,’ he said, but, briefly, this is what happened:  I had my Freedom Pass and went to the station to catch a train up to London.  I was waiting on the platform for the train to arrive when this stunningly beautiful girl appears with a policeman. She looks me over, turns to the cop and says, “He did it!”.  And, to tell you the truth, I was so flattered that I pleaded guilty….’

(adapted and developed from a story told by Fr. Anthony de Mello SJ, in his book ‘Taking Flight’)

MB900104232Fr. Derek


There were no sponsors for flowers in February and will be no flowers in church during Lent.

February 2013


The recent television series Last Tango In Halifax proved hugely popular, and I am among the many who are delighted that the BBC is going to make a new series.  If you don’t know it, then I’ll just say that it’s about an elderly couple who had been in love as teenagers, but were prevented from getting together by circumstances and, in particular, because of a decision made by a third party with a vested interest.  They meet up 60 years later, both now widowed, and find that they are still in love, and they decide that this time nothing will come between them – not even their flawed, prejudiced, somewhat dysfunctional but totally believable families!  The story set me thinking about choices and decisions we make in life, and the effect they have not only on ourselves but on others.

Some weeks ago I was called upon to conduct a funeral service at a woodland burial site up in Buckinghamshire.  It was the funeral of Shirley, a woman from my past….by which I mean not a romantic interest, but that she and I had been young members together of St. Dunstan’s Bellingham, the church which I had started to attend in my teens - another member of our set at the time had been John Ardley, who subsequently became Vicar of St. Michael & All Angels Abbey Wood! Shirley had moved away from south-east London a long time ago, but we had kept in touch and met up from time to time.  Then, just a few days ago, I went to another funeral service, a Requiem Mass, in St. Dunstan’s.  This time it was for Phil, a 90-year-old, whom I had first known when he was the young (well, early middle age) dad of two more of my contemporaries – a brother and sister, in that church.

I have told the story before, of the effect my first experience of attending the Parish Mass at St. Dunstan’s had on me –  who until that moment had never been to church in my life (except at my infant baptism)!  I won’t bore you with the details again, but it was the moment when I decided that I wanted to be a Christian, to be part of this ‘church thing’.

But I had not been back to St. Dunstan’s for nearly 36 years – since the day Susan and I had been married there back in 1977.  In the intervening years there were a number of occasions when I had been asked back, but it had never been possible because those events had always clashed with other commitments.  So when I walked in last week I found that the church had changed considerably inside, and there is a swish and modern ‘parish centre’ built onto the original building (thanks to Lottery money and other grants).  But, despite the changes, as soon as I walked in I was overwhelmed by memories which came flooding back; memories of so many people and events, of so many happy times, of church social life, and of spiritual blessings.  It made me think again of the importance of the decisions we make in life, and how different my life would have been if, after attending that first service way back in 1959, I had decided – as so many people do – that this ‘church thing’ was definitely not for me!

But Christian discipleship is not a once and for all ‘now it’s all over’ decision  - like the impression you get from those intense people who ask you, ‘Have you been saved?’ No, it’s an ongoing life-long process. So now, as we approach Lent (Ash Wednesday is on 13th February), I think of words of St. Paul in his Second Letter to the Christians in Corinth, where he writes, ‘Examine yourselves to see if you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realise that Jesus Christ is in you?- unless, indeed, you fail to meet the test!’  (2 Corinthians 13:5 NRSV). 

Traditionally, Lent is a time for us to reflect on our discipleship and to ask if everything is as it should be.  And here Paul is saying ‘Take a good look at yourself and see if you are living in the faith.  Stop and take stock; make time for a long hard look at your life, some serious soul-searching.  Don’t just muddle through. Don’t assume that everything is automatically ticking along as it should be.  Don’t imagine that once you have decided to set out on the road of Christian discipleship you can leave it to take care of itself. Nothing could be further from the truth.  It’s all too easy to be smug and think ‘what a good boy (or girl) am I!’  It’s all too easy to get lost along the way: to take a false step here, a wrong path there, until instead of making progress you’re slipping backwards, unsure of where you’re going and why.  Ask yourself what have you made of your life so far.  Like the characters in Last Tango in Halifax you’re never too old (or too young) to make a fresh start in life.  Stop and take stock. You may not like everything you find, but at least you will know where you stand.  None of us is perfect, of course, and the last thing God wants is to encourage a spirit of negative self-criticism that might take us into the ‘slough of despond’.  Rather, he wants us to conduct an honest self-appraisal, and then to seek his gracious help, so that by looking backwards and looking within, we can look forwards along the path of true discipleship.

Fr. Derek

Carol Singing

You may remember that we were planning to go Carol Singing around the Parish in the run-up to Christmas.  This year the weather was unseasonably dry and warm and we were able to go out on all three of the planned evenings.   The number of singers varied between the three evenings but we always had enough to make ourselves heard.  The collection was split between two charities.  Church Housing Trust (which helps homeless people), and Demelza Children’s Hospice.  We are pleased to report that we were able to send some £300 to each of these worthy causes.

We would like to express a big Thank you to anyone that helped by singing or collecting, as well as all the generous people who donated when we called.

As for the last few years, we were short of people willing to knock on doors – this is a shame as with more collectors we would probably have been able to visit more streets and collect even more.  Please consider if you could help collect next time – after all, there is little point in just singing if we can’t make the collections as well.

Table Sale

This year we are going to try holding a Table Sale (a bit like an indoor Boot Sale) on Saturday 23rd February.  As this is a new venture we can’t be sure what kinds of things will be available to tempt you, but we should have a better idea by early in February.  We do plan to provide refreshments and light lunches so you could always pop in just to catch up with some friends.

If you want a table to raise money for whatever your chosen cause is, then there will be a charge of £7:50.  You will need to book a table in advance.  Booking forms can be collected from Church or by sending an Email to TableSale@ChezParsons.co.uk.

Help urgently required

In recent years, one of our biggest money raisers at the Summer Fair, has been the plant stall, which Norma used to run.  Sadly, as reported in the last magazine, she died in October, and the Fundraising Team are now urgently looking for someone to take on the coordination of this stall - organising the growing of plants, pots and hanging baskets, and to run the stall on the day of the fair.  We can provide pots for the plants, and if space is an issue, Fr David is happy for the vicarage garden to be used for growing.  We also have a number of items to go towards a ‘growing tombola’ that could form part of the plant stall.

If you don’t feel able to take this on, there are other things you could do to help.  If you are planning your own garden for next summer, please consider sowing an extra tray of seeds, or order a few extra flower or vegetable plants.  When splitting mature plants, could you pot up the thinnings, to help stock the plant stall?  Could you donate an ornamental pot or hanging basket that could be planted up?  Maybe you would be prepared to ‘babysit’ a tray of seedlings or plug plants provided by someone else.

Some people have become accustomed to the plant stall being one of our ‘regulars’, and make a point of buying their plants from us, others are drawn in by the bright colours.  Maybe two or more people could group together to oversee the growing and potting up.  Please let Nigel or Penny Parsons know if you can take on this stall, or would like to know more.

Novice Residential

At the beginning of January I was sent off to Oxford for my first Novice residential learning about the revival of the religious life in England.  We were staying at Fairacres which is a contemplative community and I had a very early start on the Monday morning to get myself there before midday.  I was a bit nervous and wasn’t too sure what to expect but was warmly welcomed by their Novice guardian and shown around, meeting up with some other Novices who had just arrived. I had a bit of time to look around before we joined the Sisters at Midday Office which they sing beautifully in plain chant.  Being a contemplative community the convent is very quiet all the time; no one talks in the corridors and the Sisters are silent a lot of the time. Luckily we were given a sitting room where we could sit in the evenings and chat without disturbing the Sisters.

After a silent dinner with the Sisters we met for our introductory talk.  There were 18 Novices there from several different communities; Mirfield, West Malling, Whitby, Ham Common, Mucknell, Tymawr, Birmingham (the community on Call the Midwife) and Franciscans.  I was pleased to notice that I wasn’t the oldest; there were 8 ladies and 10 men (7 of whom were Franciscans).  Only me and the Novice from West Malling wore full habit with veil, while the ones from Ham Common and Birmingham wore normal clothes, the others wore a habit but no veil and they change out of their habit for their free day and holidays.

We were then taken to Littlemore where Newman lived and saw his chapel and bedroom. Here we were told about the Oxford Movement.

On Tuesday morning, after breakfast and Mass for most of the others (I didn’t attend as there was a women presiding) we set off for St Mary the Virgin church the site of the 1833 Assize sermon by Keble.  We then went on to Pusey House which was opened in 1884 as a memorial to Pusey, one of the leaders of the Oxford Movement.  We visited the chapel and library.  Pusey was crucial in encouraging the first woman, Marian Hughes, to take vows in 1841 and in founding the 1st community of women in 1845.  Next we were taken to St Thomas the Martyr church where the Community of St Thomas was founded and then on to St Barnabas church, Jericho.  It was in parish churches like this that vocations were first fostered.  After lunch we visited St Anthony’s college.  The building was originally a convent and the chapel and refectory are now used as a University library.  Here we are shown photos of what the convent looked like and given a talk about early women’s communities.

After breakfast on Wednesday morning we set off for St Mary & St John church graveyard where Nuns from 2 communities are buried.  We then went to St Stephen’s house which was originally the home of one of the first men’s communities (SSJE).  We saw their first chapel, which was placed at the top of the building as it was only for the Monks and a 2nd, larger one which was added later and also the church.  After Mass and dinner at All Saints Convent we made our way to Bartlemas, the leper chapel where Giles had the inspiration for starting the Society of Saint Francis. It was then back to Fairacres for a talk on contemplative communities, we were joined by most of the Sisters for this talk.

We started the day off on Thursday with Mass at Fairacres, then got into a minibus to be taken to Nashdon.  The building there has now been made into luxury flats but we were greeted by some of the residents who gave us coffee and showed us photos of the Monks.  After a talk on Anglo-Papalism we were shown the graveyard. While outside the lady showing us round mentioned that one of the Ex-Monks was now living in Walsingham and he and his partner own a hairdressers.  I then went and introduced myself and told her that Bert cuts our hair for us.  We were then taken to Burnham Abbey which was founded as a house of Augustinian nuns in 1266 and closed with the dissolution of Monasteries in 1539. In 1916 another community of Augustinian Nuns moved in and restored the buildings.  One of the Sisters there showed us around and then the rest of them joined us for our last talk which was on the spread of communities abroad.

As well as it being a really good week with lots of interesting talks and being able to see all the places we were being told about, it was really good to meet Novices from other communities and to find out about how they live the religious life.

Sister Carol Elizabeth


It was in the news recently that a group of fervent Atheists in this country have begun to hold regular meetings which follow a similar structure to a church service but, of course, they have secular readings, sing secular songs, have speakers giving non-religious or anti-religious talks, and have times for reflection.  Well, good luck to them!  But I can’t help feeling a bit sad for them, and by coincidence I saw one of those funny little apocryphal stories from America, in the church magazine of another parish……

The story concerns an atheist who took legal action because he felt that atheists were discriminated against, as they weren’t allowed any special festivals. Religious people, he claimed, are privileged.  After all, he argued, Christians have Christmas and Easter; Jews have Passover, Yom Kippur and Hannukkah, Moslems, Hindus and Sikhs all have their holidays…..but atheists had no such recognised days.  The case was brought before a judge, who after listening to the arguments put forward passionately by the lawyer hired by the atheist, declared ‘Case dismissed!’   The lawyer immediately objected to the ruling, saying, ‘Your Honour, how can you possibly dismiss this case, when the facts are so obvious?  There are no days of special observance for atheists.’  The judge leaned forward in his chair, and said, ‘I am afraid, Counsel, that you are woefully ignorant.  The calendar says April 1st is April Fools Day; Psalm 14 verse 1 reads “Fools say in their hearts, ‘There is no God’”  Thus it is the opinion of this court that, if your client says there is no God, then he is a fool. Therefore, April 1st is his day. Court is adjourned!’

Fr. Derek


On Christmas day flowers were sponsored as follows:-

                                       By Phillip Batt & family (2 stands) in memory of his parents Rose and Frank.

                                       By Gwen Smith in memory of her daughter Caroline

                                       By  Sue Harper in memory of her mother.

                                       By Phyllis Lewis in memory of her husband Leslie.

                                       By Pat Annetts and family in memory of her sister Kay Maddox.

Thank you everyone who sponsored flowers and also those who put money in the jar, we were able to by a lovely lot of flowers to decorate the Church for Christmas.

Sunday 13th January    by Sheila Owen

Sunday 20th January – by Adela Johnson in memory of her husband Samuel.

                                     by Christine Fern remembering her mother on the anniversary of her death.

October 2012

Church Mouse

I have been a very busy mouse and so have been unable to write for a while but thought I would like to share with you a sermon I heard while visiting another church recently.  The gospel reading was taken from Mark 7:  ‘The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered round him, and they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with unclean hands…’, they asked ‘why do your disciples not respect the tradition of the elders..’

This led the priest to explain that there are many traditions in the church and it is important to know why we do them and not to just carry on just ‘because we have always done it that way’.  He went on to tell us what is said to be a true story.

There was an Anglo- Catholic church in London which was steeped in tradition.  An elderly retired Bishop moved into the parish.  He would sit in the Bishops Chair each week in with Mitre and staff etc. and assist with the Mass.  As he got older he started to have men’s problems and would need to excuse himself during the service.  Being a Bishop this meant that he would have to wait until the MC indicated to him that it was an appropriate time to pop out, then 2 servers would have to escort him to the sacristy, take his Mitre and Staff, help him take off his Chasuble wait for him to relieve himself, redress and lead him back to his Chair.  This was all a bit inconvenient and after a while someone came up with the idea of replacing the Bishops Chair with a commode.  A curtain was placed around in and during an appropriate place in the service this was drawn so that he could relieve himself.

Some years later a visiting Bishop came for Mass.  At the end of the service he remarked how he had enjoyed it, but said ‘I must ask you something, why did the servers draw the curtains around my Chair for the Creed?’

Everyone looked at each other, and not one person knew why they did it; it has always been done and had been passed down as a tradition of the church.

There are lots of things traditionally done at St Michael’s, do you know why? If not, ask.

Church mouse

Simply say ‘thank you’

October means Harvest, and that means thanksgiving time.  Here is a beautiful description of this rich time of the year:  “You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance.  The grasslands of the desert overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness. The meadows are filled with flocks and the valleys are mantled with corn; they shout for joy and sing.” (Ps 65:11-13) What a beautiful picture of harvest, of blessing as the year begins to draw to a close!

The Psalms have a lot to say about harvest and thanksgiving.  “May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. THEN the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God will bless us.” (Ps 67:5,6)

You may not be in farming, but you will have ‘sown’ things this year: you may be growing certain relationships, or work projects.  Now is the time to review them: if they are doing well, thank God for them.  If they are doing badly, pray for them.  The Bible tells us time and again that God longs to bless us, and will bless us – if we acknowledge him, and thank him.

“Praise our God, O peoples,” cries the Psalmist with joy.  “He has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping....you brought us to a place of abundance.” (Ps 66:8,12)  If there is any ‘abundance’ in your life, have you thanked God for it?

15.jpgOlympics leave us a ‘legacy of goodwill’

The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, has praised the vital legacy of the London Games, saying that in his own diocese - home to the Olympic Park and Village - and beyond, the Games have had and will continue to have an important impact on community life.

“The Olympic Park and the Olympic Village will indeed bring much needed regeneration.  But I am beginning to wonder whether the Olympic legacy may bring a further change as well: a legacy of good will...”he said.  This summer many people found “ourselves surprised by the joy of the Olympics, and we have rediscovered a desire to celebrate it with our neighbour.”

Commentators have said that the London Games were the largest logistical exercise in Britain since the Second World War.  “It might also be one of the largest outpourings of good will.  This is an Olympic legacy worth holding onto: the desire to serve my neighbour and the desire to celebrate with my neighbour.  It is with these things that communities are built.”


In September flowers were sponsored as follows:

On 1st by Sheila Owen for the birth of her daughter Nicola and Marc’s baby girl, Hollie Isabelle, on 28th August.

On 9th by Roselyn Adeleye in memory of her husband Samuel.

On 16th Michael Edwards in memory of his father, Caradog.

On 30th by Peter Ludlow in memory of his father, Thomas.

September 2012

Joking aside

I promise you that I have never, ever, bored people with my holiday photographs!  But, over the years, it did become a bit of a joke among some members of the congregation that whenever I got back from my Summer holiday, I would somehow bring something I had experienced or discovered, into one of my sermons.  It was, of course, always relevant to the theme of that day’s Mass, something with a message related to the Gospel reading, something we could learn from, something to enrich our Christian lives…..    All the same, I haven’t done it for a while, and yet only the other day somebody in church said to me jokingly:  ‘I look forward to hearing about your trip to Sardinia, Fr. Derek!’ (even though it’s two years ago since I went to that island!)

But, joking aside, is it surprising that we all want in some way to share something special, something good, something precious, something enjoyable, with others?  Not in a boastful, ‘show-offing’ kind of way, but with joy and love and enthusiasm, because we believe it to be something worth remembering and worth sharing.  It also, of course, helps us to ‘re-live’ the experience ourselves And I do remember once in a sermon I quoted some ‘words of wisdom’ that I had read – of all places – printed on a roll of kitchen towel whilst in Italy.  Those words were: ‘Quando puoi, chiudi gli occhi e rivivi un momento speciale della tua vita’, which means ‘When you can, close your eyes and re-live a special moment of your life’.

Well, I have never read anything like that on the kitchen towels we buy from Asda, Morrisons or Sainsburys!  Those simple words stick with me, because, surely, they are good advice.  We all experience special moments in our lives, and not just on holiday, of course.  Such moments might include getting excellent ‘A’ level results, getting a job or a pay rise, enjoying an excellent meal, being given good news by a doctor, winning the lottery (some hope!);  perhaps a sporting achievement, or hearing a particularly moving piece of music.  For some of our young people it might be last month’s Walsingham Youth Pilgrimage, the time they spent in that very special place, which always seems to me very close to Heaven, perhaps new friendships made there among the hundreds of other youngsters from all over the country.  For some of us that special moment might be when our husband/wife proposed to us, or it could be the birth of a child, or getting a house or flat.   For some people it might be the moment they first believed, and became followers of Christ; for others maybe a moment in prayer, when we felt God especially close to us.  Or it could be a simple act of kindness we experienced from another person.

The list is endless.  God has given us the capacity for appreciation and enjoyment, for fellowship and sociability.  We all, whatever our state, have ‘special moments’.  Things we can share, experiences we want to re-live.  It is good to treasure such moments, close our eyes and re-live them.  It is also a springboard for evangelism.  Thanks be to God!

Fr. Derek

Walsingham Youth Pilgrimage

On 30th July approximately 600 young people and their leaders from all over the country and some from Sweden arrived in Walsingham for the annual Youth Pilgrimage.  Although I had been many times before as a leader, this was the first time for me as a Sister, having been invited by St Michael’s, St Augustine’s Belvedere, and Rotherhithe to join them camping.  The young people aged 11 and above were to camp in a local field and have all the services in a Big Top.  The theme of the Pilgrimage was More than Gold or Silver.  The services had an Olympic theme running through them with Coach Paul leading us in a warm up every morning.  During the course of the week the Light was to be passed from God to Mary at the Annunciation, from Mary to Richeldis in the vision and to Simeon at the Presentation of Jesus, then on to the Apostles, and finally to the pilgrims to take home to the Parishes and daily lives.

The Monday opening ceremony started with the pilgrims being led by a brass band, carrying their group’s flag they had made, around the field in procession.  We were taken to one edge of the field where we were entertained by a spectacular flame throwing display before entering the Big Top for the welcome service where the Olympic torch was lit.

Throughout the week there were various activities going on.  Each morning started with bible study led by Bishop Lindsay which, despite being optional attracted a large number of young people.  I spent the little time I had before and after bible study wandering around talking to various groups and being offered several breakfasts and cups of coffee which unfortunately I had to decline having already eaten breakfast with my group.  Mass followed at 10.30am, not your usual Mass you would have in your parishes but one which included drama and lively worship songs led by CJM, a Roman Catholic worship band.  These Masses were to last approximately 1½ hours each but I never heard the young people complain about the length.  Although the services were lively the young people also had due reverence of the sacraments, and the stillness and silence which came over the tent at the consecration and during communion were a sight to be seen.

The afternoons varied with Tuesday and Thursday being free afternoons when groups could go out to the seaside or do whatever they wished.  At 4pm each day there were Walsingham Olympics for anyone who wished to join in.  On the Wednesday afternoon there were various activities ranging from archery to football training, dance with CJM, a climbing wall and crafts.  After bringing our parish group down to the village for their First Visit at the Holy House and showing them the Priory chapel, I spent a busy afternoon putting transfer tattoos onto young people.  This was immediately followed by a vocations talk where I was asked to speak alongside several priests and a couple of lay people.

The evenings were filled with other activities.  Following the welcome service on the Monday night there was a BBQ and disco.  On the Tuesday evening we all gathered at the Slipper Chapel for a short service followed by walking the Holy Mile.  For this the young people from the group I was camping with were asked to be servers; 6 acolytes, 1 thurifer, 1 crucifer  and 2 (not very) strong ones to carry the statue of Our Lady, and Fr David to do Benediction when we arrived in the Shrine grounds.  It was fantastic to watch the young people I knew working as a team, swapping over places regularly so that each was only carrying Our Lady for a short distance.  We sang as we walked the Holy mile carrying our candles, many of us barefoot, despite the mud.  As the procession entered the Shrine grounds everyone fell into silence; a most moving sight to see 600 youngsters doing something which many groups of adults can’t achieve.  There they knelt in silence before the Altar of Light for Benediction.

Wednesday night was to be the all Night Vigil.  It started off with various indoor non-Olympic sports; paper plate throwing, inflatable hammer throwing, Priest arm wrestling and many more.  The evening then quietened down as the Ministry team did a Synchronized Sprinkling routine which was followed by the young people being invited to receive Sprinkling.  Bp Lindsay then explained about the Healing ministries, before a silence, which was to last until the morning, came over the Big Top as the Blessed Sacrament was brought out and the ministries of Anointing, Laying on of Hands and Confession started in an open ended service, just as they are at the Shrine.  Sr Caroline, Jackie and I had been asked to help with the Laying on of Hands and it was a moving sight seeing so many young people making use of these ministries, especially the queues for confession.  As these ministries came to an end the All Night Vigil started; various groups had signed up to keep a watch for ½ hour throughout the night.  Once I had finished the Laying on of Hands I returned to my group for a hot drink before returning to the Big Top to join another group for their Vigil from 12 to 12.30am.  As always it was a wonderful sight seeing so many young people willing to stay up late or even to get up in the middle of the night to take their turn before the Blessed Sacrament.

Thursday evening saw the Olympic formal ball, with many of the young pilgrims coming very smartly dressed up in suits or dresses.

All too soon it was Friday morning and the group were busy taking down tents before the final Mass.  During this Mass the Ministry team performed a very moving mime showing a young lady who was obviously close to Jesus but then got attracted to all sorts of things such as drinking, self-harming, and the ‘bad’ things of life before battling her way back to Jesus who held her in His arms.  This was followed by a sermon in which Bp Lindsay reminded us that Jesus does not leave us alone to struggle but runs the race, fights the battle for us.  The service finished with a young person from each group collecting a candle to take back to their parish, passing the light on.

Then it was time to say our goodbyes, leave the Youth Pilgrimage and for the young people to return home.  It had been a wonderful, although exhausting, week camping with the young people.

Sister Carol Elizabeth


On 5th August - Flowers were sponsored Jim Webb in memory of his wife Pam.
Also on the 5th Pat Kennets and family in memory of Kay Maddox.

On 12th August Rosemary and Greg Warner sponsored flowers to celebrate their Golden Wedding.

On 19th August Roselyn Adeleye sponsored flowers to celebrate her 70th Birthday on 17th August.
Also on 19th Sue Naylor in memory of her Father.

August 2012

Circle in the City

The sponsored walk for Christian Aid that Peter and I take part in every year, is called ‘Circle in the City’.  This year it celebrated 15 years and I think that Peter must have taken part in every one, or almost every one.  Each year the route changes and the churches visited often change.  These churches are usually open, which is unusual as the city of London is very quiet on Sundays and the churches have services during the week.

We usually start with a short service at St Mary-le-Bow in Cheapside.  The church was partly destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666, rebuilt by Christopher Wren and destroyed again in 1941 by enemy bombing, before being rebuilt again to the original plans.

We moved on to St. James Garlickhythe, so named because this was where wharves for unloading imports, including garlic from Spain, were, and St. James is particularly associated with the major pilgrimage centre of St. James Compostela in Spain.

We passed St. Paul’s to St. Andrew by the Wardrobe Church, so called because it was near the royal wardrobe, where ceremonial dress was stored. This is another Wren church.

We walked round to the front of St. Paul’s Cathedral where there was a prayer point.  There is a memorial in front of St. Paul’s where Queen Victoria celebrated her diamond jubilee outside the cathedral in 1897, as she was not strong enough to mount the steps.

Next we passed St. Vedast Alias Foster Church, which is remarkable for its name.  St. Vedast is a French saint and the name was corrupted along the lines – Vaast/Faster/Foster.  This too is another Wren church.

Having passed Roman ruins and London Wall, we arrived at another prayer point in St. Alphage gardens.  St. Alphage was a former Archbishop of Canterbury, martyred by the Danes and at one time commemorated by a church here.

We then walked on to St. Giles Cripplegate, not a Wren church.

This was followed by St. Boltoph Bishopsgate Church.  St. Boltoph used to be regarded as the patron saint of travellers, though today we think more usually of St. Christopher.  Boltoph was from East Anglia – I remember St. Boltoph’s at Colchester – and he is remembered in the name of Boston (Boltoph’s town).  The church survived the Great Fire, but needed rebuilding later.  It was the work of James Gold, consecrated in 1728.  Unusually the church’s tower is at the east end.

St. Ethelburga’s Centre came next.  The exterior has been painstakingly reconstructed following its collapse in an IRA bombing in 1993 which destroyed the Honk Kong and Shanghai Bank.  It was reconstructed in 2002 and is used as a centre for peace and reconciliation dialogue and events.

We then went along to Bevis Marks synagogue, the oldest synagogue in Britain, established quite soon after Jews (expelled in 1290) were readmitted to Britain by Oliver Cromwell.  It too suffered some damage from the IRA bomb in 1993, but is now restored.

We passed the only primary school in the City of London – Sir John Cass School – and St. Boltoph’s Aldgate, pressing on to St. Olave’s Hart street.  Olave (or Olaf) was King of Norway and helped defend London in 1014 by pulling away its bridge (hence the rhyme “London Bridge is falling down”).  The church was untouched by the Great Fire.  Samuel Pepys worshipped here and the tiny graveyard is said to contain some killed by the Great Plague of 1665.

Our walk continued to the checkpoint at all Hallows by the Tower, founded in 675 AD and an arch of that original building still remains.  In 1926 a Roman pavement was discovered beneath the arch and this can be seen in the crypt.  The current church was destroyed in WWII and rebuilt in the 1940’s.

Following the route we came to St. Dunstan’s in the East Church where there was another prayer point.  This was a Wren church but was damaged during the war and turned into a garden.  Only the tower with spire was undamaged and some walls remain.

We then went to St. Margaret Pattens Church, another Wren church. The next checkpoint was St. Lawrence Jewry, the official church of the corporation of London and dates back to the 12th century.  St. Lawrence was roasted alive in 3rd centry Rome on a grid iron.  The old church was destroyed in the Great Fire of1666.  The church was one of the most expensive ever built by Wren and was completed by 1687.  It was badly damaged in WWII and not fully restored until 1957.  It is one of the largest in the area.

Finally we returned to St. Mary‑le‑Bow.

Next year the ‘Circle the City’ is on Sunday 19th May.  Why not put the date in your diary and come along with us, getting friends, relations and work-mates to sponsor you?

This year Peter and I raised a total of £455.  In attrition to the money raised on the Sponsored Walk, the envelope collection in church raised £147.59, making a total of £602.59.

Carol Ludlow.

The Posh Nosh Dinner.

It was a warm, sunny evening as Steve and I joined some other folk in the Church Hall for The Posh Nosh Dinner.

As soon as we arrived we were greeted with a glass of something welcoming from a nice selection of drinks on a white clothed table by the door.  Glasses charged we joined others in the hall and had a chance to chat with them while appreciating the lovely aromas issuing from the kitchen.

It was really nice to have some time to talk to everyone as often it seems they become Sunday morning faces as we rush pass each other with just a quick Hi or  wave and smile across the Church.

While we all chatted together the waitresses for the evening were busy selling raffle tickets to help raise much needed funds.  Gabriele showed a great aptitude as a salesperson; as she persuaded the most tightly closed purse (mine) open for a second time!

At 7.30 Father David announced that dinner was ready and we took our seats at our chosen tables.  Father David said Grace and the meal was ready to start.

The tables had been dressed with red, white and blue cloths and napkins.  In the centre of each table was a small posy of flowers.  It all looked very nice and festive.

The starters were distributed by the waitresses, melon slices fanned across the plate and dressed with a dark crimson raspberry coulis.  The starter tasted as nice as it looked.

The wine waiter offering a choice of red or white wine (there was fruit juice for those that preferred that to the wine.)

As the meal began the room became very quiet and for a while the predominant sound was the clink of spoon on plate.

The pates were cleared and replaced by the main course of chicken chasseur, potatoes and a selection of nicely cooked fresh vegetables.  This was also very tasty.

The meal was accompanied by some pleasant background music and as the evening progressed and the wine flowed, an increasing buzz of conversation and laughter.

By the time the sweet trolley arrived (and what a very impressive sweet trolley it was, I think there were at least six very tempting sweets to choose between.) the men in the group at our table had found common interest in sport and sharing a very pleasant evening with lots of stories and at times raucous laughter.  I rather expect they were sharing headaches on Sunday morning!

When the very yummy desert trolley was finally taken away it was replaced by an equally tempting display of cheese and biscuits.  We all agreed that as tempting as the selection was we were unable to eat another thing.

Before the meal ended with coffee and chocolate mints all the people that has worked so hard to make the evening such a success were called into the hall so we could all show our appreciation of them.

Penny and Nigel had worked incredibly hard; they had been helped by Father David and Sister Carol (Carol Stead) who was visiting for the weekend.  The bevies of young waitress Ellie, Elea, Gabija, Gabriele and Jessie had all worked very hard to help make the evening the success it was and all deserve a big thank you.

Father David ended the proceeding by saying that “auditions” for more cooks would be held over the coming weeks.  All volunteers should be prepared to cook dinner at the vicarage to see if they met the required standards.  I think he was joking, but ....

Sue Naylor.


On 1st July - Flowers were sponsored by Christine Fern and Christopher Harper to celebrate their birthdays on 30th June and 1st July respectively.

On 15th July the Garrett family sponsored flowers in memory of Julian.

July 2012

A Nun’s Holiday

At the Priory we get 4 weeks holiday a year, but what does a Nun do on holiday?  Primarily it is a chance to visit friends and family.  When we are away we still wear our habits and veils (although I wore my black ‘going out’ veil rather than my white ‘home’ veil).  We are also expected to say as many of the Offices as possible, with Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer and Night Prayer being compulsory.  We are given the money for our fares and a bit of spending money for while we are away, but obviously this is only for food and essentials, not for luxuries.

My first holiday was at the end of May; until I was clothed as a Novice I was not allowed to have any holiday or have family visit me, to give me time to settle into my new life.  I wondered what people’s reaction would be to me walking around London in my habit but, surprisingly, most people don’t stare and neighbours, some of whom who didn’t know where I’d moved to, didn’t seem in the least bit surprised at my new appearance.

It was good to see so many of you when I came back to Abbey Wood.  As well as visiting St Michael’s for Mass and helping at the ‘not the jubilee’ dinner, I was able to spend a couple of days at my Mum’s and also a couple of days visiting Lorraine and seeing my granddaughter, Alana.  While in Abbey Wood I called in to see everyone at Northwood School where I had worked until I joined the Priory.  The children asked lots of questions and were very interested in my new life.  Questions included what I miss most, what would happen if I found out I was pregnant, how you become the Mother and if I would like to be one.  I also went along to the Jubilate choir and again the children asked lots of questions.

On the Friday evening I had been asked to give a talk to the East Wickham Fellowship about life at the Priory.  Some of us went along to The Kitchener first for dinner and then on to

St Michael’s for the meeting.  We started with a few gathering songs and then Michael explained that I had asked for the hymns for the evening to be by John Mason Neale.  I had split my talk into 4 parts, each with a hymn between. I started by explaining how the Religious life had stopped in England at the Reformation but had been restored in the mid-19th century and how John Mason Neale had started the Society of St Margaret of which we are part. I then talked about the vows of Poverty, Chastity, Obedience and Charity which we take.  Next I explained what our daily life is like at the Priory and what we do all day.  Lastly I told them about how I had felt called to the Religious life and what made me give up my life in Abbey Wood to join the Priory.  Again the evening finished with a question and answer session, although the adults seemed much more concerned about the fact I have no other clothes, the food we eat and how a group of women manage to keep silent for long periods of time.

One thing that a lot of people commented on was how happy I look and that I have grown in confidence.

Sister Carol Elizabeth


On Sunday 3 June, over 1,000 vessels participated in a flotilla on the Thames from Battersea to Tower Bridge.  It was one of the largest flotillas ever assembled on the river, with rowed boats, working boats and pleasure vessels of all shapes and sizes beautifully dressed and turned out in their finest rigs.  David and I and several of our friends were lucky enough to be on the pleasure boat ‘Chay Blythe’ and take part in this wonderful historic occasion to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

We had to be at the assembly point, the London Eye, 1½ hours prior to boarding the ‘Chay Blythe’, but it was good to soak up the atmosphere. Red White and Blue everywhere, singing and partying and everyone enjoying the day.  We talked to fellow passengers and had coffee to help pass the time.  After boarding the ‘Chay Blythe’ we moved off to our holding point between St. Thomas’ Hospital and the Houses of Parliament. Braving the weather we ate the lovely picnic lunch provided for us and patiently awaited the flotilla and our turn to join it.

At last we saw and heard the lead barge carrying the ‘Jubilee Bells’ in full swing.  Simon Parsons had a hand in manufacturing the bells, what an honour!  This was followed by hundreds of small craft.  The flotilla’s jewel in the crown was the Royal Barge - Spirit of Chartwell - which was decorated with over 10,000 blooms, and carried The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.  By this time the heavens had opened but not enough to dampen our spirits.

Eventually it was our turn to join the flotilla on our way to Greenwich.  At Wapping the Royal Barge was moored and the Queen waved to everyone.  The London Philharmonic Orchestra and Royal College of Music Chamber Choir performed the National Anthem for The Queen, with pyrotechnic effects from Tower Bridge as its bascules closed, in the finale to the grandest event staged on the Thames for 350 years.

The ‘Chay Blythe’ turned at Greenwich and with many other boats, made its way back to the starting point, ours being Waterloo.  We were wet, cold and tired but it was still the greatest feeling to be part of such an historic and marvellous event.

Ann Carter

The Donkey

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, known by his initials, was an extremely prolific writer.  He produced around eighty books, several hundred poems, some 200 short stories, 4000 essays and several plays.  Here he puts himself in the place of the humble donkey, an animal that is often ridiculed but that was nevertheless given the honour of bearing Christ in triumph into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

When fishes flew and forests walked

And figs grew upon thorn,

Some moment when the moon was blood

Then surely I was born;


With monstrous head and sickening cry

And ears like errant wings,

The devil’s walking parody

On all four-footed things.


The tattered outlaw of the earth,

Of ancient crooked will;

Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,

I keep my secret still.


Fools! For I also had my hour;

One far fierce hour and sweet:

There was a shout about my ears,

And palms before my feet.


G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)






















Taken from the book of Best Loved Prayers and Words of Wisdom and submitted by Marjorie Gillespie


Summer Fair Thank you

Hopefully by the time you read this it will feel like summer weather!  The Fund Raising Team would like to thank everyone who supported us.  To all those of you who helped set-up, made something to sell, gave a prize, helped on a stall, helped tidy up afterwards, or turned up on the day to buy something and sample the various activities or helped in any other way, we had a very successful day and couldn’t have done it without you.  - Thank You.

Summer Fair winners

Winning draw tickets

We wish to thank everyone who supported this Draw whether by donating prizes or by buying tickets.  The draw was made at the fair held on 23rd June; the winning tickets are as follows.

At the time of writing some prizes still haven’t been claimed.  Please check your tickets.









£50:00 M&S Gift Card



Bottle of medium sherry



£25:00 M&S Gift Card



Box of chocolates



Pair of Jubilee gnomes



Bottle of Sparkling Wine



White wine and six classes



Soufflé set



Red wine and six classes



Picture frame



Tea hamper



Box of biscuits



Kitchen storage set



Bottle of Sparkling Perry



Bottle of Cava



Tin of biscuits



Bottle of wine




Lion’s favourite drink.

The winner of Giant England Glass correctly guessed that Lion’s favourite drink is - Hot Milk.

Cake raffle.

The cake was won by Marjorie Gillespie.


3rd June - Flowers were sponsored by Sheila Owen to celebrate her daughter Paula’s 40th Birthday (2nd June) and her daughter Nicola and Marc’s Wedding Anniversary (3rd June).

10th June Janet Macey sponsored flowers in memory of her father.

June 2012

How to make a Nun

Carol Stead’s Profession as a novice

The 19 April 2012 was a special day.  It was the thousandth anniversary of the martyrdom of S. Alpheage in Greenwich and it was the day in Walsingham that a new novice was professed into the Society of S. Margaret.

Carol Stead’s profession as a novice took place in the Chapel of the Priory at Walsingham at midday.  It was a simple said Mass, but the chapel was crowded with people, the priests who say mass for the community, the young people working in the shrine, Carol’s family and of course her new family the sisters of the Community.  A lot of people from the village also wanted to come, but the nuns had to stop this as there simply wouldn’t have been room.

The Mass was said by Fr. Michael, the Communities chaplain and as Carol’s former parish priest I was invited to concelebrate.

Carol had been on retreat for several days prior to the day and after the gospel came to the front of the Chapel and made her vows, which committed her to the religious life, through poverty, chastity, obedience and above all charity.  The Chaplin blessed her profession cross and then she returned to her stall and the Mass continued.  It was a simple but very moving service.

After Mass we had sherry in the Priory’s Conservatory – I can assure everyone that the Sherry was only to mark the occasion and that Mass is normally only followed by coffee.

After most of the guests had left, Carol’s family, myself and Fr. Clive Jones were invited to join the community for lunch, which again was a very un-abstemious affair to mark the occasion.

Carol was very happy and joyful throughout the day and now wears the habit of the community, with a white veil to show that she is a novice.  It was for her a wonderful and important day in her pilgrimage.

Carol will be a novice for a year or so and then take temporary and eventually final vows – I understand that the service gets slightly longer and bigger on each occasion.

The Society of S. Margaret was founded in 1854 by John Mason Neale, who also translated and wrote many of the hymns we sing in church.  It was part of the great reawakening of the life of the Church in our land and was one of the first religious communities to be founded in Britain since the Reformation.  Carols profession as a novice is a sign that that life is still continuing and indeed she tells me that recently there have been a number of women asking them about the religious life.  It is perhaps a reminder to all of us of what the Holy Spirit does both in our lives and in the Church.

Fr. David

© D A Sherratt, 2012. The Moral Rights of the author have been asserted.


In May the flowers were sponsored by:-

13th May flowers were donated by the Women’s Institute

20th May Peter Ludlow sponsored flowers in celebration of his birthday

May 2012


Carol Stead was Clothed as a Novice of The Priory of Our Lady at Walsingham on 19th April and will now be known as Sister Carol Elizabeth.

St Michaels FC

Congratulations to St. Michaels FC for reaching the final of the Bob Snow Memorial Cup Final.  They started as massive underdogs, their opponents, Sevenacres & Sidcup FC, being top of the first division having won 15 out of 15 of the league games and St. Michaels heading the second division.

It was all square at half time at 1 – 1 but unfortunately it ended 3 – 1 to Sevenacres.

Well done St. Michaels for a fantastic effort and better luck next year!.

Bar to the Silver Acorn

It is with great pleasure that we can announce that Dot Ray, Group Scout leader with our Scout group 13th Woolwich, has been awarded the bar to the Silver Acorn for her service and dedication to Scouting.

Dot joined the 13th back in 1973 when her son was a Cub Scout and the pack needed ‘extra help’.  After several weeks and joining the cub pack on the annual summer camp, Dot was ‘left to hold the baby’ when Akela never returned!  Nearly 40 years later and Dot is still at the helm of our very successful Scout Group.

After many years as Akela, Dot decided to turn her hand to running the group and became Group Scout Leader.  In 1999 she was awarded the Medal of Merit to be followed 6 years later with the Silver Acorn, awarded for outstanding service and dedication to Scouting.

So it was a huge surprise to her when she received a letter to inform her of her latest award, the bar to the Silver Acorn (the 2nd highest award for service in Scouting), but as is normal it had to be kept a secret until announced in April.  (A very hard secret to keep!)

Dot and her family attended the County presentation ceremony where she received her award.

And to recognise this huge achievement, Dot & Karen attended the Annual St George’s day service held at Windsor castle attended by Royalty and the Chief Scout.

A very well deserved award for a lady who keeps our Scout Group as successful as ever.

We send our congratulations to Dot on her award and thank her for her many years service to the 13th Woolwich.

Text Box: Christian Aid Week
13 – 19 May
Christian Aid works around the world with people in great need.
Please give as generously as you can.
Envelopes will be available in Church on Sundays 13th and 20th May.
In addition to the envelopes there will be a sponsored walk around the City churches on the afternoon of Sunday 20th May.  If you would like to take part we can supply you with the details of the walk and a sponsorship form.
We will be grateful for your support of this event by sponsoring us.
Thank you
Carol and Peter Ludlow
















Christian Aid Week

This year Christian Aid Week tells the story of change within a community in Serra Leone.  Sierra Leone is a place with vast natural resources of fertile land and mineral wealth, but in spite of this abundance, its turbulent past has left the country with deep challenges.  These challenges have meant that many people’s lives are defined by hunger, and their prospects limited by the urgency of finding enough to eat.  In a society where women and young people are widely marginalised, decision-making can be weighted against people who are naturally more vulnerable in society, and the cycle of hunger and poverty continues.

A group of three Christian Aid supporters – Mike, Peter and Llions – travelled to Gbap (pronounced Bap) in rural Sierra Leone in summer 2011.  There they saw first-hand the work of Christian Aid’s partner, the Methodist Church of sierra Leone (MCSL), who encouraged the people of Gbap to set up a village development committee.  MCSL also gave local farmers some simple tools that hugely increased the amount they could grow.  Now that the community is free to think beyond their immediate hunger, their lives have changed beyond measure.  For more details, please visit: http://www.caweek.org/

Christian Aid is to join rapid disaster response network

Britain is to establish a new rapid response network from top UK‑based businesses and charities to respond to major international crises, such as famine, floods and earthquakes, International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell recently announced.

The network, called the Rapid Response Facility, will mobilise life-saving support in the critical hours following a humanitarian disaster.  It is the first time a British Government has brought together the power of the private sector as well as NGOs in this way to take part in emergency relief.  The new facility allows organisations with extensive experience in disaster response to access funding and be mobilised in the critical first 72 hours following a disaster.

Christian Aid is one of 34 organisations which have been invited by the UK Government to join the network.  Other organisations include Guava International (Land Rover), mercy Corps of Scotland, Oxfam, medical relief experts Merlin, water purifier manufacturer Lifesaver Systems, and the information and mapping volunteer group MapAction.

Text Box: Soup Sale
The “Soup Sale” we had in church on Good Friday raised £55 for Christian Aid.
A big thank you to everyone who participated.
Sue Naylor








What will you be doing for St. Michael’s
             Summer Fair ?

It may seem a long way off at the moment, but our Summer Fair will be held on Saturday 23rd June.  This fair, together with the Christmas Fair, is one of our main fund raising events.  In recent years the stalls have been run by relatively small band of dedicated volunteers.  However, for various reasons the number of regular stall holders has been diminishing.  We need some new people to come forward with ideas for things to do and to help to support this event.

Now is the time to be considering what YOU will be doing for this years fair.

If you have some ideas for how you can help please mention them to any of the Fund Raising Team (Fr. David, Carol Ludlow, Nigel Parsons, Penny Parsons or Rosemary Warner).

These events provide an important part of our income – if we didn’t hold them it would be necessary for everyone to put about £2-00 a week extra into the collection.  Please do your bit.

APCM update.

Our Annual Parochial Church Meeting was held on Sunday 15th April.  As well as receiving various reports about the church (state of the accounts, fabric etc).  The meeting elected the following four representatives to serve on the Parochial Church Council for the next three years:-

Bill Smith, Carol Ludlow, Gabrielle Ludlow and Sheila Owen.

If you want to be involved, another group of people will be elected at next year’s APCM which will be held on 17th March 2013.   Don’t miss your chance – be there.

Holy Week at the Priory

Holy Week started with the Anglicans and Roman Catholics gathering in the grounds of the Abbey at 10.30 a.m. on Palm Sunday.  Both church’s clergy and full sets of servers arrived and we had the first part of our Palm Sunday service with the blessing of Palms.  Both congregations then processed down the High Street, stopping at the bottom to share the peace before we each went on to our own churches for the rest of the Mass.  In the evening I went back to the music and readings for Palm Sunday with the Richeldis singers, a lovely evening and great to see it so well supported with about 50 in the congregation.  As Sunday is our night for community time and an opportunity to watch a DVD together, Mother decided it would be good for us to watch Mel Gibson’s The Passion of Christ together.  This put us all in a reflective mood to start the week off.

The week started off as usual but with Jackie our new postulant joining us on Monday evening.  On Wednesday we had several visitors popping in for coffee as people started to arrive for the Chrism Mass at the Shrine where Bishop Banks, our previous parish priest was presiding.  After a lovely Mass, with standing room only, we joined the visitors and clergy for dinner in the Shrine refectory and it was good to see some people I knew and catch up with news.

After Night Prayer on Wednesday the Priory went into silence which was to last until after the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening.  Although the idea is to be silent while in the house we can speak to each other if absolutely necessary and briefly to anyone we meet outside.  During this time no bells would be rung to tell us when to go to chapel or for meal times but we seemed to manage to be in the right place at the right time most of the time.  After breakfast on Thursday my first job was to accompany Sister Francis to the market to buy the chapel flowers and fresh fruit and vegetables.  We travelled there in silence but soon had to talk when we got to the market.

On Thursday evening we all went off to St Mary’s for the Maundy Thursday service, all the services over the Triduum are held at St Mary’s with none at the Shrine or in the Priory.  The church was full and 12 people had their feet washed, I was surprised to hear that Fr Keeling, who is taking the service, (during our interregnum we have several retired priests covering our services) had never washed feet before.  At the end of the service the watch was kept before the Altar of Repose – here they were plenty of people staying so no need for a list to make sure there was always someone there.  That evening Night Prayer was at 9pm but we were all told that we could do what we wished about the Watch, most of the Sisters stayed for a short while with the older ones being taken back to the Priory by car in time for Night Prayer there, however I stayed on.  The Watch finished at 11.45 p.m. with Night Prayer.

Our chapel ceiling had been painted the previous week so we had set our conservatory up as a temporary chapel.  We had decided not to move back in to chapel until Easter morning to give us plenty of time to clean it and so Sr Francis didn’t have to set up everything in purple, then change it again.  I thought this odd to start with, losing the imagery of the purple and the drapes.  However, on Good Friday the bareness of the conservatory with the now uncovered table we had been using as an altar and open Tabernacle (a portable one which had been brought into the conservatory) added to the mood of the day.

I always thought that Good Friday at St Michael’s was busy but it was nothing compared to mine at the Priory.  After our morning Offices, starting at 7 a.m. as usual, we sat down to a breakfast of 1 slice of dry bread and a cup of tea.  After that I just had time for ½ hour prayer in chapel before going down to the shrine to help the Mothers Union with activities for local children, unfortunately no local children turned up and we stood around discussing what we could do next year to encourage children, then just as we were about to give up, in wondered some families who were visiting the Shrine, they came in to do some crafts.  I then rushed back in time for Midday Office and straight back out again for the Stations of the Cross around the Shrine grounds.  About 80 people walked these, a mixture of visitors and locals; they were led by Bishop Lindsay and were very moving.  At the end we were led back to the shrine church where we venerated the relic of the True Cross; a new experience for me.

Arriving back at the Priory we had 10 minutes to grab a Hot Cross bun (home made by Sr Francis) and coffee.  We then headed back to St Mary’s for the Good Friday Liturgy at 3pm.  By this time the emotion of the day had caught up with me so I spent some quiet time in church before returning to the Priory at 5 p.m.  I had planned to go back to St Mary’s for Maria Desolata (Mary’s way of the Cross) at 5.30 p.m. but decided that it was too much for one day and I was better off spending some quiet time by myself.  Supper was served at 6pm and was a bowl of porridge, and then Night Prayer followed at 7 p.m. and an early night.

Saturday morning seemed strange, as I’m used to spending it changing candles, cleaning brass, changing altar frontals and generally setting up for St Michael’s Easter Vigil.  For us it was to be a quiet day, still in silence, although I had been asked to cook the dinner so spent the morning in the kitchen and being a Saturday I was also on Tea duty.  The student Cross groups had also arrived at the Shrine, they are groups of people (who mainly seemed to be families) who had walked from various parts of the country arriving in Walsingham for their Easter celebrations but this meant the Shrine was now full of families with children running around who’s laughter we could hear from various parts of our house and meant that to stay quiet we really needed to stay in the house; the shrine and village now being busy.

Our Easter Vigil at St Mary’s started at 8.30 p.m. and was much the same as the one at St Michael’s but without the party poppers and sparklers but we did however have our own ‘Max’ moment when the organist came in at the wrong time and had to be shouted at to stop! Fr Keeling again took the service, being the only one of the retired priests fit enough to climb up to their enormous font to dip the Pascal candles in it.  Arriving back at the Priory at 10.20 p.m. we could now talk again and so we had a celebration drink; coffee, Horlicks, or sherry before retiring to bed at 11 p.m.

Easter morning we had a lay in and started our Morning Prayer at 7.30 a.m. before a breakfast of grapefruit and croissants.  We all had a chocolate Easter bunny and some mini eggs waiting for us in our places and our guest, Sr Heidi, had brought a helium balloon which made a table centre piece.  After laying the table for 19, it was time to go back to St Mary’s for Mass, returning in time to welcome our guests for dinner.  At 4.30 p.m., guests having been fed and now departed, we went down to the Shrine for Maria Consolata; a lovely service of Evening Prayer and Benediction followed by the blessing of Daffodils which were distributed.  We were told that cut flowers are a reminder that they, and we, are now beautiful but if we cut ourselves off from God, just as they are cut off from the plant, we shall also wither and die just as they do.  The service ended with a procession into the Holy House and the crowning of Our Lady.  The day finished with Compline and an early night.

Sister Carol Elizabeth

Flowers in church

There were no flowers in church during Lent.

On Easter Sunday the family of Kay Maddox sponsored flowers in her memory.

On 15th April Michael Edwards sponsored flowers in memory of his mother, Gwyneth.

The Easter lillies were sponsored in memory of loved ones by :-

Shelia Owen, Irene Brown, Anne Veitch, Christine Fern, Bill and Gwen Smith, Ann Carter, Barbara Callaghan, Carol Ludlow, Phyllis Lewis, Susan Harper, Crimilda Jarrett, Gladys Williams, Penny and Nigel Parsons, Adela Johnson, Ros Turner, Lydia Barber, and Mary Robson.

On 8th by Norma Simpson.

April 2012


Thank you for all your prayers; the Sisters of The Priory of Our Lady at Walsingham voted to accept me as a Novice. I will be clothed as a Novice during the Mass on 19th April and will then be known as Sister Carol Elizabeth.

Carol Stead

Christian Aid responds to worsening Sahel hunger crisis

Now seven million people across five West African countries are facing the spectre of famine within months.  Thousands are already on the march, looking for secure food sources.  Niger, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania have declared states of emergency and are calling for international assistance.

In response to this, Christian Aid is preparing to focus on those living in the stricken Sahel region.  The Sahel is the belt of land just south of the Sahara, about 1000 kilometres wide, and stretching right across the continent, spanning several countries.  It is one of the poorest and most environmentally damaged places on earth.

The Sahel includes drought-smitten Mali, which lost 11.8% of total cereal output between 2010 – 2011; Burkina, where an estimated 41.47% of the country will face severe food insecurity, and Niger, where the government fears that more than half of the nation’s villages are now running out of basic food, and that more than 5 million people are food insecure.  Christian Aid is working with other UK agencies through the Sahel Working Group (SWG).

Palm Sunday:  Jesus at the gates of Jerusalem

Holy week begins with Palm Sunday, when the Church remembers how Jesus arrived at the gates of Jerusalem just a few days before the Passover was due to be held.  He was the Messiah come to his own people in their capital city, and yet he came in humility, riding on a young donkey, not in triumph, riding on a warhorse.

As Jesus entered the city, the crowds gave him a rapturous welcome, throwing palm fronds into his path.  They knew his reputation as a healer, and welcomed him.  But sadly the welcome was short lived and shallow, for Jerusalem would soon reject her Messiah, and put him to death.  On this day churches worldwide distribute little crosses made of palm fronds in memory of Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem.

Children are missing ‘the great outdoors’

The ‘cotton wool’ health and safety culture is robbing our children of the traditional pleasures of playing outside, of making dens and climbing trees.  Only a fifth of children now regularly play in the open air near their homes, compared with 71 per cent of their parents’ generation.  One in three children has never built a den, or even climbed a tree.  And a staggering one in ten has never even been allowed to ride a bike.

Now the Play England campaign is trying to encourage parents and volunteers to organise some outdoor activities for their local children, such as street parties, holiday play schemes and adventure playgrounds.  As one child expert explains: “Play is essential for children’s health and happiness and also for making friends.”

GWEN BAILEY   1924 - 2012

It is with great sadness that we tell of the passing of Gwen.  Gwen was originally a member of St. Mark and St. Margaret’s Church on Plumstead Common where she lived and also after she moved to Chislehurst.   She became a member of St. Michael and All Angels at the onset of the ordination of women.  Gwen and her daughter, Mary, travelled from Chislehurst to St. Michael’s most Sundays.

Gwen’s health had not been good for the last few years and she died peacefully in hospital on 14th February.

A Requiem Mass was held in St. Michael’s on 7th March.  About 50 of her friends and relations attended the mass at which her favourite hymns and music were played.

Some members of our church got to know Gwen when she joined us on holidays to the Greek Islands which Fr. Martyn Neale used to arrange for the Green Chain parishes.  Gwen will be greatly missed.

Marjorie Gillespie

Quiz Night

Thank you to everyone who supported the Quiz Night on March 10th   We had a record number of 9 tables and the result was very close with just 1 point separating 1st and 2nd place.

An amazing £291

Lent at the Priory

It didn’t seem long after all the rush of Christmas that we were starting to think about Lent.  For us Ash Wednesday is a day in which we spend in silence.  We got up as usual and were in chapel by 7 am for the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer; this was followed as usual by a silent breakfast, however today our breakfast was to be one slice of dry bread only and a cup of tea.  We then went off in silence to do any jobs we needed to go before Mass which included Ashing.  We then had our usual coffee in silence and the day carried on as usual but without any talking.  For dinner we had only macaroni cheese with no vegetables or anything and for supper porridge.  In the evening I was able to go along to St Mary’s, the parish church, for their sung Mass.

For the rest of lent, we don’t do much in the way of giving things up; there are no sweets and biscuits are plain.  Friday’s supper is eaten in silence but apart from that everything carries on as usual until Holy week.  However, we do join in with the village for their Lenten activities.  For four Wednesday evenings, Lent Lectures are held at the Shrine, this year each week has been led by a different priest each looking at one of the Gospels.  They have been really interesting and we get about 60 – 70 people each week from all the different churches in Walsingham.  Each Friday lunch time lent lunches are held in the parish hall; these are just a bowl of soup and one Sister goes along each week.  Then on Friday evenings the Stations of the Cross are held in a different church each week, so the first week we went to the RC church, the 2nd to St Mary’s, and later to St Peter’s (Great Walsingham parish church), the Methodist church, the RC Shrine and the Anglican Shrine.  Again there were about 60- 70 people each week and it is interesting going round all the different churches.

In the Priory some of us also doing a lent book together; Mother Teresa is doing one with the ladies from the Mothers Union, while Sr Caroline, Jackie (a lady who will be joining us as a Postulant soon) and I are using the same book and meeting once a week to discuss it.  After Vespers on the Wednesday of Holy Week the house will then fall into silence again until after the Easter Vigil on the Saturday evening.

The Shrine accommodation has now reopened and pilgrims are starting to return, although the season doesn’t start until after Easter when all the services will restart.  There have been several different groups in, starting with the Partnership weekend, then the Priest and Deacon retreat and then the children’s pilgrimage.  This is for the 7 to 11 year olds and they stay in the shrine accommodation.

The children arrived on the Friday evening and after we had been to the Stations of the Cross we joined them for the opening ceremony.  This year’s theme was Going for Gold, run the race for Glory.  The evening started off with an Olympic torch being brought into the Shrine church and a beacon lit.  This torch was then given to the Angel Gabriel as the light of the World, who then passed it to Mary.  The children were all then led in procession around the Shrine grounds by Mary while one of the Year for God young people did flame throwing.

The next morning I walked down to the RC shrine where the children were gathering.  The torch was then passed from Mary to Lady Richeldis when she had the vision telling her to build the Holy House at Walsingham.  Lady Richeldis led the children in walking the Holy Mile which many of them did bare feet back to the Anglican Shrine.  They talked and collected answers to clues which had been left along the route until we came to the village where we were told to make as much noise as possible so the villagers knew we had arrived.  Once we got to the Brandy Gate everyone fell into silence and we entered the shrine for Benediction.

During the afternoon there were bouncy castles and crafts which I had been asked to help with.  That evening Sr Caroline and I joined them for the disco, well up until 8.40pm when we had to be back for Night Prayer.

Sunday morning 3 of us joined them for the children’s Mass at the Shrine and after dinner I returned for their sprinkling and last visit.  I had been told this would be slightly different and it certainly was; the Year for God young people came in dressed in their swimming stuff and did a demonstration of Synchronized Sprinkling, first lifting one of the girls to demonstrate the spring rising up, then forming a circle to make the well, ‘sprinkling’ the children with water pistols and finally demonstrating how we receive the water at sprinkling by drinking, making the sign of the cross on our foreheads and then the water passing through our hands.  After this the children all took part in the sprinkling and then finished with a Last Visit when they were encouraged to receive the light, run the race and pass it on and were all given a medal to take home.

I have also now given talks about religious life to 2 groups of 6th form students who have visited the Shrine and we are starting to prepare for my clothing as a Novice on 19th April.


March 2012

Make way for Mum

It’s possible to make a few specific forecasts about Sunday March 18th.  The most certain is that all over Britain mothers will receive cards, the best ones being home-made with crayons or felt-tip pens and featuring hearts and smiley faces.  There may well be presents, too, carefully if clumsily packaged and containing one or more of the following: chocolate (in various forms), cosmetics, handkerchiefs or funny aprons.

From a more senior source (if the recipient is lucky) might come some flowers, a book, some half-decent perfume, or a subscription to a fashion magazine.  If, however, he’s got it wrong (as he usually does) she might find herself with a toaster, a new iron or even a season ticket for the local football club.  It’s Mothers’ Day!

Of course, as far as the Church is concerned it’s nothing of the kind.  It’s ‘Mothering Sunday’, which sounds quite menacing, really – too near ‘smother’ for comfort.  Yet it did all start in church long ago, with a Lesson for the fourth Sunday of Lent which included the phrase ‘Jerusalem which is above, the mother of us all’ and a tradition of welcoming apprentices home halfway through the Lenten fast, bearing in simnel cakes for their mothers.

But then the greeting card industry got interested, the occasion spread to America and bingo – it was suddenly big business.  Of course it’s more than that.  It’s also a very welcome opportunity to recognise that mothers tend to play a rather big role in everyone’s life and to say ‘thanks’ to them.  On the whole, Mothering Sunday / Mothers’ Day is definitely a ‘good thing’.

Commonwealth Day - 12 March

On 12th March about two billion people from every continent, faith and ethnicity, will remember that they are ‘related’ to each other:  it is Commonwealth Day.  Every year, on the second Monday in March, the existence of the vast, diverse global family of 54 countries is celebrated.  This year a special service will be held at Westminster Abbey, attended by Her Majesty The Queen, the Prime Minister, High Commissioners, up to 200 other VIPs, and more than 1,000 school children.

2012 is a special year for the Observance, as it will also kick off the Commonwealth celebrations for Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee.  As UK Monarch, she has been Head of the Commonwealth for 60 years.

Church Mouse

Over the last few months I have started to get rather plump on all the crumbs and bits that are left around the church due to the cleaning not being done so regularly.  This got me thinking about our role in the church.

If we ask ourselves ‘What is the church?’ most people will come up with the idea that the church is an entity or institution that is external to us.  But if we ask ‘Who am I?’ or ‘Who are we?’ we begin to see ourselves as living stones that make up the church.

There are several images of the church in the bible.  One of the favourite descriptions of the church is as a temple constructed of living stones.  Each of us has an integral function in the church, we are all absolutely essential, whether it is a little slate up on the roof keeping the rain out or as a great big foundation stone down deep below not seen above the surface but keeping the whole thing up.  Or we may be like so many, a kind of flying buttress on the outside.  Whatever our function, we have an integral, essential role in the whole structure, and the whole structure is giving glory to God.  This image, however, does have a disadvantage of being a static concept; whether you are a flying buttress or a great foundation stone down below, you are just there and that is it !

There are other images of the church; St Paul likens it to the living body with Christ as its head and for St John it is a living vine with us as branches and Christ as the roots.  If we think of these images it is something constantly growing, developing and changing, but always drawing strength and direction from the true vine, from the head of the body, Jesus.  In these images all of us must accept our responsibility; we all have our own responsibility in the church to make it grow.  There must be constant interaction between members of the Body of the church because it is all the members of the body of Christ who create it and make it.

If we think of the church as a vine, we will see that it usually has a few big, strong established branches; those people who do a lot of things in church; the organist, the Sacristan, the church warden.  Then there are the smaller branches; those who may turn up once a month to do the coffee, or the cleaning.  There are even smaller twig; those who may do things on a very occasional basic, maybe at Christmas or the twice a year at the fairs and then there are lots of buds, just lying dormant and not yet sprung into life.  Sometimes a vine will be pruned to get rid of the old, dead wood and to make room for smaller branches to grow and for the new young buds to burst into growth.  It is just the same in a church; the people who do lots of things may die or move away or grow too old to be able to carry on doing the same old things.  Then we need to help those that are the twigs or buds to burst into life otherwise the vine will wither.

Take a bit of time to think; are you a small twig waiting to grow or even a bud waiting to burst into life, are you leaving everything to other people so that it becomes a vine with just a few old established branches.  The church needs all sorts of people to make it work and we all have a place in it, doing our own bit.  Don’t be a bud, just sitting there letting everyone else do everything but spring into life and take your part in your church.  I know there are a few things in church just waiting for someone to do; for a start we need more people on the cleaning rota, this is just 1 hour a month.  The fundraising committee have also lost a couple of members recently who have moved away and need people who can help with all sorts of things from helping in the kitchen at the parish meals (especially setting up tables and washing up afterwards) and those who can help with the fairs, be it delivering leaflets, running a stall or putting up gazebos and bunting on the day.  What about using your writing skills and writing something for the parish magazine and web site? (don’t leave it all to a mouse).  Don’t just sit there waiting for someone to ask you, if you don’t know what you can do to help the church function then speak to Fr. David or someone on the PCC.


There were no flowers sponsored in February.

If you would like to sponsor flowers the cost is £15 per stand.  This price has been held for a number of years.  Perhaps you could share a stand with a friend!

Please see Marjorie Gillespie.

February 2012


On an October Thursday I had a privilege that I never imagined I would have as a Priest – driving someone from my Parish to test their vocation with a religious community.  The parishioner who was of course Carol stead, who is well known to many of us who read this magazine and who is now testing that vocation as a postulant with the community of S. Margaret in Walsingham, Norfolk.

Our journey there was marked by the discovery that none of the supermarkets in Suffolk or Norfolk sold towels.  I had forgotten to pack one for my night in the College; finally I emerged carrying several tea towels in the hope that they would dry me after my morning shower. (In fact when I got to my room – I found a full set of towels neatly laid out for me!).

When we reached Walsingham, I took Carol to the Priory, where we were warmly welcomed by the sisters and I was given tea.

The next morning I attended the sisters’ Mass, at which Carol was to be admitted to the community.  Carol was sitting at the back of the chapel wearing a simple white veil.  In the middle of the Mass the celebrant, Fr Stephen Gallagher invited her to the front of the chapel, where after some simple questions as to whether she wanted to test her vocation and a prayer and blessing, Carol was taken to her stall with the other sisters in the choir.  She was now a member of the Community as a Postulant.  The Chapel was full and included the guests who were staying at the Priory, some of the Youth team who are working for a year at the Shrine and even a retired Bishop.

After Mass we were all entertained to coffee in the Priory Common room.  There is normally Coffee after the Sisters’ Mass – but I think they put out some extra nice biscuits to mark the occasion.

I think Carol had a few butterflies – but seemed very happy and contented.

Fr David      © D A Sherratt, 2011.  The moral Rights of the author have been asserted.

Christmas Fair winners

Winning draw tickets

We wish to thank everyone who supported this Draw whether by donating prizes or by buying tickets.  The draw was made at the fair held on 26th November; the winning tickets are as follows.









Luxury hamper



Tin of biscuits






Tin of Roses



Small hamper



Tub of ‘Celebration’ sweets



Champagne & glasses



Box of biscuits



Red wine & glasses



Box of chocolate biscuits



Gent’s ‘pamper hamper’



Christmas crackers



Ladies ‘pamper hamper’



Box of biscuits

Lion’s favourite car game.

Lion’s favourite car was a Rolls Royce Phantom.

Caribbean Christmas cake.

The cake was won by ticket number 25.

Treasure hunt game.

The treasure hunt was won by Gabriele

Christmas Fair Thank you

By the time you read this the Christmas Fair (held on the 26th November 2011) will be but a distant memory.  We had a good day and the The Fund Raising Team would like to extend a huge Thank You to everyone who supported us.  Whether you helped set-up, made something to sell, gave a prize, helped on a stall, helped tidy up afterwards, or turned up on the day to buy something and sample the various activities or helped in any other way, we had a very successful day and couldn’t have done it without you. 

Once again Thank You.

Christmas at the Priory

I hope everyone at St. Michael’s had a good Christmas and thank you to those who sent me cards.  Christmas here at the Priory was different in many ways.  At the beginning of advent the only signs of Christmas coming were the change to purple in the chapel and the start of advent Carol services; all the brightly coloured lights and colourful shop window displays you see in London were absent from Walsingham so that unless you went into one of the churches you could almost miss that it was nearly Christmas.  Of course, for us there was no rushing around shops doing all the Christmas shopping.

I attended 4 Carol Services in Advent; the first at St Mary’s Walsingham (Walsingham’s parish church) led by the Richeldis singers, who sang their carols unaccompanied.  The next was at the Roman Catholic Shrine, this was an ecumenical service with readers from the RC and Anglican Shrines and parish churches, the Methodist church, RC religious and one of our Sisters and Bishop Lindsay.  Both Sr Caroline and I were amazed to see they had votive candles on walls which must have been 12 foot high and wondered how they lit them!  After the service they had mulled wine and mince pies and it was a good opportunity for us to meet people from other churches.

We were then invited to the staff Carol service at the Shrine followed by Christmas dinner.  This was the first time they had held a Carol Service for the staff and it went really well, with someone from each department doing the readings.  The last service was as St Giles, which is one of the other local parish churches.  It is a tiny church and was packed for a lovely service, although I must admit I was rather distracted by the ladybird that spent the service crawling up and down the end of the pew in front of me.

Om Christmas Eve, Jackie, an Aspirant staying with us, and I were sent out to pick some holly and ivy to decorate the priory (no brightly coloured artificial decorations for us).  We then put up Christmas trees in our common room and the conservatory, while Mother Teresa set up a small crib in the entrance to the Priory and Sr Francis put a large one under the Altar in chapel.  In the afternoon everyone went off to the crib service at the Shrine, unfortunately I was sick just before vespers so missed it but I’m told it was really good and they even had a real baby as Jesus.  Our Midnight Mass was ay 9pm and I had recovered enough to go to it.  It was a very quiet, said Mass with 5 Carols which I played on the organ – very different from the big sung Mass I am used to at St Michael’s.  Several people from the village joined us for the service and afterwards we stayed up and had a drink with them.

On Christmas morning, after Morning Prayer (all the Offices still have to be said, even on Christmas day) we all went off to Mass at St Mary’s and were back in time to welcome our dinner guests; 6 ladies who would otherwise have been alone for the day.  It was a traditional Christmas dinner with turkey and Christmas pudding, and we even had crackers.  After watching the Queen’s speech the guests went home which gave us time to clear up before vespers.  That evening, and for the rest of the week, we had a Night Prayer at 7pm (instead of 8.45pm) then could watch a DVD (or have an early night).

On Boxing Day it was back to St Mary’s for another full sung Mass for St Stephen’s day.  After dinner we finally got to open the presents which people had sent to us all – mainly biscuits and chocolates.  We also each got a small ‘stocking’ from Mother (some chocolates, a flannel and a notepad and pen).  Any presents we had received from friends and family we opened privately (personal things like toiletries, chocolates, writing paper and stamps).

For New Year’s Eve it was an early night for all of us, only to be woken up at midnight by fireworks.  The next day I picked up 12 rockets from outside the Priory, it looked like someone had ben firing at us.  As New year’s Day was a Sunday, we were back at St Mary’s for Mass for the feast of Mary, Mother of God.  This time with all three Bishops currently living in Walsingham; Bp Banks, Bp Lindsay, and Bp John.  Later that week we had a dinner for the priests who help us during the year and their wives and the 3 bishops (22 in total!).  We also had tea for the Roman Catholic Religious who live in Walsingham, which I found very interesting; none of them wear Habits and several of them live by themselves rather than in a community.

Chritmas at the Priory was certainly different from being in Abbey Wood.  It was much more relaxing, with time to take in what Christmas is really all about without getting caught up with all the commercial side.  I didn’t miss this at all but did miss my friends in Abbey Wood and all the preparations at St Michael’s; putting all new candles in the candle sticks, changing the Altar frontals, making sure all the brass was clean and shiny ready for the big day.  I also misses the Crib service and serving at the Midmoghjt Mass but loved the quiet Midnight Mass in our chapel and the Masses at St Mary’s

Carol Stead

A visit to Buckingham Palace

By Michael Macey M.B.E.

Several months after the announcement of my M.B.E. in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, a letter from the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood dropped onto our doormat with our invitation to Buckingham Palace.  This was scheduled to be on Friday 18th November and so we hastily organised suitable attire – a new outfit for Janet and morning dress for myself, and made preparations for our exciting visit!

On what proved to be a delightfully mild and sunny November day, we caught the 6.4am train from Welling to Charing Cross, to ensure that we “got a seat”.  After a short walk up the strand, we sank into the very comfortable arm chairs of the Savoy Hotel, enjoying a first class continental breakfast, served impeccably by the very friendly and helpful staff.  We were off to a great start!

Thence followed a stroll up the strand, through Admiralty Arch and along the Mall to the gates of Buckingham Palace, where we had to report by 10am.  After a brief security check, recipients and their guests went in through the courtyard and main entrance to a reception area where resplendent Life-Guards were sanding.  At the appointed hour recipients and their guests were ushered up the grand staircase – guests straight into the Ballroom and recipients into the Picture Gallery.

The proceedings were explained to each group and then Prince Charles entered the Ballroom attended by two Gurkha Officers, a tradition begun in 1876 by Queen Victoria.  On duty on the dais are five members of the Queen’s Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard, which was created in 1485 by King Henry VII after his victory at the Battle of Bosworth Field.  Throughout the occasion the Bands of the Household Division provided a wide variety of music.

After the playing of the National Anthem, the Prince commenced investing recipients into the Order, firstly two Knights and one Dame, followed by Military and Civil Division Commanders, Officers and Members.  All was carried out in a friendly, yet dignified manner and I found it easy to talk to Prince Charles, who was most interested in my organist & choirmaster role, also the East Wickham Singers visits to sing at St. David’s and other cathedrals.  He also encouraged me to inspire more potential organists for the future!  After the investiture, we went out into the Quadrangle for official and our own personal photographs.

The Rubens Hotel was the venue for our celebratory lunch, which we greatly enjoyed.  We toasted just about everything, then popped into the Buckingham Palace Shop for a few mementoes for the children, walking back via the Mall to Charing Cross.  It had been a wonderful day and we rounded it off back at church with the East Wickham Christmas Fellowship, with further photos etc!  All very good fun and indeed something to remember for a very long time.

Church Mouse

Well, Christmas is over for another year; the Christmas tree and Crib have been put away and forgotten until next December. I always enjoy all the services at St Michael’s and it was good to have them all in the warm this year. It was so nice to have the WI here for their Carol Service and as always I love the Crib service on Christmas Eve with all the children finding the ‘lost crib figures’ and putting them in the crib (including an elephant and tiger who joined them this year).  Then later that night the wonderful Midnight Mass, a good way to start off your Christmas before the reason why we celebrate it gets lost amongst all in the food and presents.

 Now we are into what the church calls ‘ordinary time’. The church year is divided into liturgical seasons. In Advent we are with Jesus through paying particular attention to his Second Coming as well as to the preparations for his first coming – his nativity. In Lent we accompany Jesus during his forty-day fast and his journey to the cross, and during Eastertide we join in the celebrating of the resurrection and the gift of the Spirit.

If the seasons are special and particular times of being with Christ, then, how are we to think of ordinary time? In one sense ordinary time fills in the gap between the liturgical seasons. However, it is charged with meaning too.  While God entered into our time through the birth of his Son and through Jesus’ death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the effects of these great events spill over into every minute and every hour of every day. He is with us in the ordinary things of everyday. He calls each one of us to share each moment of our lives with him.  He doesn’t just want our times of prayer, the times we may choose to ‘put aside’ for him. He wants every moment.  For the disciples, following Jesus was not just about praying with him and listening to his teaching: it was about sharing the mundane, necessary aspects of his human life. We often read about him sitting down to eat with his friends, sharing a meal with them.  He doesn’t want us just to come to church on a Sunday when it is our turn to do the coffee, we are on sidesmen’s duty or when we are serving or singing in the choir; he wants all our time, not only the special times but also the ordinary times.


In January Flowers were sponsored as follows:

On 8th by Norma Simpson.

On 15th by Mary Robson in memory of her husband.  Also
on 15th by Christine Fern in memory of her mother who died on 17th January 1981.

On 22nd by Adela Johnson in memory of her late beloved husband Samuel Robert Johnson, who died on 17th January 1977. Also
on 22nd January by Sue Naylor in memory of her mum and dad, Kate and George Naylor, who would have celebrated their 68th Wedding Anniversary on January 24th.

Sheila Owen sponsored flowers on 14th August in memory of Pam Webb who died on 3rd August.

December 2011

Church Mouse

Although I have had a break from writing in the last couple of magazines, I have still been in church, watching what has been going on. I managed to creep into the harvest supper unseen and saw what a good evening it was; there can’t be many places where you get a four course meal plus good company for only £7. The next day it was nice to see so many including the young people from the Scout group at the Harvest festival service and then on the Thursday I was delighted to see the church so full of flowers and people for the funeral of Mary Macey.

Every now and then Father David will do a healing liturgy after the Sunday morning Mass. This is following Jesus’ teaching: "Any one of you who is ill should send for the elders of the church, and they must anoint the sick person with oil in the name of the Lord and pray over him. The prayer of faith will save the sick person and the Lord will raise him up again; and if he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven." (James 5:14-15). Mark also refers to the sacrament when he recounts how Jesus sent out the twelve disciples to preach, and "they cast out many devils, and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them" (Mark 6:13).

But does God still heal today? Today some Christians go to extremes in their expectation of divine healing. On one hand, some say that if a Christian is not healed of all his diseases, this reflects his lack of faith. Others claim that divine healings were only for the apostolic age, when all diseases were healed instantly and automatically. Both extremes are wrong.

God does not always heal the physical infirmities that afflict us.  Paul preached to the Galatians while he was afflicted by a "bodily ailment" (Gal. 4:13– 14). He also mentions that he had to leave his companion Trophimus in the town of Miletus because he was too sick to travel (2 Tim. 4:20).  In his first letter to Timothy, Paul urges Timothy to "give up drinking only water and have a little wine for the sake of your digestion and the frequent bouts of illness that you have" (1 Tim. 5:23).

The last passage is especially informative. Not only does it reveal that illnesses were not always healed in the apostolic age, but it also shows an apostle’s practical advice to a fellow Christian on how to deal with an illness.  Notice that Paul does not tell Timothy to pray harder and have more faith that God will heal him from his stomach ailment. Rather, he tells him how to manage the illness through medicinal means.

Some argue that healings were always instantaneous and were only for those living during the apostolic age, but that afterward the gift of healing disappeared.  The problem with that theory is that the Bible tells us otherwise.  For example, when Jesus healed the blind man at Bethsaida, he laid his hands upon him twice before the man was fully healed (Mark 8:22–26).

Finally, we have the command of the New Testament in James 5:14–15, quoted earlier.  This command is never revoked anywhere in the Bible, and there are no statements anywhere that God will cease to heal. Thus the command is in effect to this very day.

Of course, our healing, like all things, is subject to God’s will.  As James pointed out just a chapter earlier, "You never know what will happen tomorrow: you are no more than a mist that appears for a little while and then disappears.  Instead of this, you should say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we shall be alive to do this or that’" (James. 4:14–15). We have a promise of healing, but not an unqualified one.  It is conditional on the will of God.

During the service the Priest will first lay hands on anyone who wishes.  Here he prays over them and you can have this done either for yourself or on behalf of someone else.  Then he invites anyone who wishes to come forward and be anointed with the oil of Healing, this can only be done for yourself but can be for physical, spiritual or mental healing. Anointing of the Sick is one of the seven Sacraments recognized by the Church (the others being: Baptism, Reconciliation, Eucharist, Confirmation, Matrimony, Holy Orders), and so only ordained priests can administer it.  The oil used during the Sacrament is olive oil and is one of the three oils which are blessed each year at the Chrism Mass during Holy week by the Bishop and then brought back to the parish.

During the service the priest anoints the sick person's forehead with oil in the form of a cross, saying: "Through this holy anointing, may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit." He then anoints the hands, saying, "May the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up."

At St Michael’s we have healing services 3 or 4 times a year after the Sunday morning Mass, however, if you wish to be anointed at any other time Fr David is always happy to do it for you.

October 2011

Assumptiontide at Walsingham

When I arrived at the Priory of Our Lady, Walsingham, on Wednesday for a three week stay everyone kept asking if I had been there for the Assumptiontide celebrations before, I had not.

On the Saturday afternoon Mother Teresa, Sisters Caroline Jane and Christina, another lady, Janine who is discerning her vocation, and I made our way down to the Parish church.  When we arrived the floor had been scattered with herbs which made a wonderful smell as you walked on them and a statue of St Teresa of Avila had been placed on the Altar.  We had come to listen to the Assumptiontide Lecture.  This year, being a double celebration for the church of both the 950th Anniversary of the Vision of Our Lady to Richeldis and also the 50th Anniversary of the fire which destroyed the church, Fr Banks had decided, back in the autumn, not to get anyone in from outside; no Bishops or anyone important in to do the Lecture as is normal, but to do the Lecture himself.  However, at that time he had no idea that God would have different plans and that he himself would now be Bishop of Richborough.  The lecture was very interesting and was all about St Teresa of Avila.

Later in the evening we again set off for the Parish church.  This time it was full, with some people having to stand.  This was for an ecumenical service with a candle lit procession of Our Lady, stopping at three places.  This year we were lucky to have all three of the flying Bishops, plus Bishop Lyndsay with us.  The first station was at St Mary’s, the Parish church, the 2nd at the RC church and the 3rd in the grounds of the Anglican Shrine.  Each had the theme of a different mystery of the Rosary.  We started with the Annunciation at the 1st station; having a reading, then a short homily followed by a decade of the Rosary.  Our candles were then lit and we processed in a great long candlelit procession with the statue of Our Lady, to the RC church singing while we went.  The format was the same at all three stations with the Mystery of the Wedding of Cana at the RC church and the Assumption of Mary in the Shrine grounds, here Sister Caroline Jane had been asked to lead the Rosary.  After the blessing, given by Bishop Lyndsay, Bishop Banks and the RC priest there was a wonderful fireworks display.

Sunday Morning and it was back to a full St Mary’s for Parish Mass.  Today we were lucky enough to have 4 Bishops again; the three flying Bishops and Bishop Martin Warner.  At the end of Mass, the Altar party processed around the church with the statue of Our Lady, unfortunately the congregation could not join in as there were so many of us it would have caused chaos.  The floor of the church was still covered in the herbs, so over coffee we asked Bishop Banks why, he explained that it is something they do on the continent a lot to give a sweet smell as you process with Our Lady, just as rose petals are put on the ground at Chorus Christi.  It was lucky that we had asked as a member of the congregation came to ask us the same thing, obviously thinking that Sisters would know that sort of thing.

I will be staying in Walsingham until the end of August when I will return to Abbey Wood and expect to the joining the Sisters as a Postulant, God willing, soon after the harvest festival.

Carol Stead

Walsingham Youth Pilgrimage - click here for report

Lest We Forget – (Part 8)

So far my previous articles have been about men who fought in World War One but four of the men on our war memorial in church lost their lives in World War Two.  Oddly enough it has actually been harder to find out the details of what these men were doing and where they were despite the fact that it was only sixty eight years ago that they died.  All four of them died in 1943.

George Charles Bellman was the son of George and Winifred Rose Bellman who lived in Abbey Wood.  He was in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and was a Flying Officer. Bomber Command was based in Norfolk at the time of George’s death and he was flying as a navigator in a Short Stirling Mk I or III in 218 (Gold Coast) Squadron. He died on the 3rd February 1943 and he was 20 years old. Pilot PC Astrosky and Air gunner JT Bostock died on the same day with him and they are all remembered at the Runnymede Memorial.  The view from the memorial is wonderful but don’t climb the hill to it as I did unless you are feeling very healthy … use the road.

Harry Eric Johnson was the son of Harry Edward and Muriel Johnson of Abbey Wood.  He was a Sick Berth Attendant in the Royal Navy and was serving on the H.M.S. Harvester on the 11th March 1943.  The Harvester was on convoy duty when she spotted U444, she used her depth charges and then rammed the U-boat causing major damage to her and the U-boat.  She still rescued survivors from merchant ships that had been destroyed by the U-boat despite the damage but when the propeller shaft broke she was a sitting duck for U432 who put two torpedoes in her.  The Harvester broke into two sections and sunk loosing 146 lives.  The navy stopped ramming U-boats as a result of what happen to the Harvester. Harry was 19 years old when he died and he is remembered on the Chatham Naval Memorial.

Charles Eric Cockayne was the son of George and Florence May Cockayne of Abbey Wood. He was a Private in the Royal Army Medical Corps. He died on the 13th September 1943 aged 25 and is remembered on the Brookwood Memorial.  Other than those basic details I have no more information on Charles at the moment.

The last of our four WWII men is Dennis Moseley William Whines, son of Joseph Robert William and Eleanor Annie Whines. He was in the 9th Bn. Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment).  He is the only one of our four that has a grave and he is in the Naples War Cemetery with 1202 others, most of whom died in the military hospitals in the area.  The war in Italy started on the 3rd September 1943 on the Italian mainland.  Italy had made peace with the Allies then rejoined the war on the Allies side.  The Germans who occupied Italy put up vigorous opposition and many lives were lost trying to take Italy including that of Dennis on the 5th December 1943.  He was 23 years old.

If you know any of the names on our War Memorial in church or have any other comments on this article or the others I have written then please let me know.

By Ann Veitch


All being well, I expect my last Sunday in Abbey Wood before going to join the Priory of Our Lady in Walsingham to be October 16th which is harvest. There will be drinks after Mass that day. Please keep me in your prayers as I start this new life as a Postulant at the Priory and I hope that some of you will come up to Walsingham on Pilgrimage and pop in to say hello.

If anyone would like to keep in touch with me my new address will be:

The Priory of Our Lady

Bridewell St


NR22 6ED

Or you can email me

Please give me your contact details if you wish me to keep in touch with you.

Carol Stead

Flowers in church

4th September Christine Fern sponsored flowers to celebrate her daughter Sarah's 40th birthday. Also to celebrate her son's marriage to Caroline on 2nd September.

18th September Michael Edwards sponsored flowers in memory of his father, Caradog

September 2011

Church Mouse

Church mouse noticed that some of our young people went on pilgrimage to Walsingham at the beginning of August but what is so important about Walsingham? and why go on pilgrimage there?

Pilgrimage is an essential part of life and living. Christians see life itself as a journey, from God and returning to God. A pilgrimage represents the journey of the Christian life from Earth to Heaven. Back in the middle ages Pilgrimages were very popular; it was not like going on holiday. Pilgrimages often took years and the journey was long and dangerous and many people died on route. They travelled in groups and would stay in monasteries or hostels on their way. Pilgrims undertook these journeys because they were important to their faith. If they had committed grave sins they believed that by going on pilgrimage they could show God how sorry they were. Sometimes they were sent on the journey by a Priest as a penance, others went for the healing of a physical condition.

There are several places around the world where we associate with people going on Pilgrimage; these include the Holy Land, Lourdes, Fatima, Rome, Canterbury, St David’s, and Walsingham. Often they are places associated with miracles and visions and have a well.

In the 11th century Little Walsingham was a thriving village situated between Norwich (then England’s 2nd city) and the wealthy town of King’s Lynn. Richeldis de Faverches was married to the Lord of the Manor of Walsingham Parva, he died leaving her a young widow with one son, Geoffrey. Richeldis was known to be a woman of deep faith and had a devotion to Mary; she also had a reputation for good works.

At this time there was a great deal of interest in the Holy land and people would take long and often dangerous pilgrimages there. In 1061 Richeldis had a vision; in the vision she was taken by Mary to the house in Nazareth where the Angel Gabriel had announced the news of the birth of Jesus. Mary asked Richeldis to build a replica of that house in Walsingham. The vision was repeated three times and Richeldis had the Holy House built. We are told that the sign to show Richeldis where she was to build this house was the springing up of water from the ground. Later a Priory was built around the Holy House and it became a focus of Pilgrimage. The water from the well has always been an important part of the Pilgrimage to Walsingham and today pilgrims can still receive water from the well as part of the Healing service.

If you have never been on Pilgrimage, perhaps you could give it a try, many people find once they have been, they wish to return year after year.

Winchester Music

Do you like “working” when on holiday?  This year Ros and I went on a Liturgical Music Course in Winchester for a week.  We knew the music to be sung before we went, some of which we had done before.  The course provided all the music and a CD which played the separate voice parts, enabling us to have a reasonable idea of what it should sound like.

It was with some trepidation that we set off, hoping we had done sufficient homework so we would at least not ruin the overall effect.  It was an intensive course, all rehearsals started with a warm up session, which exercised our vocal chords beyond their usual range.  Did we really get up to that top “A” with some ease?  All the sessions prepared us to sing Evensong and Matins in the Cathedral, which was a great joy, especially as we sang the Psalms to Anglican chanting.  Do you remember those days?

We enjoyed walking round the old historical city, founded by the Romans, who called it “Venta Belgarum”.  It has a main street entirely pedestrian, also we enjoyed the local eating places!

The Cathedral is dedicated to St Swithun, whom we learnt built a bridge for the people across the River Itchen.  He was very rich, and was renowned for his patience and dedication to the relief of the poor.  It was a real uplifting experience.  We felt we were joining in with all those other choirs who had given their best praise to God in the past.  Alleluia!


Bairstow.  Save us O Lord.  Brewer in D.

Bairstow.  Mag abd Nunc in D.  Blessed City, heavenly Salem.

Bairstow.  I sat down.

Byrd.  Sing Joyfully

Bordoli.  Almighty and Everlasting God.

Bordoli.  Orbs of Light and Shade.

Bert Scofield (East Wickham Singers)

PAM WEBB 1945 – 2011

Pam’s funeral took place on Wednesday 17th August 2011 at Falconwood crematorium (Eltham).

There must have been at least 100 people there.  A contingent of Scouts formed a guard of honour for the coffin as it arrived and entered the chapel.

It was a lovely service celebrating the life of Pam.  Alf Philpot gave an appreciation of Pam’s life on behalf of the Scout Movement.  Both her sons, Jim and Matthew, spoke of their mother, Jim and his family having come from Australia to be there.

Fr. David Sherratt presided at the funeral and he also gave an appreciation of Pam.

A reception was held afterwards at St. Michael and All Angels Church Hall.

It was requested that only the family should send flowers.  If you wish, a contribution can be made to Macmillan Cancer Support, as suggested by Pam’s family.

Marjorie Gillespie


Pam first came to me to join her eldest son, Jimmy, (nearly thirty years ago), into our Cub Pack and at the same time asked if she could come along to Cubs to help run the Pack.  Of course, I said “yes please”.  But a couple of weeks later she came back to tell me she was pregnant, I thought at the time “what someone would do to get out of being a Leader”, but was pleased to say, after she had had Matthew, back came Pam a couple of weeks later with her brand new baby boy (only a couple of weeks old), to start helping out with the Cubs.  She put Matthew’s name down on our Cub waiting list at the age of two weeks old, (at the time the youngest boy on the list).  He did get into the Cub pack when he was eight.  Pam stayed with the Cub pack for many years and was an excellent Leader, did all her training and got her “Beads”, (what Leaders get when they are fully trained).

Then we needed another Scout Leader and Pam volunteered.  She took on the new challenge to become a Scout Leader, which she did for a few years.

Then came an opportunity to become a District Leader and she took on the role of A.D.C. Cubs, (Assistant District Commissioner for District Cubs).  We were sorry to lose her, but she was still associated with the 13th Woolwich.  If ever we were short of a Leader at any time, whether it be Beavers, Cubs or Scouts, we just had to give her a ring and she would come along to help out with whatever section needed her.  I always felt she was part of us, always came to our Open Evenings and A.G.M.s.  She will be sadly missed by the 13th Woolwich Scout Group and also by District.  I personally will miss her because I have known her for so many years and she was such a good and faithful Leader.  God bless you Pam.

Dot Ray (Group Scout Leader)

I like those cream cakes but you never have any of them in......

Is a comment I often hear in my local Marks & Spencers, along with “why are there never enough staff”.  Well this week I sought about changing that and moved to the company's new flagship store at Stratford.  Well I hope not to hear that again working here, it's a large store (over 150000sq ft) and has 4 floors with brand new stuff on them and looks nothing like any other store in the company.  But don't take my word for it, come see for yourself.  The store opens on the 13th September at the new giant Westfield Centre in Stratford (over the rusty bridge) and I'd love to see you, because I'm not going to know anyone over there!!!

Chris Harper


We celebrate our second anniversary on Monday 12 September.  We meet every second Monday in the month at 1.30pm (doors open at 1pm) in St. Michael and All Angels Church Hall which is right next to the Church.  We either have a speaker or some form of entertainment and tea and cakes (home made of course) during the session, which lasts till 3.30pm.  The committee work very hard to see that we have a good time.

To date we have 55 members and there is a waiting list of potential members, some of whom we hope to absorb soon.

Various people on the committee arrange outings, theatre trips (usually local), lunch dates once a month (also local), needles and natter group and a book group.  We have visited the Heritage Centre on several occasions for talks on the history of Abbey Wood, Plumstead and Woolwich.

Marjorie Gillespie

Lest We Forget – (Part 7)

Life on the seas in the First World War was a very dangerous affair.  Many ships that were converted to war status were unsuitable and survival kits were very basic. Three of the men on our memorial died in terrible circumstances on the seas.

John Ambler was 34 when he died on the H.M.S. Vanguard on the 9th July 1917. The Vanguard was a ship that had seen a lot of action and had emerged from the Battle of Jutland unscathed. John was among 850 crew that were having a rather quiet day in July in the Scapa Flow when an accident occurred that took all but 2 of the crew’s lives. Cordite was stored securely on the ship and for a reason unknown it exploded. The ship sunk almost immediately in this one of the largest accidental explosions in naval history. One of the 12 inch turrets was thrown ashore over 1 mile away. The crew had so little time to react it is not surprising that only 2 survived and they were badly injured.  John is remembered in the Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery, he left behind a wife, Ellen, who lived at 29 Crumpsall Street.

Albert Edward Dawes was 20 years old and was serving on the H.M.S. Louvain in the Aegean Sea in 1918.  The Louvain had been purchased by the Royal Navy in 1915 and had been formerly called the S.S. Dresden whilst it was in service with the Great Eastern Railway.  It was now an Armed Boarding Steamer which meant it was mainly used for boarding taken enemy vessels but on 20th January in 1918 is was being used to transport troops.  It came to the attention of U-boat UC22 and was torpedoed. Reports from the U-boat state that the Louvain sunk very rapidly indeed and all but 10 of the 234 crew were killed. Albert was the son of Thomas William and Helen Dawes of 20 Fuchsia Street. He is remembered on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.

Albert Edward Perkins was 19 years old and part of the Armourer’s Crew on the H.M.S. Clan McNaughton.  Pre war this was a merchant ship and had been hastily converted with heavy guns at the start of the war.  She was put on blockade duty with a mixed crew of young boys, merchant navy men, royal navy, reservists and many Canadians.  She headed out for sea along the north coast of Ireland and she radioed back at 3am that the weather was bad on the 3rd February 1915.  She was battered by an Atlantic gale and was never heard or seen again.  Two weeks later some wreckage was found in the area where she had radioed from but not enough to confirm if it was the Clan McNaughton or what had happened to her or her crew. No other trace of her was ever found. Albert was the son of Robert and Ada Perkins of 16 Abbey Grove and is remembered at Chatham Naval Memorial.

All these men died in very different but very tragic ways on the seas.

If you know any of the names on our War Memorial in church or have any other comments on this article or the others I have written then please let me know.

By Ann Veitch


Flowers for Sunday August 7 were sponsored by the family of Kay Maddox for her birthday on August 5th.

On 14th August Marjorie Gillespie sponsored the flowers in memory of her mother’s birthday.

Sheila Owen sponsored flowers on 14th August in memory of Pam Webb who died on 3rd August.


On 24th July, Phylis Lewis sponsored the 7 day Blessed Sacrament candle in memory of her husband, Leslie Lewis

August 2011

Church mouse

Every week we sit on them, but have you ever given the pew a second thought?

In the first Christian churches, and for over 1,000 years of church history, churches did not contain pews.  In Anglo-Saxon churches and some early Norman ones, there was a stone bench running around the whole of the interior except the East end.  Congregations stood and were free to walk around and mingle with other church members.  Church services were focused around community and personal interaction within the congregation.

The first pews were introduced in the 13th century when removable stone benches were placed against church walls.  Until the beginning of the Protestant Reformation in 1517, most pews were not fixed to the floor, and many churches continued to have standing services only.  The Protestant Reformation shifted the focus of church, making the sermon the most important activity during the service.  Because most people during this time period could not read and did not have their own bibles, pews were introduced to allow people to sit and listen to someone preach.  Due to this shift, pews became a popular feature of church architecture and permanent wood-backed benches began to replace the stone seating.

 Gradually pews came into existence and between 1600 and 1800, when everything was about social stature; pews were used to distinguish between the various social classes.  Only the higher classes had the opportunity to sit closest to the pulpit.  Box pews were owned by the richer families, they remained locked when not in use restricting seating.

 ‘Most parish churches of 1830 contained large box pews, lockable and controlled by a pew opener.  Private seats for the middle classes thus filled the main body of the church and left the poor on benches at the back, in the side aisles, or in gallery.  The box pews occupied many chancels, and their occupants inevitably sat facing the pulpit and with backs towards the altar.’ (Chadwick The Victorian church part 1, p520)

Box pews were often arranged so that the occupants sat around the outer edges of the pew facing inwards so that, if they knelt they often did so face-to-face.  The high sides of the pews enabled worshippers to ignore their fellow members of the congregation and, if they wished, to ignore the service as well.  In addition, indifference or irreligious practices could easily remain concealed from other worshipers.

J.M.  Neale (1818 – 1866) identified four practises which lay behind the Puritan desire to have the privacy of high-sided pews.  First, the pew sides concealed worshippers’ disobedience to Canon Law which required them to bow at the ‘Holy Name’ of Jesus.  Second, whilst permitting the ancient custom of sitting during the reading of the Psalms, it enabled them to avoid the equally ancient custom of standing for the Gloria at the end.  Third, it meant that Puritan worshippers could also conceal their unwillingness to bow to the altar; and fourth, when the sacrament of Holy Communion was brought to them in their pews, other worshippers never knew whether the occupants received it kneeling or not.

Pew holders used to furnish their area of the church according to their own taste which added to the social divisiveness of them.  It also distracted from the general appearance of the church as sometimes all the pews were of different heights, shape, kind, and colour.  In Ashbourne church a pew owned by Dr Taylor, a wealthy clergyman, was furnished with large shelves for bibles and books of devotion, he also had it upholstered with some velvet used at King George III’s coronation to show his status.

Gradually box pews were removed from churches and pews as we know them now were put in where they were free for all and everyone faces the Altar.

All Ages’ Walsingham!

A friend in North London who works part-time sorting stuff in a charity shop, recently sent me something he had come across, which he thought might interest me.  It’s a thin, simply produced little book entitled Legende of Our Ladye of Walsingham, published 73 years ago, by Sydney Lee Limited at The Catholic Records Press, Exeter.  It contains a poem, with simple illustrations, telling the story of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham for very young children.  There is a forward which reads: ‘This delightful book goes forth with our Special Blessing.  From its very attractive pages and easy words our little ones will learn the wonderful history of Walsingham’s Great Devotion.  Better still, this book will teach them to pray to Our Lady in their own simple words, as children were taught to pray in the days of long ago’  +  Laurence, Bishop of Northampton, Septuagesima 1938.  In view of our own love of Walsingham and our forthcoming Youth Pilgrimage to the Shrine, I thought readers of the parish magazine might like to read the poem – OK, so it is a bit ‘twee’ and sentimental, and ‘of its time’, but it still speaks of the great truths to which the Shrine of Lady bears witness.  So enjoy!



By a Benedictine

St.  Mary’s Abbey Bergholt 1938


Once upon a time,

Oh very long ago

In a little town called Walsingham

Which some of you may know,

There lived a noble ladye,

Richeldis was her name,

And I hope you like her hat

For she wore one just like that!

Verse III

Once when the good Richeldis

Had spent the night in prayer,

She raised her head and lo! She saw

Our Lady standing there:

Our Lady with her mantle blue

Shading her lovely face,

Till night was turned to brightest day,

By Mary full of Grace.

Verse V

And now she hears Our Lady’s voice

Like music soft and clear:

“I want another house like this,

And you must built it here!”

“Yes, Yes, with joy”, Richeldis cried,

“But stay awhile, Oh stay!”

Yet even as she speaks the words

The vision fades away.


At length when all was finished quite

Richeldis wondered where

Our Lady wished to set it,

So betook herself to prayer.

And as she prayed our Heavenly Queen

Would clearly show the way,

Some Angels came and placed it

Where the ruins stand today.

Verse IX

And pilgrims came from far and wide

To see our Lady’s shrine.

They brought the lame, the sick, the blind

To Mary’s Son divine.

And many a sad and aching heart

Left Walsingham set free,

And some prayed:

Lord that I may walk,

Or, Lord that I may see.

Verse XI

And if sometimes they did not find

Relief from bodily ill,

They found the grace to bear the pain

As God’s most holy Will.

And kings barefooted like the rest

Right humbly there were found

Leaving their shoes outside because

They knelt on holy ground.

Verse XIII

So Walsingham lay desolate

And Angels wept to see

The thorns and thistles growing up

Where altars usd to be.

The flowers drooped their sainty heads

And birds forgot their song:

While many a soul in secret prayed:

How long Oh Lord, how long?

Verse XV 

Long years have passed and Walsingham

Has come to claim her own.

Once more the merry bells ring out

In Mary’s English home.

And pilgrims throng the country lanes,

While many a prayer they pray,

And as Our Lady did of yore

She does again today.


Verse II

Richeldis had a son,

One only child she had,

And Geoffry was the name she gave

This sturdy little lad.

With her mother love she taught him

To love all things great and small,

The flowers, the trees, the beasties,

And the God who made them all.

Verse IV

Our Lady’s slender fingers held

A little house of wood.

Richeldis gazing full of awe

Right quickly understood

This was the house of Nazareth,

Where Gabriel’s word divine

Made Mary Queen of earth and sky,

God’s Mother, Yours and mine.

Verse VI

Richeldis set to work at once

To do Our Lady’s will.

She went to see the builder

In his cottage on the hill.

The builder set to work that day

To build a chapel fair

And all the birds of Walsingham

Sang Allelluias there.

Verse VIII

Only an Angel’s stainless hand

That other house might place,

That lovely home of Nazareth

Brightened by Mary’s grace.

So thus her English Nazareth

Nought placed but Angel’s hand,

And the good folks of Walsingham

Called it the Holy Land.

Verse X

And little children too would come,

Just as they come today,

To whisper to Our Lady of

Their lessons and their play.

And holy monks and nuns would come,

Poor sinners too were there;

Our Lady heard them one and all,

She answered every prayer.

Verse XII

But after many years there came

A wicked king to reign;

He seized Our Lady’s wealth and lands

And kept them for his gain.

He burnt her sacred image,

He destroyed her holy shrine,

But he could not burn her love and prayers

For these things are divine.

Verse XIV

But God who hears our every prayer

Has strength and power to save,

His mighty Hand can quench the fire

Can still the stormy wave.

His Sacred Heart can raise again

Our Lady’s Holy Land

And turn men’s foolish wayward hearts

So slow to understand

Verse XVI

So now I think I’ve reached the end

And told you all I know,

Perhaps you’ll visit Walsingham,

I’d like to think you’d go.

And when you reach Our Lady’s house

Just pray for all you’re worth,

Because Our Lady does so love

Her little ones on Earth.

The End.

Fr.  Derek

My cricket day at the Kia oval

This spectacular event started when James Veitch found out that he was going to be the England cricket mascot on the 28th of June when England played Sri-Lanka.  James was told of this when his father, Mr Stuart Veitch called him to tell him that his dad had won a competition in the Evening Standard.

The story of this adventure began with a train ride to London Bridge and a tube ride to the oval.  He arrived at about 11:30 and was greeted by Francesca from Brit Insurance, who were that day’s corporate sponsors.  He was then taken into the ground and was given a small cricket bat and an England Team shirt to wear.

At 12:30, James was taken on to the pitch by Francesca along with a photographer and was introduced to all the England team whilst they were finishing their warm up.  His picture was taken with all of the players and they all signed his cricket bat for him.  Phil Tufnell, who was commentating for the BBC also came over and signed his bat too.

At just before 13:00, James joined both the team captains and the match officials for the coin toss.  Sri-Lanka won the toss and chose to field.  He then joined his father, who was by then very jealous, in the crowd to watch the game.  Unfortunately the British weather got the better of the afternoon, and play was stopped after only three overs until later on in the early evening.

James was asked for a comment on his experience and said simply “It was amazing!”

This was dictated by James Veitch and typed by Stuart Veitch.

Lest We Forget. -  (Part 6)

On the war memorial in church there are three men on it who died within days of each other in August 1917.  They all lived within two miles of each other and we will probably never know if they knew each other well, but I think we can assume that their relatives met each other when the memorial was unveiled.  All three were in different units.  Two have graves and one was never found.

William Ransom was just 19 when he died in a foreign field.  Most of the men had never been away from home before let alone been abroad, so for many it started as a big adventure.  The paper was full of stories of heroic deeds and also lists of the dead and missing.  Mr G.T.  and Mrs M.R.  Ransom lived in Wallflower Road and would have scanned the papers to see any news of William’s unit the Somerset Light Infantry.  They would have read the news that the 3rd Battle of Ypres had started but how long before they found out that their son had died within a few days of the start of that battle.  William was killed on 2nd August 1917, his grave is in the bottom right hand side of the Outtersteene Communal Cemetery Extension, Bailleul.

Robert James Funnell was a rifleman in the 3rd Battalion Rifle Brigade.  He had already lost his father John when he went to war but his mother Rosina was left in Woolwich.  Robert wasn’t married and had no other family that I can trace and he was 36 years old.  He was also involved in the 3rd Battle of Ypres but he survived longer than William and died a few days later on 9th August 1917.  Robert’s remains were never identified and his name is remembered on the Menin Gate in Ypres.  The Last Post is played at the gate every night at 8pm in remembrance of all the lost boys and men with no known grave.

A.  Pryer is the last of our three this month and he is rather a mystery man.  He was also a rifleman but he was in the London Regiment (Queen Victoria’s Rifles).  He died on the 15th August and was in the same battle as the others.  I cannot find out how old he was, what his first name was, where he lived or who he left behind, but his body was found.  This mystery man is buried in the Birr Cross Roads Cemetery I am pleased to say, which may seem a strange thing to say but during my trips to Belgium in the past this is the one cemetery that I have always visited the most.  Why I do not really know as it is very similar to all the others dotted around the area but it has always seemed the most peaceful one to me.  A.  Pryer is buried in the top right hand corner of the cemetery, with a wall covered in creeping greenery behind him.


If you know any of the names on our War Memorial in church or have any other comments on this article or the others I have written then please let me know.

By Ann Veitch

Two New Bishops

On Thursday 16th June a small group of people from St Michael’s went with Fr David up to Southwark Cathedral for the consecration of the two new bishops of Ebbsfleet and Richborough (the two “flying bishops” who care for Resolution C parishes in the Province of Canterbury), Fr Jonathan Baker and Fr Norman Banks.  Fr Baker had been Principal of Pusey House, Oxford.  And Fr Banks had been Parish Priest of Walsingham, Houghton and Barsham as well as a Chaplin to the Queen.

We arrived an hour early to ensure that we sat near the front of what was to become a full Cathedral.  The service started with a procession of the clergy, the College of Bishops, and various other important people.  The Mass was, on the whole, ordinary, except for the Ordination of the new bishops which happened after the Creed.  The Hymns were “Come Holy Spirit” (sung during the College of Bishops laid hands on the candidates), “Jerusalem the golden” (offertory) “let all mortal flesh”, “Praise to the Holiest” (both during communion” and “joy to thee Queen! Within thine ancient dowry” (recessional).  All of which were sung with gusto by the congregation.  At the end of the service the Archbishop of Canterbury presented the two new bishops with their Crosiers, which had been donated by Forward in Faith.

Later, at St Alban’s Holborn, which was a full church again, the new Bishop of Ebbsfleet presided at benediction, at the end of which they were re-presented with their crosiers by the acting Chair of Forward in Faith, Sr Anne Williams, and presented with Pectoral Crosses of the Society of the Holy Cross by the Master of the SSC.  Benediction was followed by a reception.

We may be seeing the Rt Rev Banks soon, as our Diocese is within his area of care.

by Paul Stead

July 2011

Church Mouse

I have noticed that some people in church have a deep devotion to Our Lady and wondered why she is so important to them but does not seem to be to other people.

If you look at the statue of Our Lady, which is usually in the Lady Chapel but is moved to a position under the pulpit for festivals, you can see that Mary is pointing to Jesus, while Jesus is pointing upwards to God . Mary shows us the way to Jesus.

Often people complain that Catholics worship Mary and that much of it is not biblical.  However, this is not true, Catholics ask Mary in intercede for them, much as you would ask a friend to pray for you, you can ask Mary and the Saints who have gone before us to pray for us.

Mary was more than just an eye witness to Jesus life.  What she lacks in quantity of appearance in scripture she makes up for in quality.  It was her ‘Yes’ to God at the Annunciation when the Angel Gabriel visited her which lead to her to give birth to the Son of God.  Mary then visits Elizabeth, ‘Now it happened that as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of you womb’.  ‘ (Luke 1: 41-42), The first part of the Hail Mary.

Mary then responses with the Magnificat, ‘ My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord…’, echoing the prayer of Hannah (1 Samuel 2:1-10) after she gave birth to Samuel.  The Magnificat is said daily at Evening Prayer.

Mary was present, and indeed the instigator, of the first miracle that Jesus performed at the wedding at Cana when he turned the water into wine (John 2:1-11).  She and other women are present at the cross, when the male disciples flee.  It is striking that Mary is in the upper room at Pentecost -- the only woman present there who is named -- to receive the outpouring of God’s Spirit at the birth of the church (Acts 1:14).  Her image in Revelation 12:17 as a woman clothed with the sun with a crown of stars in the agony of giving birth to a son who will rule the nations is, at the very least, impressive.  Mary’s appearances in scripture are indeed limited, but they are tied to crucial moments in salvation history, without which there would be no church.

Mary’s interaction with her son on the cross is striking, since one of his final acts is devoted to naming John as her new son, and her as John’s mother.  In this and other scenes she is depicted as an image of the church, the mother of believers thus becoming not only Mother of God but our Mother.  Scripture presents a vision of Mary as one whose importance is not limited to the Annunciation and to Christmas, but extends into the life of the church.

 Lest We Forget – (Part 5)


The Thiepval Memorial is in France.  It is very impressive and can be seen for miles around as it is 150 ft high and its base is 123 x 140 ft.  In fact it is the largest memorial to the missing on the British Western Front.  When I was last there several years ago I found the name of a Fred Pook who died on 7th July 1916 ( Pook was my maiden name ) but despite the rarity of the name I couldn’t trace him to my family.  Around 72,000 names are inscribed upon its high piers, all soldiers from the Somme battlefields from July 1916 to November 1918 who have no known grave.  There are men from 163 different units, 158 British, 4 South African and 1 West Indian Unit.  7 men on the memorial have won the Victoria Cross.  It is impossible to go there and not be moved as you wander around the piers staring up to the thousands of names carefully carved on the stone.


90% of the names at Thiepval are soldiers who died in the First Battle of the Somme from July 1916 to November 1916.  A high proportion of those on the memorial died during the first day of battle, on Saturday 1st July 1916.  One of those men was Frederick Gilbert Elms.  Frederick was a clerk before he had become a soldier in 1914, he joined the London Regiment (Queen Victoria’s Rifles) as a Rifleman.  When he died he was 21 years old and his parents, James and Alice, lived at 15 Shieldhall Street.  He was just one of the 19,000 that died on the Somme that day, 95 years ago this month.


On the 4th May 1916, two months before Frederick Elms died, the son of Mrs E Townsend of 12 Abbey Grove landed in France.  His name was Walter and he was a Private in the Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment).  He made his way down to the Somme with his unit the 10th Battalian and he survived the battlefields until the 15th September 1916.  He was 27 years old and is not alone as 823 others in his Battalian are also named on the Thiepval Memorial with him.  That day was also the first day that tanks were ever used in battle.


Frederick and Walter are just two of the names on our war memorials at the church and I am still looking for details of the others.  The names listed below are the ones that I am finding more difficult to trace so please have a look and see if you can recognise any of them.


J E Argent                              S Baker

G B Burton                               A B Farrell

P E Farrell                               C Francis

L W F Gill                                T F Griggs

A Rider                                    P J W Staniford

W A Tapsall                             C Wright


If you know any of the names on our War Memorial in church or have any other comments on this article or the others I have written then please let me know.  Thank you.

 By Ann Veitch

Queen's Birthday Honours

We are delighted to tell you that Michael Macey, our organist and choir master, received the MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

The citation reads -

For services to music and to the community in Welling, Kent

He will be going to Buckingham Palace to receive this.

Flowers in church

On 12 June flowers were sponsored by

Mary Robson in memory of her mother and brother

Also Michael Macey to celebrate his award of the MBE in the Queen's birthday Honours.

Sponsored Candles in church

The 7 day Blessed Sacrament Candle was sponsored by

Carol Stead in memory of her father, Alan Littlechild, in the week of 12th June


June 2011

Church mouse

I’ve heard recently that one of the members of St Michaels’ congregation hopes to be leaving soon and going to join the Sisters at The Priory of Our Lady in Walsingham which is part of the Society of St Margaret.  This surprised me as, like many of you I’m sure, I assumed all Nuns and Monks were Roman Catholic and didn’t realise that there were any in the Anglican Church.

Of course we all know from our history lessons that Religious orders were dissolved by King Henry VIII when he separated the Church of England from the Catholic Church.  We can easily see evidence of that in Abbey Wood with the ruins of the Abbey so nearby.  With the rise of the Catholic Revival and the Oxford Movement in the Anglican church in the mid-nineteenth century, however, there was an interest in the revival of religious orders in England.  Between 1841 and 1855, several religious orders for women were begun.  Religious orders for men appeared later, beginning in 1866 with the Society of St.  John the Evangelist (Cowley Fathers).  Today there are approximately 90 Communities of men and women in England including the Community at Walsingham, a Benedictine Community at West Malling, Kent and the Community of the Sisters of the Church at Ham Common, Richmond who you may have seen 2 Sisters from at the wedding for Prince William.

In 1855 John Mason Neale founded the Society of St Margaret.  John Mason Neale was a very remarkable priest of great holiness and immense learning, but was of very poor health and considered too frail to be able to work as a parish priest.  He had been appointed warden of Sackville College, a small group of Jacobean almshouses.  From his study window he looked out over the countryside towards Ashdown forest, as area of great natural beauty.  The picturesque cottages housed families living in great poverty and squalor, always under threat of fever, smallpox, cholera and other diseases.  Dr Neale was moved by all the suffering and decided to form a Society of Sisters to meet this need.

John Mason Neale accomplished an unbelievable amount of work in his short life despite his ill health.  He was strongly influenced by the Oxford Movement Tracts which had begun to appear in 1833 and marked the early stages of the Catholic revival in the Church of England.  The Oxford Movement caused a tremendous upheaval in the Church of England, chiefly by reasserting the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, and by restoring the practice of Sacramental Confession, due reverence and regard for Our Lady, and the use of vestments, and candles.  Dr Neale was a fighter, and would never give in, he had to endure a good deal of opposition, including a fourteen years' inhibition by his bishop.  He was once attacked and mauled at a funeral of one of the Sisters and from time to time unruly crowds threatened to stone him or to burn his house.  Much of what is now loved and valued in the Church of England today is due to John Mason Neale and other heroes of his time.

He is probably best remembered today as a great hymn writer and translator, having enriched English hymnody with many ancient and mediaeval hymns translated from Latin and Greek.  The English Hymnal (1907) contains 63 of his translated hymns and six original hymns by Neale.  Those of you who regularly come to Evening Prayer at St Michael’s will recognise several hymns of his which are sang; the Office Hymns ‘O Blest Creator of the light’ and ’ The Lamb’s High banquet we await’, (sung during Eastertide) are both translated by Neale.  You will also recognise ‘Come, ye faithful, raise the anthem’, ‘The Day of Resurrection’ and ‘The day is past and over’ as well as many more.

On 1st June 1855 Neale founded the Society of St Margaret.  The first house was in Rotherfield and a year later they moved into a house in East Grinstead.  The Sisters lived a life of prayer centred on the daily Mass and would nurse the sick and care for the rest of the family for as long as was needed.  In 1857 a group of orphans were put into the Sisters care and from there they got involved in many different types of work, both at home and abroad, including a number of schools and children’s homes.

The Community grew steadily in Dr Neale’s lifetime.  He died in 1866 but the work of caring never ceased.  In a changing world, the schools and orphanages have now closed.  The Society of St Margaret now consists of four Autonomous houses in: Uckfield, Haggerston (London), Boston (USA) and Walsingham.  The Uckfield house has branch houses in Chiswick and Sri Lanka, while the Boston House has branch houses in New York, New Hartford and Haiti.  In Sri Lanka, where all the Sisters are now nationals, there is a convent at Colombo where the Sisters work among the poor and elderly, also helping in the parishes with counselling and retreat work.  At Moratuwa, several miles away, the Sisters have a children’s home and a kindergarten for day children.  The house at Chiswick is a residential and nursing home for the elderly and disabled, many of the Sisters spend their last years in this lovely home.  Each of the autonomous convents is able to have its own Mother, Sisters and Novices and share a common Constitution and Rule.  However, other things, such as whether to wear the traditional habit, are decided by each house.

Lest we forget – (part 4)

James Walter Pamplin and Celia Jane Pamplin had two sonns, Arthur James was the eldest and Sidney Herbert was 6-7 years younger than his brother.

Sidney joined the Kings Royal Rifle Corps and was a Sergeant in the 2nd Battalion.  He was in Northern France when he was killed on the 4th November 1918 and he was 24years old.  He is buried in the Le Rejet-de-Beaulieu Communal Cemetery along with 52 others, 45 of them died on the same day and 8 of them were in Sidney's Corps.  The men buried in this cemetery all fell in the final advance to victory, all the dates of death are between 9th October - 19th November, 1918.  As they were dying in the fields and canals the papers for peace were being written and rewritten.  Just one week later the Imperial German Army was defeated and an Armistice on the Western front was agreed for 11.00 O'clock on 11th November.  The guns finally fell silent and four years of warfare on the Western Front came to an end.

Arthur James joined the Royal Marine Light Infantry and served on the H.M.S.  Chester.  HMS Chester was one of two Town class light cruisers originally ordered for the Greek Navy in 1914 but in 1915 they were purchased by the British Government.  The Chester was at the Battle of Jutland where 29 of her crew were killed and 49 wounded, many of the wounded lost legs due to the poor design of the guns.  Amongst the gun crew fatalities was 16 year old John Cornwell who received the Victoria Cross for his dedication to duty even though he was mortally injured.  Chester was offered for re-sale to Greece after the war but the offer was declined and the ship was sold for scrapping on 9 November 1921.  The gun served by Cornwell is preserved in the Imperial War Museum in London.  Arthur was on the Chester for most of the war and he died of 'illness' at the Royal Marines Headquarters on Sunday 4th January 1920, he was Corporal and was 31 years old.  He is buried in Plumstead Cemetery where he was joined by his father James in 1929 and mother Celia in 1934.  During the school half term I will be visiting his grave.

If you know any of the names on our War Memorial in church or have any other comments on this article or the others I have written then please let me know.  Thank you

Ann Veitch

Flowers in Church

In May flowers were sponsored as follows:

On 15th by Peter Ludlow to celebrate his birthday on 20th May

On 22nd by Christine Fern to celebrate her father's 91st birthday


May 2011

Church Mouse

Mouse is very happy to now live in a nice warm church and have heard that this year we are celebrating the 400th anniversary of the King James (or Authorized Bible).  This made me start wondering about the origins of the Bible.

 At Mass we are used to hearing lots of bits of the bible; the readings, the Gospel, the Lord’s Prayer, and most of the consecration of the Eucharist are all familiar passages from the New Testament.  But I was surprised to hear that the church was saying those words for nearly 400 years before there was anything like a Bible at all.

The first of the Jew’s sacred books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) were written down in about 1250BC.  These 5 books together constitute the written Torah.  The Torah was kept but more and more books were written.  That is how we got Joshua, Judges, and the Books of Kings and the Chronicles and also the prophesies of Ezra, Nehemiah and the others.  These books kept pace with the continuous unfolding of God’s plan of salvation.  However, the Israelites wrote lots of other books too.  Then Ptolemy Philadelphus commissioned seventy Jewish scholars to come up with a standard canon of Jewish scripture.  The collection of 46 books which they established in called the Septuagint and was still used right up to the time of Christ.  It is the only scripture which he and the apostles used.  To this day the Septuagint is the Church’s Old Testament.

Of course, Jesus himself never wrote a word of Scripture.  All of the other religions of the time had their sacred scrolls or books and the people of the Roman Empire generally took it for granted that a religion would have an official holy book.  So, as Christianity spread, dozens of writers rushed to write books about Christ.  Suddenly, there were loads of books, some of these taught genuine Christian doctrine, others were less than reliable books like Acts of Paul or the Acts of Pilate, and others were forgeries or fabrications that included pagan fables disguised as Christian doctrine.

None of these books were ever taken seriously by the early church but at least these bad books prompted the creation of good ones to reinforce the church’s oral teaching.

However, only 5 of the Apostles (Matthew, John, James, Peter, and Jude) wrote any part of the Bible; and, like Mark, Luke and Paul, they wrote whenever problems came up, either to assist people’s memories or to address specific questions.  None of them ever intended to produce a complete written account of Christ’s teachings.

Soon after they were written these books started to be read at the Mass.  Writings from around 100AD show that the four gospels were read but there were also a number of other books which were read, different ones in different places, at the discretion of the local Bishop.

But then, in about 140AD the church fathers decided to clarify things by putting out a universal canon of the New Testament, including 22 or 23 of the 27 books now in the New Testament.  However, in some parts of the Christian world, books like the Epistles of St James and St Jude, 2 Peter and 2 and 3 John were accepted as Scripture, but in others they weren’t.  There were still questions about the epistles to the Hebrews and to Philemon, too.  There were also still no fewer than 50 other ‘Gospels’, lots of other apostolic epistles, and hundreds of apocalypses.  They had never received an official approval, but was it all right to use them liturgically or not?

The church decided to settle it once and for all.  All of her great scholars concentrated on the question as never before and by 367AD St Athanasius of Alexandria published for the first time the definitive list consisting of the 27 books we know today.

The first thing written in many modern languages was often the Bible; that’s where written Slavonic, Gaelic and even German come from.  Even things like putting spaces between words, making capital and lower-case letters, and using punctuation got their start with the Bible.

Mouse was upset to notice that the last magazine article I wrote (for the March magazine) was edited with only half of the article appearing in the parish magazine.  If you would like to read the full article it can be found on the church web site at www.stmichaelsabbeywood.co.uk under magazine on line.

Lest we forget (part 3)

On the 24th June 1917 Second Lieutenant Cecil Clyde Marshall was killed in action with the 21st Siege Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery.  He was born in 1898 and received his commission into the Royal Artillery on 27th October 1915.  He landed in France on 21st January 1916 and was 19 when he died.  He had been a student at Strand School, King's College, London and at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich.  His father was Capt.  H.C.  Marshall of the Royal Army Ordinance Corps (RAOC) and his mother is just listed as Mrs Marshall.  He is buried with 408 others in the Ferme-Olivier cemetery north of Ypres in Belgium.

The above are the basic facts about Cecil Marshall, they do not tell us what colour his hair was or whether he liked his mother's cooking or if he had a girlfriend.  What we do know however is that he was loved by his family or friends enough for them to ensure that his name was put on a War Memorial at our church so that he was not forgotten.  During my research however I found that in 2007, on an auction site, a British War Medal and Victory Medal awarded to 2nd Lieut C.C.  Marshall were up for sale.  Its guide price was £50- £80.

I found this extremely moving that this piece of our local history was up for sale.  Yes I know that they are just two disks of metal and that there are thousands of medals just like them but these two pieces of metal were sent to Cecil's mother along with a letter and Death Plaque.  A lot of medals and plaques were put in drawers and never taken out because of the pain that surrounded them but as Cecil's name is proudly displayed in the church, I like to think that his medals were looked after until such unfortunate circumstances that meant that his family no longer held them.  I have contacted the auction site with a vague hope that they still have them or that they can tell me that they went to a good home but in reality I probably will never know where they are.  You are not forgotten though Cecil Clyde Marshall and on Friday 24th June 2011, 94 years after your death, I will remember you.

If you know any of the names on our War Memorial in church or have any other comments on this article or the others I have written then please let me know.

Thank you

Ann Veitch

Malt chocolate cheesecake

Several people have asked me for the recipe for the Malt chocolate cheesecake which I made for the pre-lent dinner, so here it is:

Ingredients (serves 10)

200g malted milk biscuits, crushed to crumbs

100g salted butter

5tbsp caster sugar

2 x 300g tubs of full-fat soft cheese (e.g.  Philadelphia)

300ml pot double cream

300g white chocolate, melted

200g milk chocolate, melted

2 tbsp malt or Horlicks powder

37g Maltesers


1.  Line base and sides of a deep, 22cm to 23cm loose-bottomed round tin with baking parchment.  Mix the biscuits, melted butter and 2 tbsp of the sugar: then press into base.  Chill while you make the filling.

2.  Divide cream cheese and cream evenly between two bowls.  Add the white chocolate to one, and the milk chocolate, malt and remaining 3 tbsp sugar to the other.  Beat each with an electric whisk until smooth.

3.  Spread the milk chocolate mixture evenly in the tin.  Spoon the white chocolate mix over the top and gently smooth.  Decorate with Maltesers and chill for at least five hours until firm.

Carol Stead

Quiz night

On 2nd April six teams gathered for the St Michael’s quiz night.  On the tables were two sheets of photos, one with people from films and the other from TV shows which we settled down to complete before the quiz started.  Looking through the list on the table there were 10 rounds ranging from history, literature, animals, to food and drink, and connections (which was not as Michael had hoped, all about train lines).  Each team had a joker which they chose to use on what, they hoped, to be their best subject.

We chatted and had a good evening whilst listening to Peter reading out the questions for each round and watched as each rounds points were added up on the running total board.  Our team, the smallest, of only 3 adults and one child, came in their traditional place of last, this despite, as Fr David pointed out, us having the highest percentage of graduates on our team.

The evening was a good evening with tickets costing only £3 and the bar open.  If you haven’t been to one before, why not give the next one a try? Don’t worry if you think you don’t know anything, it’s about the taking part that counts and not the winning, and anyway someone will need to take my place of being on the losing team.

Carol Stead

Flowers in Church

Palms were sponsored by Hilary Gable for Palm Sunday

Flowers were sponsored on Easter Sunday by -

Pat Annettes in memory of her sister, Kay Maddox

Michael Edwards in memory of his mother, Gwen Edwards

Marjorie Gillespie in memory of her sister Kitty and of Mary Hughes, a long time member of St.  Michael's church

Tosin Ogunyemi in memory of his Dad

Norma Simpson and Gabrille Ludlow also sponsored flowers.

The Easter Lillies were sponsored in memory of loved ones by -

Sheila Owen, Irene Brown, Ann Veitch, Christine Fern, Bill and Gwen Smith, Ann Carter, Barbara Callaghan, Carol Ludlow, Phyllis Lewis, Sue Harper, Mary Macey, Crimilda Jarrett, Gladys Williams, Penny and Nigel Parsons, Adela Johnson, Hilary Gable.

Candles for Easter

The Lectern Candles were sponsored by Mary and Gwen Bailey in memory of Thomas Bailey

The 7 day Sanctuary candle was sponsored by Tosin Ogunyemi in memory of his Dad.

April 2011

A New Life

Some of you will have already heard the news that I may be leaving Abbey Wood at some time in the future.  For some time now I have been in contact with the Priory of Our Lady at Walsingham having felt a call to become a Nun.  I have now stayed with them on a few occasions, getting to know them and learning about Religious life and will be returning the week before Holy week for another weeks stay.  This process of discernment takes time as we get to know each other and where we all explore whether we feel I really do have a calling to be a Nun and is still continuing.  However, I hope, all being well, that I will be able to join them at some time.

The community at Walsingham as a small community consisting at present of 6 Sisters.  They live in a large house with its own chapel just outside the grounds of the Shrine.  They are a traditional community who wear the habit all the time and their day consists of 5 offices (the Office of readings, Morning prayer, Midday prayer, Evening Prayer and Night Prayer), the first being at 7am.  They also have a daily Mass and each sister is required to do 1 1/2 hours of private prayer a day.  The Angelus is also said at 7am, 12noon and 6pm.  Silence is kept from after Night Prayer until after Breakfast each day, Breakfast and dinner are eaten in silence.

Apart from the prayer time and Mass the Sisters also help out around the Shrine; they go to the Saturday evening laying on of hands and also help in the visitor centre and go to the Rosary prayers in the shrine once a week.  One of the Sisters helps in the Shrine shop while others do things in the Priory such as the washing and the Sacristy work.

At the moment I am what they call an Aspirant.  When you first join the community you become a Postulant for 6 months, these wear a grey skirt, white top and veil.  After 6 months, if you and the other Sisters still think you have a calling, you become a Novice for 3 years, these wear the grey Habit of the community with a white veil.  After this time you take temporary vows for 2 years before taking life vows, these wear a black veil.  It was described to me as being a bit like getting married, where first you go out together (Novice), then get engaged (temporary vows) and finally marriage (life vows).  It is only once you take life vows that you are tied to the community, before that you are free to leave if you wish (or if the other Sisters don't think you have a calling).

No one at the community has any possessions, everything at the Priory is there for them all to use and share, however, you do keep any property and your bank account open until you take life vows in case it is decided it is not the life for you.  Each Sister has a tiny bedroom, just big enough for a bed, sink and cupboard.  There are 2 TV's in the Priory which they can watch on their afternoon off and on a Sunday they have Night Prayer early and then some of them watch a DVD together.

 The Sisters are encouraged to keep in contact with their family and friends, by letter, phone and email, and anyone is free to visit.  All the offices and Mass are open to anyone who wishes to join them and I was surprised how there always seemed to be visitors, even when I went to stay in February.  Each Sister has one afternoon off a week and one day in retreat a month and also has 4 weeks holiday a year when they can go and visit family and friends.

I would appreciate it if you could all keep me in your prayers during this time of discernment, as you can imagine leaving Abbey Wood, leaving behind my friends and family, to join the community will be a very big step to take.

Carol Stead

Lest We Forget – (Part 2)

In my research for our War Memorial names, the ages of the men who did not return went from 17 to 38 years old.  The youngest was a Signal Boy in the Royal Navy, the oldest a Private in the Scots Guards.

Alfred Walter George Warren, son of Mr and Mrs M J Warren of 87 Abbey Grove, was born in 1898.  He was serving aboard HMS Goliath in May of 1915 in the Dardanelles and on 12th May 1915 the battleship was anchored in Morto Bay.  At about 1.15 in the morning of the 13th, Muavenet-i-Milliye, a Turkish destroyer, was spotted by Goliath in fog, but it was too late, as three torpedoes were already discharged.  All three hit the Goliath, one at the fore turret, the second at the foremost funnel and a third at the after turret.  The battleship sank very quickly and very few of the crew below decks had time to escape, of 750 crew, 570 were killed.  Alfred was just 17 years old and his body was never found.  His name is listed on the Chatham Naval Memorial on which is inscribed the following

 “In honour of the Navy and to the abiding memory of these ranks and ratings of this port who laid down their lives in the defence of the Empire and have no other grave than the sea.”

John James Keir was in the 1st Battalion Scots Guards and was part of the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front.  His father, also a John, lived at 28 Shieldhall Street but as yet I still have to trace where the younger lived before the war.  At the time John James died, on the 27th September 1915, he was in the ‘Big Push’ of the Battle of Loos, he would have faced machine gun fire and heavy shelling from the enemy.  At the end of this battle (24th September - 18th October) 61,000 men were killed and over half of John James’ battalion were gone.  His name is on the Loos Memorial with over 20,000 others from that battle that were not found.  John James Keir was 38 years old.

This boy and this man died within months of each other in different parts of the world, one on a sinking battleship the other sinking in the mud of a foreign field and yet their parents were living just five minutes away from each other praying that their boys would come home.

Alfred and John are just two of the names on our War Memorial in St Michaels, if you have any information on them or any of the others I would be pleased to hear from you.

By Ann Veitch

 Pre-Lent dinner Click here for report

A 400th Birthday

You will probably have heard pr read that this year is the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, often, though erroneously, known as the Authorised Version or AV.  It was never actually authorised by anyone!

Those of us who grew up with it often know whole passages by heart.  Those who know it less may be surprised to realise the origins of the following -

the land of nod

as white as snow

fell flat on his face

by the skin of my teeth

be horribly afraid

I could go on !

With all this in mind, Father David and I have set aside Saturday and Sunday April 30th and May 1st for a small exhibition about the Bible.  Apart from copies of the King James and associated items, which we already have, we are looking for copies of modern (20th Century) translations and for copies of Bibles or Testaments in languages other than English.

If you would be able to lend one or more of the above for this exhibition please ring me or speak to me in church.  I hope to gather everthing together on Easter Weekend.

Thank you in anticipation

Rosemary Warner

British Gas has 'The Power'

When Sue's Mum went to live in a care home, we notified all and sundry including, of course, the utility companies - who sent their final bills.  That should have been the end of it, so we were a bit irritated when British Gas sent a letter addressed to the old lady at her old address, saying, 'We are very sorry that you left us in September, but if you come back to us you could find that you'll be making a saving in more ways than one.  We'd like to welcome you back with lower energy bills and extra savings worth up to £138!' Obviously they were treating it as a case of somebody who had switched energy suppliers, and had not taken on board at all the fact that Sue's Mum had left her flat and gone to live in a care home - even though we had made it absolutely clear.  Just another computer error, of course...

But what really takes the biscuit is a reader's letter to the editor which recently appeared in a national newspaper.  It goes:

'Sir, in answer to my informing British Gas of the death of my Uncle, the company responded by writing to him, care of me, a letter headed:" We're sorry to see you go." The letter included the invitation :"If you ever want to come back, simply let us know." (Daily Telegraph, 18th February 2011)

So, British Gas has power to raise the dead! That makes the Church redundant, then!

Fr.  Derek

March 2011

Church Mouse

It’s so nice living in a nice warm house now and it was great to see so many turn up to help get the church clean after the new heating system was installed.

I’ve been thinking ahead to Lent which starts on Ash Wednesday on 9th March and wondering what we do to keep Lent and why.  Lent is kept with fasting, prayer and Alms giving, it was originally a time of preparation for people who would be baptised at Easter but gradually the whole congregation joined in the preparation.

Fasting during Lent was more severe in ancient times than today.  In some places, all animal products were strictly forbidden, while others would permit fish.  In most places the practice was to abstain from eating until the evening, when a small meal was eaten.  Now it is customary to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday when only one meal, with no meat, should be consumed along with 2 light snacks.  A custom that developed later was to also give up something a person “enjoyed” receiving or doing for the duration of Lent.  Many Christians today will choose to give up something during the Lenten period.

But Lent is not just about giving up things it is also about preparing ourselves for Easter by taking up things.  One of the things which we do at St Michael’s every Wednesday during Lent is to walk the Stations of the Cross.  In the Middles Ages people would travel to Jerusalem on pilgrimage where they would visit the places where certain key episodes of the Passion took place.  However, travelling to Jerusalem has always been dangerous and expensive.  It seemed unfair that only those who were rich enough and strong enough to make the journey could go, so people started to build copies of the Holy Sepulchre (the Tomb) all over Europe so that the spiritual benefits of a trip to the Holy Land were made available to many more Christians who now had a chance to walk that sad route with Christ and to meditate on his Passion.  But, after a while, even this wasn’t enough.  There were thousands of peasants or sick people who couldn’t even make it to the nearest town.  So the Franciscans took the next step in about the 14th century.  They began putting up wooden crosses in parish churches everywhere, each representing an episode in the Passion.  The idea being that you could simply go to your parish church and meditate on each of the stations, so what began as a death-defying trip to the Middles East has become, over the centuries, a devotion that can be followed in your own church.

The Stations themselves are usually a series of 14 pictures or sculptures depicting the following scenes:

1.  Jesus is condemned to death

2.  Jesus is given his cross

3.  Jesus falls the first time

4.  Jesus meets His Mother

5.  Simon of Cyrene carries the cross

6.  Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

7.  Jesus falls the second time

8.  Jesus meets the daughters of Jerusalem

9.  Jesus falls the third time

10.Jesus is stripped of His garments

11.Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross

12.Jesus dies on the cross

13.Jesus' body is removed from the cross

14.Jesus is laid in the tomb.

As we all walk from one station to another a reading, prayer and meditation (which varies each week) is read while we reflect on each station.  These are short services held every Wednesday during Lent and it is really worth trying to come to at least one.

Another thing which we often do at St Michael’s during Lent is to have Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.  This is a silent time of prayer when we can be still in the presence of God.

Of course, we also have the services during Holy week, I’m always surprised about how many people just turn up for the celebration at the end on Easter Morning without first walking with Jesus over the last few days.  On Maundy Thursday the Mass includes the washing of feet following what Jesus did at the Last Supper.  At the end of the Mass all the candles, and candlesticks are removed along with the statues, crosses etc.  The church is left in silence and in darkness.  The reserve Sacrament is placed in St Michael’s chapel which has now been made into the Garden of Repose.  A silent watch is kept here until 12 Midnight.

At 3pm on Good Friday we gather in the still silent church with no candles lit.  After the readings, the crucifix is brought forward from the back of the church.  Everyone is then invited forward to venerate the cross.  The reserve Sacrament is brought from St Michael’s chapel and is used for communion.  The church is then left again in silence.

Then at 5am on Easter Morning we gather for the wonderful Easter Vigil.  The Pascal Candle is lit, gradually followed by all the other candles.  During the Gloria party poppers are let off, bells ring and there is rejoicing as Jesus rises from the dead.


‘We may not be the young ones very long’.  That line from an early Cliff Richard number is one of the truest song lyrics I know!  Where do the years go? Recently I consulted my GP regarding various ailments troubling me, and the doctor – a clergy daughter with a good sense of humour, turned to Sue and said, ‘The trouble is, Sue, he’s getting old and wearing out.  You need to get yourself a new one!’  I think she was only joking, and I am relieved that so far I have not detected any signs that Sue has taken her advice.

By coincidence, I then read a poem which appeared in the newsletter of the old folks home where my mother-in-law is living.  The poem was entitled ‘I’M FINE – THANK YOU’.  It might not win any literary awards, but it is amusing and goes like this:

There is nothing the matter with me

I’m as healthy as can be.

I’ve arthritis in both my knees

And when I talk I wheeze.

My pulse is weak, my blood is thin

But I’m awfully well for the state I’m in.

Arch supports prop up my feet

Or I wouldn’t be able to walk down the street.

Sleep is denied me night after night

Yet every morning I find I’m alright.

My memory is failing, my head’s in a spin

But I’m awfully well for the state I’m in.

My moral is this (as my tale unfolds)

That for you and for me that’s growing old.

It’s better to say, “I’m fine” with a grin

Than to let folks know what a state I’m in.

How do I know my youth is spent?

Well my Get Up and Go just got up and went.

Old age is golden, I’ve often heard said

But sometimes I wonder as I get into bed.

Hearing aid in the drawer, my teeth in a cup

My specs on the table until I wake up,

Before sleep overtakes me I say to myself

Is there anything else I could lay on the shelf?

When I was young my shoes were blue

But still I could dance the whole night through.

Now I am old my shoes are black

I walk to the shops and puff my way back.

I get up in the morning and dust off my wits

Pick up the paper and read the Obits.

If my name is missing I know I’m not dead

So I have a good breakfast and go back to bed!

Fr.  Derek

PS.  The Preacher told me I should be thinking of the hereafter.  I told him I do that all the time no matter where I am – in the kitchen, study, living room or upstairs.  I’m always asking myself “What am I here after?  Remember we old folk are worth a fortune with Silver in our hair, Gold in our teeth, Stones in our kidneys, Lead in our feet and Gas in our stomachs…Now I’ve become a little older I have become quite a frivolous old girl having two gentlemen with me all the time.  Will Power helps me get out of bed – Arthur Ritus never leaves me alone!  Boom! Boom!

The Thrills of driving - beetle drive (click here for report)

Lest we Forget - (part 1)

On Remembrance Sunday I stand there and think about my Great Uncle Len who was killed near Ypres in Belgium in 1915.  Like many others of his generation who served and suffered in that war he died amongst unimaginable horror and his body was never recovered, so there is no grave, but his name is etched on the Menin Gate in Belgium.  Whenever I have the chance I go there, with Len's medals in my pocket, and at 8 O'clock every evening The Last Post is sounded under the memorial.  It is a very moving ceremony and it always makes me weep.

In Abbey Wood on cold November mornings when the Last Post is played at the act of remembrance, the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I an instantly taken back to Ypres.  After the two minutes silence, Reveille and Kohima Prayer the wreath is laid at the memorial in the church and we all line up in silence to cast our poppies around the wreath and then return to our seats.  How many of us look at the 39 names on the two shining brass memorials and wonder who they were and what they did and who they left behind? Well, prompted by two limes in the weekly notices a few months ago, I decided to try and find out.

There are two memorials, one for World War I with 35 names on it and one for World War II with 4 names.  So far I have managed to trace basic details for 27 men, 3 possible traces and 9 that have so far eluded me.  The information I have found includes nationality, rank, service, regiment, unit, age, date of death, cemetery, memorial and in some cases, relatives and place of birth.  I am collecting this information in a booklet which will be available for all in the church in the near future and more information about the ones I have traced will be deatiled in later articles in this magazine.

However, I need your help to try and track down the 3 possible and 9 untraceable.  I want all of these men not just to be remembered my letters on a brass plaque, I want them to be remembered as sons, hsbands, brothers, friends, local lads who went to war and to whom we owe so much.  So please take a mement or two to look at the names listed below and any information that you can give me, however trivial it may seem, could help me reduce the blank spaces in my endeavour.  All of the names below relate to men who were killed in the first was.

Thank you

J E Argent                     S Baker

G B Burton                      A B Farrell

P E Farrell                      C Francis

L W F Gill                       T F Griggs

A Rider                          P J W Staniford

W A Tapsall                    C Wright

By Ann V

Warm - at last

It was in November 2009 that the gas company turned off the supply as there were so many leaks in the pipes.  Mind you, the heating radiators and pipes were about 100 years old.  So - we have been without any heat in church for 15 months.  During the recent cold spells and snow it was very cold: in fact it was colder inside the church than outside - congratulations to the members of our congregation, and it was most of them, who continued coming to church in spite of the extreme cold.

During December we were so excited when workmen arrived to install new central heating.  It had been a hard struggle to get enough money to warrant a grant, but we made it.

The last week in January the work was completed and the heating was on.  On Saturday 29th January a stalwart band of people arrived at the church to give it a thorough clean - and it needed it.  Everywhere and everything was washed or dusted and polished and everything moved back in its place.

Sunday 30th January the church was warm.  Invitations had been sent out and a great Thanksgiving Service was held.  The Deputy Mayor of Greenwich, Jim Gillman and his wife attended, also the Mayor of Bexley, Val Clark.  The boilers were blessed and then we continued with the Sunday morning Parish Mass.

After Mass a reception was held at which sangria, tea, coffee and a delicious variety of 'nibbles' were served.  Members of the congregation were introduced to the VIP's and a very pleasant time was had by all.

So why don't you come to church one Sunday morning at 10am and experience the warmth for yourself.


Flowers in church

On January 30th flowers were sponsored by Sheila Owen to celebrate her birthday and for the Central Heating Thanksgiving service.

February 2011

Christmas at St Michael’s

Christmas has now passed at St Michael’s and the new heating system will hopefully be finished by the time this magazine is printed.  Although cold in church and the weather outside snowy and icy a small band of people worked extremely hard to clean the church, put up the Christmas tree, replace all the candles, set up the crib, change all the Altar frontals and linen and make the church look splendid with flowers so that Christmas could carry on as normal.

The first of the usual services was the Advent Carol Service.  There was a large choir for this plus a couple of servers.  The choir, servers and congregation all sat in the choir stalls.  The service started in darkness with Fr Derek reading from the pulpit, the servers then lit the candles around the pulpit, with each reading and Carol more candles were lit; from the candles everyone was holding, the ones on the rood screen and finally the High Altar candles.  This service led us from darkness into light.

The following week the Christingle service was held.  Many families attended and got their traditional Christingle: an orange representing the world, with a red ribbon representing the blood of Christ, 4 cocktail sticks each with sweets on representing the fruits of the earth and finally the candle representing Christ, the light of the world.

Unfortunately, the traditional Carol Service was cancelled due to the bad weather and so was the Carol Singing which we do each year around the parish collecting money for different charities.

On Christmas Eve families gathered for the Crib service which finished with the children finding all the pieces for the Crib (sheep, shepherds, Mary, Joseph etc) and taking them and placing them in the Crib, which this year had been moved to the Lady Chapel.  That is all except one lost sheep who ended up sitting on one of the lectern candle sticks until the Sunday morning when it finally found its way to the Crib.

Later that evening a few people started the Christmas services by joining Fr David saying the Office of Readings.  This is a short service lasting only about 15 minutes consisting of Psalms, two readings, intercessions and the Te Deum.  The choir then sang some Carols until the midnight Mass started at 11.30pm.  At the end of Midnight Mass the Babino (the baby Jesus), who had spent most of the service laying on the Altar, was processed into the Lady Chapel and laid in the Crib.

The Christmas services continued with Mass on Christmas morning and then the feast of the Holy family on the Sunday.

The following Sunday was Epiphany.  Three young boys had been chosen to be the Kings and joined the Altar party in processing into the church carrying the Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh which they placed in front of the Altar.  The three boys then joined the servers for the Gospel procession.  They also received the communion gifts and passed them to Fr Derek.  At the end of the service Fr David blessed the chalk which is given to the congregation to take home to mark their homes with the symbols 20+K+M+B+11, bringing a blessing on the house and all that live there.  The three Kings then collected their gifts and took them and lay them in the Crib.

Carol Stead

Church Mouse

I have been watching everyone being busy over the Christmas season.  There was the usual small band of people getting the church ready for Christmas, although it was nice to see when help was asked to clean all the brass in church that an 8 year old volunteered (the only volunteer) – and he made a fantastic job of it.

While everyone is busy rushing around doing all the jobs that need doing, both at church and at home, it is sometimes easy to forget that we should prepare ourselves for Mass.  Sitting quietly, hidden in my hole, at the back of the church I see all sorts of people rushing in to Mass.  Some arrive early but then busy themselves doing all sorts of jobs such as getting the coffee ready (important things but not preparing themselves for Mass), others stop to chat with friends telling them about the week they have had, while others arrive just as Mass is starting and others arrive during the service.

It is very important to get into the right frame of mind before the service begins.  Some old books used to recommend people to ‘recollect the presence of God’.  That is good advice.  But first of all we have to ‘switch off’: take out of our minds, as far as we possibly can, the concerns of every day, so that in the peace we can allow God to make his presence known.  It is useful to remember, and to repeat silently to ourselves as we sit waiting the words; ‘be still, and know that I am God’ (Psalm 46:10).

Very few people take up the opportunity of joining Fr David to say Morning Prayer.  This is a short service, starting at 9.30am and lasting only about 15 minutes.  It consists of a hymn (said, not sung), 2 psalms, a canticle, a reading, some intercessions and the Benedictus.  It is a good way to put you in the right frame of mind for Mass.

But it is not only about what we do when we arrive at church for Mass, how many people take the time to prepare themselves beforehand? There are a couple of ways of doing this, firstly we should be fasting before Mass.  Now we are only asked to fast for one hour before receiving communion, which isn’t really very much, especially when you consider that you will have been in church for nearly an hour before receiving anyway on a Sunday.

Another way of preparing ourselves is by examining our conscience.  Fr David always advertises times when he is available to hear confessions during Advent and Lent and is also happy to hear them at any other time by appointment but I see very few people using the opportunity (and I promise I don’t listen in).  Is this because people think it is only for Roman Catholics, or are embarrassed, don’t understand about it, or just don’t think they need to? I hear that one of the amazing things about the Walsingham Youth Pilgrimage is the number of young people who take the opportunity to go to confession, there are always lots of priests lined up to hear them and always long queues.

But what is confession and why go? Sin is a fact of life.  Whether we’re guilty of the sins of the flesh (such as adultery, fornication, gluttony, drunkenness), sins of pride (anger, hard-heartedness, envy) or some other kind of moral failing, we all fall prey to sin, all sins separate us from God.

As the Bible reminds, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).

But why the need for the Sacrament of confession when we can easily confess our sins directly to God?  Whenever we sin, our first response should be an immediate appeal to God for mercy and forgiveness.  Repentance should be a regular part of the life of every human being, especially a believer.  God is omniscient.  Even when we repent in the secret of our heart, we are not telling Him anything that He doesn't already know.  Rather, we are acknowledging our sin and taking responsibility for our actions and their consequences.  The question that remains is whether or not this private, one to one conversation with God is enough.  God does not need our repentance, we do.  So God's gift of the forgiveness of sins is tailored to meet our needs.

 Jesus entered into this world to forgive sins.  During His public ministry, Jesus preached about the forgiveness of sins: remember the parables of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:11ff) or the Lost Sheep (Lk 15:1ff), and His teaching that "There will likewise be more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner than over 96 righteous people who have no need to repent." (Lk 15:7) Jesus Himself forgave sins: remember the story of the woman caught in adultery (Jn 8:1ff) or the woman who washed His feet with her tears.  (Lk 7:36ff) Jesus wanted this ministry of reconciliation to continue.  On the first Easter Sunday evening, Jesus appeared to His Apostles, "breathed on them," and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive men's sins, they are forgiven them; if you hold them bound, they are held bound." (Jn 20:21-23) In this scene, Christ instituted the Sacrament of penance and made His Apostles the ministers of it.

 At the ascension, Jesus again charged His Apostles with this ministry: "Thus it is written that the Messiah must suffer and rise from the dead on the third day.  In His name penance for the remission of sins is to be preached to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of this”.  (Lk 24:46ff) Clearly, Jesus came to forgive sins, He wanted that reconciliation to continue and He gave the Church a Sacrament through which priests would continue to act as the ministers of this reconciliation.

Regular confession is a healthy spiritual practice.  Each sincere Christian needs to periodically—every month or two—do a good examination of conscience holding himself to the standard of Christ.  Each person should reflect on how well he has lived a "Christ-like life" by following the commandments and the teachings of the Church.

Perhaps one's failures are not so much thing you have done as they are things you have not done.  For all of these, we bring our soul to the Lord and receive forgiveness.  The healing grace of the Sacrament of penance washes away sin and gives us the strength to avoid that sin again.  The more we love the Lord, the more we are aware of the smallest sins and the more we want to say, "I am sorry.  Please forgive me." One of the ways it was described to the young people one year at the Youth Pilgrimage was that it was like walking around with a stone in your shoe; you wouldn’t walk around all day with it but stop and take it out.  In going to confession we do the same, I am sure this is why Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II went to confession weekly.

Sometimes women are overly suspicious of their husbands..

When Adam stayed out very late for a few nights, Eve became upset.

"You're running around with other women", she charged.

"You're being unreasonable," Adam responded.  "You're the only women on earth." The quarrel continued until Adam fell asleep, only to be awakened by someone poking him in the chest.  It was Eve.  "What do you think you're doing?" Adam demanded.

"Counting your ribs," said Eve.

Romance, love, marriage and all that stuff

- the way children see it...

How do you decide whom to marry?

No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry.  God decides it all way before, and get to find out later who you're stuck with.  - Kirsten, age10

What is the right age to get married?

23 is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then.  - Camille, age 10

No age is good to get married at.  You got to be a fool to get married.  - Freddie, age 6

How can a stranger tell if two people are married?

You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to b yelling at the same kids - Derrick, age 8

What do you think your mum and dad have in common?

Both don't wnat any more kids.  - Lori, age 8

Flowers in church

During December flowers were sponsored as follows:-

Christmas day - by Sue Harper in memory of her mother and nephew Andrew

Phillip Batt in memory of his parents, Rose and Frank Batt

Glenys and Jim Bartley to celebrate the birth of their granddaughter, Charlotte Millie on 21st October 2010, and also the birth of their daughter, Jane on 5th October

During January:-

16th by Adela Johnson in memory of her beloved husband, Samuel Robert Johnson

23rd by Christine Fern in memory of her mother, Daisy Arnold

Sponsored Candles

For Christmas

Carol Stead sponsored the candles for Our Lady's statue

During January

The 7 day Sanctuary Candles were sponsored

23rd by Sue Naylor in memory of her Mum and Dad

30th by Mary Mkali in memory of her Mum and Dad

December 2010 & January 2011

Church Mouse

I have been looking around and noticing how many candles you have in St Michael’s church.  In these days of electric light why bother to still use candles?

Ceremonial lights have been used since the beginning of time, the Greeks and Romans, for example, burnt sanctuary lamps before their temples.  Everlasting flames were kept in the sanctuary and on the Altar in the forecourt of the Temple in Jerusalem as a symbol if the Presence of God in the Ark of the Covenant.

Christ calls himself the Light of the World (Jn 8:12, 9:5, 12:46) and at the Transfiguration his face ‘shone as the sun’ (Mt 17:2).  At Pentecost the Holy Spirit appeared as tongues of fire (Acts 2:3).  These events reinforce the idea that light indicates the presence of God.

 In the early days of Christianity the people continued to light candles at funerals and lamps in the catacombs, as symbols of everlasting lift, of hope, of rejoicing in a new life that had begun and as symbols of the presence of God.  St Jerome laid the ground work for the customs that continue today.  He said that there was nothing wrong if people light candles as a symbol in honour of martyrs and saints, if they feel like it.  Liturgical candles, in other words, are not practical but symbolic, and as symbols they have a proper and valuable function.

After the fourth century there is lots of evidence of the Church’s liturgical use of lights; early writings record their use at funerals, baptisms, ordinations and at the Eucharist.  To start with oil lamps were used but gradually, over the centuries, the use of oil lamps declined in favour of the wax candles we see today and it was already customary to place them on the altar itself to symbolise Christ’s presence in the Eucharist.

Candles are indispensable to any ceremony you can think of.  By the fifth century Pope Gelasius I had already established the feast of Candlemas, the feast of the Purification of the Virgin, when a church’s candles for the whole year are blessed.

Protestants, however, rejected St Jerome’s guidelines and the ancient customs of the Church with regard to candles.  In Britain and the northern countries of Europe, they abolished the use of ceremonial lights completely – officially, anyway.  English Protestant authorities were scandalized by the presence of two lighted candles in the chapel of Elizabeth I, saying that ‘Candle Religion’ was nothing more than ‘Idolatry’.  Later, some priests (including Fr Arthur Tooth, remember him from a previous magazine?) were actually arrested and tried for the ‘use of wax lights and tapers’ amongst other things, which they allegedly used in ‘superstitious ceremonies’.  However, the symbolism of light was so ingrained that no political pressure was ever able to stamp out ceremonial lights completely.

Soon the ritual use of candles fell into different divisions, which still remain today.  They may symbolize God’s presence, particularly the presence of Christ as the Light of the World or they may be offered as an act of devotion, as in votive lights.  Around St.  Michael’s you can see different candles.  There are the 2 seven day candles; the Sanctuary Candle over the Nave Altar and one over the Aumbry containing the Blessed Sacrament, these are always lit to symbolise the presence of God.  There are candles on the Altars.  The number of candles on an Altar varies but usually come in combinations of 2, 4, or 6.  As a rule of thumb the more candles on it the more important it is likely to be.  Side and Lady Chapel Altars usually have 2, or maybe 4, 2 being lit for a low Mass, 4 on a high feast day.  The High Altar can have anything up to 6 candles.  There is also a Pascal candle, this is the candle which is lit at the Easter Vigil and is used to light the candles given to people when they are baptised.

 Then there are votive candles next to statues of Saints which are lit as an act of devotion and finally there are ones which the congregation can light and place in the votive stand.

Fr David led a very good Jubilate meeting a little while ago explaining to the children about lighting votive candles.  He got the children to think of different ways in which we communicate with each other for example, talking, writing letters, emailing, giving gifts, and using sign language.  He explained that we can also communicate with God in different ways; we may pray aloud or silently or use body language or symbols.  Lighting a candle is used as a symbol that we have given our prayer to God; when we leave the candle burning in the votive stand it symbolises that St Michael (or Our Lady or who ever we have asked to pray for us) is carrying on our prayer even when we have left and gone on to do something else and completely forgotten about it.

P.S.  don’t forget you can sponsor the candles in church for a special occasion or in memory of someone.  The two 7day candles can be sponsored weekly at a cost of £5 each.  The Altar, Lectern and other candles are replaced at Christmas, Easter and for our Patronal festival, the cost and list for sponsoring these is on the notice board at the back of the church.

COME, YE THANKFUL PEOPLE, COME! - Harvest Supper - for report click here

Flowers in Church

During November flowers were sponsored as follows:

11th y Peter Ludlow in memory of him mother Eileen Ludlow and his Aunt Peg Stevens

also by Mary Robson in memory of her husband, Billy.

Christmas Fair

We would like to say a big thank you to all who helped at the Christmas Fair and made it a tremendous success.  Also to everyone who came along and supported us and spent their money! We raised a total of over £2100.

November 2010

Church Mouse

Church mouse has been watching people during services, and has noticed that people do things at different times during the service, sometimes they sit, sometimes kneel, and at other times they stand, some may genuflect (bend one knee to the ground) or bow or make the sign of the cross and wondered why this is.

There are obvious times when we stand or sit; standing to sing a hymn or sitting to listen to a reading or the sermon but then we stand for the Gospel Reading and for the Creed and what should we be doing during the prayers?

 The early church adopted many of the rituals of the Romans.  The Gospel takes pride of place in the Liturgy of the Word because the Gospels contain the words of Christ in a unique way.  The book which contains the Gospels symbolises the presence of Christ and the church has always made this point visually.  The book is often kissed ceremonially, it is accompanied by a server carrying a Thurible and by 2 others carrying lighted candles.  All these are honours which used to be paid to Roman imperial dignitaries.  A chair used to be the principle sign of official status, and only the highest ranking officials got to sit down during public ceremonies.  When you stand you acknowledge your secondary status; standing is a sign of respect, like kneeing or bowing.  That’s why is a civil court you stand when the judge comes in and why it’s considered rude to remain sitting when introduce to someone, it means you are pulling rank on them.  So when the Gospel is read we stand to show respect to it.  This is also true of the Gospel Canticles: the Benedictus, the Magnificat, and the Te Deum at Morning and Evening prayer.

 The congregation kneel or stand at the Eucharistic prayer as the priest repeats the words of Christ at the Last supper, first over the bread and then over the chalice, showing each to the congregation as they become the Body and Blood of Christ.  Again, just as in any other imperial court, you stand (or kneel) out of respect for the monarch who has just come in; it is disrespectful to remain sitting at this point (unless of course you are old or infirm and incapable of kneeling or standing).  I being, a mouse, always stand for all the prayers as my knees aren’t made for kneeling.  We should then remain standing (or kneeling) for the Lord’s Prayer and while other people are receiving communion.

The Second Council of Nicaea drew the distinction between proskynesis and latria.  Latria is the Latin word meaning the worship that’s owed only to God.  Proskynesis is a polite gesture.  Bowing, Genuflecting and making the Sign of the Cross are all a form of proskynesis, a gesture or mark of respect that you do to acknowledge a ruler, as they used to do for the Emperor.  It is a ritual way that you courteously humble yourself.  So we bow or genuflect when we enter and leave church or approach the Altar as a mark of respect (just like you would bow to the Queen).  You may also notice the servers bowing to the priest.  During Morning or Evening prayer we bow each time we say the Glory Be.

Sometimes people make the Sign of the Cross, by tracing the shape of a cross by touching the hand on the forehead, the chest then across the body from left to right.  The Sign of the Cross is made by people upon themselves as a form of prayer.  It is usually made during the introductory greeting of the service, before the Gospel reading, before receiving Communion and at the final blessing.  It is also made upon entering the church, first dipping your fingers in the Holy Water stoop, to remind us of our Baptism.

Flowers in church

During October flowers were sponsored as follows:

24th by Peter Ludlow in memory of his father, Thomas Ludlow

31st by Marjorie Gillespie in memory of her sister Kitty's birthday on 6th Nov


22nd November Jeanette Harding sponsored the 7day Sanctuary candle in memory of her husband, Cyril Harding

October 2010

Hyde Park Vigil

In late July I was approached by Fr Richard from St Benet’s church and asked if I would like a ticket to see the Pope at Hyde Park, I was delighted to accept and later found out that they had also asked Fr David.  Unfortunately due to other commitments that morning ( I was serving at the Forward in Faith Mass at Southwark Cathedral and Fr David had visits to make) we were unable to travel with the group from St Benet’s to Hyde Park but I collected our tickets the evening before and Fr David and I set off together at 2.30pm.  When we got to Hyde Park I expected there to be long queues to get in but the doors had opened at 2pm and the queues had died down.  The park was packed with thousands people of all ages, with lots of families and young people, who had settled themselves down for the long wait.  We wandered around for a while to see if we could find the group from St Benet’s but it was like looking for a needle in a haystack so found ourselves a spot about half way into the crowd.  Although the platform was a long way off and you could only just make out people on it everything was shown on giant screens around the grounds.

People were waving flags and being entertained by singers.  Then a long procession began of representatives from each church carrying their banners into the platform and shaking hand with the English and Welsh Bishops.

Next several people got up and spoke about their faith this included a former drug addict, and an asylum seeker.  As family of Jimmy Mizens got up and spoke about the day their son was murdered the day after his 16th birthday silence fell over the 80,000 crowd to hear them speak.  We were then all asked to stand and they filmed us sending a message to the World Leaders meeting in America next week to end poverty.

The big screens then turned to the Popemobile making its slow journey to Hyde Park along roads full of people who had come out to catch a glimpse of him.  Cheers went up from the crowd as we watched him approach.  It was strange seeing him enter the park on the big screen but not being able to see the Popemobile, and then we caught a glimpse of him as he arrived in front of the platform.

Pope Benedict then took his seat on the platform and was welcomed.  The atmosphere had now changed in the park from the party like atmosphere with people chatting to those around them to the quiet of a service.  After an opening prayer, we had a reading from Ephesians; this was followed a cantor leading the singing of Psalm 119 and the Gospel from Matthew (the Beatitudes).  The Holy Father then gave a Homily, explaining that the Vigil was to prepare for Sunday’s Mass in which John Henry Newman was to be beatified.  He reflected on the life of Newman, and reminded us that not far from where we were standing great numbers of brothers and sisters died for their faith and that ‘In our own time, the price to be paid for fidelity to the Gospel is no longer being hanged, drawn and quartered but it often involves being dismissed out of hand, ridiculed or parodied’ and that ‘there can be no separation between what we believe and the way we live our lives.  Our every thought, word and action must be directed to the glory of God and the spread of his Kingdom.’ He went on to address the young people present telling how some are called to family life, some to teaching, some to religious life and some as priests, urging them to listen to God’s call for them.  He then invited them to join him next year in Madrid for World Youth Day.

The Holy Father then lit the Pascal candle and the light passed to candles carried by representatives from the parishes as the Blessed Sacrament Procession began.  As we chanted ‘Adoramus Te Domine’ the Monstrance was placed on the Altar.  Kneeling amongst a silent congregation of 80,000 I could no longer see the platform but could see the Host displayed on the big screen.  We then prayed the Liturgy of the Sacred Heart before Cardinal Newman’s prayer Radiating Light was read, followed by Newman’s hymn Lead kindly Light and the prayer of St Francis of Assisi.  We all sang Tantum Ergo in Latin before the Holy Father, now wearing the Humeral veil, lifted the Monstrance and gave Benediction.  As the Vigil ended there was an explosion of applause, cheering and waving of banners and flags as the Holy Father left the platform.

One lady from our congregation had remarked to me in the morning that she didn’t see the point of going to a large thing like that, you wouldn’t get to see the Pope and would be much better off watching it on TV but it wasn’t about seeing the Pope, it was a wonderfully moving experience to join such a large crowd in worship, and prayer celebrating our Catholic faith and hear the Holy Father speak and be in his presence.

Carol Stead

The church mouse

The summer has been a busy month in church with people coming and going.  I’ve heard the choir have been singing in Dublin and there have been two pilgrimages to Walsingham; firstly a weekend staying at the Shrine, followed a couple of weeks later by a group of young people camping at the Youth Pilgrimage.

I heard some of those who went on the weekend pilgrimage talking about Fr Arthur Tooth who was imprisoned for, amongst other things, the use of incense.  But what is incense and why do you burn it on a Sunday? It’s not just to make the church smell nice.

 Frankincense is a resin produced by a family of desert trees.  These trees grow scattered across the deserts of southern Arabia.  Patches of bark are scraped from the trunk and branches which stimulates a flow of milky-white sap that hardens into droplets of resin.  These are weak in scent and usually thrown away.  A second scraping gives a low-quality frankincense, but the third stimulates the flow of sap which dries to amber-gold crystalline lumps, which is the finest frankincense and is very expensive.  Incense in made up of frankincense mixed with other less-expensive aromatics.  At St.  Michael’s different incense are used; Rosa Mystica is a more expensive incense which is used at Christmas, Easter and for the Patronal Festival, Basilica is used for other feasts, with Abbey used for most other Sundays.

Frankincense was used hundreds of years before the birth of Christ.  God ordered Moses to set up a special Altar of Incense (Ex 30:1-7) and the Hebrews used it in their services in the Temples, incense was understood by the Hebrews to be a ‘pure offering’ pleasing to God.  At the Nativity the Magi offered gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.

Christians never really adopted the Hebrew concept that the fragrance of frankincense pleased God materially, the way it pleases a human who smells it.  Instead, Christians use it as a symbol of purification and of prayer.  In the Apocalypse St John refers to an Angel ‘having a Gold censer; and there given to him much incense, so that he might offer with it….prayers...And with the prayers….there went up before God from the angel’s hand the smoke of incense.’ (Rev 8:2-4).

Incense has been used as a sign of purification by Christians from the earliest times.  The oldest surviving book which lists the prayers to be said at Mass requires a deacon carrying a golden censor to precede the bishop as he enters the sanctuary, as a sign of purification of the church before Mass begins.  For this reason too, incense was used at every Catholic High Mass, as well as Benediction and other ceremonies before the Second Vatican Council, it is now optional in Catholic churches.

Fr Arthur Tooth was prosecuted in 1876 under the Public Worship Regulation Act 1874.  The Public Worship Regulation Act 1874 had been introduced as a Private Member’s Bill by the Archbishop of Canterbury to limit what he perceived as the growing ritualism of Anglo-Catholicism and the Oxford Movement within the Church of England.

Arthur was ordained in 1864 and in 1868 became vicar of St James, New Cross, a working class parish in South East London.  His effort to renew the life of St James attracted large congregations.  His approach combined capable preaching, the introduction of ritualist practices, and the establishment of parish organisations designed to help the more needy residents of the area.  .  He was charged with (among other things) the use of incense, vestments, and altar candles.  Eventually in 1877 he was taken into custody and imprisoned for contempt of court.  He wasn’t the only one to be prosecuted; many priests were, with four others also being imprisoned.  Prosecutions ended in 1906.  However, the act remained in force until 1st march 1965.

So, next time you smell the sweet smell of incense in church, remember that it has been used for centuries and remember those, like Fr Arthur, who were imprisoned for its use.

Flowers in Church

During September flowers were sponsored as follows:

On 11th By Carol Stead for Lorraine's wedding

On 19th By Michael Edwards in memory of his father Caradog

On 26th By Norma Simpson

Candles in Church

On 11th the 7 day Sanctuary candle was sponsored by Carol Stead to celebrate the marriage of her daughter Lorraine to Donald Barron

On 11th Carol also sponsored the 7 day Blessed Sacrament candle to celebrate the birthday of her son, Paul.

September 2010


Gabija tells us about a treasure hunt Jubilate did earlier in the year.

When we did the treasure hunt we needed to get into pairs.  It was really fun, because