The Vicarage, 30, The Ridgeway
We had a fantastic trip to the Holy Land! Photos can be found here. Flying from Luton (a new and not unpleasant experience), we spent Monday 17th travelling, arriving on time and in time for an evening buffet supper. This time of year is quiet in the Holy Land, and we found we were the only pilgrims in The Golden Walls hotel, and very unusual experience for Stephen and I. On our first day Tuesday 18th we set off early to go to the Mount of Olives, to a church associated with Jesus teaching the disciples the Lord’s Prayer, where it appears on the walls in over 150 different languages. Then we went to the church of Dominus Flevit (Jesus wept) to admire the view and celebrate an opening Communion Service, which was very special as we prepared to enter into a spirit of pilgrimage. Then we walked down Olivet to the Church of St Mary Magdalene (where Prince Philip’s mother is buried). It is an Orthodox Church, not always open, but with a special association for us of course. As with so many places we sang a hymn there, enjoying its resonant acoustic and the joy of praying in song. (S)he who sings, prays twice! We continued through the Garden of Gethsemane to the modern Church of All Nations. After lunch with the Scottish Presbyterians we went to the Israel Museum to study the great model of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus and to see the Dead Sea Scrolls. Then we visited Abu Gosh, a proposed site of the Emmaus road encounter. It is a beautiful crusader church with a resonant acoustic and we sang ‘Lead me Lord’ and ‘Abide with me’.
On Wednesday 19th we walked to the Pool of Bethesda, sang in St Anne’s Church and walked the Via Dolorosa, through the winding streets and souks of Jerusalem. It is a modern experience with ancient and holy resonance. Two unusual stop-
On Thursday 20th we went up Mount Zion to St Peter in Gallicantu, the site of Caiaphas’ house, and of the imprisonment and trial of Jesus. Fittingly the place overlooks the ancient site of Gehenna, a byword for Hell. It also has the ‘holy steps’ down which Jesus walked into Jerusalem. It is a very authentic place and also has the cistern in which Jesus was probably incarcerated when arrested. We descended to it and sang ‘Jesus remember me’, a profound a moving experience of our Lord’s suffering. And as was so often the case, we remembered those we had brought with us in spirit who rejoice on a greater shore, those who have been pilgrims on our journey in the past and who have reached their destination in peace and joy and hope. This profound visit was followed by a contrasting trip to the Yad Vashem Memorial Museum, where the Holocaust is commemorated, explained, and used as a justification for the creation of the modern Israel. Some of the ironies of the place are lost on many. A people who were forced to live in ghettos, but who now have a land, exclude Palestinians by building walls around them, creating ghettoes of a different kind. Nevertheless the place is a sad and salutary place, and the children's memorial is unbearable in its candlelit beauty. A few of our number missed this, preferring to see the Chagall Windows elsewhere, also very beautiful. Appropriately, after lunch we crossed into Palestinian territory to Bethany, to remember the raising of Lazarus, and then to visit the Jeel boys home and school.
On Friday 21st we went to Bethlehem, very much in Palestinian territory, visiting en route, Herodion, King Herod’s man-
‘O West Bank town of Bethlehem, how still thy victims lie;
the grieving weep, deprived of sleep, militiamen roam by;
for through thy dark streets rageth the never-
such hopes and fears, such bitter tears are met in thee tonight.’
After our service we went to a Palestinian Co-
On Saturday 22nd we had a day in the desert, visiting the discovery place of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran, home of the Essene community around the time of John the Baptist. They were a Jewish sect obsessed with cleanliness and purity, and it may be that he had some association with them and that the Christian concept of baptism owes something to them. Then we travelled to Masada, location of the revolt during which the inhabitants committed suicide rather than be captured and sold as slaves by the Romans. Ironically, built by Herod, presumably by slaves, its final inhabitants preferred death to slavery. It was hot (Stephen climbed up rather than take the cable car!), but afforded stunning views and a real sense of a mountaintop, besieged community. After this we descended and made our way to the Dead Sea, where after a lovely lunch we went for a float, after having traversed baking hot sand and pathways. Some of us had done this in Jordan in November 2012 -
Sunday 23rd was our final day in Jerusalem, and one of our number (an unnamed male churchwarden!) went to the Holy Sepulchre at dawn. No-
Monday 24th was our first day in Galilee and we began it with a visit to the ancient Roman ruins of Sepphoris, where Joseph almost certainly plied his trade as a carpenter and builder. Jesus would have known it too, perhaps learning his earthly father’s trade there. It was surrounded by a copious collection of the most luscious cacti we had ever seen! Then came an ascent of Mount Tabor, supposed location of the Transfiguration. The coach can only go so far up the mountain, thereafter were took to minibuses, which deposited us on top of the world, with views to relish. After a wonderful Italian lunch at the convent atop Tabor, we had a simple but memorable open-
The next day, Tuesday 25th took us to Nazareth, to the well that Mary certainly used, and the Basilica built on the site of her house where the angel Gabriel spoke to her and a synagogue church where Cwm Rhondda bounced off the walls splendidly. We also sang ‘Gabriel’s Message’ as close to the site of the Annunciation as we could. Then we headed off for the Nazareth Village, a sensitively and educationally ordered theme park focused on the original contexts of Jesus’ life and ministry. The visit included an authentic first century Palestinian lunch, which was memorable. After this we went to nearby Cana, a place that only has limited authenticity, but evokes the miracle of water into wine and, of course, sells pomegranate as well as grape wine too! Then it was back to the pool….
By Wednesday 26th it was dawning on us that our miraculous time was coming to a close. We spent the day at Capernaum, where the synagogue Jesus used, and the house of Peter’s mother-
On Thursday 27th, we set off for home, challenged, changed, suntanned and grateful for a truly remarkable experience. We visited the Roman maritime port of Cæsarea, beautiful in the Mediterranean sea. and and light. Some got their feet wet before we went to Jaffa (Joppa) for lunch and then onto the airport.
I will give a talk about our trip with sound and images on October 21st when I talk to the Fellowship. Do come along for more, then!
Blessings from the Holy Land,
26 July 2015
Faye Fori Stevens.
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In the Church Hall
7:00 pm for 7:30 pm
So start getting your tables of 8 organised and let
Janet Whelpdale know.
Our merry band once again is sallying forth from Enfield to Aldwincle in Northamptonshire for our Spring Bellringing Weekend in the beautiful Nene valley: apparently pronounced Neen or Nen depending which part of Northamptonshire you come from. My little car carried Luke, Nan (Janet) and Angela, and me of course, to Graffham Water where we had our lunch. It was a bright day but a bit too chilly to consider eating our picnic outside by the lake. After our break Luke navigated us deftly and we arrived at Peartree Farm to be greeted by the ever smiling Margaret who made us a welcome pot of tea: she had been left ‘in charge’ as Beverley was out collecting her daughter from college. Angela and I were shown our rooms in the stable block and then I followed Beverley down the very bumpy lane to the cottages with Luke and Janet as they were staying there next to the fishing lake along with Gill, David, Mary, and for one night, Tracey and Steve who were joining us for Saturday’s ringing. The fishing lake looked so blue against the backdrop of yellow fields and the green of the new spring leaves on the trees. The sound of bleating lambs and ewes was all around us. When I returned to the farmhouse Janet, Peter, Wendy and Betty had arrived and were closely followed by David, Gill, Mary and John. All present and correct we met up again at a quarter to five at our first ring of the weekend.
Just three and a half miles from Aldwincle is Stoke Doyle and the square tower of St Rumbald, one of only two churches in the Country dedicated to this saint, stood out in the distance as we approached. The churchyard was surrounded by fields, near a meandering stream and yet more sheep! There was a simple brass clock with Roman numerals on the side of the tower. The plain glass in the square leaded light arched windows gave the church an austere appearance from the outside but inside was bright and pretty. The bells here were recast in 1727 from those which were hung in the gothic church thought to date from circa 1265 and had only recently been reinstated after ten years of silence. The bell frame needed to be strengthened and with the help of many volunteers the bells were lowered, and the work was finally done, thanks to a lottery grant, by the beginning of 2014. St Rumbald was our first ring of the weekend and a ground floor ring for which we were grateful after our journey. A set of 5 bells and we soon got them up and ringing. We all had a good ring here and even attracted the attention of some neighbours who came to investigate our presence. There were two green painted staircases in the ringing chamber one on either side leading up to the bells above and mounted on the wall was one of the original bell wheels from 1727.
The sun was beginning to set when we left here and drove off quickly to our second and last ring for Friday evening at St Michael and All Angels at Wadenhoe also dedicated to St Giles. We had rung here before on our first visit to Alwincle but we all enjoyed it so much we wanted to return. The river Nene runs just by the car park at the bottom of the hill where the little church stands. We made our way through the gate and started the steep climb through wandering ewes and their lambs. Our camp followers, Wendy, Betty and Janet decided not to climb the hill but made their way to the pub which was just around the corner! The evening was glorious and the views from the churchyard were stunning. This again was a ground floor ring (just as well after that climb) but these six bells were a bit heavier. The oldest bell here is the No.6 which dates from 1607. In the wall of the bell chamber was a very narrow doorway shaped like a very large keyhole, this doorway obviously led up to the bells themselves. There to greet us was the bell captain for Wadenhoe who told me he had been ringing since 1948 and he was very proud of his recently presented certificate for over 50 years of ringing.
There was a brass plate on the wall to someone else who was commemorated for a 50 year career and that was the Headmistress of the former Church of England School in the village -
We all enjoyed the ringing at the lovely church and as we made our way back down the hill to the car the evening was still bright and our camp followers were just making their way back to the cars too. We set off back to Peartree Farm cottages for our traditional Fish and Chip supper which was organized brilliantly again by David and Gill and a welcome meal was enjoyed by all. Tracey and Steve had arrived in time for supper which we all enjoyed down at the cottages by the lake. We chatted and relaxed after the exertions of the evening and eventually dispersed back to our various rooms.
Following a hearty breakfast the next morning, cooked by Beverley and served by the ever smiling Margaret, we set off for our first ring of the day to St Peter’s at Raunds. We had to wait in our car behind Peter as he set his Sat Nav. Eventually he left but turned in the opposite direction from us and with Luke’s expert navigation we succeeded in getting to the church first! Parking was a bit of an issue but we were lucky managing to find a spot close to the lovely neat churchyard. Another lovely sunny day with the pigeons cooing in the trees. This was another ring of 8 but with a long draught. The tenor was very heavy; it weighed over a ton. Luke and Steve started the attempt to get it up to ring. Then David helped Luke. Finally after 5 minutes Luke succeeded and the tenor was ready to go. I was not expecting to be able to ring here as the bells were all quite heavy. However I did manage to ring the treble for a short while which was not too frightening. I was pleased that I had had a go but was not sure about a second. Mary took over from me on the treble and rang very well. Kate, Jason and Bea arrived while we were ringing here and Kate took over from Gill on No.2.
There were numerous paintings which dated from the reformation on the walls inside this church. They were amazing considering their age and well preserved too. I didn't manage to catch the name of the very pleasant lady who opened up the church for us but she showed us around and was very informative. Some of the stained glass windows were quite modern and there was a lovely one depicting Jesus and the fishermen, and the feeding of the 5000. A 24 hour clock, which was attached to the inside wall of the bell tower, dated from 1450, but it had to be disconnected and no longer worked because of subsidence and movement of the tower.
I did manage one more ring on the treble but had to stand my bell as I had run out of puff! David got the heavy tenor down first and then the others were rung down in peal.
An enormous archway gave us access to the entrance to the bell chamber at our next church, St Laurence at Stanwick. This was a ring of 6 bells and thankfully, after our exertions at Raunds, another ground floor ring behind a curtained area. These bells had a very long draught though which always makes me a little nervous. Strapped to the very high walls of the ringing chamber were two very ancient thatching hooks. They were at least 20feet long. The gentleman who let us in was the Bell Captain from St Peter’s at Raunds. He was touting for ringers for a wedding at Raunds and I believe he was hoping we would offer our services. The grand deeply carved stone 14th century font was dwarfed by the amazing high arches throughout the church. We all enjoyed the ringing here and the bells sounded lovely but by now we were getting a bit hungry; only one more tower before lunch.
St Peter’s at Irthlingborough was a very interesting building which was originally a school. The bell tower was separate from the Church. The tower was square and built on top of it was a hexagonal clock tower, mostly of grey stones but with red bricks running up the corners. I was a bit behind everyone else when I got to the short flight of steps and the gentleman who was in charge of the tower told me there were 15 steps. I started to climb the spiral staircase, head down and counting. I got to 23 and said out loud “perhaps he said 50”. Luke chimed up from somewhere “where are you going Angie?”. I had missed the little door into the bell chamber because it was shut and I was making my way far too far up the tower.
The bell chamber was very smart with wood panelling and many peal boards announcing various achievements over the years. On the floor in front of each ringer was a little mat with a picture of a bell. Mats are quite common in bell towers. They are placed on the floor just in front of the ringer and are designed to protect the carpet underneath from the long rope which can hit the floor many times during ringing. There were 8 bells here and we all had a good ring but hunger was beginning to niggle and soon we were making our way to Finedon.
Lovejoys in Finedon was a quaint little café/restaurant. David and Gill had persuaded them to open up on a Saturday to make us lunch. It was a splendid meal and a very welcome break. There were signs all over the café walls with various anecdotes and humorous messages. Following lunch quite a few of our group spent a bit of time in the little antiquarian bookshop next door and Luke made quite a large purchase which took up the rest of the back seat of the car. I was not sure that the back axle would cope with much more!
Pleasantly replete we made our way to St Mary the Virgin in Finedon, just around the corner. We hadn’t had to manage many steps on this tour and this was true again with only a few steps and an overhanging beam to negotiate on our climb to this bell chamber. This was another ring of 8 with another tenor weighing in at over one ton. Luke was making a habit of ringing up these heavy bells and once again achieved this expertly. He had to ring this bell standing on blocks so that made it even more of a challenge. We didn’t do as well as Peter had hoped on these bells but none the less we all had a go and despite minor injuries we carried on. I was definitely feeling very tired as I am sure others were.
Many plaques commemorating past achievements adorned the walls and there was one which read: ‘On the 27 of Feb 1872 the Society of Finedon Change Ringers Performed a feat of five Bell Double Ringing in this Belfry and a Royal Salute consisting of 3000 changes in one hour and 51min’ -
Our last ring of the day was St Mary the Virgin at Burton Latimer a large church with the characteristic sharp steeple pointing up to the blue sky. We had been so lucky with the weather again.
St Mary the Virgin was another ring of 8 bells. This was a galleried ring accessed by a set of very steep steps but it was a spacious bell chamber and there was plenty of room for those that were sitting out watching. A wonderful view from the gallery into the body of the church was enhanced by a spectacular display of kneelers. They were so colourful and gave the church a very welcoming feel. There were medieval paintings beside the arches all the way along the walls of the nave which had been beautifully preserved. Certainly this church was well looked after.
I was grateful that this was our last ring of the day as quite honestly I was exhausted. We had been in and out of our cars all day. Burton Latimer was a good last ring and as soon as we had finished we made our way just round the corner to a pub and all enjoyed a well-
It was Sunday morning at breakfast when David said he had had a message from Gordon who sent the sad news about Ray Barker. Although it was expected it nevertheless came as a shock and we spent breakfast time in quiet contemplation.
After breakfast those that were ringing set off for Thorpe Doyle where there was a ring of six bells. Their sole bell ringer was delighted when a team rolled up to ring and they were welcomed by a kind lady Vicar.
We all met up again briefly at Graffham Water for a coffee before our return to London on Sunday lunchtime. We enjoy having our camp followers with us and hope they had enjoyed the weekend too. We had certainly been to some very different churches and met some interesting characters. Thanks again to David and Gill for finding the churches and organising the accommodation and food and to Peter for his help, encouragement and instruction. And we are going to do it all over again next year -
On behalf of my brother, myself and all my family I would like to thank all who helped to make my Dad’s funeral service such a moving and uplifting occasion. The Bell Ringers and the Choir whose contributions made everything so special. Gordon’s guidance, help and advice throughout was invaluable. Heartfelt thanks to everyone who sent cards and personal messages and memories of him, it really did help.
Thank you all.
The Drama Group are producing for your delight and entertainment a Revue with members of Southgate Opera celebrating the word spoken and the word sung. To be performed in the Church Hall on the weekend of the 23/24th October. Further details to follow.
The next Traidcraft stall will be on
in the hall after 10:00 am service.
All the usual essentials and treats will be there.
Come and see if there is anything new.
The Revd Dr Gordon Giles, Reflections on the Israel Trip.
Ms Mary Shilling, Roman London.
Christmas Meal, venue to be confirmed.
A favourite refrain from Johnson Oatman Jr’s 1897 hymn, Count Your Blessings (When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed) is appropriate, as we count our many blessings, among them thanking God especially for:
The continued opportunity to enjoy His wonderful church that meets at Saint Mary Magdalene -
Hosting The Home Group -
Our guest speaker, Jessica, who prepared, presented and blessed us with some stimulating and enlightening insights into aspects of her Open University work. The evenings focus concentrating primarily upon the serious matter of Christianity and the law and it’s implications upon society. For more details please visit: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/profiles/guest-
The generous blessing of a sturdy, compact and manageable BBQ from Pam and pristine, practical utensils from Betty. Combined with Dawn’s most enthusiastic cooking, afforded us all a delicious BBQ picnic bring and share. The warmth of the company gathered, reflected in the warmth of the evening God blessed us with, outshone only by the ensuing clear night views of His radiant, starry heavens above. To name but a few...
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Words: Johnson Oatman Jr (1856-
Music: Edwin O. Excell (1851-
For further details please visit:
A Friends of The Home Group appeal:
Would you please bless us with a donation of garden chairs, a garden table would also be useful, they’d be most appreciated. Thank you for your considerations.
God bless. Love Laura, Ken and Dawn.
The North West Group’s Committee will meet at Our Lady of Lourdes, Holtwhites Hill, on Thursday 17 September at 8.00 pm.
After a summer break, we resume the concerts on the second Wednesday of the month. They begin at 12:30 pm and usually last about 30 minutes. Following the concert and thanks to our team of hardworking ladies, a ploughman’s lunch costing just £3.00 is available for those who wish. There is no charge for entry to the concerts but there is a retiring collection which pays for Performing Rights Charges, a small donation towards musician’s costs and any surplus towards music in our church.
At 12.30 pm on Wednesday 9 September, Catherine Leonard will play the piano. She has played at one of our concerts in the past and because of the quality of the music she made she has been very popular. Do come along if you have time.
Ploughman's Lunch £3.00, if required, in the Choir Vestry afterwards
Susannah Knight -
Sandra Sinclair -
To be confirmed
Items for the October 2015 edition to the editor by Sunday 13 September, please. It would be appreciated that if items are submitted on CD, they should be accompanied by a hard copy and with details of the file name. Documents should be in Microsoft Word or plain text. Please use the magazine section of the pigeon-
Laura and Ken Cope
Lilian and Colin Gibbens
June and Ron Carr
Thank you to them all for volunteering. I do hope many of you will manage to join us for at least some of these dates, especially as it will be our last year of supporting our dear friends at Imagine and all the wonderful work they do.
When planning an event, however large or small, do please consider St Mary Magdalene Church Hall.
The large hall can accommodate up to 80 people seated or 120 standing and has a well equipped kitchen with full cooking facilities.
The small hall seats 24 or around 40 standing and has its own self-
For details of availability and rates please use our contact page.
26 September 2015
Ken and Laura Cope, Gill Bird
31 October 2015
Vic Harrington, Pam Hagan, Helen Clarke
28 November 2015
Peter Lamb, Carol Lamb, Eleanor Pritchard
2 January 2016
Vic Harrington, Pam Hagan, Helen Clarke
If you know of any lady or gentleman who would be able to help with stapling or if you are unable to keep the above dates please contact either Michael or Janet Dixon or Janet Whelpdale.
Get your cowboy boots out, dusted and polished for a
Our next walk will be on Sunday 13 September. Meet at the Vicarage at 2.30 pm when we shall go to North Mymms.
On the walk last month I had just Dave Cockle for company and after a short walk we treated ourselves to tea and cakes at Upshire.
Charity Registration Number: 1133095
Raise money for St Mary Magdalene when you shop online by clicking on the image below…
Website by KC-
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