A monthly letter
November brings us to the season of Remembrance. On the 5th November we remember those we know who have died, in the service of All Souls at Mudford, with the lighting of candles and the reading out of their names.
The following week we have Remembrance Sunday when we remember those who have lost their lives in war.
I went to Stourhead recently on my own for the first time, and found that here is a wonderful safe place to walk in peace. Stourhead has, in these years when we remember the First World War, highlighted the life of Harry Hoare. His parents had inherited the estate in a rundown state at the turn of the century. They wanted to return it to its former glory and open it up for the enjoyment of others. World War 1 put an end to this with Sir Henry Hoare being made responsible for finding horses for military use. His wife Alda opened up the house and estate for soldiers recuperating from their injuries at a nearby military hospital. A lot of the information about the War years comes first hand from Alda's diaries. When war broke out 121 local men joined up and in the first twelve months 16 were killed.
Young Harry Hoare served with the Dorset Yeomanry in France, Gallipoli and Palestine. In November 1917 he was fatally wounded and died at 29. His parents received the news on Christmas Eve. The Mere magazine recorded his death along with that of Trooper Norman Harding, both noted as only sons and only children.
Sir Henry and Lady Hoare dedicated the 20s and 30s to opening up the estate to the public and in 1946 it was given to the National Trust.
Back to my peaceful walk. I was side tracked into following signs to sculptures depicting the Gallipoli campaign. I managed to get lost and muddy, met no-
Three funerals happened in the week before I went away, and I am reminded of the changelessness of the love of God for everything He has made.
Sunday 5th November Service of All Souls 4pm Mudford followed by tea.
Sunday 12th November Services of Remembrance 10.45am
Marston Magna Churchyard.
As you all know the Churchyard has not been mowed by our contractor for a very long time and is giving us all a great deal of heartache to seeing it look so overgrown. This is not for want of trying to remedy the situation. Contact by phone, letter, e-
While I am speaking of the Churchyard, this year brought two lovely weddings to our Church. Sadly, the second was spoilt by animals. The first crisis was brought about by a loose cow, but the event happened before the bride arrived and was dealt with. The other happened to a wedding guest who trod in what a dog had left behind and its owner had not cleared it up. We are happy for dogs to come into the Churchyard on a lead, but please think of those who also want to use it without spoiling their shoes.
Here, as part of the Diocese of Bath and Wells, we are so fortunate to have such a beautiful cathedral set in an equally beautiful town (sadly not chosen to be next year's City of Culture). As someone who has been part of dioceses who are new creations and have had parish churches as cathedrals, I am thrilled every time I go to Wells, not just to the Cathedral but to the Bishop's Palace and stunning gardens. Clergy even get a free pass for themselves and friends. Let me know if you would like to visit and I will take you.
A cathedral is the principal church of a diocese containing the bishop's throne. It can also be the chief centre of teaching. A dean is the head of the chapter (a kind of governing body) of the cathedral. Wells Cathedral has a wonderful Chapter House where the Chapter meet.
Recently we have had a new dean come to our diocese, Dr John Davies. He is very keen for the Cathedral not to be a remote place with nothing to do with the rest of the Diocese. The Cathedral should be seen as more of a mother church to all. Some of our parishes have the Dean and Chapter as their patron and the Dean wishes these parishes to feel more part of the Cathedral especially. Last month some of us spent a day there, listening to talks, having guided tours and going to Evensong. Wells also has an excellent choir. Some of our Church Wardens and I have had a meeting with the Dean, who was happy to listen to the problems and joys of being small rural churches. I was very surprised and pleased when I asked him if he would come out to us and he agreed.
This year is the Five Hundredth Anniversary of Martin Luther nailing up his 95 theses on Indulgences to the church door at Wittenberg, where he was a professor, on 31st October 1517. This came to represent the beginning of the Reformation.
The Dean is coming to Chilton Cantelo on the nearest Sunday to this date, the 29th October at 4pm.
It will be Choral Evensong with the Dean preaching on the Reformation. The service will be followed by refreshments. Do try to come and meet our Dean.
September brings us to our Patronal Festival. Three of our churches are dedicated to St Mary so we share this special service with Marston Magna, Rimpton and Mudford at Marston on the 10th September at 5pm, with the Benefice Choir and the Reverend Dr Jeremy Swaine as the preacher.
There are four dates in the Church calendar to remember St Mary, the mother of Jesus.
25th March when the Angel Gabriel came to visit Mary with the news that she is to become the mother of God's Son.
31st May Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth whose son John leaps inside his mother at the presence of Jesus, both children as yet unborn.
15th August The Assumption when many churches think of Mary being taken up to heaven, or as the falling asleep of Mary. A novel way of looking at this is in Sue Monk Kidd's ‘The Secret Life of Bees’.
8th September The birth of Mary. This is the time chosen to remember Mary here, on the nearest Sunday to 8th.
Many legends grew around Mary, including the names of her parents, Ann and Joachim. There are other stories about how Joseph came to be chosen as Mary's husband. I knew nothing of these stories until a visit to Chora in Istanbul, to a very ancient church covered in frescos about this.
What we do know from the Bible are the stories of Jesus' birth in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Mary initiated Jesus first miracle, at the wedding at Canaa. She was also there when her son died in John's gospel and was also present with the other disciples in the Upper Room when the gift of the Holy Spirit was given to them all.
At this time we remember the death of Princess Diana, the most photographed woman in the world and I would not be surprised if Mary is not the most painted woman in the world. Legend has it that Luke was the first person to paint her and that Luke must have got a lot of his information about Jesus from Mary. The painting is to be found in Bologna, Italy.
Perhaps the most important thing about Mary is her trust in God and obedience in accepting God's call to be the mother of his Son. To be an unmarried mother at that culture and time in history was not a good place to be.