Thank you for taking an interest in the welfare of St.
Mary's Church and welcome to the "Friends". Some of you will
have joined at the launch in October, others as a result of our
information leaflet and some by persuasion. Whatever the route, we share a
common purpose to care for and maintain St. Mary's Church, Cricklade.
Those who were present at the launch and blessing on 10th
October 1998 will bear testimony to its success. The congregation
comprised past and present/worshippers at St. Mary's, and many of our
Anglican brethren provided a touch of personal history to add to that of
our historical researchers. It was a warm and friendly occasion much
enjoyed by all.
The upkeep of ancient buildings is a costly business.
The bell tower needs re- pointing and there is subsidence work to be
carried out along the north wall. Repairs to ancient buildings have to be
executed in materials appropriate to the age of the fabric, and by
craftsmen skilled in this type of work. Such expensive work is beyond our
means without recourse to grants from English Heritage and/or the Lottery.
We are preparing our case.
I expect you know that the target for our appeal is
£35,000. This represents a tidy sum for such a small community. Since
October we have already raised £3,355 which consists of money from the
collection at the launch, donations, membership of "Friends", an
Italian supper evening and a share of the sponsor money raised by the
bicycle ride in aid of "The Historic Churches of Wiltshire".
We have plans for Coffee Mornings, a Fete, an Auction
and allowing the church to be used for other events e.g. recitals. As the
organ needs an overhaul and we require abetter form of heating, money must
be spent in order to raise money. We hope to be able to place our plans
and estimates for the heating before the Diocesan Committee in March. As
we expect the heating to cost more than twice the sum already raised, any
other suggestions for fund raising will be much appreciated.
Those of you who regularly worship at St. Mary's will
be aware that the kneelers have been padded and covered as a boost to
comfort. This improvement is the first fruit of the Friends of St. Mary's
Church. We hope it will encourage more parishioners to join our cause.
At the last committee meeting, it was decided that the
accounting year will run from 2nd February, the Feast of
Candlemas. Those of you who joined us so promptly will benefit from a few
extra months free membership.
Finally, we look forward to a long and happy
association with you all, and to seeing you at our fund raising events,
details of which follow. The next newsletter will be issued in July.
FOR YOUR DIARY - FUTURE EVENTS
|23 January 1999
Morning and Bring and Buy, at The Old Forge House, Marston Meysey,
at 10. 30 a. m.
of Manus and Maureen Moran.
|5 June 1999
Fete at Brook House, Cricklade, at 2 p.m.
of Seymour and Louise Aitken.
|Autumn ( date to be announced)
Auction of small antique items and collectibles.
contact Fr. Richard or Geny Dudley if you have any items for
HISTORICAL NOTES from Edmund Lee
IN THE BEGINNING ...
When was St Mary's founded? This seems like an obvious
point to start any history of St Mary's, but the answer is far from
simple. The traditional sources that can help us to establish turning
points in history - documents, pictures, commentaries by contemporaries -
are all, unfortunately, lost to us or are silent on the subject of St
Mary's in its earliest centuries. The architecture of the building we see
today can give us enough clues to say that a substantial stone building
was on the site by the end of the 11th century. The
semicircular chancel arch with chevron or 'dog-tooth' carving is
characteristic of the first great wave of medieval church building that
swept through the country following the Norman conquest. In a modest way,
the chancel at St Mary's recalls the style of some of the great cathedrals
of the period - Westminster Abbey and Durham Cathedral, for example.
However, we know that Cricklade itself dates back to the late 9th
century when it was established by King Alfred. So does St Mary's also
date from the Saxon period? To answer this question we must rely on the
evidence of archaeology.
Ask an archaeologist to put a precise date on any
significant event, and you are likely to be met with a nervous shuffling
of the feet and talk of 'around', or 'possibly before' or 'at some time
during'. It isn't just professional caution: archaeological evidence is
simply like that. Often a significant point can turn on whether one muddy
brown layer lies on top of another, implying that it must have been laid
down later, or the other way round, implying that it must therefore be
earlier. This is the case with the investigation of St Mary's. A 'dig'
just outside the north wall of the nave in the 1960's made two significant
discoveries. First there was a spread of soil that originally formed the
earth rampart that was the town wall, which ran roughly east west along
the north edge of the churchyard. Second there was evidence for a stone
foundation beneath, and on a different alignment to the North chapel,
where the organ now sits. The original excavator thought that the
collapsed Saxon rampart lay on top of the old foundation, implying that
there was an earlier stone building on the site before the Saxon wall
collapsed. However, later authors have argued that the foundation may have
in fact been dug into, and therefore be later than the collapsed wall. On
this apparently minor detail revealed in a cramped trench thirty years ago
rests the case for or against the Saxon origin of St Mary's.
Or does it? There is one hint in the documents that do
survive from the court of King Ethelred almost exactly one thousand years
ago. Ethelred made a land grant in 1008 to the Abingdon abbey near Oxford.
Until recently, it had been assumed that this land was the Abingdon Court
farm at the northwest corner of the town. However, it is now suggested
that in fact the whole of the north end of the town (from Gas Lane
northwards) was granted to the abbey. What makes this detail significant
is the dedication of the abbey of Abingdon - it was St Mary's. What could
be more natural than that the monks of Abingdon should dedicate a new
chapel to serve the needs of the small community that they had acquired,
and that they should dedicate it in honour of their patron saint? The
defences of the town had just been restored by Ethelred a few years
previously, and it may be that the land on which the church now stands,
now no longer required for the defence of the inhabitants, was dedicated
instead to the spiritual wellbeing of the community of Cricklade.
So, 1008AD, just before the end of the Saxon period is
when St Mary's was founded - giving us nine years left to prepare for our
very own millennium celebration. In future articles I hope to look at
other aspects of the history of the church.
PERSONAL MEMORIES from Vera Holbrooke
E.xtracts from a letter written by Mrs Holbrooke to Fr
Richard Barton, and reproduced here with her permission.
My grandparents, Elizabeth and James Robinson regularly
worshipped at St. Mary's. My parents, Albert and Lillian Robinson were
also regular worshippers. My father was Churchwarden for over 30 years.
I was born in 1909 and baptised at this Church. At 8
years old I became a member of the Choir. At 12 years was confirmed here.
I was appointed organist at 16, a post held until the amalgamation (of St
Mary's and St. Sampson's Anglican parishes) in 1952 ( except when my
daughter was born). In 1939 I was married here and my husband became
Churchwarden with my Father.
My brother, Sydney James Robinson, was baptised here,
was Choirboy, Server, Sexton and was responsible for winding the Church
My sister, Audrey Brock, was baptised here, joined the
Choir at the age of 7, remained a member until the amalgamation, then
transferred to St. Sampson's Choir, where she remains a member at the age
What a tremendous family history of commitment to St.
We would welcome other recollections of St. Mary's past
for inclusion in future newsletters. Contributions can be passed to any
committee member. (see below)
AN APPEAL FOR HELP from Bernadette Yarnold
The altar frontal embroidered by Cicely Miller at the
beginning of the century is in need of urgent repair. The silk background
has rotted, probably due to the damp. We have been advised that we should
cut the embroidery away from the silk and re-mount it on a suitable
upholstery fabric. This requires: