Since the inaugural Newsletter in January much has
happened to increase public awareness of our aspirations for St Mary's. A
number of our activities and projects have been reported in the local
press, and the resultant interest has generated a few donations and a 25%
increase in membership.
Way back in January, the Coffee Morning and Bring and
Buy raised £479. It was a most enjoyable and successful event, and we
look forward to similar functions. Then, on the Feast of Candlemas, 2nd
February, a sung Tridentine Mass was celebrated in St Mary's. The retiring
collection was most generously donated to the "Friends". After
this, most of our energies were channelled into preparations for the
I recently came across an article in a back number of
The Wilts and Gloucester Standard recording that on 31 July 1915 a Garden
Party was held at Brook House for St Mary's Church when the sum of £7 was
raised. Carrying on a long tradition of support for St Mary's, Seymour and
Louise Aitken kindly allowed us to use the gardens of Brook House.
Intercessions with The Almighty did not keep the rain away, but the loyal
public squelched around the stalls buying books, cakes, plants and
Bric-a-Brac, and participating in many of the games dreamt up for their
entertainment. Finally they refreshed themselves on tea and cakes in the
pouring rain under their umbrellas. All this effort and discomfort was
rewarded with the magnificent sum of £1435.69.
Now that our coffers hold £9500, we are able to be
more constructive with regard to the ever growing list of maintenance and
refurbishment. An application for a Lottery grant towards the cost of
correcting the subsidence is in preparation and due to be submitted in
September, and we have asked the Wayland Trust for a grant to repair the
floor in the bell tower and refurbish the chiming mechanism of the clock.
We hope that the people of Cricklade may once again enjoy the striking of
In the last Newsletter, I appealed for help to repair
the altar frontal embroidered by Cicely Miller at the beginning of the
century. I am pleased to report that a number of volunteers have come
forward (more will always be welcome) and Louise Aitken has most kindly
offered the use of her home for our needlework.
Thank you for your support over the past six months, it
has been so encouraging. We hope you will find something of interest in
our future activities. May I commend to your diary the programme of events
FOR YOUR DIARY - FUTURE EVENTS
Prayers at St Mary's, our patronal feast of the Assumption at 3
is a United Service.
Mary's Church will hold an open day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
and listen to the organ and enjoy a guided tour. Light
refreshments will be available.
musical evening in St Mary's with Mr Tony Frewer and his String
details to follow.
|23rd October (viewing 22nd - p.m.)
Auction of small antique items and collectibles at Cricklade Town
would be pleased to receive suitable items - china, jewellery,
books, small items of furniture, ornaments etc.
contact Fr. Richard or Gerry Dudley if you have any items for
HISTORICAL NOTES from Edmund Lee
In the last issue of the Friends newsletter, I suggested that the first
church of St Mary's was founded around 1008AD by the monks from Abingdon
abbey. In this item, in the run up to the millennium celebrations, I
thought it would be appropriate to consider briefly the history of time as
recorded at St Mary's for almost all of the last 1000 years.
The first time keepers at St Mary's would have been the Benedictine
monks who, quite possibly were responsible for the construction of the
first church on the site. The famous 'Rule of St Benedict' governed the
lives of these monks. Their mother house at Abingdon had been established
for more than 300 years before they first took possession of the lands at
Cricklade at the start of the millennium. Throughout that time, the Rule
under which they lived prescribed the pace and timetable for their days,
punctuated with prayers and ceremony. Knowing the right time of day would
have been important to them in their religious observance. Unfortunately
the church itself retains no evidence for how they would have marked the
passing of time. Certainly the use of graduated candles, hour glasses and
perhaps water clocks was not unknown in the period, though whether the
monks at a relatively remote outpost of their order would have had access
to such devices is a matter of speculation. Perhaps they simply marked the
passage of the Sun and the evening and early morning stars, which are
still just about discernible from Cricklade through the glare of the
The tower at St Mary's was built in the 13th century. This
would have contained at least one bell, probably serving as an Angelus
bell, marking the time for mid-day prayer in the growing community of the
town. No details of this early bell (or possibly bells) survive however.
The first measure of time at St Mary's which we have record of comes
from the 14th century - the century marked by the Black Death.
This was a 'scratch-dial', an early form of sun dial which used to hang on
the south wall of the chancel, which had been extended to project into the
line of the High Street, probably during the 13th century. The
scratch dial can still be seen in the Cricklade Museum.
The passage of longer periods of time was marked at St Mary's from the
1680s. This was when the registers of baptisms, marriages and burials were
started at the church, each year beginning a fresh list.
As mentioned above, bells have marked the Passage of time at St Mary's
since at least the 13th century. However, it is not until the
16th century that we know for sure that there were three bells
in the tower, and of those early bells again no trace remains. The church
accounts for 1733 show that the church acquired a fourth bell, a small
bell that still sits just inside the window in the south wall of the
tower. This was a 'call bell', and bears the inscription 'Come away make
no delay!' It would have been rung to let the parish know that a service
is about to start, and is now rung before Sunday Mass.
The nineteenth century saw an increasing need for local communities to
know the time of day. The earliest surviving in situ timepiece in
Cricklade High Street is the sundial that was constructed on the south
wall of the chancel, presumably replacing the 14th century
scratch dial. Usefully, for those interested in the history of the
building, the builders thought to date it - 1822.
Perhaps it is no surprise that it was the Victorians who brought
timekeeping 'up to date' at St Mary's. The thorough restoration of the
church in the 1860's was completed by the installation of a clock, with
its face on the gable end of the nave, with the mechanism in a cabinet in
the bell chamber in the tower. The clock face and mechanism are connected
by a metal rod which runs the length of the nave just below the ridge of
the roof - you can see it from the inside the church. The clock face is
not easily visible from the High Street however, and it was perhaps for
this reason that some thirty years later an 'Ellacombe's Chiming
Apparatus' was installed in 1896. As originally designed the chiming
mechanism used the largest of the three tower bells to strike the hours.
This bell were removed earlier in this century, but the mechanism is still
The clock installed one hundred and thirty years ago is in perfect
working order, requiring only a weekly wind, and occasional maintenance.
The Friends of St Mary's are hoping in the Autumn to restore the chiming
mechanism to working order, using the small call bell to strike the hours,
a fitting way to mark the passage of nearly one thousand years of time.
From Annie Nash - extracts from family records
Mr. H. C. (Bert) Nash is a "Friend of St Mary's Church" and
has the good fortune to own a family history recorded by his Aunt Annie.
The history chronicles the family's move from Tilshead, Imber and Chitteme
to Wroughton, and finally Cricklade.
"I remember reaching Cricklade in a snowy time, being November. I
have to nurse my brother Percy in front of the fire while the moving was
going on, my brother being rather delicate ..... I could not have been
older than seven. " ( 1885).
"Dad took a shop at Cricklade belonging to the Three Horse Shoes.
(Now 85 High St.). My father's time was taken up building his own business
(blacksmith) which was a struggle for a time I should think, and being a
cute musician he was not happy till he started teaching the men and
working up the Cricklade Town Band which he continued to do till old age.
He died when eighty eight. "
In 1891/92 Annie continues
"The work in the shop was increasing, father obtaining most of the
work in the district, the Kennel, Down Ampney House and Estate, and the
farms." Larger premises were necessary. As an interim measure
"Dad used the blacksmith's shop below the premises belonging to the
Pearce's next to St. Mary's Church", and later set up his business
there. The forge was at the rear of the shop (later to become Hammonds,
then Blackwells - and now new houses) and the Nash family lived in the two
houses next to St. Mary's.
Annie Nash records the christening of her youngest sister Mary Margaret
at St. Mary's and that of her brother Percy ( aged 7) having "been
privately baptised - when an infant."
Daniel Nash, blacksmith and founder of the Cricklade Town Band, whom
his grandson Bert recalls always occupied the pew directly below the
pulpit, made the baptismal font cover in St. Mary's Church. It is of wood
with wrought ironwork decoration and handle, an appropriate memorial to a
blacksmith's family's connection with St. Mary's Church.
And Mrs Molly Viner writes:
I thought I would like to explain my connection with St Mary's Church,
Cricklade, as I was unable to attend the open day. My maiden name was Cuss
and my Grandfather farmed Abingdon Court where my Father was born.
The Cuss family had a pew in St Mary's for almost a century. My Father
was christened there, I was married there by Rev. O.F. Bell, and my son
Simon was christened there. Both my Father and Mother's funerals were held
there, and as I am now 82 am sorry that mine cannot be there as well!
More letters please