January News from Saint Mary’s.

We have a vaccine!  Rejoice and be merry – but not just yet!  Christmas came and we celebrated the best we could under the circumstances.  The year 2020 has gone, and will probably go down in history as a year we would wish to forget, even though it will be remembered for many different reasons.  March (and again in November) saw the closure of our churches for the first time since the early 13th century.  I was moved to read an article recently, from a priest who said:

‘When I closed and locked the doors of the church I knelt down in a pew and cried.  People come hear to pray, to give thanks, to share their fears and their joys.  But now the House of God is locked up and there are no services there…… I think of the day when I shall take the key and unlock the doors, and the people will come in again – and they will see that all along, the light was burning in the darkness.  That God was there with us all the time’. 

The perpetual Blessed Sanctuary lamp at S. Mary’s continues to burn in the darkness as a sign of the Presence of Our Lord, and in the knowledge that He has not deserted us, nor we Him.    

Fr. Hope Patten was assistant curate here at S. Mary’s from 1919 to 1921.  This month we celebrate the centenary of his appointment as Parish Priest of

S. Mary’s, Walsingham in Norfolk, where he became instrumental in restoring the Shrine of Our Lady.  During his time in Buxted he worked closely with the nuns of The Community of The Blessed Virgin Mary; helping the homeless, and all those suffering as a result of the last pandemic – 1918-20.  In those days there was no NHS, but one could imagine that after four years of war the local people were only too happy to ‘Clap for the Nuns’ who were working tirelessly to help relieve those suffering from ‘Spanish Flu’.

Due to the restrictions last month we were unable to sing our favourite Carols, only hum them through our masks.  However, although we may not be at the end of this terrible pandemic, with a vaccine, we are, I feel sure, at the beginning of the end.  I am reminded of the chorus from the Christmas Carol ‘God rest you merry Gentlemen’:

O tidings of comfort and joy,

comfort and joy!

O tidings of comfort and joy!

May Jesus Christ and the hope he brings, give you ‘comfort and joy’ in 2021.

Colin Woolgrove.

Elizabeth Winifred Burditt


It is with sadness that we announce the death of Elizabeth Burditt on 8th December 2020, at the age of 99.  Elizabeth had been a stalwart of S. Mary’s for many years and played an active part in Church life, the Walsingham Cell and the wider parish.

She will be sorely missed.  May she rest in peace and rise in glory.   

Elizabeth’s funeral will be held at S. Mary’s on Wednesday 6th January at 1.00 p.m.

However, at the time of writing it is anticipated that numbers attending will be limited.  Please see the parish news letter for that week.

Elizabeth Winifred Burditt 11th July 1921 – 8th December 2020

Just before Christmas we lost two stalwarts of S. Mary’s.  The following is my tribute to Elizabeth Burditt.  Next month I will produce a tribute to Norman Longley.

Elizabeth Winifred Burditt

11th July 1921 – 8th December 2020

Elizabeth’s early life was marred with tragedy, born in Swansea, both of her parents died leaving her orphaned at the age of 9.  Brought up by her uncle, this early upbringing instilled a strong sense of self survival and determination which endured throughout her life.

When I first met Elizabeth in 2009, it didn’t take long for us to get onto the subject of travel – a passion that both of us shared.  In 1947 Elizabeth, her husband (he worked for British American Tobacco) and their daughter Zanne moved to the Far East.  Bangkok was the first posting, followed by Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Colombo.  Having been posted to the Far East myself in 1969, we spent many hours reminiscing (usually over a glass or two of Tio Pepe) about that beautiful part of the world.  When I returned for a holiday in 2016, Elizabeth insisted I visit places known to her, and was keen to hear of the changes, especially in Singapore, where two of her children (Jane and David) were born.  She was amused that little appeared to have changed in Bangkok and Colombo!

Elizabeth had a wonderful command of the English language and had originally trained as a teacher.  While in Singapore she became the voice of the BBC Far Eastern Station, and due to the poor communications in those days, had the privilege of reading the Queen’s Christmas message over the air each year.  Elizabeth was a prolific writer and always kept Journal – knowing her sense of humour, I imagine this makes for very interesting reading!  Upon returning to the UK, Elizabeth resumed her teaching and became Principal of Eastbourne College of Domestic Economy.

Eventually settling in Buxted (her home for over 55 years), Elizabeth became an active member of S. Mary’s.  A member of the PCC and the Walsingham Cell, she always enjoyed the Cell House Group and would, when it was her turn to host the group, always provided ‘proper’ coffee and an endless supply of chocolate/ginger biscuits.  When Elizabeth’s mobility started to fail she was determined to continue playing hostess to the Cell, and was extremely grateful to receive House Communion from Fr. David until the pandemic restrictions made this impossible.

May she rest in peace.

With grateful thanks to David Burditt for filling in the gaps.

Colin Woolgrove.

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