On a recent train trip I noticed the very attractive picture panel in the station waiting room which depicts ‘Buxted People & Places’. St Mary’s is represented by our recently discovered altar murals, and by a shot of the sign which welcomes visitors to the Upper Churchyard and Community Garden.
The Upper Churchyard comprises the graves on the Rectory boundary and to the rear of the church. These are mostly early to mid 20th century graves, with few signs of them being tended by families.
We maintain a closely mown area behind the east wall, bounded by rose hedging, which hopefully will become a proper Garden of Remembrance with seating. I mow this area with a donated small domestic mower. The front areas, Community Garden and the path up to it are maintained regularly by our contractor Jason, and will remain so.
There have though not been the financial resources to pay the contractor to keep the large remaining area under control. In 2024 we will reluctantly be asking the Rector and PCC to consider whether or not the Upper Churchyard should be officially ‘wilded’.
The murals are in the Arts & Crafts style and date from the late Victorian period. It is hard to imagine what was going through the mind of the incumbent in the early 1950s when he decided to obliterate them with a can of white paint. We have a professional restoration assessment now complete and costed but sadly it will only be possible to preserve fragments.
We have now held five Open Days combined with a Craft Fair each May, to celebrate the role of St Mary’s in the centre of the village and to mark the establishment of the Community Garden in 2018. You may remember that this was combined with evening fireworks in 2022. Due to a number of factors, we are unable to continue with this large scale event, but would like to thank all of the volunteers, exhibitors and business sponsors who contributed to the five very successful events held from 2018 to 2023.
We plan to revive the ‘Music at St Mary’s’ programme, so look out for events on these pages and elsewhere. In addition, we await the 2024 programme of the Farnham Maltings Professional Touring Theatre. Those of you who saw ‘Brilliance’ or ‘Mountain Music’ in the Church Hall will vouch for the excellence of their performance and material.
Also look out for a revival of ‘Buxted Pre-Loved’ which we also hope to bring back at some stage in 2024. So sort through your bric-a-brac, small household items, saleable clothing, books and toys!
Last but not least, a very Happy New Year to all our readers!