S. Mary’s Open Day and Craft Fair 2021

This new village event dates from May 2018, when our Community Garden at the rear of the church was opened by the Archdeacon of Hastings.  We resolved at that time to stage an Open Day and Craft Fair each year during the second week of May.

The 2020 event was all ‘good to go’, with some new local sponsors and a wide range of craft stalls and exhibitors all booked.  We were of course not able to go ahead due to the lockdown restrictions.

So what are the plans for this year?  We have set a provisional date for Saturday 14th May.

I have recently contacted all concerned, and explained that soon after Easter we will review the situation as regards government guidance, and also conduct our own risk assessment.  As the event largely takes place out of doors, the prospects are perhaps more encouraging.  Everyone seems to understand that we have to ‘wait and see’, but also that a large scale event like ours needs a fair amount of forward planning by all concerned.

If we are able to go ahead, we will have a working forge, a potter’s wheel, and craft stalls in the church hall and garden.  Wally the Steam engine will be coming down from Tinker’s Park, along with the miniature railway and fairground organ.  The popular Harvey’s Beer Tent will again be in business up in the Top Field.  The church will be looking its best, and there will be an hour’s organ recital at some point during the afternoon.

We welcome two new local business sponsors this year – Crusader Vehicles and Weald Packaging.

So at this stage it’s ‘fingers crossed’, with more updates to follow.

Keith Revoir.

A tribute to Norman Longley

The following is my tribute to Norman Longley who died in December.

Norman Charles Longley

23rd November 1933 – 12th December 2020

Norman was a very private man and little is known of his early life.  He and his wife Joan spent most of their married life in Carshalton, where they raised their daughters Caroline and Sarah.  Norman’s career was in banking and it wasn’t until he retired that the family moved to Ridgewood.  Having been loyal members of their local church in Carshalton, Joan and Norman were keen to find a spiritual home in East Sussex and were thrilled when they discovered S. Mary’s.  They quickly immersed themselves into parish life, becoming active members of the PCC and the Walsingham Cell.  Norman used his banking skills as Parish Treasurer and took his duties as Deputy Churchwarden very seriously.

I first met Norman when I moved to the parish in 2009, and my feet weren’t allowed to touch the ground!  He got me involved with all aspects of life at

S. Mary’s, and I eventually joined him as a fellow Deputy Churchwarden.  I have him to thank for assisting me in the process of reintroducing pilgrimages to

S. Mary’s.      

Joan and Norman had been almost inseparable, yet when Joan died in 2015 Norman seemed to cope remarkably well.  Despite his own failing health, he was always positive and cheerful, never more so when talking about his grandchildren.  Norman believed that life is meant to be shared with others, and that life is at its brightest and best when lived in the service of others.  Service is love made visible.  Norman encapsulated that service and faithfulness, even enquiring after the health of others during the first ‘lockdown’, when his own life was drawing to a close.

Sadly, we were unable to fulfil Norman’s wishes for a Funeral Mass in church.  A Requiem Mass will be held at S. Mary’s as soon as restrictions are lifted.

May he rest in peace.

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

R.I.P.

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.

Contribution from St Mary the Virgin to the Buxted Messenger – December 2020 Edition

In former days, when literacy was by no means universal, if someone who could not read and write was required to sign a document, to evidence their assent, they would make a mark. Invariably the mark was some sort of cross. It bound them to the document, but it was nonetheless an anonymous signature, having nothing to do with their name, their identity or character.

Over the years, often reference to Christmas on cards, in adverts on television, across the media, has become Xmas. We all know it’s an abbreviation. But still, like the mark of old, it takes the very name of Jesus out of the celebration of his birth in some way. It anonymises Christmas, removing the name, the character, the person at the heart of the story we tell. Remarkably, utterly amazing, God becomes human.

These times are hard in so many ways for so many people in our Parish and beyond, not just in the UK but worldwide. There is much suffering through loss, bereavement; poverty; distress through isolation and inability to hug and be close to those whom we love. Such a challenging time.

So, this year, perhaps more importantly than any other, putting Christ back into Christmas seems like the gift of an age. For in Jesus, in that tiny, fragile, most human of babies, God comes close to each of us, becoming one of us, sharing our identity and in suffering and poverty like so many now.  God did not stand apart but entered our world to show us his solidarity in whatever circumstances we find ourselves and the way to be with him through Jesus.

There can be no greater gift. There can be no more hopeful message this Christmas than that.

At St Mary’s this year, we do not know yet whether we will be permitted to meet in worship together to celebrate Christ’s birth, our Christmas. But as with all the churches in the Parish, look out for the latest news on our website. And wherever you are, the church family at St Mary’s wish you every blessing, every kindness and the assurance of the grace of God in Christ, made one of us.

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