As I write this we have just taken down the large Open Day vinyl banner which lists and thanks the sponsors and supporters from the local business community. The banner is displayed in the Top Field marquee during the event itself and for a couple of weeks afterwards at the front of the church. Some businesses gave cash donations, others sponsored prizes in the raffle. Many people commented on the quality of the raffle prizes, most of which had a common Sussex theme.
It was very encouraging to see how much the event has been taken up by the crafting community, with several new exhibitors this year. These were combined with village organisations, notably the WI and the Horticultural Society.
This year we had a different approach to music making, and showcased three local musicians playing short sets in the big marquee. Mark Broad is moving northwards from Sussex very soon, and we are glad he managed to fit us in amidst all of his house moving preparations. Also thanks to keyboard ace Simon Mellor and his talented daughter Hermoine, and to guitarist and vocalist Simon Joslin (Buxted based but with roots in Nashville).
As always, a big thank you to the Trustees and volunteers at the Claude Jessett Trust (Tinker’s Park). Again we had a steam engine from their collection, and also the steam miniature railway and fairground organ. All of which go towards making it a special day with a strong ‘heritage’ feel. Also thanks to them for all of the ‘hands-on’ work with setting up the site, where much heavy equipment has to be lugged up the path to the Top Field
It was very encouraging to see such a range of different ages and groupings at the event, relaxing in the sunshine. Our event stewards received so many appreciative comments. A couple of parents commented, half jokingly but perhaps half seriously, how they valued getting their children away from the clutches of tablets and smart phones. Miniature train rides, bouncy castles and ‘Splat the Rat’ are much more fun!
Last but not least, the fund raising. All monies raised go towards the upkeep of the three churches in the parish, and their grounds. It also helps us to keep up our contribution to the Diocese of Chichester, which funds community projects across East and West Sussex.
The final net profit from the event was £2,475.
Our special day at St Mary’s is fast approaching, and by the time this appears everything should be in place for this year’s bigger and better event.
We have a total of 20 craft stalls booked, both inside the Church Hall and outside in the car park area and grounds surrounding the church. The Horticultural Society will have a plant sale on the large grassed area alongside the church, by the Hall.
The church itself will be looking its best, with a chance to hear the organ between 2.00 and 3.00. We have our own parish stall in the church, selling donated books and bric-a-brac. Also Hadlow Down author Paul Newton-Palmer will be there promoting his new novel.
The Harvey’s beer tent in the Top Field will be in full swing from mid-day, serving both Best and IPA, along with lager, cider and soft drinks. Our BBQ with Bishop’s burgers will once again be staffed by sisters Linda and Shirley.
Tinker’s Park and their volunteers are an indispensable part of the event, with a centrepiece steam engine in the car park, along with their fairground organ. The ever popular miniature steam railway will once again be providing rides up in the Top Field, with the Bouncy Castle at the end of the line.
This year we are showcasing local musical talent under the Big Marquee from 2.00 – 4.00. We have Mark Broad, aka Dr Bo Karma (guitar and vocals), Simon Mellor (jazz keyboard) and Simon Joslin (blues and country) playing short sets.
A short note about money! Many, but not all, of the craft stalls will have a card facility but the beer tent, BBQ and parish cake stall are cash only.
Also do look out for our bucket donation collectors. We do not charge for entry or parking, so these donations are an important part of our fund raising effort.
Finally a big thank you to our group of business sponsors, which you will see listed on the big vinyl sponsor banner in the marquee.
Look forward to seeing you all on the day!
Retirement has its benefits and drawbacks, but one of the benefits is time to re-visit home book shelves and re-read some volumes perhaps last read twenty or thirty years ago. I have a small collection of twentieth century biographies, one of which concerns the quest for faith of Siegfried Sassoon (1886 -1967). Sassoon is best known for his stark and brutally honest poetic accounts of life as an officer in the trenches of the First World War.
As the war dragged on he became disillusioned with what he saw as its needless prolongation to enrich vested interests. So much so that he threw his medal for bravery into the River Mersey and penned a public condemnation of the military command and the government. Not knowing quite what to do with a decorated officer expressing such opinions, it was decided that Sassoon had experienced a mental breakdown, and he was admitted to Craiglockhart Hospital in Scotland. Fortuitously while there he met and was able to befriend and advise the younger poet Wilfred Owen, who returned to the front and was killed in the closing weeks of the war.
Sassoon’s war poems are now widely known and are included in the GCSE curriculum, as are those of Owen. Little is heard though of Sassoon’s later work, much of which concerns his sometimes faltering but always insistent journey towards faith. Sassoon made a perhaps unwise marriage in the 1930s, with his only child George settling in Scotland with his mother after the couple’s divorce.
One can only wonder how Sassoon felt as the world was again plunged into a second World War in 1939. After the war he retreated to live a solitary life at his country seat in Wiltshire, Heytesbury House, where he battled with the leaking roof, damp and defective plumbing. Happily he did not live to see the dissection of his estate by the Warminster by-pass, which took place in the 1980s.
The book I am re-reading is called ‘Poet’s Pilgrimage’ which includes extracts from letters between Dame Felicitas Corrigan of Stanbrook Abbey, who also edited the book. The later Sassoon poems are included, as are letters between Sassoon and other luminaries of the period such as the then aged Thomas Hardy.
Sassoon’s final coming to faith was completed in his 70s, and culminated in his being received into the Roman Catholic Church. The summation of this is contained in a five part poem called ‘Lenten Iluminations’, part of which is quoted below.
As we enter into our own Lenten devotions, his description of being ‘scultptured with Stations of the Cross’ makes me think of St Mary’s, where we are surrounded by these stations on the walls, week in and week out. A visit to just such a place, presumably in the West Country, must have at least partly informed his inspiration for the poem –
‘I never felt it more than now, when out beyond these safening walls
Sculptured with Stations of the Cross, spring-confident, unburdened, bold,
The first March blackbird overheard to forward vision flutes and calls.’
8th September 1931 – 9th December 2022
Kit was born in Brighton, the youngest of four children, of Harold and Norah Butcher. Kit first attended Chinthurst Preparatory School in Surrey, where he acquired a lifelong love of classical music from his very musical Headmaster. The family eventually moved to London, and Kit attended Westminster School where he acquired his passion for history, especially of the monarchy. He loved to recite the names of the Kings and Queens of England in reverse chronological order!
On leaving school he joined the Army, and its ethos of discipline and love of and service to King and Country were to become integral to his whole life. On leaving the Army he worked as a model for an Advertising Agency and briefly as an Accountant. His passion for antiques (acquired from his mother) came into its own when he had the opportunity to run an Antiques Centre in Marylebone. It was there he met his friend Colin, for whom he worked as a Registrar at an English Language School. In 1989 Kit and Colin were involved in a car accident, caused by an uninsured driver. Kit suffered extensive injuries and was in intensive care; fortunately he made a full recovery. As part of his rehabilitation he attended cookery classes, and became an accomplished chef. Thereafter he loved hosting dinner parties.
A lifelong Anglican, Kit loved traditional worship, the Book of Common Prayer and the King James Bible. He also enjoyed the ritual and sacramental worship of Anglo Catholicism or ’pomp and incense’ as he termed it. He was a regular worshipper at St Augustine’s Church, Queens Gate, one of the earliest Anglo Catholic churches in London, where he became the Parish Administrator. It was in this role that he met his wife to be, Naomi, as she used to bring girls from Queens Gate School, where she still teaches, for confirmation classes. Kit and Naomi had their marriage blessed by the Priest in Charge at that time, the Reverend Rob Marshall.
After Naomi’s parents died they were buried at St Mary’s Buxted, thanks to Naomi’s dear friend the legendary Canon Bill Peters. Kit loved talking to Canon Bill about the Christian faith and their wartime experiences. He loved attending Mass at St Mary’s Buxted and St Mary’s Bourne Street in London.
Naomi had kept her flat in Brighton, and Kit was able to reacquaint himself with his birthplace. He enjoyed visiting the antique shops in the Lanes and in the county town of Lewes for which he developed a great affection. In Brighton he became very well acquainted with Marc, one of Naomi’s neighbours. They became very dear friends, sharing a passion for antiques and the game of Chess. Latterly he loved the company of Naomi’s more recent neighbours, Natalie and Mark and their dog Otto.
Kit’s hero was the Duke of Wellington; he was an avid collector of Wellingtonia and toy soldiers. He also loved his holidays with Naomi to Ravello in Italy where they had spent their honeymoon. He was always immaculately dressed, never having had a T shirt or pair of trainers in his life! He was also impeccably well mannered. Kit was a gentle gentleman and will be much missed and mourned by all who had the privilege of knowing him.
Kit died peacefully in the Chelsea and Westminster hospital. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.
First and foremost, all good wishes for 2023 from the Church Committee and congregation at St Mary’s.
We have had an encouraging year, with plans in place to re-instate pilgrimages in 2023. There was a tradition of regular pilgrimage to ‘England’s Nazareth in Sussex’ as late as the 1980s, and a friend of mine remembers coming up from Brighton to one of these as a boy. We hosted a very successful day for several West Sussex churches of our tradition in 2019, and hosting pilgrimage certainly features strongly in our plans for the coming year.
There will be a special event at St Mary’s in the season of Lent, when we look forward to welcoming the Bishop of Lewes to lead a day of quiet and reflection. The date and further details will be confirmed in future posts.
Plans are already afoot for an even bigger and better Open Day & Craft Fair on Saturday 20th May. Most of the exhibitors from 2022 have re-booked, and we will be welcoming some new crafters who have joined us from the UK Craft Fairs website. Our friends from Tinker’s Park will again be with us, exhibiting some of their collection and doing a lot of the heavy lifting involved in setting up and taking down. We will be saying thank you to all of the exhibitors, volunteers and business sponsors at an ‘after party’ in the evening, under our giant marquee in the Community Garden.
We are blessed to live in a most beautiful part of a peaceful country, and at the turn of the year our thoughts rightly turn to places that have endured long periods of conflict, privation and strife. We hope and pray that 2023 will see an end to the war in Ukraine, that a just peace process can be brokered and begun. We pray that a spirit of reconciliation will carry the day there and in all the countless other places where there continues to be war and suffering.