Lent is the traditional time of fasting, prayer and charitable work for Christians. It is a way of preparing to celebrate the Lord’s Passion and death, so that by coming to terms with the sin in our lives, which killed Jesus, we may share more fully in the new life he won for us by conquering death.
Lent starts on Ash Wednesday (14th February), when ashes are blessed and put on the people’s heads at Mass. Dust and ashes are a traditional sign of mourning and repentance, since they remind us of the dust from which we were made and to which we return at death. We remember our mortality and weakness so that we may receive God’s grace.
Lent is kept for forty days and nights representing our Lord’s fasting in the desert. In the Gospel reading for the first Sunday of Lent we hear that Jesus was tempted by the devil, but remained faithful to God’s will. A temptation is not a sin. It puts us at a crossroads – do we give way or take a stand on the side of conscience? Lent is an invitation to renew our faith. Do we take the opportunity of a fresh beginning or do we leave things as they are? Do we take a step forward or do we slip backwards? As a Christian, there is no standing still.
The devil does his best work by discouragement. Family quarrels, difficulties at work, the break-up of relationships, can narrow our vision to look only at the problems and fail to bring God into the bigger picture. We may be tempted to give up responsibility for ourselves, our future and to see ourselves as victims. Christians through the ages have overcome this temptation not so much by trying to force themselves into a different state of mind but by sincere and trustful prayer to Jesus. As the letter to the Hebrews says, “because he has himself been through temptation he is able to help others who are tempted”.
Direct our heart to you, O Lord, so that we may follow you more closely this Lent and all the days of our life; in all our needs we turn to you for the help of your grace, and ask you to give us strength to work for the things we ask for in faith, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Prayer adapted from Thomas a Kempis)
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.
I am writing this prior to this year’s Open Day and will give some (hopefully) positive feedback to everyone in the July issue. Meanwhile, here is some background to the event.
Mary Thorley lived at The Granary in the High Street and was a regular member of the congregation until she passed away in 2004. She is buried with her mother in the front churchyard area on the Rectory side. In addition to the property at The Granary, she owned two adjoining fields, including the one immediately behind the established rear churchyard.
She was anxious to ensure that the environment of St Mary’s retained its rural aspect after her death, particularly as in later years developers were regularly knocking on her door with lucrative offers.
She left the lower field to the Parish, and the upper field to the Countryside Trust, thereby ensuring that they would remain unspoilt and free to all to enjoy. The lower field was consecrated in 2004, and a line of recent graves can be seen along the ridge that divides the two areas.
In 2015-16 there was a substantial voluntary effort to clear large parts of the area which had become overgrown with bracken, and where fly tipping had taken place.
Providence then took a hand, in the form of the Tesco ‘Bags of Help’ Scheme which funds improvements to green spaces in England and Wales. We developed a project bid and in November 2016 learned that our project was one of 50 in south-east England (out of 3000 applications) to receive a grant.
The field has commanding views across the Uck valley, and is a place of beauty and calm. Our plan included a seating area and table unit made from reclaimed wood, with a large planter in three parts featuring woodland shrubs and flowers.
The grant also enabled us to tackle long overdue repairs, replace the boundary fencing, and undertake tree surgery. There was also work done to identify and clear a flat, safe pathway along the Rectory boundary up to the garden and seating area.
The Community Garden Project was blessed and officially opened the Rt Rev Edward Dowler, Archdeacon of Hastings in May 2018. It was resolved to hold an Open Day & Craft Fair in May of each year, to mark the anniversary of the completion of the project.
We hope that our work does justice to the wishes of our benefactor, past and present worshippers, and to the wider community of Buxted.
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!
We had our first burial in seven years at St Mary’s just after Christmas, where we bade farewell to a long standing member of our congregation. Burials seem to have grown less common in recent years, but I was struck by the dignity of the occasion and the sense of calm and purpose. A large part of this comes, I think, from the Requiem Mass and burial rite being in the same place, rather than having to get into cars afterwards and proceed to a Crematorium.
It is entirely natural to put off thinking about last wishes, but my own will is now very out of date, written some years ago when work took me away from Sussex. Now that I am firmly established in Buxted and at St Mary’s, (nine years this year) I think the place for me is going to be our churchyard.
In the Anglo Catholic tradition it is often the practice to receive the coffin at the church the night before, with a brief service of prayer. This was the case with our friend. Six tall candles, called Catafalque candles, are lit at each side of the coffin.
The Requiem Mass follows the next day. It is not usual to have a eulogy or a detailed reference to the deceased and their life. This can surprise some attending, even giving rise to feelings that the church has ‘not done its homework’ as regards the deceased. The eulogy in our tradition is either given at a separate memorial service, or at the post funeral reception. In the case of our friend the reception was held at the Buxted Park Hotel, where in the relaxed atmosphere of a buffet lunch, we were able to hear about many aspects of his life, including a number of amusing anecdotes.
On another but related note, we try to make sure that we always keep in mind how we welcome and care for those who come to church, both regular attenders but particularly new members of the congregation. This is very much part of my weekly role as a sidesman as I am usually the first person encountered after ascending the front steps.
There is a group of what I can only describe as church ‘mystery shoppers’ who visit churches and rate the quality of the welcome and interest shown to them as newcomers. I wish I could remember the name of this group, but I am reasonably confident that we would receive a good rating!
Just as important is the period at the end of the service. Some research I saw once described this as the ‘golden half hour’ where people are either made to feel valued and truly welcome, or simply slip away un-noticed, probably never to return.
Other things occupying us currently are our quarterly Church Committee meeting, and plans for a bigger and better Open Day & Craft Fair in May. Watch this space!
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.