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Wednesday 6th July 2022
On 2nd July 2022 thousands of people took to the streets in London to join the Pride parade. This year’s anniversary was significant: not only is it the first time in three years that such an event has taken place (due to Covid restrictions since 2020) but it also marks the 50th anniversary of the first Pride march in the UK. It is a time to celebrate the progress that has been made towards a world where people who identify as LGBTQ+ can be free to be themselves and live their life to the full. It is also a time to recognise that discrimination continues and much remains to be done across the world to defend and protect the rights of all people everywhere.
Recognising Pride at Hampstead Parish Church?
Our vision is: Building an inclusive community of Christian love, faith, witness and action.
We are an Inclusive Church and subscribe to the following statement:
“We believe in inclusive church – a church which celebrates and affirms every person and does not discriminate.
We will continue to challenge the church where it continues to discriminate against people on grounds of disability, economic power, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, learning disability, mental health, neurodiversity, or sexuality.
We believe in a Church which welcomes and serves all people in the name of Jesus Christ; which is scripturally faithful; which seeks to proclaim the Gospel afresh for each generation; and which, in the power of the Holy Spirit, allows all people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Jesus Christ.”
What more can we do?
Earlier this year, members of Hampstead Parish Church came together to pray, study and learn about ‘Living in Love and Faith’, through a course of six weekly reflections developed by the Church of England. We discussed difficult subject areas related to identity and sexuality and faith, in a respectful and safe space and without judgement. It was challenging at times, but it was important.
It remains important for us to consider what more we can do to be an inclusive and welcoming church community.
We are proud to be an Inclusive Church in Hampstead. We are proud to celebrate with rainbow-coloured flags. But we recognise the need to continue to work towards social justice for all by continuing to educate ourselves and learn from one another, through our behaviours and interactions with one another, and by being allies to those who are marginalised.
Statement from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York for LGBT+ History Month
Across the Church of England this February, many people will be marking LGBT+ History Month.
As we work together to discover what it means to be a diverse church receiving the gift of everyone, our prayer is that this would be a time of truly valuing each other as God’s precious and beloved children. Let us pray that the Spirit of God would stir in us a deeper sense of belonging to each other as the Body of Christ.
We also take this opportunity to lament and reject all prejudice, hatred, oppression, and violence against LGBT+ people. We pray that LGBT+ people around the world would be able to live lives free from fear and find joy in the love of God. Let us commit to building communities in which everyone experiences the unconditional love of God in Christ Jesus.
Summer 2022 has seen even more celebrations than usual but when August arrives, some of us wonder what to do with ourselves when it is hot and dusty and many of our favourite activities have shut down for the duration. However…
Help is at hand, for Holiday in Hampstead will be running from Monday 1st to Friday 5th August and offers the usual mixture of lectures and performances guaranteed to “inform, educate and entertain”! There will be coffee and biscuits in the morning, a delicious lunch and tea and cake at the end of the day. You can pick and mix which days you would like to come and which talks you would like to attend, but if you choose to come for the whole day (with lunch) the cost will be £10 per day. Inflation has not yet hit Hampstead Parish Church and this must be a bargain.
The talks are too many and varied to mention individually so please pick up a programme from the back of church or from the Parish Office and learn more about our speakers and the different activities on offer. The talks will be held in the church, which is airy and allows everyone to space out. Lunches will be in the Parish Rooms and are limited to 30 guests each day, so please book in early if you would like to join us for lunch.
We look forward to seeing you there,
Diana Finning, Rosemary Loyd, Sue Kwok and Julia Scott
To make a booking, please contact Julia Scott or fill in the Registration Form on the back of the programme and leave it in the Parish Office.
Saturday 2nd July 2022
In Junior Church recently the children had fun learning about how Jesus's love can heal us. We used silk clay to make the earth and a little cross to symbolise Jesus's love.
HPC has been Yarn Bombed! Our little Creative Community group took to guerrilla knitting to decorate the lamp post in the churchyard. Members of the group crocheted and knitted an abundance of flowers of diverse shapes, designs and colours. Together they drape over the lamp post and bring a splash of colour to the churchyard.
We had great fun putting this together. Hopefully it brings a splash of colourful fun and joy and a smile to everyone walking through the churchyard.
The day after his ordination Graham presided at his First Mass. It was very special to be part of the large congregation who came to be part of this important event. During the day it had been very windy, but by late afternoon the wind had dropped. After the service we had a wonderful party in the churchyard to celebrate with delicious finger food and lots of fizz. There was even a special cake made by Lucy Dennett which Graham was called upon to cut. It featured the church, a model of Graham and another of Collins holding the ‘Book of Genesis’ – does anyone know the significance of this for Graham?
On Saturday 25th June the Bishop of Edmonton came to Hampstead Parish Church to ordain nine deacons from across the Edmonton Area as priests, including our own curate, Graham Dunn.
It was an incredibly happy event and it was wonderful to see the church full of so many people who came to support their candidates. The church was so full it was necessary to use the galleries!
Wednesday 22nd June 2022
The Almasri Family are now very much more independent and running their own lives. However I still visit and keep in touch and support where I can.
Aseel has struggled with her reading so I am trying to have reading sessions with her twice a week. She loves books with funny stories or surprises or naughty children, and laughs and chatters away. The sessions are a joy and the time goes very quickly. She has problems because, as with many children, including some of my grandchildren, the emphasis on phonics in reading lessons at school doesn’t connect with her at all, probably made more difficult because Arabic sounds are very different from English sounds. Somehow I need to harness her enthusiasm for stories for her to make progress with reading. Her brother loves phonics – which doesn’t help!
Some of our conversations take strange turns. She was reading a book called ‘The Dragon Who Wanted A Bath’. This is a snapshot of our conversation -
Me - Dragons are a bit like dinosaurs.
Aseel - Oh yes I have seen fossils in the museum. We went to the British Museum. We have been learning about …….Anning?
Me – (after a quick Google on my phone)… oh yes Mary Anning.
Aseel - She found lots of dinosaur fossils (I was impressed)
Two weeks ago I had a big surprise when I arrived at 4 o’clock, earlier than usual. Rahaf and 2 year old Yousef were spreading a plastic sheet over the carpet. Soon the evening meal was set out and I was invited to sit down with the family. It was the first time I had eaten on the floor with them. Mohammad kindly put a cushion beside me. The hardest part was the distance between the soup bowl and my mouth- soon I was copying Monther and drinking straight from the bowl. Like many of us who have moved from another country, the Almasris love to have reminders of their homeland. I have tried to create a little bit of NZ bush in my front garden. The sitting room in their new flat is a little bit of Syria.
(The photo of us all eating was taken by Aseel)
Recently, our former curate, Ayla Lepine took a group of parishioners on a very special tour at the National Gallery. Looking at paintings by Jan Van Eyck, Piero della Francesca, Thomas Gainsborough, John Constable and Rembrandt we were encouraged to look and then go beyond our first impressions and consider how the artist may be delivering a spiritual message and also how these paintings may be speaking to us as individuals.
Several members of the group kindly shared their reflections on the painting that resonated most with them.
“I have very little experience at all of art appreciation. I have been so completely aware of the world of music all my life, which is my main route to thoughts of God. However, with Ayla’s help, all the paintings yesterday did speak to me, and now I am left especially with thoughts of generosity in particular. In the famous Van Eyck (‘The Arnolfini Portrait’), I was especially touched by the inclusion of the family dog at the feet of the two central figures, a gesture of tender and generous inclusiveness either by them or by the artist…..and the Rembrandt (‘Anna and the blind Tobit’) took me back again to thoughts of giving, and to the idea that to wait unconditionally and with patience for someone else is itself a selfless and precious gift. Two paintings, so different, and yet with such a common ethos of caring about ‘the other’.”
“The painting I loved most was Rembrandt’s “Anna and the blind Tobit”. The artist might have chosen to paint the joyful return of Tobias, but instead depicts the patient waiting of Anna and Tobit in sober brown and gold. Life moves on round the blind old man - the fire crackles near the cooking pots, and Anna deftly spins - but the light from the window catches the resignation of his closed eyes and the stillness in the quietly interlocking fingers of his gnarled old hands.”
“Anna and blind Tobit made me reflect on the frailties of old age and one's dependence on others. The theological learning was to cultivate patience - which is not normally something I am good at!”
Art can give us “ precious glimpses of uplifting, God-given beauty. …….I'll retain in memory particularly the wonderful Constable landscape. I love to undertake lengthy country walks and it reminds me of the stretch of the Hillingdon trail from Rickmansworth to Ruislip.”
“The Baptism of Christ altar piece (by Piero della Francesca) was the one that spoke to me most in a spiritual way, especially as I contemplated the expressions on Christ’s and John’s faces….I must find out more about the Arnolfini too. Such a familiar image but full of symbols which lead to many questions.”
An “enlightening”, “contemplative”, “lucid”, “joyful” and “wonderful” tour.
Monday 13th June 2022
Readers of my Music Notes will have been prepared for most of our musical plans for the Platinum Jubilee, and I’m pleased to report that all went off smoothly last Sunday. Our music included the Communion Setting in E by Francis Jackson, which tied in nicely with the performance of Jackson’s G major Benedicite in the Jubilee service at St Paul’s, at which the singers included a former Hampstead regular, the bass Martin Oxenham, as well as a former choral scholar of mine at Cambridge, alto Carris Hunt, the Cathedral’s first female lay vicar.
Gordon Jacob’s trumpet fanfare to the National Anthem was played so superbly by the military trumpeters in the service in St Paul’s that I felt moved to play it myself on the organ before the National Anthem at the end of our morning service (hoping I remembered it correctly!).
Attenders at Evensong were surprised to hear Parry’s familiar I was glad, sung at the Queen’s Coronation in 1953, sounding unfamiliar. Parry composed the piece originally for the Coronation of Edward VII in 1902, but felt moved to revise it for the Coronation of George V in 1911. The difference between the two versions is in the music for the Introduction, before the choir enters. Instead of opening with dramatic brass octaves, the original begins in more solemn vein, with echos of Wagnerian harmony. Listeners in 1911 were largely disappointed, preferring their own ‘familiar’ 1902 version…
Sunday 12th June 2022
Thank you, Ma’am
Together with the rest of the country we paid tribute to our Queen on the occasion of her Platinum Jubilee.
We have a particular way of celebrating at HPC. It usually involves alcohol, quite often flowers, and always cake! Lucy’s Jubilee Cake was a triumph. Glitteringly iced and sporting a whole team of corgis it tasted as good as it looked. I should say cakes because there was a crown shaped one as well, to say nothing of tiers of cup cakes made by various bakers in the congregation. it was the stickiest event we’d had in a long time.
The church was suitably decorated, inside and out. The decorating team – Jeremy up a ladder tying bunting, the flower team inside creating seven magnificent arrangements, one for each decade of the Queen’s reign and embellished with a photo of each period – started early. We wanted to be ready for the anniversary of Coronation Day itself. Whether the flowers would last was a bit of a worry but the weather – uncooperative in almost every other way - was on our side, and the cold kept them fresh through to Sunday and beyond (they still looked good for the Hampstead Collective’s Jubilee concert on Monday).
Our efforts were overlooked by Her Majesty in the form of a cardboard cutout, leant for the occasion by Angela Read.
Sunday dawned cold and damp – true royal weather as anyone who remembers the Coronation will recall. And frankly the church was pretty cold too. But our hearts were warm – this was a very special occasion. And it was Pentecost too – the church’s birthday. We sang the national anthem. We drank a loyal toast. We celebrated. It wasn’t quite the party in the churchyard we had hoped for but residents of Church Row did find their way in to celebrate with us.
The day ended with Choral Evensong when more wine and cake were served after some glorious music.
And if we didn’t have marmalade sandwiches there was marmalade in some of Andrew’s cupcakes.
The cakes …..
We said goodbye to Peter Loyd, a much-loved member of our congregation, on 27th May. His daughter Sophie Newing gave a moving address, describing Peter’s full and active life. The full text will be published in the next parish magazine. Below is just a snapshot from her address reflecting on Peter’s approach to life and his lifelong love of the sea and his wide family who will miss him very much, as will his many friends at Hampstead Parish Church.
“Peter Loyd was a loving husband to Rosemary,
father to Julie, William, Tony and me,
step-father to Anna and Charlotte,
grandfather to Chloe, Kate, Freddie and Gus,
and step-grandfather to Saria and Louis.
…….It was crossing over to the Isle of Wight by paddle steamer, at the age of 12 which started his lifelong love of the sea and the determination togo to sea.
Peter joined the Royal Marines in September 1941.
He served for 16 and a half years. He served on HMS Belfast in the Arctic and on Russian convoy duty. He told us of “Gales and storms off Iceland with boats and guardrails carried away, or the sea freezing on the foredeck so every morning “all Hands on deck to the ‘chipping stations’ ” to get rid of the weight of the ice on the bows”. He also served on HMS Nigeria and in India, Burma, South Africa, Malta, as aide-de-camp to a General and in 42 Commando in Malaya fighting terrorists in the jungle.
My father loved the Royal Marines.
In his words: “ The Royal Marines taught me all the lessons I ever needed in life.
They taught me love and respect for my fellow men.
They taught me ethical standards and decency, and that there is only one standard that is good enough and that is the best.
Anything that wasn’t absolute excellence simply wasn’t acceptable.
And they taught me morality as I had never been taught it before - that you never ask anyone to do anything that you are not prepared to do yourself; that you look after your men before you think of looking after yourself; that where you are likely to face active service conditions or conditions of great stress, you think through in advance the ethical concepts of warfare of any situation that you may face, so that you take the correct, moral course of action.”
Later, “Peter volunteered as a first mate with the Ocean Youth Club; creating life-changing sailing trips for groups of disadvantaged young people, teaching them the phonetic alphabet, morse code and knot tying (getting the rabbit going the right way around the tree for a bowline) and in his words “passing on the thrill of sailing and the sheer wonder of the open sea”.
The love of travel and spirit of adventure was imparted to me once with sage advice “geckos are a good thing, for they eat mosquitoes, but do be careful that they don’t fall in your gin and tonic”
………….As well as an ongoing love for the sea and sailing, the Royal Marines taught Peter a ‘drill’ for almost every eventuality in life. He brought order to all aspects of civilian life, from his career in industry to his belief in the power of routine.
I’m not sure that our family were such compliant widgets when following instructions for:
- “all hands on deck” (meaning come and do the washing up),
- “man the side” (meaning come and welcome visitors in the hallway) or
- “on parade” (meaning be ready to leave the house at a certain time).
…….Loving thy neighbour epitomised his approach to his faith.
He once said: “it’s frightfully easy it seems to me…Christianity is all about love: love one another. That’s all you need to remember.”
………In his words: “There have been many happy chapters in my life in this world.
I am now on my way to meet my Lord and God in the next, and I have no reason to believe there will not be many far more exciting chapters there as well!”
99 years of life: well-loved and well-lived.”
Peter’s funeral was on a lovely sunny day and afterwards we shared memories in the churchyard. Below is Peter on another sunny day in 2018 in the churchyard.
Wednesday 1st June 2022
At last the great day, so long anticipated, had arrived. My father, as a High Court Judge (in those days High Court Judges really were VIPs), had been allotted two seats in Westminster Abbey for himself and my mother, and two seats in a stand erected in the Mall to be used by me and my younger sister, Jane. I had come home from Oxford for the occasion the previous day. A very early start was required in order to reach one’s seats before the streets in Westminster and around Buckingham Palace were closed and buses and tubes stopped running. My parents, dressed in their finery, had a special car to drive them in but Jane and I had to go in by tube.
It was a raw, chilly and cloudy morning when we started before 6.00 am, with heavy showers forecast, correctly as it proved, so we had heavy rain clothes over our smart clothes as the stands were open. It was later reported that the previous Christmas Day was a degree warmer than Coronation Day in June! As we got out of the underground we heard an early newspaper vendor shouting “Everest climbed” - Hillary and Tenzing had done it! Everyone thought this was a wonderful present for the Queen on her great day.
The Mall was packed, with people allowed to stand in front of the elevated stands. Once we had taken our seats, it was a long time to wait, but nobody minded. After so many years of war and postwar austerity (all rationing did not finally end until 1954) and the shock of King George’s death the year before, we were all determined to enjoy the day and make the most of this splendid occasion. The slightest incident got a laugh or a cheer.
Eventually the car and carriage procession began, starting with the heads of state or prime ministers of the Commonwealth countries. Everyone got a cheer. Amongst the early arrivals was the colourfully dressed Queen Salote of Tonga, then a British protectorate. Boy, did she play up to the crowd, and did the crowd love her! Somewhat reduced cheers for Malan, prime minister of South Africa and one of the authors of apartheid, but they rang out in full for the popular Bob Menzies, prime minister of Australia, a great Anglophile and supporter of the monarchy. (In 1956 he was almost the only Commonwealth statesman to give full backing to this country over the Suez crisis.) Last to come was Churchill as prime minister of this country, remembered with gratitude for his wartime leadership and cheered to the echo.
Next came the minor royalty (much looking at our programmes to identify some of them), gradually rising in order of seniority, to mounting cheers and excitement. Finally the young Queen, with a Sovereign’s escort, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh. So long awaited, she was greeted with great joy and relief.
With the procession passed, it was time to find a loo and then a hot drink and a bite to eat from one of the stalls behind the stands, to supplement our sandwiches. The weather, which had stayed mostly fine for the procession, broke and we suffered a long and heavy downpour. It was possible for a time to find some partial shelter under the stands, but we got pretty wet all the same and I was very glad of my army mackintosh.
The rain eased and we resumed our seats. Loudspeakers relayed the service to us from Westminster Abbey and all fell quiet to hear it. I think we joined in cheers after the crowning. It was very moving.
The rain stopped and the loudspeaker commentary gave us some warning of when to expect the return of the procession. Could we make the cheers still louder? We certainly did our best. There was just one disappointment. We were eagerly awaiting Churchill as the return procession passed, but he did not appear. The procession back to the Palace got rather out of order, with the carriages of some of the royalty catching up and mixing with those of the senior prime ministers. We later learned that Churchill had thought it would not be proper or appropriate for him to be behind the royalty and perhaps usurp their cheers, so he had directed his driver to leave and take a different route.
It was over. We were too far away to see the appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, so when public transport resumed running we returned home for a family dinner of celebration and a toast to the Queen. Next day it was back to Oxford for the rest of term.
As well as memories, I have one tangible memento of the Coronation. Those in the Abbey were allowed to keep their chairs, which remained a proud family possession, passing to me after my parents’ death. Now recovered but keeping the original embroidered crown.
Extract from Mother's diary for the day.
"The Coronation Day of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. So it was announced umpteen times on radio. Music while you wait from 5.30! Everest climbed. All at Granny's [my Father's Mother] for whole day. T.V. started at 10.15. Marvellous beyond imagination. Such intimate details. Queen driving out from Palace, talking to Duke, so happy and thrilled and thrilling. Then so awed by solemnity in Abbey ? wonderful processions. Had a fine lunch cold chicken, ham, salads, trifles, jellies, fruit salads etc ? then more T.V. Raining hard for procession."
and for 4th June 1953
"All went to see Queen in Belsize Road in afternoon. Better day. Late coming but quite a thrill when she did. Sitting up in high car, easy to see ? small yet with an aura about her. Wouldn't her small presence be felt anywhere? Walked back [home]"
In the Hampstead Players history (founded 1976) our Crypt Room has been used for entertainment quite effectively over the years. Twelfth Night and AGM Entertainments have been regular occurrences and since 2019 Burns Night has become a feature. In 1987 and 1988 Pat Gardner directed and devised Candlelight Theatre evenings with wine & eats provided. Between 1993 and 2000 RSC actor & HPC member Ian East directed six productions in the Crypt, from two Tom Stoppard one-acters in 1993 to Sophocles’ Oedipus in 2000. In 2001 we put on a two-hour intimate production of Hamlet, which travelled from the Crypt to southwest France.
Between 2002 and 2007 there were five lovely productions by the Hampstead Players Youth Theatre, from the moving Bernard Kops musical Dreams of Anne Frank to Ionesco’s The Bald Prima Donna. In 2008, 2010 and 2019 the Crypt was home to tribute evenings to HP & HPC stalwarts who have sadly left us - Laverock Newman, Diana Raymond, John Petti and Pat Gardner - and in 2016 to one more play, Alan Bennett’s Forty Years On, performed fittingly on the group’s 40thanniversary.
But as an audience or actor in much of the above I cannot recall a more exhilarating show or better use of the room than ‘Proprietor’ Gaynor Bassey-Fish’s The Jukebox Café that rocked the Crypt from Thursday 26th to Saturday 28th May last week. Before setting foot inside, we had to get past the bouncer aka ‘Venue Security’ - our Curate Graham Dunn - and present ourselves to the box office team, ably supervised by Venue Manager and barman Jon Siddall.
The Crypt Room was brilliantly transformed into a nightclub with a raised platform for the nattily and sassily dressed two guys and three dolls, the ‘ensemble’, plus Gaynor, director and soloist. On the piano, serenading us on our arrival was Roger Limb, a composer for Doctor Who, responsible for the Music Orchestration.
We patrons were seated around lamplit tables, unashamedly swigging our wine. The music, good vibes and atmosphere encouraged us to clap, sing-along and generally join in, Every song, from the 50s, 60s and 70s, all 29 of them, brought enthusiastic cheers and applause.
There was our Vicar, Jeremy Fletcher, with bass guitar, giving us his best ‘Elvis’ with You’re So Square (Baby, I Don’t Care) and ripping into Mustang Sally which got us all going on the chorus (ride, Sally, ride). Shereen Abdullah sang a beautifully moving Pearl’s a Singer towards the end, by which time we really did feel we were ‘in a nightclub’. She also brought out her violin to good effect on certain songs. Bonnie Taylor seduced us with, well, I Want To Be Seduced. Ashley Collins tackled the dramatic I Who Have Nothing and gave it great soaring voice.
Trouble is a great Lieber/Stoller song which Elvis belted out at baddie Walter Matthau in my favourite Presley film ‘King Creole’, but Gaynor gave it her own very individual and fierce interpretation, and followed this up by accompanying Ashley on Teach Me How To Shimmy... and, boy, could she shimmy!
The lovely voice and presence of Jenny Lupa graced a number of the songs including I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself and an ‘early Elvis’ witty duet with her singing Don’t to Roger’s Love Me.
But there wasn’t a dodgy note in the show, with the performers well-rehearsed, relaxed and clearly enjoying themselves, moving and dancing and connecting with each other and us. They performed singly, in pairs, in groups and in Da Doo Ron Ron Shereen, Bonnie & Jenny conjured up The Ronettes.
I hear Saturday’s final audience got an Encore - Mustang Sally (reprise). Well, Friday’s also asked for ‘More!’ We were well satisfied anyway.
Many were thanked in the programme from Stage Lighting Design to Venue Hostesses and all deserved their thanks, but most touching was the line on the programme: ‘Thank you to you, the audience, for your company’.
What a fillip it was in these extraordinarily difficult times! Thank you all.
Monday 30th May 2022
WOW! The Jukebox Café started off with a pulsating “Rock Around the Clock” and it didn’t stop! The publicity poster said it would be a “toe-tapping, finger-snapping cabaret” and it was. To enter you had to knock and get past the Venue Security (in real life our curate Graham) and then you moved into a transformed darkened Parish Room with pink chandeliers, walls decked in shiny beads, draped ‘velvet’ curtains and decorative wallpaper. Jayne Gill and Valieria Gomez let their imagination go! That wasn’t all – the usual plastic brown chairs had comfortable velvet cushions made by a lovely team of sewers.
The cabaret of five talented singers sang pop songs from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. They were glitzy, glamorous, energetic, funny and moving. Jenny Lupa sparkled and I loved the duet “Love me/don’t” which she sang with Roger Limb who did the music orchestration. Jeremy not only has a super voice but he has some amazing moves, especially in “You’re so square” and “Hound Dog”. Bonnie Taylor was lots of fun, particularly with “I am a Woman” and “I want to be seduced”! Ashley Collin moved us all with “I who have nothing” as did Shereen Abdullah with “Pearl’s a singer”. But it was hard to choose favourite numbers because every song was so good.
The Jukebox Cafe was conceived and produced by Gaynor Bassey-Fish who sang the poignant “In The Wee Small Hours” in very glamorous silky pyjamas in the first half and in the second half a very different number “Trouble” – and she meant it! She then showed us that she really can shimmy!
It was a really fun evening!
Friday 27th May 2022
I invited the Junior Choir to respond to Jesus instruction that we should love one another. – We decorated hearts based on people we love and put them together inside one big heart.
I have the pleasure of having the piece behind where I sit when I am working in the Vestry if anyone would like to come and admire it.
Friday 20th May 2022
Our former curate Ayla Lepine is both an art historian and a priest. For the last year she has had a different kind of ministry – she has been the Ahmanson Fellow in Art and Religion at the National Gallery. This role has included lecturing for an interdisciplinary MA in Christianity and the Arts at King College London, curating a UK-wide exhibition involving 9 regional museums on the ‘Fruits of the Spirit’ (which will launch later this year), and establishing new interfaith networks.
Ayla believes that God can be found both in traditional religious paintings, but also in secular works, and not only those created by Christian artists. During Lent, Holy Week and Easter this year Ayla was invited to do a series of weekly reflections for St Paul’s Cathedral entitled ‘Painting the Passion’. Her reflections included paintings by Cezanne, Jan van Eyck, Michelangelo, Degas and Rachel Ruysch. You can read her reflections at https://www.stpauls.co.uk/resources/painting-passion
We are excited that Ayla has agreed to do a tour for members of Hampstead Parish Church on 14th June at 3.30 pm. Places are limited to 25 people. To get a free ticket go tohttps://hampsteadparishchurch.us3.list-manage.com/track/click?u=0abb14ff3e958c28416d0dcd7&id=79ab179879&e=e5f062adae
Ayla described her tour as follows:
“From Van Eyck to Van Gogh, the National Gallery’s collection offers innumerable ways of encountering God’s glory in Gospel narratives, saints, landscapes, and everyday life. This tour will explore Christianity across six centuries of art, focusing on the theme of the Fruit of the Spirit. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul lists nine positive ‘fruits’ including love, joy, and peace. These foundational aspects of the Body of Christ will be connected to paintings by artists including Rembrandt, Gainsborough, and Bridget Riley (with some Hampstead Constable content too!).”
Hampstead Parish Church has been part of the wonderful week long London Festival of Contemporary Church Music, which took place in various churches around London, between 7th and 15th May. The first highlight for Hampstead Parish Church was on Sunday 8th May at the 10.30 service. The setting was the world premiere Jazz Mass by Paul Edis (you can see him on the piano in the photo below). Paul is a member of Hampstead Jazz Club, where Jeremy first met him and where they started talking about a possible jazz mass. Not only the professional choir but also the Junior Choir took part in singing this new setting. A real treat.
There were more highlights later. At Evensong on 8th May the choir sang the first London performance of the Evening Service by Mark Zhang. And on 15th May at the 10.30 am service was the first performance of a Mass setting by Peter Tranchell as arranged by our Music Director, Geoffrey Webber. Evensong on the 15th included contemporary works by Philip Moore, Peter Foggitt and Martindale Sidwell.
Thursday 5th May 2022
This year’s Christian Aid appeal is concentrating on the food shortages in Zimbabwe (which Sheena Ginnings will be writing about separately and which you can find in the May edition of the parish magazine) but at any one time Christian Aid has numerous areas of work which all need our support.
They are a global movement of people, churches and local organisations. They are the changemakers, the peacemakers, the mighty of heart.
Their overall aim is the eradication of poverty. They say:
“Everyone is equal in the sight of God. For over 75 years, this truth has inspired us to stand together in solidarity with our most marginalised global neighbours, of all faiths and none.
“Poverty is an outrage against humanity. It robs people of their dignity and lets injustice thrive.
“We seek to eradicate extreme poverty by tackling its root causes. Together with people living in poverty, we amplify our voices to speak truth to power and create lasting change.
“Together with our supporters and partners, we aim:
- to expose poverty throughout the world
- to help in practical ways to end it
- to highlight, challenge and change the structures and systems that favour the rich and powerful over the poor and marginalised.
The challenge is immense
People are starving in Afghanistan – Christian Aid are there
We all know about the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine – Christian Aid are there too
The earthquake in Haiti left people without homes – Christian Aid are helping them recover and rebuild
There is GLOBAL hunger. 41 million people around the world are facing extreme hunger. Christian Aid are there for them.
Christian Aid’s Coronavirus Emergency Appeal is helping provide the tools desperately needed to fight coronavirus.
You can support Christian Aid at any time through their website but for Christian Aid Week they have set us up a Giving PageThe Parish Church of St John-at-Hampstead Christian Aid Week 2022 (give-star.com). Or if you prefer not to give online we will be handing out the familiar red envelopes in church for cash, cheques, CAF cheques. One country that is on the frontline of this crisis is the country where I was born and which I love, Zimbabwe. The World Food Programme says that about 70 percent of the population is dependent on rain-fed farming, while most farmers are smallholders with low productivity. In rural Zimbabwe drought and food poverty particularly impacts on women and children. As men seek work in the cities women are responsible for feeding their children. Seven out of ten women rely on farming to earn a living and provide for their families. But the climate crisis has brought intense droughts that have left their land barren. With no rain, women and men can’t grow enough food and they struggle to provide for their children. Drought starves. It robs women of the chance to farm and drives their families into hunger. In times of drought, many families can only afford to eat one bowl of porridge a day. Women are hungrier, and often skip meals to share with their children what little food they have. This year Christian Aid is focussing its appeal on Zimbabwe. Below is the story of a grandmother, Janet Zirugo, who is being empowered through Christian Aid to cope with the challenges of climate change, desperate hunger and punishing drought. ‘One year, there was so little food. Rains had not fallen. We ate things which we wouldn’t eat in normal times. When I could I made porridge and gave it to the children, then removed a portion and put it down for the dogs. The children picked up the dogs’ share because they weren’t full. When I saw this, I knew the situation had become unbearable and I thought my family would die,’ said Janet. Janet brought her family through this painful time with the support of Christian Aid’s BRACT programme (Building Resilience through Absorptive and Adaptive Capacities for Transformation). BRACT helps the most at-risk communities in Zimbabwe to prepare for and adapt to the changing climate. Working with local partners, Christian Aid’s work empowers vulnerable communities to grow drought-tolerant crop, teaches women like Janet how to grow food in dry seasons and helps families to build storerooms to preserve food so they have the resilience to bounce back from future droughts. Families learn to eat more healthy, nutritious food and gain new skills for alternative sources of income when agriculture fails. With the support of Christian Aid’s BRACT programme Janet now harvests enough surplus food to share with her neighbours while also storing enough to survive future droughts. Christian Aid has empowered Janet. ‘My life is changing,’ she says. ‘This project is uplifting us. We are thankful’. The photos below show Janet, her grandchildren Taonga and Mufaro, Janet watering her fine beans and happy, well -fed children playing! Christian Aid wants to help many more women like Janet Caris also ran, and now only runs, a another successful project- Caris Camden Families - organising after school play and homework clubs in two of Camden’s “temporary” hostels for homeless families. Temporary could mean ten years, and accommodation one room for a family of 4 - the need for space and opportunity for children to play and do their homework is obvious. We also organised an “enrichment programme”, taking families on outings to the zoo, the theatre or a trip to the seaside which as well as being fun, opened parents’ (most often single mums) to the opportunities, many free, that London offers outside the hostel. All this came to an abrupt halt as Covid closed one hostel and Camden’s lease expired on another. Several of the families did quite well as result, at least in the short term, as a rather nice new block of flats (intended for commercial letting) appeared and housed the families. We helped them move in but our core activities were effectively halted for 18 months, and will not start again in Camden for some time while a new temporary hostel is built and another made Covid safe (i.e. without shared bathrooms and kitchens). We knew, however, that we had a good model and sought to export it to neighbouring boroughs. Unhelped by lockdowns, but driven by our director, Becky Walker’s determination, we managed to interest Hackney and after long negotiation finally agreed in November 2021 to start clubs in two of Hackney’s hostels. Hackney is very different from Camden with about 10 times as many families and as many more, but much smaller hostels, many of which are in multi-occupation-not exclusively for families. That and the shortage of space has been a challenge, but equally opened opportunities for helping families in different ways, with welfare advice and some advocacy. We see the future carrying on the core activity of clubs and trips, and hope to move back to at least one hostel in Camden soon, meanwhile continuing to develop welfare and some campaigning work. Having ceased to be exclusively Camden based a change of name to just “Caris Families” seemed appropriate. Becky Walker led us though these difficult but ultimately successful times, but took leave to have a second baby, Eliza, born on 18th April. Simon Pickering a management consultant is looking after the project in her absence, assisted by the staff of three who are pleased to be back at work having been furloughed so long. Our board has been much strengthened by four new female trustees, two charity executives, one a former service user and one a banker and all mothers. We are optimistic that we can meet the challenges ahead and help more families in more places and more ways in the future. (The photo below is from the Easter holiday trips that Caris has been running)
Our planet is changing and we are all witnessing more extreme weather patterns. Many more people are feeling the impact of either damaging floods or catastrophic droughts. Sadly many in the developing world are particularly affected by these changes.
The church has long supported Caris Camden, chiefly although not exclusively, for it C4WS project, and the winter night shelter which we hosted for Saturday nights for three seasons before the arrival of Covid. The C4WS project moved to a separate and distinct charity in July 2021.
So often, when I’m sitting in the church and staring - unavoidably - at the windows above the altar, I’m struck by the lack of interaction between the three figures. This week, I happened to bring my sketchbook to church (I tend to take it everywhere, to be honest), and it happened to be the week in which we were all handed coloured pencils to draw on fishes. So, at the end of the service, as people filed out, I started drawing the windows. It wasn’t something I had planned, I just started doodling, with my own pen and some of the coloured pencils that were lying around. The only thing I had in mind was to create some kind of interaction.
There is GLOBAL hunger. 41 million people around the world are facing extreme hunger. Christian Aid are there for them.
Christian Aid’s Coronavirus Emergency Appeal is helping provide the tools desperately needed to fight coronavirus.
You can support Christian Aid at any time through their website but for Christian Aid Week they have set us up a Giving PageThe Parish Church of St John-at-Hampstead Christian Aid Week 2022 (give-star.com). Or if you prefer not to give online we will be handing out the familiar red envelopes in church for cash, cheques, CAF cheques. One country that is on the frontline of this crisis is the country where I was born and which I love, Zimbabwe. The World Food Programme says that about 70 percent of the population is dependent on rain-fed farming, while most farmers are smallholders with low productivity. In rural Zimbabwe drought and food poverty particularly impacts on women and children. As men seek work in the cities women are responsible for feeding their children. Seven out of ten women rely on farming to earn a living and provide for their families. But the climate crisis has brought intense droughts that have left their land barren. With no rain, women and men can’t grow enough food and they struggle to provide for their children. Drought starves. It robs women of the chance to farm and drives their families into hunger. In times of drought, many families can only afford to eat one bowl of porridge a day. Women are hungrier, and often skip meals to share with their children what little food they have. This year Christian Aid is focussing its appeal on Zimbabwe. Below is the story of a grandmother, Janet Zirugo, who is being empowered through Christian Aid to cope with the challenges of climate change, desperate hunger and punishing drought. ‘One year, there was so little food. Rains had not fallen. We ate things which we wouldn’t eat in normal times. When I could I made porridge and gave it to the children, then removed a portion and put it down for the dogs. The children picked up the dogs’ share because they weren’t full. When I saw this, I knew the situation had become unbearable and I thought my family would die,’ said Janet. Janet brought her family through this painful time with the support of Christian Aid’s BRACT programme (Building Resilience through Absorptive and Adaptive Capacities for Transformation). BRACT helps the most at-risk communities in Zimbabwe to prepare for and adapt to the changing climate. Working with local partners, Christian Aid’s work empowers vulnerable communities to grow drought-tolerant crop, teaches women like Janet how to grow food in dry seasons and helps families to build storerooms to preserve food so they have the resilience to bounce back from future droughts. Families learn to eat more healthy, nutritious food and gain new skills for alternative sources of income when agriculture fails. With the support of Christian Aid’s BRACT programme Janet now harvests enough surplus food to share with her neighbours while also storing enough to survive future droughts. Christian Aid has empowered Janet. ‘My life is changing,’ she says. ‘This project is uplifting us. We are thankful’. The photos below show Janet, her grandchildren Taonga and Mufaro, Janet watering her fine beans and happy, well -fed children playing! Christian Aid wants to help many more women like Janet
Christian Aid’s Coronavirus Emergency Appeal is helping provide the tools desperately needed to fight coronavirus.
You can support Christian Aid at any time through their website but for Christian Aid Week they have set us up a Giving PageThe Parish Church of St John-at-Hampstead Christian Aid Week 2022 (give-star.com). Or if you prefer not to give online we will be handing out the familiar red envelopes in church for cash, cheques, CAF cheques.
One country that is on the frontline of this crisis is the country where I was born and which I love, Zimbabwe. The World Food Programme says that about 70 percent of the population is dependent on rain-fed farming, while most farmers are smallholders with low productivity.
In rural Zimbabwe drought and food poverty particularly impacts on women and children. As men seek work in the cities women are responsible for feeding their children. Seven out of ten women rely on farming to earn a living and provide for their families. But the climate crisis has brought intense droughts that have left their land barren. With no rain, women and men can’t grow enough food and they struggle to provide for their children. Drought starves. It robs women of the chance to farm and drives their families into hunger. In times of drought, many families can only afford to eat one bowl of porridge a day. Women are hungrier, and often skip meals to share with their children what little food they have.
This year Christian Aid is focussing its appeal on Zimbabwe. Below is the story of a grandmother, Janet Zirugo, who is being empowered through Christian Aid to cope with the challenges of climate change, desperate hunger and punishing drought.
‘One year, there was so little food. Rains had not fallen. We ate things which we wouldn’t eat in normal times. When I could I made porridge and gave it to the children, then removed a portion and put it down for the dogs. The children picked up the dogs’ share because they weren’t full. When I saw this, I knew the situation had become unbearable and I thought my family would die,’ said Janet.
Janet brought her family through this painful time with the support of Christian Aid’s BRACT programme (Building Resilience through Absorptive and Adaptive Capacities for Transformation).
BRACT helps the most at-risk communities in Zimbabwe to prepare for and adapt to the changing climate. Working with local partners, Christian Aid’s work empowers vulnerable communities to grow drought-tolerant crop, teaches women like Janet how to grow food in dry seasons and helps families to build storerooms to preserve food so they have the resilience to bounce back from future droughts. Families learn to eat more healthy, nutritious food and gain new skills for alternative sources of income when agriculture fails.
With the support of Christian Aid’s BRACT programme Janet now harvests enough surplus food to share with her neighbours while also storing enough to survive future droughts.
Christian Aid has empowered Janet. ‘My life is changing,’ she says. ‘This project is uplifting us. We are thankful’. The photos below show Janet, her grandchildren Taonga and Mufaro, Janet watering her fine beans and happy, well -fed children playing!
Christian Aid wants to help many more women like Janet
Caris also ran, and now only runs, a another successful project- Caris Camden Families - organising after school play and homework clubs in two of Camden’s “temporary” hostels for homeless families. Temporary could mean ten years, and accommodation one room for a family of 4 - the need for space and opportunity for children to play and do their homework is obvious. We also organised an “enrichment programme”, taking families on outings to the zoo, the theatre or a trip to the seaside which as well as being fun, opened parents’ (most often single mums) to the opportunities, many free, that London offers outside the hostel.
All this came to an abrupt halt as Covid closed one hostel and Camden’s lease expired on another. Several of the families did quite well as result, at least in the short term, as a rather nice new block of flats (intended for commercial letting) appeared and housed the families. We helped them move in but our core activities were effectively halted for 18 months, and will not start again in Camden for some time while a new temporary hostel is built and another made Covid safe (i.e. without shared bathrooms and kitchens).
We knew, however, that we had a good model and sought to export it to neighbouring boroughs. Unhelped by lockdowns, but driven by our director, Becky Walker’s determination, we managed to interest Hackney and after long negotiation finally agreed in November 2021 to start clubs in two of Hackney’s hostels. Hackney is very different from Camden with about 10 times as many families and as many more, but much smaller hostels, many of which are in multi-occupation-not exclusively for families. That and the shortage of space has been a challenge, but equally opened opportunities for helping families in different ways, with welfare advice and some advocacy.
We see the future carrying on the core activity of clubs and trips, and hope to move back to at least one hostel in Camden soon, meanwhile continuing to develop welfare and some campaigning work. Having ceased to be exclusively Camden based a change of name to just “Caris Families” seemed appropriate.
Becky Walker led us though these difficult but ultimately successful times, but took leave to have a second baby, Eliza, born on 18th April. Simon Pickering a management consultant is looking after the project in her absence, assisted by the staff of three who are pleased to be back at work having been furloughed so long. Our board has been much strengthened by four new female trustees, two charity executives, one a former service user and one a banker and all mothers. We are optimistic that we can meet the challenges ahead and help more families in more places and more ways in the future.
(The photo below is from the Easter holiday trips that Caris has been running)
As I drew, I discovered for myself the challenge that the original makers of those windows must have faced: if you have three figures, in separate windows, they can’t all be interacting equally. Having started drawing on the left, then moved to the middle, I found that I had created interaction between John the Baptist and Jesus - and that John the Evangelist was going to look a bit left out unless I made him look especially cheerful and willing. So that’s what I tried to do.
Having started with pen and coloured pencils, I went home, took a photo of my drawing, and added colour digitally on my iPad.
Thank you Sheena for asking me to share it.
(PS There are lots more examples of JP’s amazing creativity on his website https://flintoff.org/me-in-brief - Sheena)
Friday 29th April 2022
Our Deputy Warden Jon Siddall missed the APCM! But he had good reason. He was in Australia where his beautiful daughter Rebecca was marrying Cameron Leske. Rebecca’s sister Jo (Maria in the Hampstead Players production of ‘The Sound of Music’) was able to go as well and was her bridesmaid.
We wish Rebecca and Cameron every happiness in their life together and we look forward to seeing them in July when the celebrations will continue with a Service of Thanksgiving at Hampstead Parish Church.
The Second Sunday in Easter (the first is Easter Sunday) is traditionally called ‘Low Sunday’, possibly to contrast it with the ‘high’ festival of the previous Sunday. At Hampstead Parish Church it is also traditionally a Sunday when the choir, who have worked so hard over Holy Week and Easter Sunday, have a break. However this Low Sunday the congregation had a treat of the combined Junior and Community Choirs. The setting was the contemplative Rawsthorne “Festive Eucharist”. They also sang an anthem, the beautiful “A Clare Benediction” by John Rutter.
They might not have had a conductor, when Aidan tested positive for Covid, but fortunately Edward Walters was able to step in, for which we were very grateful (the photo below is the choirs in rehearsal)
Wednesday 20th April 2022
The choir contributed so much to our worship during Holy Week. We are truly grateful. As we left church on a high after the Main Service on Easter Sunday all the choir went down to the Parish Rooms for Easter lunch. Aidan (supported by his wonderful mum) had cooked a roast lamb lunch followed by chocolate cake. For those near the front of the church you may have caught a wonderful aroma during the service of rosemary and garlic!
The first time we could all travel without covid restrictions meant that there were very few of the flower team in town!
Judy East did a one man show on the Easter garden, the Fitzpatrick team designed and worked wonders on the cross, Barbara Alden did the pulpit and the Lady Chapel. Sheena Ginnings completed the magnificent arrangement around the altar. Erin Glen did almost all the window sills and Jane Padkin and myself the rest.
Jane Padkin has been doing a brilliant job on the church gates keeping Ukraine in our minds .
I have enjoyed decorating the churchyard for festivals particularly when we were under restrictions. This year I found an enormous discarded wreath in the churchyard and wrapped in yellow scaffolding net and decorated it with willow.
The willow represents strength in weakness and flexibility . The circle of the wreath is a universal symbol of the heavens and eternity. Perfect for Easter as the crucifixion conquered death. The golden yellow represents the splendour of enlightenment and immortality.
The Easter Vigil, between the emotion of Good Friday and the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday, is one of those services usually attended by only a few people, but that is when it all happens!
It begins outside with the Holy Fire, symbolising the light and glory of the Resurrection. (Lighting the fire can be a challenge – will it light and if it does which direction will the wind be coming from. It was a calm night and Jeremy lit the fire and then the wind came up and sparks flew!)
From this sacred flame the Pascal Candle is lit. The flame of the Paschal candle symbolizes the eternal presence of Christ, the Alpha and the Omega, the Light of the World in the midst of his people, the Light which darkness has never overcome. Five nails are then added to the Candle symbolising the five wounds on Christ’s body. The candle also includes the year, 2022, representing the “today” in “Christ, the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
We each had a candle which was lit from the Paschal Candle and as we processed into church we picked up a percussion instrument. The Vigil continued with a series of Scripture readings that describe the story of God’s salvation of his people. The readings begin with Genesis, the first book of the Bible, through the story of the story of Moses and the Israelites fleeing from slavery in Egypt, followed by readings from Jeremiah and Ezekiel, reminding us of God’s promises to us and culminating with the story in Luke’s gospel of the women finding the empty tomb. And then we all shouted “Christ is risen” and as the organ started for the hymn “Sing choirs of heaven!” we made a glorious noise with bells, and drums and tambourines!
It was a joy to have great weather, a full set of services, and a full church on Easter Morning too. Thanks to everyone who enabled worship to take place, and who welcomed people in church and online. The flower and decorating teams worked wonders. The decluttering and cleaning teams freshened and tidied. The refreshment team provided coffee and eggs. Our musicians made a joyful noise. We are tuly blessed to worship in such a place, and continue our prayers for all who are in such difficult circumstances across the world. For them, as for us…Christ is Risen!
Wednesday 13th April 2022
An enormous thank you to everyone who donated to the Easter Foodbank which was collected by Jackie and Madelaine on Monday in Holy Week.
Friday 8th April was ‘The Day of the Skip’ and by early afternoon it was full. This was the culmination of several weeks of sorting by the Church and Hampstead Players decluttering teams. The day before we took over the Gregory and Allatson rooms to spread it all out and plan how the skip would be loaded. I discovered Jon Siddall’s amazing spatial awareness skills as he co-ordinated the loading of the skip. Not an inch was wasted! Some things were definitely ready to go, like the one handled wheel barrow and others like the bride and groom from the Spring Fair - we remembered the fun we had with it and then said goodbye.
A big thank you to all who helped with our Spark Joy decluttering project. Jon Siddall and Maggie Willmer who coordinated the Hampstead Players part of the exercise and Sue Kwok who gave up several days to help with decluttering, freecycling and recycling, Judy East who is a fount of knowledge (and stopped us throwing away important pieces), Sue Kirby who put things on eBay, and Bettina Schmidgall and Ursula Rasmussen who went through the children’s resources.
A lot of confidential paper work still needs to be shredded and a big thank you to Peter Ginnings for going through masses of files.
More work is still to be done on sorting the Undercroft and then we can look at how best to store our resources and other materials.
A big thank you to the cleaning team who came in on the Saturday to hoover up all the dust and dirt we had created.
Our beautiful Church is God’s house to be cherished and kept tidy and free of clutter. Right now it feels lighter and tidier and that Spark’s Joy
The first stage of our decluttering is finished – the skip has been loaded for collection, the freecyling has all been freecycled, and the recycling has been put out for collection. How good to have the church looking pristine for Easter. We must not ever let it get that bad again! Decluttering sessions will be built into the church calendar so be warned – don’t put it down, don’t tuck it away in a corner where you think no one will find it, don’t “leave it for later”, because that’s largely how we ended up with the clutter it’s taken several dedicated people several weeks to clear.
And, even better than the removal of the rubbish, your kind gifts of food and Easter Eggs have gone to the Foodbank to be in time for Easter.
It was interesting to compare our performance of the St John Passion with the one I had been to the night before, especially with the band. We had proper baroque woodwind, for example, while the other one, in Blackheath Halls, had excellent players for their double bass and cello continuo but they were playing modern instruments.
We were able to have our Evangelist, Ruairi Bowen, sporting his new ponytail, and really letting us have it as far as the story is concerned, and Will Thomas' sonorous real bass, positioned behind the small choir - whereas in Blackheath the soloists sat in a decorous row in front, with the orchestra and the perilous-looking tiers of the choir behind them. The one touch at Blackheath, however, which I do think worked well was that, when Pilate was addressing the company, he was allowed to turn a bit towards them.
All our ladies had their turn with a solo aria, and they also made a charming study of the black concert dress. It was slightly confusing, however, also with the ensemble men, as to who was who because we had several replacements.
I am sure any outfit conducted by Geoffrey Webber feels confident and that he is so obviously enjoying it must make them enjoy it too. A chamber organ really is necessary, and we had one. And a warm welcome back to Alison Bury, once more leading the orchestra.
There were cheers at the end, and well deserved.
And if anyone wonders why on earth I went to hear two versions two nights running - well, if Blackheath chooses to fetch over a British baritone (as Staatsoper Hamburg keeps on referring to him), and following a postponement from 2020, it's my duty and my pleasure to be there.
Monday 4th April 2022
Churches Together in Hampstead is holding a Ceilidh on Friday 6th May to raise funds for an important local community charity – The Winch https://thewinch.org/our-history/ . The mission of the Winch is to help each child succeed regardless of their circumstances, by building long-term relationships from an early age with children, young people and families who are facing huge challenges. They aim to be an anchor and a centre for the community and to work to make a difference to the area by supporting, connecting and championing local people.
The Winch began on 12th April 1972 when a group of 13 local residents reclaimed and repurposed the derelict Winchester Arms pub. The group repaired the building from the ground up with the support of the local community. The Winchester Project was given official charity status in 1973. Since then it has worked with thousands of children, young people and families across North Camden to make the hopes and ambitions of its community a reality.
In 2011 the murder of a local 22-year-old, Milad Golmakani, inspired a shift in how the charity thought about its role in the community. They took a group of young people, partners and local residents to visit youth projects in Harlem, New York City to research ways of making a greater impact. The group returned with several critical insights, which has shaped the way this charity now works.
They developed their Promise Work approach, where youth and play workers form deep, consistent, long-term relationships with children and young people, and help to coordinate interaction with school, social workers and other agencies.
They also established the Promise Partnership, which aims to bring together local partners to work collaboratively to secure more systemic change in its neighbourhood.
In 2012 The Winch took over the Belsize Community Library, an important local space that faced closure due to funding cuts.
To help raise funds for this important local charity buy a ticket for the Ceilidh. The event is at the Rosslyn Hill Chapel on 5th May at 6.30 pm. Tickets are £10 for adults and £5 for children, which also includes light refreshments. To book go to https://www.rosslynhillchapel.org.uk/event-details/ceilidh-ctih
The parish magazine in April features a piece on a new book on Eliza Acton, who is buried in our graveyard (see photo below). Her grave is hard to find. If you go in the gates of the Additional Burial Ground, take the path straight head of you that runs parallel with Church Row and then left up the last row, it is almost opposite the compost bins, under a tree. Unfortunately the lettering has all eroded. (But there are plans to mark her grave so people wanting to visit it can find it. More in the Parish Magazine.)
Eliza Acton was one of the people commemorated in the 1812 Flower Festival and Schools Project. If you go onto the Tomb with a View website https://tombwithaview.org.uk/ and enter her name into the search button you can read more about her and the impact she had on the domestic life of her readers. You will also get a link to images of the flower arrangement done to commemorate her.
We can also find Eliza Acton in her famous book, Modern Cookery for Private Families, first published in 1845. It was the first modern cookery book and was aimed at the ordinary reader rather than professional cooks. She introduced the now-universal practice of listing the ingredients and suggested cooking times with each recipe. She moved to Hampstead shortly after it was her book was published, and lived in Keats Grove. Isabella Beeton’s bestselling Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management published a few years later was closely modelled on Eliza’s cookbook.
She is also to be found in her poetry which was mainly about unrequited love, perhaps remembering the unhappy love affair with a French army officer. Below is a poem she wrote called ‘ Come to my grave’. You can decide on its merits. The engraving below is of a young Eliza, possibly around the time she wrote this poem
Come to my grave when I am gone,
And bend a moment there alone;
It will not cost thee much of pain
To trample on my heart again-
Or, if it would, for ever stay
Far distant from my mouldering clay:
I would not wound thy breast to prove
E'en its most deep, "remorse of love."
The grave should be a shrine of peace
Where all unkindly feelings cease;-
Though thou wilt calmly gaze on mine
I would not live the hour to see,
Which doom'd my glance to rest on thine :-
That moment's bitter agony
Would bid the very life-blood start
Back, and congeal around my heart!-
A big thank you to everyone who has provided new homes for the freecyle items currently on offer in the church entrance lobby.
One of the items is a big cardboard box of coffee cup lids. Jeremy and Courtney came across them when they were doing some decluttering. We use the cups but not the lids. And who needs lids without cups but Susan Woolf has come up with a creative use for some of them.
She sent me an email in which she explained “I took three sleeves of these lids yesterday, mainly because the Nursery class here in Nottinghamshire has asked for all kinds of craft materials, including loo rolls, magazines and wallpaper, etc and corks! I have also had a quick session with watercolour to see if they could be emojis for another teacher here. The inside is easy to paint with watercolour, but could have also used a different black marker or crayon.”
Thank you Susan
Friday 25th March 2022
One of the duties of church wardens is to once a year check the church inventory. This is the first time I’ve checked the inventory and I discovered all sorts of treasures and interesting objects. One of the items was a silver bowl with the item in the photo below which isn’t named in the inventory. I sought enlightenment from Graham and was told it is an aspergillum!
What is an aspergillum, apparently also called an aspergilium or aspergil? According to the online dictionary it is a liturgical implement used to sprinkle holy water. The name comes from the latin verb aspergere, meaning ‘to sprinkle’. The online dictionary also said that an aspergillum comes in two common forms: a brush that is dipped in the water and shaken, and a perforated ball at the end of a short handle, like the one we have.
According to a story Graham told me it can also be a dangerous implement. As he explained – “I can’t look at one without remembering with horror the moment at my previous church when the end came flying off and hit a first-time visitor! The vicar used to do holy water with real gusto so it travelled some distance!” This is probably why Jeremy sometimes uses rosemary to sprinkle holy water, while in the Eastern Orthodox church basil leaves may be used.
Interestingly I also discovered that Aspergillus, a genus of mold (see the photo below). It was named in 1729 by the Italian priest and biologist Pietro Antonio Micheli. When he looked at the mold under a microscope, he said the cells resembled an aspergillum!
Saturday 19th March 2022
In 2019, I travelled along the Dneiper river from Kyiv to Kherson at the mouth of the river, then along the black sea coast to Odesa.
I gazed in awe at the magnificent 11th century mosaic of the Virgin Mary in the apse of St Sophia cathedral (see photo), listened to the choir chanting in St Michael’s church, where the priests were dressed in blue and gold robes and wore golden crowns, squeezed on to a crowded metro train on a Saturday night in Kyiv and mingled with the families in Maiden Square where the children played in the water of the coloured, illuminated fountains.
I remember a bearded old man playing the xylophone at the open-air museum among old wooden houses (see photo) , a wooden church (see photo), windmills and fields of sunflowers. A Ukrainian male voice choir entertained us with religious and folk songs in an elegant 19th century house.
Further south, at Zaporizhia, we visited a reconstructed, wooden Cossack settlement and witnessed a demonstration of expert horsemanship and fighting skills (see photo).
Near Kherson at the delta of the Dneiper, we watched the wild birds and local people enjoying the sunshine outside their riverside houses. Later, we were serenaded by a group of middle-aged ladies (with plenty of gold teeth!), wearing traditional costumes, who sang comic songs to the accompaniment of an accordion.
In Odesa, we observed the attractive 18th century townscape, visited the art gallery, churches of various denominations, a synagogue and a mosque and climbed down the famous Potemkin steps. Our journey ended with visits for both opera and ballet at the Odesa opera house with its splendid and glittering gold and white interior.
Precious memories, but now tinged with great sadness!
Every nook and cranny in the church and undercroft is being explored! All sort of things are emerging, some of which have not seen the light of day for years – like the ‘Order two’ orders of service; remember that form of liturgy? Sometimes as we discard one item, like the duplicator, we find another item we no longer need, like the metal cupboard that it used to sit on (see the photo below). And workman have a habit of just leaving things – like ladders or bits of ladders, or boxes of unused materials. Then there is a huge amount of paper that is redundant - leaflets, children’s resources, pamphlets, orders of service etc that haven’t been used for ages. There are also lots of little piles in different places of bits of wood or other items, probably left over from one project or another, that haven’t been thrown away. These are just a few of the things that we have been decluttering.
As The Friends of the Drama are also decluttering we have agreed to share a skip on 8th and 9th April. A big thank you to Jeremy and Julia for agreeing to have it parked on their driveway.
But before the skip comes we want to try and recycle as much as possible. Non confidential paper is being put in bags and put on the shelf over the back pews. On Sundays members of the congregation have been taking bags to put in their green recycling. The photo below shows the first collection of these bags.
Surplus children’s books and toys will also be put in bags. Rather than take them all to one charity shop, members of the congregation will be asked to take a bag, but this time to take the bag to their local charity shop.
We are also inviting people to help themselves to surplus postcards. As people use cameras on their phones, and postage becomes ever more costly, less and less people buy postcards. We have a lot. We will keep a good selection but for the next few weeks we are inviting people to help themselves, and make a donation
The entrance porch has become ‘Freecycle HQ’ and filled with things we no longer want. Things that were once useful, or played a part in our activities, but which we no longer need (like the metal cupboard in the photo below which has been taking up valuable space in the choir vestry). Marie Kondo who wrote the book “Spark Joy”, the Japanese art of decluttering, says when we discard something we can say thank you for the way in which the item has served us in the past, or in the case of some of the items we are discarding, the good intention with which it was originally purchased, and then pass it on or discard it. The congregation and the public are being invited to help with this process. They can help themselves to anything in the entrance porch, and we hope that some will also make a donation.
On 8th and 9th April we will need people to help to move items to the skip. If you can help please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday 12th March 2022
This poem, written by Odessa Goldberg, a student at Yale, was sent to Barbara Alden by her daughter Jane. It speaks of what it means to be an American Jew of Ukrainian descent under the shadow of the war. She prefaces her poem with these words,
“My parents named me Odessa after Odessa, Ukraine: in honor of my great grandparents who fled from Odessa during the pogroms. The poem below expresses my connection to the land of Ukraine in light of the war,”
I do not know when my family came to Ukraine
for how many centuries they stayed
for how much DNA lies buried in cemeteries with half-closed gates
names half-heartedly scrubbed away by time
but I do know when they left
and I do not want to center myself in a conflict
that my family fled a long time ago
they still call me odessa
and so my skin still bears the history
of every ancestor that wept on those streets
they still call me odessa
so we can remember that when borders change
we will not forget
pale of settlement
this is my homeland once removed
this is my homeland removed once
I am still tied there
if yet by my name
if yet by the intense yearning
I have to call it some contour of home
some contour of homeland
and so my heart breaks in a mirror neuronal gasp
as explosions pour down
and people huddle close
I am still tied there
I am there
in a city I’ve never visited
I am there when war comes
this is not yours
I want to scream
bedraggled by the many many miles between me
I try to recall ghosts of memories from the time before the veil
scratch open consciousness and revisit the commotion of my ancestors
where would they be?
huddled in metro stations
fleeing in cars
dying on city streets
my heart splinters at the weight of the time folding
and my arms tremble in their feat of extension
could a country be held in the circumference of my arms?
could a city be held in the circumference of my name?
i have found myself writing many poems about this homeland of mine
that my great grandfather tried to scrub from his skin and from his voice
i don’t know nowhere like where the black sea meets the land
and my soul meets its rest
because I am Ukrainian by blood and by bloodshed
and I want to unwind my DNA to see it whole again
but I wait, a world apart, body trembling
and i pray in these stanzas, body bowed
when they call me odessa
These flowers on the church railings represent the colours of the Ukrainian flag - the blue representing the wide blue skies and the yellow representing the vast wheat fields of a country once described as the bread basket of Europe
Wednesday 9th March 2022
Many have felt deeply the reporting from Clive Myrie in Ukraine.
Clive was deeply moved by the people he has met, and their fortitude.
Among a group of students one told him:
"I am prepared to die for my country, for what I love,
Putin doesn't understand we don't want his authority - his world.
All of us here know what we want - the right to live our own lives,
the right to choose who leads us. That's our right, not Moscow's."
And they fight, will fight for their freedom. They are fighting for our freedom too.
the greatest of integrity, their courageous President, Voldomyr Zelensky,
told a packed House of Commons Chamber, they have neither lost their humanity in war,
they have not abused captive Russian soldiers.
We are heartbroken as we helplessly watch the News.
But there are things we can do.
Pray ceaselessly. For those who fight, those who have returned to fight.
For the old, women and children, cold, starving and thirsty,
their lives utterly destroyed, desperately seeking safety.
For their astonishing courageous President,
who will live or die with his people in Kyiv.
For the defeat and removal of President Putin who has ordered this slaughter.
Let us talk with one another. This war and its causes must never be forgotten.
For we too are, in so many ways we quietly don’t see,
we too are threatened with autocratic dictatorship, the loss of our liberal demoncracy.
Freedom is costing Ukranians their lives. It will cost us in our pockets.
The price of our power, the price of food, will go up. So be it.
We can also give financially to support the aid effort enabling civilians to escape.
Ultimately to rebuild the beautiful historic cities of Ukraine.
I’m sure many of us have already given to support Ukraine.
Their need will be on-going, anything we can continue to contribute
will be so much appreciated. It tells the Ukranian people they are never forgotten.
If you google Christian Aid Donate to Ukraine, links to donate will come up.
The Red Cross and Christian Aid (as also other charities)
are passing donations to the DEC, the Disasters Emergency Committee,
who are co-ordinating British Aid.
PLEASE BEWARE SCAMS - pop-up charities are not safe.
You may also like to give directly to a Ukrainian family by booking an Airbnb!
Of course, you will not be going - just an easy way of giving directly to the people of Ukraine.
Airbnb have temporarily waived guest and host fees on bookings in Ukraine.
we forget. Lest we forget. Thank you.
Wednesday 2nd March 2022
Another chance to see…..
I don’t know about you but I sense a sort of fog descending over the pandemic months during and before which I struggle to remember what was what. I know, because it was on Church Chat in February 2021, that we had Essy’s Stations of the Cross up in church for Lent. I definitely do remember how striking Essy’s images were and so it’s a great joy to have them on display again this Lent. And I know, because I found a reference rather than because I remembered, that Ayla Lepine used them online to great effect during Lent 2020 and I found a link to this on our YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xesCorgmqIg
Possibly not that many of you had much time to look at them because (I vaguely recall) although the church was open for a short time each day we didn’t have services till Palm Sunday, and even then people were cautious about attending.
This year should be much easier. And copies of “The Way of the Cross”, prayers to accompany private meditation, will be available.
If you want to know more about Essy’s creative process you can find her article in Church Chat for February 2021, and her full interview with Ayla in the April 2020 parish magazine available here 2020_april.pdf (hampsteadparishchurch.org.uk) The single image below is Gethsemane which I find particularly moving.
Church Chat would love to hear how you encountered these images as you follow the Stations of the Cross..
“The narrative of Christ’s Passion invites us to look within ourselves to explore how we can be closer to Jesus.”
Essy Sparrow April 2020
Tuesday 1st March 2022
It was lovely to have Big Brew back again on Sunday! A big thank you to Sue Kwok and all her helpers for a really enjoyable after service get together.
Along with the regular Traidcraft items Easter eggs and Easter cards were on sale, there were delicious cakes to buy to take home and to have with coffee, plus a raffle for a super basket of Traidcraft goodies. There were also guessing games, including ‘guess the weight of the cake’!
Along with the fun it was a chance to raise money for some of the world’s poorest communities. The proceeds from Big Brew go to support the Traidcraft Foundation. Traidcraft were the original fair trade pioneers in the UK. It started as a movement of radical, church-based individuals who began by importing goods directly from artisans and growers from over 30 developing countries and distributing them directly to shoppers in the UK, cutting out the middlemen. Traidcraft collaborates with the growers and artisans throughout the process, and over time gets to know their needs, dreams and ambitions and how they can support them.
Have a look at the board that Sue has created with more information about the work of Traidcraft.
Monday 21st February 2022
Next year will mark 160 years since the death of Thomas Ainger, energetic social reformer and vicar of Hampstead Parish Church for some 22 years, until his death on 15th November 1863.
The youngest of six children, Ainger was born on 1st August 1799. He was educated at Norwich Grammar school and St John's College, Cambridge. Graduating in 1821, he became curate at St Giles's Reading in 1822, and after about three years, he became assistant minister at St Mary's Greenwich. Aged 42, Ainger was presented by Sir Thomas Maryon Wilson with the perpetual curacy of St John's
When Ainger came to Hampstead with his wife and family in 1841, they were not the only additions to the local population. Along with the rest of London, Hampstead’s population was expanding rapidly, rising from 10,000 residents when Ainger arrived in 1841, to 15,000 by 1851: an increase of 50% in just 10 years. By 1861, the population had climbed to 19,000. Ainger did much to support the social needs of his parish including the development of new local schools and obtaining the nearby Holly Bush Vale site and moving the Hampstead Parochial Schools into new buildings on this site. The Parochial School continues to flourish in these same red brick buildings. Ainger’s contribution is remembered in an annual school service held at St John’s, and in the giving of the Ainger prize, awarded to pupils for their involvement in the life of the school. The Parish Magazine this month has a piece on a modern day connection to Ainger’s influence at the Parochial School.
Another consequence of the population explosion was a shortage of church space. Ainger’s solution was to subdivide the parish into ecclesiastical districts, for which five new churches were erected; no mean feat, even if the same was to be attempted in the 21st century. These church buildings are in part monuments to Ainger’s vision, and testify to the sheer numbers of church goers that he strove to provide for.
Though an energetic advocate of practical action in the community, Ainger was also a theological heavy weight. He published four volumes and a number of single sermons, and was reported to be a charismatic preacher. He became a canon of St. Paul's in 1859, a role which he held until his death, and was described as a loyal Church man who co-operated with members of other churches, without any concession of Anglican principles.
He is remembered inside St John’s with a strikingly colourful memorial beside the entrance to the NE porch (see the photo). It is set in a frame studded with jewel-like coloured marbles, a profile portrait of him is encircled by a halo of faded gold, and framed by ornate columns. He is surrounded by the signs of the four evangelists. Christopher Wade in his very useful book “Buried in Hampstead” says the artist was Sir George Gilbert Scott, then resident at Admirald’s House. The text on the now-corroded plaque beneath his portrait details the raising of the memorial in his memory by grateful parishioners
Thomas Ainger is buried in an decorated tomb, surrounded by ornamental railings (see the photo below). You can find it near the tomb of John Constable. According to Christopher Wade the tomb “is in the shape of a bodystone, with a Bible and chalice incised on either side of an elaborate horizontal cross, with Gothic lettering around the edge”. Unfortunately at the moment this is obscured with brambles but we will get them cleared away and then we will able to admire it properly.
Saturday 19th February 2022
“…Flowers fade, dreams wake, men die; but never dies
The soul whereby these things were perfected, -
This leaves the world on flower with memories.”
These are the words of A. Mary F. Robinson in her poem “Thanksgiving for Flowers”. Patricia Rigg in her book “A. Mary F. Robinson: Victorian Poet and Modern Woman of Letters” suggests these words liken the human soul as an unseen and intangible evidence of existence, to the scent of flowers that linger, first physically, and then in memory.
Flowers mark special occasions and, for many, bring back memories. They may remind us of someone special while, like life, they fade.
If you would like to remember (or celebrate) someone special who has died during a particular week – the week they died, or perhaps their birthday – and would like to sponsor the flowers in the Church during that week, please contact Esther Fitzgerald at email@example.com . You can also ask Courtney, the Parish Administrator at firstname.lastname@example.org to put a note in the Worship News that is sent out each Saturday, stating who the flowers that week are in memory or celebration of.
Thursday 17th February 2022
For those of you who think that the February garden is all about bulbs, think again! Jenny Bunn has sent Church Chat some photographs of other plants that are putting on a beautiful display in her garden right now to inspire you to think beyond bulbs as the only interesting plants in the garden in February.
In the photos you can see the Arum italicum, with its beautiful green and white decorative leaves; Nandina domestica (which Jenny says is one of her favourites), with its lovely red berries; Abeliophylum or White Forsythia; modest Hellebores with their bent flower heads which force you to bend down to look at them, whose colours range from white, through pink to deep mauve; and Chaenomeles or flowering quince with their deep pink flowers. Jenny also mentioned Prunus autumalis as another winter flowering shrub in her garden.
Sitting on the floor on the landing just outside the galleries is this bust. Does anyone know who is he or how he came to be sitting there? If you know please email@example.com We’d love to know
Our Lent book this year is Isabelle Hamley’s ‘Embracing Justice’. The author is the Theological Adviser to the House of Bishops and was previously Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Justin Welby says of this book that “In a world where justice is too often about power, Isabelle Hamley shows that God’s justice brings transformation, healing and hope for all.”
The publishers blurb says she weaves together biblical texts, diverse voices, contemporary stories, and personal and group meditations to reveal liberating and imaginative ways in which we may grow in discipleship. The issues of justice discussed include climate and economic justice and gender and racial equality and the role that Christians and the Church must play in them. Although some may argue that the world is broken, unequal and violent, the call to reflect God’s own justice and mercy continues.
The Church Times says this book “offers a serious-minded exploration of the different stories of justice in the Bible, with a good deal of attention to the Old Testament — “original justice” in Genesis, “liberation” in Exodus, “community justice” in the laws — before coming to the incarnation, the cross, and the eucharist. “Either justice is swept aside in the cross or justice is not primarily about ‘just deserts’, but needs to be rethought.””
Isabelle Hamley says that “using stories matters”, because “they remind us that justice is always rooted in specific contexts,” and “justice begins with a profound transformation of our imagination.”
Her approach to scripture is not about raiding the Bible for proof-texts or insisting on unanimity, but allowing the Bible’s narratives to reshape our imagination. Alongside this, she introduces contemporary stories that have engaged her as a social activist and former probation officer.
Finally the reviewer says that this book is attractively written and non-technical, “though its handling of ideas make it most suitable for those wanting to stretch their minds around new ways of seeing familiar material.”
Tuesday 8th February 2022
The Darkening Red of your Blood
Now your shoulders have broadened
and the cleft in the centre of your chest
is more pronounced,
at some point you will be stopped
by policemen for no valid reason.
They will ask unnecessary questions.
They will say something to try
to degrade you. They will look
for some reaction or excuse
to cause you some harm. Their eyes
will betray their intent and you will feel
an anger so mighty it will make you
clench your jaw, make the veins
in your temple’s throb because you know
that one punch of your youthful
strength you can lay them out like sleeping
infants, make them trace their maps of bruises
for weeks in the mirror. This is a trap,
young brother. Do not fall for it.
Don’t be the ink of a new obituary.
Think about your mother’s grimace,
think of the gap you’ll leave
amongst your people, grieving
you like a tongue to a missing tooth.
Take the contempt out of your eyes.
They love the flow of blood;
it makes them feel powerful, like a god.
They’ll talk about how dark red your blood
seemed at the station for years. They’ll laugh
at its thickness, how you passed out begging
for help. Realise that keeping yourself alive
is bigger than racism and disrespect. Keep alive,
young brothers, keep living.
Roger Robinson from “’A Portable Paradise’ (winner of the T S Eliot prize 2019)
Extract from a poem written for the Children’s Defense Fund
If my luck is bad
And his aim is straight
I will leave my life
On the killing field
You can see me die
On the nightly news
As you settle down
To your evening meal.
But you’ll turn your back
As you often do
Yet I am your sons
And your daughters too.
In the city streets
Where the neon lights
Turn my skin from black
To electric blue
My hope soaks red
On the grey pavement
And my dreams die hard
For my life is through.
But you’ll turn your back
As you often do
Yet I am your sons
And your daughters too.
Maya Angelou – recipient of the President’s Medal of Freedom 2010
Saturday 5th February 2022
Despite all our space Hampstead Parish Church does not have enough easily accessible, fit for purpose, safe and secure storage. So we plan to join forces with the Friends of the Drama to get a skip and to do some decluttering in the church, parish rooms and undercroft.
How will we decide what should stay and what should go. As we go through the different parts of the church and consider what we have we will be asking the questions – “Does it spark joy”, “do we still have a use for it” and “is this item part of our future”? Some of you may have read Marie Kondo’s book “Spark Joy” and will recognise these questions!
We won’t throw things away without asking people who may have an interest in the item first. The plan is for the galleries to become ‘Decluttering HQ’. The pews will be divided into “Decision”, “Keep” (with someone taking responsibility for storing it) and “Recycle/To Go”
As far as possible we would like to recycle or donate things we don’t want and we will be asking the congregation to help with this. Your help may also be needed in identifying some items.
For starters – does anyone know an organisation that will collect and reuse fabric – not clothes, just fabric. If anyone thinks they might be able to use some of the fabric and would like to see what fabric we have please email me firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to show you.
Does anyone want or know of anyone who wants a collapsible pushchair? Again contact me or Courtney at email@example.com if you do
What do Novak Djokovic, Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’, African politics, women’s role in the Old Testament and Sephardic Jews in Spain have in common? They were all part of the discussion on the Old Testament book of Esther at the Bible Book Club in January; along with discussions on who really were the true heroes and villains in this intriguing book, and how can you reconcile incredible violence with the joyful Jewish festival of Purim.
When you first start reading this book it is not clear why it is in the Hebrew Bible and how it relates to other books in the Old Testament. God is not mentioned and neither is prayer. The book of Esther also appears in the Apocrypha where there are significant difference between this text and the Old Testament. We discussed why this might be so.
The Bible Book Club meets once a month online, except during Lent, August and Advent. All you have to do is to read the Bible book of the month and then join the discussion to talk about what struck you. To get you started the Midweek News has a link to useful Bible Society notes. You never know what you will discover. Books you thought you knew may speak to you in a new way. With the book of Esther I started wondering what the relevance of it was to me and the world in which I live and was amazed at all it had to tell me.
As I have said, one of the notable features of the book of Esther in the Hebrew Bible is that God is not mentioned at all. One of the images below is of a group of young Jews in Hebron during the feast of Purim when people dress up in bright clothes, often as clowns. I tried to research the history of this and could find no definitive answer. Several commentators however suggest that people dress up to symbolise that Esther was hidden as a non-Jew until she had to confess her faith in order to save her people and that God was always present, but was hidden.
I went on to the wonderful Visual Commentary on Scripture to find an image of Esther and found a commentary on Esther by our former curate Ayla Lepinehttps://thevcs.org/esther-pleads-her-people/esthers-performative-body and a more detailed comment by her on the image of Esther below by John Everett Millais https://thevcs.org/esther-pleads-her-people/turncoat?first=411 Through this I learnt even more about the importance of Esther for us today. It seems that despite my original scepticism this is a book that is worth reading and rereading!
The next Bible Book Club is at 7.30 pm on 23rd February when we will be discussing 2 Corinthians. Do join us.
Thursday 27th January 2022
Beginning on 2nd February
Unleash your creativity! Whether it’s knitting your own scarf, having a go at painting a clay pot, upcycling corks into a cork board or doing a bit of essential darning on your favourite cardigan, come join our friendly arts and crafts workshop.
The workshops will be on the first Wednesday of the month from 4pm – 5:30pm in the Crypt Room starting on the 2nd of February.
There will be tea, coffee and biscuits. You can bring your own craftwork to work on, or you can try your hand at something new. There will be some “give it a go” materials to try out. Do come
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced crafter, whether you want to drop in for a chat or stay for the full 1 and a half hours to work on your project, you are welcome. Together we can share ideas, learn techniques, and create little treasures for our friends, families and ourselves
Wednesday 26th January 2022
Big Brew is back for 2022! This is the annual festival of Fairtrade when we raise money to send to Traidcraft Exchange, the charitable arm of the Traidcraft organisation.
For more than 30 years Traidcraft Exchange has been at the forefront of the fairtrade movement and it is only when we get trade right that we can end poverty. From supporting beekeepers in Tanzania to building climate resilience in Bangladesh, and campaigning for workers’ rights in the garment industry, the principles of justice in trade and fairness for all are at the core of what Traidcraft is about.
By gathering together on a Sunday morning we can raise money and help make a meaningful difference in the lives of producers, farmers and artisans who are now facing the dual crises of Covid-19 and climate change, all while enjoying a cup of coffee and a slice of cake!
Please come and join us after the 10:30 a.m. service on Sunday, 27th February. As well as being an opportunity to chat with old friends, and maybe make some new ones, there will be plenty to do. While you are enjoying a cup of Fairtrade tea or coffee you can:
- buy homemade cakes and biscuits from the cake stall, many made with Traidcraft ingredients.
- visit the Traidcraft stall
- enter the raffle for a Traidcraft hamper
- guess the weight of the cake
- play the, “Find the Queen Bee” game
- guess the number of Jelly Beans in the jar
Please give generously to help some of the poorest people in the world.
When sorting through our huge wall safe in the vestry recently Courtney and Graham came across this hidden treasure – a beautiful mobile font
Thursday 20th January 2022
This will sound a bit like the Oscars!
First, I want to say a big thank you to Fr Jeremy for giving me this opportunity to work with such a wonderful, enthusiastic team of volunteers, children and families and for supporting me in my role , especially in the early days; through his physical presence in the groups, at school and playing his guitar.
Thank you to Mthr Jan who I have known for a while and who is responsible for me being here. And to Mthr Ayla for her prayerfulness and hand holding. Thank you to my team, I will miss the coffee mornings and fits of laughter.
I had many friends here before I started my role and I have made many more, all of you in some way. I got shelves built, I broke a sherry glass!! And got lots of help dragging resources from one activity or workshop to another.
When I was commissioned, 3 years ago to this date, I was asked, ‘Will you work alongside others in the church with love, support, understanding and forgiveness?’ Yes! And breaking the sherry glass really worked for me!
Thank you for always including the junior church in the wider church projects. There was one especially who always ran after me with Maureen ‘I have got an idea!’ my cue to run! but this meant that we could have services (All Age/intergenerational) services like these.
Lastly (service sheet) says Farewell, like I am off to Australia. I am just going down the hill! I will be back for the events and not as a washer upper. I will be a guest in the front row of Holiday in Hampstead.
Thank you, thank you
Love and prayers to you all
Audrey Stocker died on 14th December
Jenny Bunn wrote –
Audrey Stocker was a much loved friend for many years. We were both on the committee for the Hampstead Horticultural Society , which is where I first met her. I was the Secretary and Audrey ran the annual coach trips to interesting gardens.
She was a great plants person, and always knew the names of unusual ones.
We used to go to Covent Garden for several years, on New Year’s Eve to see the Nutcracker ballet, and then went back to her house for supper.
I heard that no one was doing the flowers in the Chapel at the Royal Free Hospital, but I am not a good flower arranger, so asked Audrey if she was interested, and she went weekly for many years.
I managed to give a 90th birthday lunch for her, as a surprise, as she hated any fuss.
During lockdown we talked weekly, and although she was obviously tired, her son Guy who lived upstairs took her for a short walk twice a day, and she was always cheerful.
We will miss her, she was a very special person.
Sheena Ginnings wrote -
I have so many super memories of Audrey. She was a member of the flower team for many years and used to joke that she and B Willmer had the same style of flower arranging. They both did informal arrangements before it became the norm! She always did the flowers on the chest and used to bring vast amounts of greenery from her garden to share with everyone.
Audrey invited the flower team to her garden several times. The first time was before she gave up the chickens and gave each of us an egg. I can remember her helping when Jenny and Derek Bunn opened their garden for charity and she was such a knowledgeable plants person. I have several plants in the garden which she gave me, including a myrtle which is so prolific and is used practically every time I do flowers in church - pieces of which featured in the wedding scene of the HPC production of “The Sound of Music”!
Thursday 13th January 2022
Just before Christmas, on a chilly 22nd of December, the Bishop of Edmonton licensed our former curate, Revd Dr Ayla Lepine, as Assistant Priest at St Martin’s Gospel Oak. This is a part-time role in addition to her full-time role at the National Gallery. Ayla will be working alongside the Vicar, Revd Carol Barrett-Ford (who some may remember as the thoughtful leader on our first Women’s Retreat at St Katherine’s Foundation in Limehouse) and the Curate, Revd Natasha Beckles. The ceremony was followed by a celebratory glass of Prosecco!
A group from Hampstead Parish Church went to support Ayla and to wish her every happiness in her new role.
On Sunday 9th January we said goodbye and thank you to our super Children and Youth Worker, Maureen Smith, who has been in the role for 3 years (almost to the day). We are very grateful for all she has done, especially during lockdown when she led Junior Church online in the most creative way. And then when children and families were back in church devised ‘Bubble Church’ which enabled family groups to worship in their different bubbles and meet with their friends. A snapshot of some of her projects is on a board, currently at the back of church (see photo below). Particular highlights that I remember - during Cop26 each of the groups of young people created posters with their take on the climate challenges, which were challenges to all of us, and during successive Black History Month she encouraged the young people (and the wider congregation) to understand its importance and significance.
She prepared successive groups for their first communion and a testimony to her influence were the moving testimonies from the communicants.
We were able to say thank you with a Cakes and Fizz Party. A big thank you to all who contributed cakes with a special mention to Lucy Dennett who created the centrepiece (see photo below) with the words in gold on the top “Thank you Maureen – we love you”.
Jane Padkin and her daughter Eve did the lovely flowers and Ellie Lupa made a beautiful card with a clever drawing of the church for people’s messages to go into. There was a collection for a gift and we are looking forward to finding out what Maureen is going to buy.
Maureen thank you very much for all that you did for us. We will miss you very much.
On Sunday 9th January we celebrated Epiphany, when the Church commemorates the visit of the ‘Three Wise Men’ to the baby Jesus. This was also an occasion when the Vicar went up a ladder for the ceremony of ‘The Blessing of the Chalk’. What is the significance of this practice? According to an article in The Church Times, the blessing and distribution of chalks with which houses (and churches) are marked with a special logo commemorating the visit of the Magi is a Catholic custom that seems to have originated in and spread from Central Europe at the end of the Middle Ages.
On or near the feast of the Epiphany, and conveniently close to the beginning of a New Year, the tradition has been to ask God’s blessing on homes and churches and to mark the door post or lintel with chalks that have been blessed for that purpose. The doors are chalked with the legendary names or initials of the three Magi, and the numerals of the New Year, connected with a series of crosses. The initials C, M, and B commemorate the Magi, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, but also stand for the Latin prayer-request Christus Mansionem Benedicat: “May Christ bless this house.” So above the entrance to the church you will see the following marked in chalk - 20+C+M+B+22.
This Epiphany ceremony is a simple but meaningful act of witness which symbolises Christian willingness to offer hospitality and shelter to the Magi on their journey to Bethlehem, and also, by extension in today’s world, to welcome all and sundry who love or are seeking the Lord’s Christ.
We were each invited to take a piece of chalk to mark our own doorways.
Thursday 23rd December 2021
On Friday 10th December the glorious Christmas Lights Concert was held, on a theme of The Three Kings. It was truly a Community Concert. It brought together our Community Choir and the Junior Choir under the direction of Aidan Coburn, as well as readings from the Hampstead Players and a recital by the Able and Willing Ensemble, all coordinated by Chris Money and her team.
In the programme we remembered Judy Burgess, a faithful member of both the Community Choir and the Hampstead Players, who died earlier this year.
The music was probably best summed up in the email from the Community Choirs inspiring Music Director, Aidan Coburn
“Thank you so much for all your efforts in the concert last night. The singing was really excellent – we tackled some tricky stuff and pulled it off admirably. And most importantly, the whole thing was a joy from start to finish! I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did! ……..It is a pleasure having been able to welcome so many lovely new singers – I can’t wait to get started again next year!”
The retiring collection was in aid of The National Brain Appeal.
The Junior Church Christmas party for parents and children was so much fun. It started with songs and carols with Fr Graham on the piano. There was lots to do - games like ‘Pin the nose on Santa’, chill out in Santa’s grotto and lots of super goodies to eat, with each child having an individual food bag and refreshments for parents too. There were also activities - like making paper chains and some fabulous crowns were created.
The St John’s group (which is the Junior Choir group) had started their party early with a Party Breakfast at 9.30. They made their own pancakes with lots of toppings and had milk shakes and crackers and later they made fun Christmas coasters.
A big thank you to everyone who helped make the parties such a success
Decorating the Church to celebrate the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ has started. The Christmas trees in Church are up, the crib is ready, the garlands line the galleries and the outside is wonderfully welcoming. Angela Gardner on her run captured some of the activity. While the decorating was underway, Pooh Bear attempted the tightrope!
Friday 17th December 2021
The 21 Group met on Zoom at the end of November to review the outcome of the really rather disappointing COP-26 meeting in Glasgow. Annie Duarte took the lead on energy, where many developed countries (including the UK) are making good progress towards reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases which come from the burning fossil fuels, and even China and India have set (distant) targets for their gradual reduction. 'However, the hope that coal would be 'consigned to history' failed in the final few minutes of the conference, but is likely to return for further discussion at COP 27 next year.
Handley noted that it's much harder to reduce emissions from transport, especially air transport, but ships can burn cleaner fuel, and on land electric vehicles will help where the electricity supply is from non-polluting sources. We can all do our bit by reducing mileage. However analysis of this year's Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) still suggests that the continuing accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will lead to temperature increases well above the 1.5 Degree target since pre-indistrial times, which is generally held to be as much as can be tolerated, so the most helpful outcome was probably the decision requiring all states to review their NDCs again in 2022, rather than waiting till 2025. With Donald Trump off the scene there is at least a wide consensus about the science and about the urgency of taking action.
Sunday 12th December 2021
On Sunday 5th December we held our super All Age Christingle service. Thanks to the wonderful organisation of Maureen and her team, and Jeremy guiding us through the construction, everyone was able to make a Christingle.
The inspiration for a Christingle service was as a fund raising idea for The Children’s Society, one of the charities that Hampstead Parish Church supports. The Society also produces Christingle resources for churches that need them, which in the past Jeremy has been involved with producing. Last year 2,000 churches held Christingle services, despite lockdown, and this raised over £600,000 for the Society. All our collections from this Sunday’s services will be sent to The Children’s Society.
The Christingle can represent so many things for us – first and foremost the candle symbolising Christ coming soon as the Light of the World, but also the light of the valuable work done by the Children’s Society, shining in the darkness of the lives of so many of the children it supports. The orange representing the world, but also the beauty of creation and our responsibility to care for it. The red band around the middle of the orange representing Christ’s blood, but also that in Christ we are united as one world. And the four sticks with sweets – these can represent the four evangelists but also an excuse to break our Advent fast, if this is something we are trying to do!
“An excellent choice of songs, the power of his voice and his convincing facial expressions made him a first class experience for the listener” (Schwerin Summer Festival)
“His singing and acting were outstanding” (a dramatized version of Lieder)
“The best performance of the night” (Review of a modern comic opera)
Who is this? Why, none other than our former baritone, Nicholas Mogg
Between his activities at Staatsoper, Hamburg, he and his first-class Welsh pianist, Jams Colman, have had time to record their first Lieder CD. You can hear them on Champs Hill Records. The songs are all by Karl Loewe, who was a baritone in Schubert’s day, who you could say wrote his own stuff, so to speak. It includes a party piece of Nick’s – he sang it at my 80th – “Tom der Reimer” where Tom is carried off by the Queen of the elves on her white horse, with silver bells tinkling on her harness. “I won’t allow anyone but Jams to tinkle his bells!” says Nick. Quite right too! Enjoy!
Saturday 4th December 2021
The programme says The Hampstead Players take amateurism seriously. I would call this performance Pro-Dram.
I have been selling drinks tokens or, on this occasion, pouring wine, sometimes in the wrong places, and so I’ve seen a lot of their shows. And what was so impressive with this one was there wasn’t a weak link in the cast. The standard was amazingly high. The costumes were just right – I particularly like Jack’s rather louche dressing-gown and Lady Bracknell’s hat – and the décor – those bookshelves gave a real flavour of the period. It showed that government by committee can work, as Sarah Day, Adrian Hughes and Matthew Williams had done such a great job as joint directors. Well done guys!
Do read Bill Risebero’s review in the next Parish Magazine.
(The photo is of Irene Vanbrugh as Gwendolen Fairfax and George Alexander as Jack Worthing in the first production in 1895 of 'The Importance of Being Earnest')
In 2007 the Burial Grounds won a Heritage Lottery grant for improving and developing the area. We resurfaced paths, planted flower beds, ran educational projects, put up information boards – and built 3 compost bins. 3 LARGE compost bins. Two of them are full and one has fallen apart so we almost literally have compost spilling out. The bins seemed like a great idea at the time – why not compost our waste ourselves instead of Camden taking it all? Camden do still benefit from a lot of our waste for their composting plant (somewhere in Edmonton I believe) and we’re happy for them to have it in exchange for taking away what we can’t cope with. But several years on we realise we actually have far more compost than we need and so we’re offering it to anyone who can organise taking it away. The bins are in the middle of the ABG – up the left path, across the middle, past the water tank and then they’re on the right against the wall. This Saturday the gardening team will be spreading as much as they need on our flowerbeds – come and join us between 10 and 12, or come later and help yourself.
O come, O come, and be our God-with-us
O long-sought With-ness for a world without,
O secret seed, O hidden spring of light.
Come to us Wisdom, come unspoken Name
Come Root, and Key, and King, and holy Flame,
O quickened little wick so tightly curled,
Be folded with us into time and place,
Unfold for us the mystery of grace
And make a womb of all this wounded world.
O heart of heaven beating in the earth,
O tiny hope within our hopelessness
Come to be born, to bear us to our birth,
To touch a dying world with new-made hands
And make these rags of time our swaddling bands.
He will come like last leaf’s fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
The soft shroud’s folding.
He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.
He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.
He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,.
As the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like child.
Tuesday 30th November 2021
Hampstead Parish church has set up an Eco Church Group to look at ways that we can respond to the needs of our planet. It held its first meeting in November.
To help us to to achieve our aims we have joined the A Rocha forum which aims to equip churches to express their care for God’s world in worship and teaching, in how we look after our buildings and land, in how we engage with our local community and in global campaigns, and in the personal lifestyles of our congregation. To find out more have a look at their website https://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk/
Hampstead Parish Church is already doing many things through sensitive recycling, the solar panels on our roof and the way it manages its green spaces. It wants to go further and to incorporate our ecological aims into all aspects of our church life, including our Mission Action Plan, our work with children, and outreach within the wider local community.
Our churchyard and two burial grounds are important green spaces for our local community for recreation, as a place of peace and tranquillity and as important areas of biodiversity. The original burial ground and the Additional Burial Ground were designated as a Site of Nature Conservation Importance (borough importance grade 1) in November 2003. They are excellent places for wildlife and provide a refuge for many different species of plants and animals. To highlight some of the riches of these two spaces -
- Trees – There are a number of fine, mature trees – including Cedar of Lebanon, yew, horse-chestnut, beech, holm oak and sycamore – and dense planted shrubberies.
- Grasses – The grassland areas in the Additional Burial Ground contain species that are indicative of old, slightly acidic meadowland (maybe even the original field habitat from over 200 years ago) – including perennial rye-grass, sweet vernal-grass, field wood-rush and sheep’s-sorrel.
- Wildflowers – There are well over 100 different flowering species in the Additional Burial Ground including white clover, creeping buttercup and agrimony.
- Other vegetation – The tall herb vegetation is diverse and well established, and includes a number of types of fern – in particular hart’s-tongue and the uncommon lady-fern, as well as numerous species of mosses and lichens.
- Fauna – It is also home to birds (nuthatch, long-tailed tits, wrens and jays), bats (noctule, common and soprano pipistrelle), and butterflies (gatekeeper and speckled wood).
To encourage wildflowers the site is mown infrequently during the summer months. Gravestones with lichens and mosses are left untouched, where possible, and areas of ivy and bramble kept undisturbed to provide habitats for birds, bats and invertebrates.
Churchyards can be excellent places for wildlife for two crucial reasons: They provide a quiet refuge for wildlife, away from houses and streets; and they can often be one of the few patches of uncultivated land, untouched by chemical fertilisers and pesticides. In addition older churchyards are a remnant of older habitats – perhaps ancient meadows that were used for hay or grazing animals long before the church itself was built.
In 2009 the Heritage Lottery Fund recognised the ecological and historic importance of these two sites, and awarded a 3 year grant to Camden Council in partnership with the church to restore some of the historic graves, improve accessibility and habitat management, and use the site for guided walks, education sessions and other events. As part of this project a resource pack for schools was created.
The challenge for the church is to maximise the benefits of our green spaces in an ecologically sustainable way.
There will be more in subsequent Church Chats on our responses to the global environmental challenges
Thursday 25th November 2021
In the wake of COP26 the church is looking more closely at what it can do. One of the items that came up was recycling, the amount of rubbish we collect in our bins and whether we can get better at separating it. Of course we all recycle at home, and we all know what we can and can’t put in our bins – don’t we? I checked out Camden’s website and found a few surprises, and a bit of confusion: What is the difference between a food tray and a food storage container? What are we supposed to do with biodegradable bags if we don’t have hot compost heaps to degrade them on? Do they know the difference between a biodegradable coffee cup and the other sort? And how do you spell “biodegrad(e)able”?
This is what Camden say:
Plastic containers of any size or colour,
- Yoghurt pots
- Food trays
- Ice cream tubs
- Margarine containers
- Fruit punnets
- Plastic bags
- Magazine wrapping
- Liquid waste
- Food waste (this goes in your food caddy)
- Sweet wrappers and crisp packets
- Plastic toys
- Polystyrene packing or beads
- Food storage containers
- Plastic furniture
- Black sacks, biodegradable and degradable bags
- Coffee cups
- Wax-lined, poly-lined and foil-lined cartons (such as milk cartons, Tetra Pak)
Plastic bottles of all kinds, including:
- Mineral water, cordial and cooking oil bottles
- Milk bottles
- Soft drink bottles
- Bleach and cleaning fluid bottles
- Shampoo and shower gel bottles
- Detergent and fabric conditioner bottles
- Newspapers, magazines and catalogues
- Telephone directories / yellow pages
- Envelopes (including windowed)
- Office paper (including coloured paper)
- Wrapping paper
- Junk mail
Now that the season of Advent is with us, our service music naturally changes in emphasis and mood. Organ music ceases to be overtly celebratory, and much of the choral music becomes more sombre yet expectant. At the Communion services we sing the Kyrie instead of the Gloria, and at Evensong we will sing the psalms to plainchant, and adopt a version of the Preces and Responses also based on chant: I have adapted a set of Preces in Latin by Lassus to fit with BCP texts, and we will sing a setting of the Lord’s Prayer dating from around the same time by Hieronymus Praetorius (in Latin), which alternates between the traditional plainsong melody and sonorous music for 8-part choir.
Plainsong also permeates other parts of our Advent music, including a setting of the Evening Canticles by Philip Moore (December 5th) (photo below) composed in the ‘faux bourdon’ style with harmonized chant set for organ and choir, a setting of the Magnificat and a separate setting of the Nunc dimittis in alternatim (i.e. alternating between chant and polyphony) by two 16th-century composers, de Monte and Ortiz (December 12th), and one of Palestrina’s most celebrated ‘paraphrase’ masses based on plainsong, his Missa Aeterna Christi munera (also December 12th). On the 19th December our morning music is all from the baroque period, with a mass by Domenico Scarlatti (photo below) and two versions of the famous Advent chorale Nun komm der Heiland Heiland (itself developed by Luther from the medieval plainsong hymn Veni, Redemptor gentium - ‘Come, thou Redeemer of the earth’), one for the organ by Buxtehude, and the other a four-part setting by the Weimar Kantor Melchior Vulpius published in 1609.
Also on 19th December we anticipate Christmas with our carol service: the Senior Choir expands to 12 singers, and we are joined by the Junior Choir. No spoilers here, though, as it adds to the excitement of the occasion when one wonders what repertoire might be included... However, I will say that the first and last items were specifically requested by two of the choir members, and there will be some local touches alongside a standard mix of music both familiar and unfamiliar.
Organists Richard Gowers and Liam Crangle will continue to help out during the month, though the music at Christmas itself will be notably more a cappella than perhaps is usual, since they will of course be busy at their own regular churches. A sumptuous 8-part Mass by Lassus will be sung at the Midnight service (the Missa Bell’ amfitrit’ altera, made famous in the 1970s by a recording by Simon Preston when Organist of Christ Church, Oxford), as well as Sweelinck’s Christmas classic Hodie Christus natus est with its joyful tripe-time refrain for the word ‘Hodie’ (‘today’). On Christmas morning we sing a Mass by David Terry, known to many for his work as Director of Music at the Oratory School and also at one time our assistant organist (JE). It wasn’t written specifically for Christmas as far as I know, but the imitation of pealing bells in the Gloria certainly captures the festive spirit.
Thursday 18th November 2021
I wonder how many people hearing this quoted wonder what on earth we’re talking about? In the Book of Common Prayer the Collect for the Last Sunday after Trinity began with the words “Stir up O Lord….” Stir up the wills of the people, of course, but it came at just the time when we were all “stirring up” our Christmas puddings. If you hadn’t made your cakes and puddings by “Stir-up Sunday” you were behindhand and they wouldn’t mature. It was so missed when it was dropped in favour of the new Collect that it had to be added as the post-communion prayer for the Sunday now called “Christ the King”. Christmas puddings are a serious business.
Wednesday 17th November 2021
Tuesday 16th November 2021
Saturday 13 November 2021
It was a real joy to welcome singers back on the eve of Remembrance Sunday, as the annual Come and Sing Requiem returned to the Parish Church after the silence of the pandemic year. The inspired idea of organising these ‘scratch’ performances of four great Requiems was conceived by Jane Garland in 1995, when the series began with Fauré’s Requiem conducted by Lee Ward. The task of organising these event is now in the capable hands of Handley Stevens and the Friends of the Music, and how good it was that 25 years later the same work was sung on Saturday under the baton of Lee’s former pupil, Aidan Coburn.
Aidan first sang in the choir at the Parish Church at the age of 16, and has faithfully sung here ever since. He also performs widely as a conductor, and recently took on the training of our Junior Choir as well as the direction of the Community Choir. So he was a natural choice to direct this year’s ‘scratch’ performance when the solo soprano part was taken by the Choristers of his Junior Choir. It made for a very happy event in every way: undoubtedly both singers and audience were glad to be here again, singers especially loving this opportunity to sing out in our beautiful church supported by our resourceful musicians.
Fauré’s Requiem is a gentle, consolatory work - “a lullaby of death”, his contemporaries called it - and the composer himself said of it that “[it] does not express the fear of death … I see death as a happy deliverance, an aspiration towards happiness above.” The chorus plays a large part in creating this overarching sense of consolation, and Saturday’s singers responded beautifully to Aidan’s sensitive shaping of flowing melodic lines, but also managed well occasional outbreaks of jubilation as at the Hosanna, and undercurrents of anxiety at Dies illa, dies irae.
The gentle chorus sound was an ideal background for Malachy Frame’s warm, rich baritone, pleading eloquently for the souls of the departed in the Offertorium and later with a more passionate intensity in the Libera me. (How fortunate we are to have this intelligent musician in our regular professional choir!)
Right at the heart of Fauré’s Requiem - literally, in the fourth movement - lies the setting for soprano of the Pié Jesu text. The Choristers rose well to this challenge and Aidan drew lovely phrasing from them here, as well as in the final ethereal antiphon In Paradisum which ends the work.
For all its beauty Fauré’s Requiem is a short work, and needs something added to it to fill out a programme. On Saturday Geoffrey Webber chose to interpolate two organ pieces between its third and fifth movements. Two works by César Frank were inspired choices. Both were published in 1884, which happens to be the year when Henry Willis installed our present organ here (his second for Hampstead); so in both pieces Geoffrey could demonstrate how much Willis owed to the influence of time he had spent in Paris with contemporary French organists and organ-builders. In fact we may have heard our Willis organ in a new light as Geoffrey explored its wide variety of stops - open diapason and swell trompette in the Cantabile full organ in the menacing Pièce héroique, and best of all the lovely flute and reed pipes which he used to accompany the singers throughout the Requiem. A great opportunity indeed to endorse (although we already knew) what a very fine organist we have in our newly-appointed Director of Music.
Monday 15th November 2021
At the end of the 10.30 am service on Remembrance Sunday the church laid a wreath at the war memorial outside our gates to remember those who had fallen in the First and Second World War. Later members of the Friends of the Royal Soldiers’ Daughters School came to lay their wreath in memory of their sisters who have died. Their school was founded in 1885, after the Crimean War, by Queen Victoria. The school was at 67 Rosslyn Hill and provided a home for the daughters of serving soldiers who had died or whose families were unable to look after them.
One of the women in the group was sent to the school when she was four and lived there until she went to work. Most of them had been confirmed at HPC and used to come to our Sunday School. Below is a photograph from 1963 of their Remembrance Day parade. I spoke to Sandy who said they would march to the church for the Remembrance Sunday service and then march to the war memorial near Whitestone Pond to lay their wreath.
Judy East remembers: “I was always glad to see them, in their bright red berets, filling the seats in the back gallery for the Remembrance service. It reminded us that what we were commemorating wasn’t just the soldiers of the two world wars but was an ongoing tribute to those who were still dying.”
There are three large graves in the Additional Burial Ground to commemorate girls from the school (at C104, F16 and F85). Below is a photo of one of these mass graves. The inscription includes details of the regiments their fathers served in. It is possible that an epidemic may have caused the death of many of the girls commemorated in this grave. There is also a grave for the Sailors’ Daughters (who lived at what is now Munro House) at G15.
Wednesday 10th November 2021
Confirmation on Sunday 7th November was such a joyful celebration and it was very special to have Bishop Rob with us in person. Before the service he spoke to all the candidates and said they we, and they, are all disciples who have been called by name to follow Christ.
There was one baptism candidate, Lucas and 6 confirmation candidates – Ahmad, Christina, Edie, Eve, Mary, and Paransa.
Godparents and friends from many different places, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam and the US, were able to join in the service via Facebook and Zoom.
The music was beautiful. The first verse of the Offertory Motet sung by the Junior Choir, including two of the confirmation candidates, included the words “Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire” – so appropriate on such a special day.
Each of the candidates wrote a piece for the Order of Service saying what being confirmed meant to them. For two of the candidates the journey to confirmation has been a particularly long and emotional one. Paransa and Ahmad were born in Iran and were raised as Muslims. After Ahmad’s wife and Paransa’s mother died of cancer they both felt very lonely. Through their loneliness they learnt about Christianity and its message of love. They decided to become Christians and as a result had to leave Iran and flee to England, first to Burnley and then to London. Both wrote movingly of their journey. We are truly blessed to be able to welcome them into our Christian community in Hampstead.
Do you like cookery books? Before Mrs Beaton, at one time the most famous of cookery writers, there was Eliza Acton. In 1845 she produced “Modern Cookery for Private Families”, which is still in print. Delia Smith called her the “best writer of recipes in the English language”. She was the first to set down a recipe for Brussel Sprouts* and a popular one for Christmas Pudding** featured.
The book was aimed at middle class families – there’s much less of Isabella Beaton’s extravagance here although it is said that Mrs Beaton plagiarised her work.
Born in Sussex in 1799 (the family moved to Ipswich in 1800} Eliza was a teacher for a while, going to France in 1823. Returning to London in 1826 she had some poems published (at her own expense) but a few years later her publisher reportedly rejected further poems and suggested she write a cookery book instead. We might think this an impossibly patronising and sexist suggestion today, but it took seed and she spent the next 10 years working on ‘Modern Cookery’. in her preface she writes that her "first and best attention has been bestowed on ... what are usually termed plain English dishes" for her recipes.
She didn’t stop at “Modern Cookery”. There was “the English Bread Book”, “The Elegant Economist” The Victorian Kitchen Book of Jams and Jellies”, as well as books of poems.
One of her poems
Come to my grave when I am gone,
And bend a moment there alone;
It will not cost thee much of pain
To trample on my heart again–
Or, if it would, for ever stay
Far distant from my mouldering clay:
I would not wound thy breast to prove
E'en its most deep, 'remorse of love.'
The grave should be a shrine of peace
Where all unkindly feelings cease;–
Though thou wilt calmly gaze on mine
I would not live the hour to see,
Which doom'd my glance to rest on thine:–
That moment's bitter agony
Would bid the very life-blood start
Back, and congeal around my heart!
If you do go to her grave you’ll find it under the Yew tree in the ABG, not far from the compost bins. Like many graves the stone is crumbling and the inscription illegible but it once read:
“Sacred to the memory of Elize Acton, formerly of Ipswich, who died at Hampstead, February 13th 1859”
There is a proposal to improve on this and note that she was a “Cook, Writer and Poet”. Watch this space!
*Cooking Brussels Sprouts
Boil in salty water and serve on buttered bread with melted butter on the side
**Eliza Acton Christmas Pudding
- 85 grams (3oz) plain flour
- 85 grams (3oz) fine, lightly grated breadcrumbs
- 170 grams (6oz) beef kidney suet chopped
- 170 grams (6oz) raisins
- 170 grams (6oz) currants
- 113 grams (4oz) minced apples
- 141 grams (5oz) sugar
- 56 grams (2oz) candied orange-rind
- Half a teaspoon of grated nutmeg
- Half a teaspoon of mace
- A small glass of brandy
- 3 whole eggs
Although it seems a little late I have this week received this email from Christian Aid:
It feels so good to share with you the amazing news that Christian Aid Week donations have peaked at over 5 million pounds! We never fail to be surprised, delighted and grateful for the partnership of churches, volunteers and communities across the UK and Ireland.
Christian Aid Week Manager”
You can find out more about the vital work being done by Christian Aid on their website https://www.christianaid.org.uk/ The Christian Aid Appeal in 2021 focussed on the Climate Crisis and the work Christian Aid is doing with people living in poverty in those parts of the world most affected by climate change who so often suffer more than we do from its effects.
Friday 5th November 2021
We are fast approaching Christmas now, and this is just a reminder that we continue to support the charity ‘Support Dogs’ by sending them used stamps. As the mail picks up and greetings cards drop on to the mat, please save your stamps! The stamps can be old or present day and ideally should have a border of approx. 1cm of paper around them.
There is a collection box at the back of church, or you can post them through the vicarage door – 14 Church Row.
For more information on Support Dogs see https://www.supportdogs.org.uk/
Tuesday 2nd November 2021
There has been extensive research into the benefits of singing and how it improves quality of life, eases stress, improves cognition but most importantly brings people together and creates a sense of community.
So, it was no surprise that after such a long break it was exhilarating to be back performing in church. The Hampstead Community Choir did manage to keep going during lockdown thanks to the encouragement of our music director Aidan Coburn. However, nothing compared with the absolute joy of being able to rehearse together again in person.
Thanks to our poster campaign we have welcomed new members to our group, but we hope that more people will join us and share in the joy of singing in a choir. We start rehearsals this week for our Christmas Lights Community Concert to be held on 10th December along with the Junior Choir and Hampstead Players so, if you would like to join us, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Rehearsals are on Thursday evenings at 7.30 pm for 7.45 pm, finishing promptly at 9.00 pm.
When composers write music for choir and organ, sometimes the nature of a particular instrument or type of organ can be a defining factor in their approach. Welsh composer William Mathias composed his setting of the Evening Canticles for Jesus College, Cambridge (to be sung on Nov. 7th), to celebrate the arrival of a new organ in the chapel, built by Noel Mander in 1971. The organ was a bold attempt to provide a more lively, spiky type of sound, with plenty of high registers, moving away from the more traditionally restrained and richer tones of the Romantic style of British organ. (The organ was subsequently ejected in 2007, but that’s another story.) The organ part in Mathias’s setting has many dissonant, staccato chords in the organ part, though there are also many slower-moving gentle passages as well. In the same service we sing Charles Wood’s O thou sweetest source of gladness, a fine example of the hymn-anthem genre that was popular in the first part of the 20th century. The choir simply sings a hymn - here one of the old Genevan Psalter tunes of which Wood was so fond - against which the organ part takes flight with rich harmonies and flowing textures, well suited to the organs of Wood’s day (and therefore our own Willis-based instrument).
For our Remembrance Sunday service, the choir will sing most of the Missa pro defunctis by the 16th-century Flemish composer Jacob Clemens. (Probably due to the recently deceased Pope Clement, the composer was often referred to during his lifetime as Clemens ‘non Papa’.) His setting of the Requiem, like the more familiar modern setting by Maurice Duruflé, is closely based on the plainsong, but unlike Duruflé’s setting, the style of the Missa Pro Defunctis remains plain and austere throughout. We are delighted that our versatile bass choir member Malachy Frame has kindly agreed to play the trumpet for the service. At the evening service we remember the sacrifice of members of the Royal Navy in particular, with Herbert Sumsion’s dramatic anthem They that go down to the sea in ships. Last month several people were pleased to hear Walton’s Crown Imperial after one morning service; this month Richard Gowers plays another Walton classic, Orb and Sceptre, at the end of the Remembrance Sunday Evensong.
The feast of Christ the King offers a splendid opportunity for some rousing music before we enter the penitential season of Advent. Samuel Sebastian Wesley’s anthem Ascribe unto the Lord is like a mini-cantata, with several contrasting and strongly characterised movements for soloists and chorus. (An image of Wesley is below) At the morning service we sing two movements from Stanford’s Communion Service in B flat, part of the complete Service that includes his more well-known Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in B flat. Due to the liturgical customs of his day, Stanford did not include either the Benedictus or the Agnus Dei in his setting, so instead we will perform a fine setting of the Agnus Dei (with mildly troped text) by Charles Gounod, set for either soprano or tenor soloist and organ.
On Advent Sunday the morning service will happily feature not just the usual two choirs but also the Community Choir, singing Elgar’s Ave verum corpus. Plans for the Advent Carol Service in the evening are still in progress, though there will of course be the usual mix of settings of Old Testament prophecy and texts in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, featuring music from the medieval period to the present day. Aidan Coburn recently asked me if I ever actually composed new music, rather than merely arrange or edit other people’s work. I am certainly not a composer under any reasonable definition of the term, but I had to admit to a few efforts, including a setting of the Advent hymn ‘Creator of the stars of night’. Unlike Diana Burrell’s fine setting of this text, which tackles the darker aspects of the hymn such as the Day of Judgement with the help of a cor anglais and the pedals (alone!) of the organ, mine focuses on a pentatonic hymn-like melody, and the organist uses their hands as well as feet, taking us metaphorically all the way from the “stars of night” down to “all creation doomed to die."
On 15th June this year, on a beautiful sunny day, we celebrated the 80th anniversary of the death of Evelyn Underhill, who is buried in our Additional Burial Ground, with the blessing of a new, specially commissioned, ledger stone for her grave. It was a pleasure then to receive this email from Robin Wrigley-Carr, a leading Evelyn Underhill scholar:
“It was good to have contact recently regarding the article about your new ledger stone for Church Times. I hope all is going well your end and you’ve had lots of visitors to the graveyard, admiring it. I look forward to visiting when I can and leaving one of Underhill’s favourite flowers!
I’m just writing to ask if you could please let your folk know about - Music of Eternity: Meditations for Advent with Evelyn Underhill (the Archbishop of York’s Advent Book for 2021). As you know, it’s a daily devotional for the Church, taking people on a journey through Advent. I attach an image of the cover if that’s useful.
If you’re interested, this link gives a taster of the beginning of the book: https://www.amazon.com/Music-Eternity-Meditations-Underhill-Archbishop-ebook/dp/B096JCVLGF?asin=B096JCVLGF&revisionId=81e090f7&format=1&depth=1
On the SPCK website, you’re given a sample chapter if you scroll down to “sample chapter” in the blue font: https://www.amazon.com/Music-Eternity-Meditations-Underhill-Archbishop-ebook/dp/B096JCVLGF?asin=B096JCVLGF&revisionId=81e090f7&format=1&depth=1
Thanks so much!”
Our former curate, Ayla Lepine, has written a reflective review of Robin’s book in the Church Times in which she says:
‘This Advent, Wrigley-Carr encourages us to let Underhill be our companion, so that we may prepare for Jesus our Emmanuel by being “carefully tuned in, sensitive to the music of Eternity”.’
You can read the full review here
Wednesday 27th October 2021
We will be using one of these prayers at Morning and Evening Prayer for the duration of COP 26, and encourage everyone to use one of them in your daily prayer.
We praise your name with all you have created.
You are present in the whole universe,
and in the smallest of creatures.
We acknowledge the responsibilities you have placed upon us
as stewards of your creation.
May the Holy Spirit inspire all political leaders at COP26 as they
seek to embrace the changes needed to foster a more sustainable society.
Instil in them the courage and gentleness to implement fairer solutions
for the poorest and most vulnerable,
and commit their nations to the care of Our Common Home.
We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ your Son.
From the Archbishop of York
Creator God, giver of life,
You sustain the earth and direct the nations.
In this time of climate crisis
grant us clarity to hear the groaning of creation
and the cries of the poor;
challenge us to change our lifestyles;
guide our leaders to take courageous action;
enable your church to be a beacon of hope;
and foster within us a renewed vision
of your purposes for your world;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord,
by and for whom all things were made. Amen.
Tuesday 26th October 2021
During the Season of Creation, junior church reflected on caring for creation and how they wanted their voices to be heard in the climate change conversation. Children learnt about the Creation story through video, bible readings, drama, discussion and artwork. Each group produced a piece of work to show the impact climate change is having on the world. The title for the project is ‘Wake up World’ which was imported from an article in the church’s magazine. The article highlights the effect climate change is having on the world’s poorest communities. Children and their families were asked to contribute to this year’s Harvest Appeal which is WaterAid.
Below are images from Harvest of the children’s area and the work by the Early Year’s groups - St Mark and St Luke, and the work by the St John’s group at the entrance to the church.
Monday 25th October 2021
A number of us from HPC recently attended the launch of Rev’d Jarel Robinson-Brown’s new book Black Gay British Christian Queer.
Some will be familiar with Rev’d Robinson-Brown’s name as he has been increasingly prominent as a bold voice, speaking out on what the lived experience of a black gay man in the Church of England is like. Rev’d Robinson-Brown has also been on the receiving end of a huge amount of abuse for the things he has said.
In his new book, Rev’d Robinson-Brown seeks to set out what it looks and feels like to be at the intersection of a number of different powerful identities and what that means for the Church and for society.
There can be no question that the Church has a huge way to go when it comes to listening to and honouring the experience of black people. The same is true of LGBTQ+ people. Rev’d Robinson-Brown’s book speaks of what it means to inhabit both of those spaces and how that feels in the current Church environment.
The subtitle of the book is ‘The Church and the Famine of Grace’ and it is interesting, especially given some of the trauma Rev’d Robinson-Brown has been through, that ‘grace’ is the lens through which he chooses to view the stark challenges he explores here.
It seems to me that Rev’d Robinson-Brown is calling us to think again about our notion of grace. If our sense of the grace of God is not wide enough to fully encompass our black and LGBTQ+ fellow Christians, or indeed those interested in exploring the faith for the first time, then have we not missed the point?
Much of the book is reminiscent of the approach of ‘liberation theology’ which seeks to start with the lived experience of those who have been oppressed and then build an understanding of God out from that, as opposed to imposing dogma from a position of privilege. “How many Christians see their role as ‘teaching LGBTQ+ Christians about Jesus?” asks Rev’d Robinson-Brown, “How many Christians come into encounter with LGBTQ+ Christians open to encountering something of Jesus in our midst?”.
As well as it’s content, the format of the book is also interesting; in addition to the core text, it includes some of Rev’d Robinson-Brown’s own poetry as well as suggested prayers and meditations. There is also study of scripture.
In part of the book, Rev’d Robinson-Brown draws our attention to two passages from Luke’s Gospel; Mary’s song, the Magnificat “My Soul magnifies the Lord…” and Jesus’s words in the synagogue “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor…”. He writes: “In Jesus’s words in the synagogue and Mary’s song of praise, we see a mother and son who together have a view of a world where justice reigns and power is controlled and shared. It is an image of a world that sits so contrary to much of the Christianity we often see. What it teaches us is a different way of being, where goodness and freedom are the marks of life in God.”
This book is challenging; at times it is deeply painful. However, for all of us who look to be part of an increasingly inclusive church, this book is an incredibly important contribution.
Black Gay British Christian Queer is available from SCM Press:
A neighbour recently popped a postcard with this image through my letter box. Apart from no cars what stands out is the greenery growing up the building. I wondered when it was that the church architect advised that to protect the brickwork it needed to come down!
The other thing that fascinated me is that it looks like a flag pole on the roof?
Wednesday 20th October 2021
My flower displays this Harvest were an attempt to show the difference between sustainable and unsustainable ways of sourcing, packaging and displaying flowers. It was no mistake that the flowers wrapped in plastic were all dead – a comment on our dying Earth.
Flowers should be a source of joy and thankfully there are lots of initiatives to help us buy them literally in good faith. UK supermarkets that are part of the Plastics Pact launched in 2018, are switching to compostable and recyclable alternatives to plastic packaging, including hydro-paper (see photo below), eco-friendly flower boxes and bio foam. By ditching plastic from flower bouquets, Morrisons is saving 925 tonnes of plastic each year. Online florists like “Bloom” are working towards the achievement of a carbon free business model, supporting sustainable production and packaging. In the US and Canada the Slow Flower movement is taking off, emphasising a focus local, seasonal and sustainably sourced flowers, connecting growers with retailers.
As the impact of climate change is falling disproportionately on developing nations, they need our support. You may want to look for flowers that come from producers assured by the Fairtrade and Florverde schemes.
These farms receive a premium of 10% for every stem sold, to be invested in practices that promote biodiversity and the health, education, and social welfare of local communities.
Why should we care about all this? What’s it got to do with us? My answer would be that God has blessed us with the most extraordinarily beautiful and abundant Earth, that is more than adequate to meet our needs. We worship God by adopting sustainable and appropriate practices and technologies that work well, heal not harm, that are concerned for the poor, and that nurture relational values. We are all called to be faithful and responsible stewards of his creation.
It has been the intention of the flower team for some time to arrange our flowers for church in harmony with the universe - to be seasonable and sustainable. We now use organic oasis . This year the flowers for harvest were gathered from with-in a mile of Hampstead and mostly from the graveyard . We live in one of the greenest cities in the world and through the pandemic we have become even more so - encouraging biodiversity and cleaning our air. Emma Thompson, when presenting the Earthshot prize on Sunday evening, mentioned that thrift originates from the verb to thrive. To flourish we need to take care of our resources! Please feel free to nudge us if you see us slipping from this ideal!
This might best be summed up as "An enjoyable time was had by all". It really did seem to be a fun day. And we made money. So far the total exceeds £2500, which is more than I dreamed of when the idea arose.
But these things don't happen without work - and I am so grateful to everyone who sewed and knitted, cut and pasted, baked and stewed and painted, potted up plants, helped on stalls, put up tables, took down tables, swept and tidied, in order to make such a grand total (and grand day) possible.
https://www.lbc.co.uk/radio/presenters/david-lammy/black-history-is-british-history-black-history-month-commemoration/ In this link David Lammy, the MP for Tottenham since 2000 laments the need for Black History Month. He wishes that the contribution of and the part played by black people in British History was recognised, understood and properly valued. He is also in conversation with the veteran journalist Sir Trevor MacDonald who describes the history he learnt at school in Trinidad, which bore little or no relationship to his or his family’s experience, in which black people were hidden from our story and rarely if ever mentioned.
Wednesday 13th October 2021
During Black History Month Church Chat is highlighting some influential black voices. This YouTube clip is the international writer Chimamanda Adichie addressing the Humboldt Forum, the prestigious Museum of Non-European art in Berlin.
Chimamanda's writing draws on her experiences of Nigeria where she grew up and the US where she moved when she was 19. She has won numerous awards and in 2015 she was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. In 2017, Fortune Magazine named her one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders. She is a member of both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
A big thank you to everyone who came to pack up the books and dismantle all the cardboard boxes that they were displayed in. We took 98 bags of books to Oxfam on Monday!
Jacoba the manager of Oxfam Books in Hampstead has been incredibly helpful and agreed, despite only having very limited storage facilities, to take them all. If anyone would like to help Oxfam sort some of them on to their shelves I am sure Jacoba would be very grateful. She can be contacted at email@example.com
If you use Instagram Oxfam Books can be found at oxford_hampstead_books where they regularly post some of the interesting books they receive.
We are still continuing to receive money for the books from various booksellers and dealers. We have already made well over £1000. As soon as we have a grand total we will post it in the Midweek News.
A big thank you to everyone who helped with the Book Fair, the sorting, the selling, the packing up and contacting book sellers and dealers.
The bad news (but in some ways it’s good news) is that Covid restrictions mean that it will not be possible to resume the rotational shelter this winter, and I’m afraid we will not be welcoming up to 16 homeless guests to the Parish Rooms on Saturday night. But the good news is that after much frustrating searching, we were surprised to be offered a floor - 20 rooms - of the County Hotel, where the shelter was held last winter. We have secured a grant to cover the cost and are now excited (and very busy!) planning and making arrangements.
Although it’s a shame we, at HPC, cannot be hosts ourselves, the hotel with single rooms, with beds!, is more comfortable for guests and convenient for welfare work. It also means the burden of hospitality for the churches is much less. This season, we will be responsible for dinner, breakfasts and lunch from Friday evening 3rd to Sunday morning 5th December. We need to provide food (there will be a kitchen), friendship and some entertainment; I will work out more precisely what is needed when arrangements are a bit clearer. At this stage it would be very helpful to know if to are in principle able to help, either in attending at the hotel for a time, or in preparing food (at the hotel or to take to it). Ideas for entertainment will also be gratefully received; Bingo and films have been mentioned and I’m hoping to arrange a guitar and song recital, but more ideas are needed!
If you have already indicated willingness to help in response to the email to past volunteers, there is no need to respond again, but new blood is wanted, and if that is you, please let Andrew Penny know.
Thursday 7th October 2021
When the idea came up for a Craft Fair that would showcase some of the items we’d made and skills we’d developed during lockdown we had no idea it would take off in so many directions.
Of course I already knew so many of you had hidden talents but even so……… we have baby clothes, Christmas decorations, tote bags, mobile phone supports, pin cushions, lavender bags, spectacle cases, toys, cards, notebooks, marmalade (lots of marmalade!) hats, gloves, scarves, paintings, Traidcraft goods, cakes, and a Refreshment Stall courtesy of the Friends of the Music.
We also have a range of embroidery silks and kits, tapestry kits, patchwork kits, reels of cotton and balls of wool.
I am immensely grateful for the time and effort so many people have put into this. Do come and see just what a talented bunch we have!
What more could you ask?! Maybe a silent auction for a most beautifully embroidered double quilt? Yes, we’ve got that too.
Wednesday 6th October 2021
The cleaning team met on Saturday morning (2nd October) , as they do on six Saturdays a year. On four of those Saturdays the team clean the Lady Chapel, the chancel, and the nave and on the other two we clean the galleries. If we can manage it , the brass gets polished, the polished woodwork is dusted and burnished, the floors are vacuumed or swept, all the painted wood (pews , window ledges and seats,) is washed down, and cobwebs and dust generally banished as vigorously as possible. We normally manage to get this done in a couple of hours. For many years we have had a habit of assigning each volunteer a particular task (a group of pews, for instance) which they take on regularly. Most of these need take no more than an hour, so if we had enough volunteers very few of us would need to devote more than six hours a year to the task. Most of team would probably actually spend a little more than a scant hour at the church each time, however, there is always tea or coffee and cake, which the vicar kindly described on Sunday as "great", and lots of space for chat!
I am always so pleased when a visitor comes into the church while I am stewarding, and exclaims "isn't this beautiful - how nice it looks!". I know it wouldn't look good if it wasn't regularly cleaned, and I do think it is an "outward and visible sign" of a community that is welcoming and cares for people and space, which is why I clean. As George Herbert said "who sweeps a room as for thy laws/makes that and the action fine".
Come and join us. We next meet - for a gallery clean - on Saturday 6 November. Do contact me. The parish office (firstname.lastname@example.org) will pass on a message or an email
Not everything that Camden does commands universal respect, but as a church we should be impressed by the speed and efficiency with which Camden is meeting the challenges posed by an influx of refugees, about 2000 in Camden, fleeing the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan. Judgement of the efficiency, and success of it measures must wait, but what it says it will do is promising (Google Afghan Refugees in Camden); acquiring accommodation and providing truly “wrap around” care, from food to education and counselling.
We can be particularly impressed that Camden recognises and welcomes the collaboration and support of faith and community groups and is coordinating their generosity. At present, the refugees’ immediate needs are being met and the most useful way of supporting them is to give money to the various agencies looking after their longer term needs; Care4Calais.org (which is not restricted to refugees in Calais and which accepts donations in kind- nearest drop off point is in Southwark) the Red Cross Afghan crisis appeal: donate.redcross.org.uk
Two smaller local charities are also involved and asking for financial and practical help
- Hopscotch Women’s Centre www.hopscotchuk.org which as the name suggests is particularly concerned for women and children and their specifically religious needs (eg Korans and headscarves); and
- Little Village Crisis Fund for Afghan Children in London which supports children under five with practical goods
Another way of supporting these appeals, and having some fun as well, is to come along to the Churches Together in Hampstead Quiz Night for Afghan Refugees, on Friday 29th October at 6.30 for 7 in the Rosslyn Hill Unitarian Chapel. £10 on the door for a light supper and a drink. Come individually or make up a table of about 6. Please let me know if you mean to come, as it will help with catering numbers.
Friday 1st October 2021
Aseel and Mohammad are loving school and Yousef seems to be bigger every time we see him. Recently another Syrian family came to visit from Devon and Aseel and Mohammad were taken on the London Eye, which was a thrilling experience.
Unfortunately, Monther has had to give up the painting and decorating job, which he was enjoying, because of a recurring back problem and for a while needed a crutch. He is having treatment on his back and we hope he will soon be able to look for work again. On the plus side being in a working environment was good for his English language skills.
Good News - the Al Masri family have a new home
In our last newsletter we mentioned that the family needed to move by the end of September. They have been offered a flat in the same block where they are currently living. They will move in November and their current landlords have generously agreed that they can stay in their present flat until November. This means that the family can maintain their current networks and Aseel and Mohammad don’t need to move from their primary school which has been so supportive, or leave their friends. This is such a relief for the family.
We need your help to make a new home for the family
We are grateful for all the help that so many of you gave the Al Masri family when they arrived which enabled them to come to London and to make a new home – thank you! Their new flat needs some repairs and basic decoration to make it a real home. The estimated cost is £3,000 and contributions of any size will help. Cheques, made payable to Hampstead Parish Church (CTiH Fund), can be mailed to: Community Sponsorship c/o Hampstead Parish Church, Church Row, Hampstead, NW3 6UU or contribute onlineto: Hampstead Parish Church (CTiH fund) Sort code: 40 03 36 Account number: 11104004. Please be sure to indicate CTiH fund. Thank you! If you need more information, please contactCommunity.email@example.com
New commitments mean that after four years working on the Community Sponsorship project Sheena Ginnings is stepping down from the committee. She says that experiencing the friendship and affection of the Al Masri family has been such a joy and she has learnt so much from witnessing the courage, resilience, and humour of the family as they have found ways to settle into life in the UK.
On 25th September 2018 a group of us went to Gatwick Airport to welcome the Al Masri family to their new home in London. On Saturday 25th September we invited the family to lunch in the Parish Rooms to celebrate the third anniversary of the joy of their arrival. Rahaf and Aseel looked particularly elegant, Rahaf having painted their hands with henna to honour the occasion.
The Community Sponsorship volunteers created a veritable feast – a buffet of Middle Eastern dishes, followed by cakes and baklava, washed down by homemade lemonade and finally Arabic coffee and mint tea. Rahaf who is a great cook was clearly impressed (and touched), although she teased Peter and said he had made English not Syrian stuffed peppers, but then she wanted to know how to spell cardomon (used in the coffee) in English. The children clearly enjoyed themselves running round the graveyard, which they now know well, and being taught by Jeremy how to balance a spoon on your faces. John Barker created a box for distributing ice creams and you can see from the photo that this was a big hit.
We have received such generous hospitality from Monther and Rahaf that it was lovely to return it and to celebrate all that they have achieved, and their courage and friendship
With covid restrictions increasingly lifted for performing musicians, the summer happily became a very busy time for our regular senior choir members and deputy singers, and a number of past and present Hampstead musicians were involved in the BBC Prom concerts, notably contralto Jess Dandy who was a soloist at the First Night singing music by Vaughan Williams and James MacMillan, and bass Will Thomas who sang solos for the Mozart Requiem. Opera work has begun again, with baritone Malachy Frame singing for Nevill Holt Opera, and this month mezzo-soprano Catherine Backhouse and soprano Rebecca Hardwick will be singing in Rusalka in Bergen. It is also splendid to note that The Hampstead Collective will begin a season of ‘Start the Month’ concerts shortly with an opera gala on Monday 4th October, and then a concert of three of Bach’s sacred cantatas on Monday 1st November.
Our visiting organists at Evensong continue to do us proud with their imaginative and impressive choices. This month amongst the usual helpings of Bach and Buxtehude we hear music by composers from Finland (Rautavaara) and Canada (Healey Willan), though there are two pieces that I’d like to flag up in particular, played by Richard Gowers. The first is the brilliant Toccata composed by Richard’s grandfather Patrick Gowers, to be heard on Sunday 10th. There are two basic elements in the piece: a repeated Phrygian F-E motif coloured with different harmonies, as heard at the outset, and a breathless cascading toccata underpinned by complex rhythms, all infused with jazz-style elements. Buckle-up and enjoy the ride! The second is the masterful Pastorale (1909) by Fauré-pupil Jean Roger-Ducasse to be heard on the 31st which will flow well from our meditative Memorial Service that evening. It’s about 12 minutes long and has an imposing arch-structure beginning and concluding in a gentle, pastoral F major. (photographs of Patrick and Richard Gowers below)
Choral music for Dedication Sunday on the 3rd includes one of Thomas Tallis’s perfect miniatures for the early English liturgy, Hear the voice and prayer, which includes the words ‘that thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, ever toward this place, of which thou hast said: ‘my name shall be there’’, and Edgar Bainton’s stirring anthem And I saw a new heaven, with words from the Revelation of St John the Divine. For our all-age Eucharist on 17th the combined choirs will perform Schubert’s joyful Mass in G, and as we celebrate Harvest Festival increasingly mindful of the damage we are inflicting on the planet, our anthem at Evensong by contemporary American composer Robert Kyr is a setting of words from the ‘Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon’ by St. Francis of Assisi. For All Saints on the 31st we sing Victoria’s Motet O quam gloriosum (‘O how glorious is the kingdom in which all the saints rejoice with Christ’) and his Mass based on the music of this motet, and in the evening we sing music for the Memorial Service that includes the modern classic O nata lux by Morten Lauridsen and Samuel Wesley’s fine motet Omnia vanitas, one of two pieces by him that his son Samuel Sebastian Wesley hailed as perfect examples of noble church music. ‘Old Sam’ was a passionate enthusiast for the music of J. S. Bach, little of which was known in England in the early 19th century. He called his son Sebastian after the famed Leipzig organist, and his choice of the key of C# minor for Omnia vanitas probably reflects his enthusiasm for the 48 Preludes and Fugues that had just been published in London. he full music list for the month can be found in the parish magazine and on the music section of the website
Tuesday 14th September 2021
If your memory of lockdown is of reading every book you owned and then having to buy more online you’ll have thrilled to the prospect of a book fair. In the weeks leading up to the sale books poured in – novels, histories, biographies, science, travel, gardening, cooking – every category was well represented. And all saleable – some of them at very good prices. The churchyard fairly buzzed with eager browsers and buyers. And cake-eaters – did I mention the coffee and home-made cake stall? Always a draw. You stop for a coffee and before you know it you’ve bought 5 books. There was a whole children’s section, with books to buy and books to make – and oranges (the healthy option!)
Inside – more books. Books on every available surface. CDs, DVDs – music and film. I almost bought The Deathly Hallows Part II having despaired of ITV every screening it (actually it was on last night, so I was spared another purchase and, OK, yes, I did come to Harry Potter a bit late).
It was a mammoth task organising so many books and Sheena’s team spent every afternoon of the preceding week sorting them into categories, lining them up (thank goodness for banana boxes – they could have been made for books not bananas), labelling and pricing and setting out the stalls whilst the forecourt was adorned with gazebos and bunting guaranteed to draw the curious that little bit further down Church Row.
An added attraction at midday was an engaging talk from JP Flintoff on the art of speaking and writing, helped by a few cautious volunteers.
There were plenty of books left for the congregation to browse through on Sunday and enough to make a decent donation to Oxfam in a week or two.
Monday 13th September 2021
Wednesday 8th September 2021
So what can we expect to hear in this new Mass setting? It will be a reflection of Ben’s own musical experience, notably the breadth of the Anglican choral repertoire, and especially the music of “sacred minimalist” composers such as Arvo Pärt and John Tavener - whose simplicity and clarity he much admires. We can also expect a little of the rich colours of that jazz harmony. With his admirable ear, Ben seems to soak up musical influences like blotting paper: his receptive musical mind processes everything he hears, and then he writes “what I like the sound of.” He begins a composition, he says, by working on its words, carefully marking the inflections and accentuation of the language. As he does this, musical ideas take shape in his head: in our Hampstead Mass he has paraphrased a motif from one of Bach’s preludes in the Kyrie, and it threads its way again through the Sanctus and Agnus. He writes fluently and easily – not surprising, perhaps, for one who as a schoolboy, untutored and merely for fun, wrote several complete fugues. In his own words:
My love of sacred minimalism and melody can be found throughout the Hampstead Mass. In contrast to some of my other compositions - where rich jazz harmony is more prevalent - I took a more traditional and austere approach. I do, however, use some of those colours in the final bars of the Agnus Dei.
The HCMT Trustees will be pleased that their commission came at an opportune moment for Ben. He says that without it he would have had to take part-time work which would not only have interfered with his PhD studies, but also prevented him recently fulfilling another commission from the BBC, this time for Evening Canticles (you can hear the “Maida Vale” Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis - and several other compositions - on his website: www.benponniah.com). The Trustees can also feel that their charitable Object of maintaining and promoting “the performance and appreciation of Church Music in Hampstead" is being happily fulfilled by their support for such a promising choral composer near the beginning of his career. Ben Ponniah may well be “a name to watch”
As you all know, the Hampstead Church Music Trust helps to support not only the service music at the Parish Church, but also other projects for church music within our defined local area. So the Trustees were pleased to be approached last year by a young choral composer (fortuitously living in Fellows Road at the time) who had found HCMT by googling our website. Intrigued by BBC Music’s description of Ben Ponniah as “a name to watch”, after due enquiries the Trustees commissioned a four-part Mass setting from him suitable for performance at our Eucharists. Now completed, the new Hampstead Mass will be given its first performance at the morning service here on Sunday 19 September.
Geoffrey Webber suggested we might all be interested to hear more about the Mass, so I met Ben in Hampstead this weekend to talk about his music. Ben Ponniah comes from a musical family, and at the early age of six became a chorister at St Mary-le-Tower in Ipswich. There he received an excellent parish church musical training - as rigorous as that delivered in Hampstead by Martindale Sidwell - and also became familiar with a similarly wide-ranging repertoire of Anglican cathedral music. With this musical experience as background Ben shone at Ipswich School, though he was discouraged from taking music as an A level subject - “because,” said his music master, “you can do it all already!” So he did economics instead and went on to read that subject at Nottingham University. But his spare time in Nottingham was filled with music-making, and he also took jazz piano lessons. These were revelatory: Ben already had the enviable ability to play by ear, as well as considerable competence as a pianist, and these accomplishments were now enhanced by experience of jazz’s analytical approach to chord sequences and the colourful added 7ths and 9ths of jazz harmony.
Ben’s persistence with economics however proved its worth. He took school posts teaching economics, which provided him with a livelihood while he became more and more convinced that what he really wanted was to become a choral composer. A turning-point came when he received a generous donation from a benefactor in his home town of Ipswich, who funded a professionally-performed and recorded CD of his compositions. This tangible evidence of Ben’s ability led in two important directions: he was advised to take a PhD in composition with Dr Phillip Cooke at Aberdeen University, and he began receiving commissions for his music - notably from the BBC. It was at this point that he approached HCMT.
Tuesday 7th September 2021
We got off to a slow start on Saturday morning and began to wonder if it had all been a huge mistake. Last year, with so much locked down and no one feeling safe to travel, people came because they were just so glad to find anything open, but now we had competition. Thankfully it picked up in the afternoon and by the end of the day we had welcomed a very respectable 69 adults, one dog and one not very interested baby.
Sunday afternoon was much better. Tea outside drew visitors who hadn’t had any intention of visiting a church but who can resist home made cake? And at such reasonable prices! 64 adults came in during the afternoon, plus an indeterminate number of children (but no dogs).
So what did they see? Well, the gallery was open, that’s always a draw, even the congregation don’t often have a chance to get up close to the gallery windows and memorials.
Then there was Sue Kirby’s display from the Archives. Sue has a nose for interesting items and a determination to seek them out however daunting the storage. Plans of what might have been – I’m quite glad some of the designs for the 1878 extension were rejected! – and pictures of how the church looked in earlier years.
Then there was the Lady Chapel with the lovely Fulleylove window and the new Steevens memorial. We even had gentle organ music on Sunday which all added to the atmosphere.
How many of the visitors were “doing” Open House? Difficult to say. I rather regret the demise of the catalogue – obvious to everyone what you were doing: “How many have you done?” “Have you found……..?” “is it worth visiting…....?” Much more fun.
I’m most grateful to everyone who gave their time over the weekend to make it all possible.
Now on to the Book Sale!
Thursday 2nd September 2021
Some photos from a recent visit to Sarah Phipps beautiful garden. It is a paradise, a retreat, anything and everything you want a garden to be. These photos show a little bit her great design flair, sense of colour and love and knowledge of plants.
11th September is our Mega Book Fair. We have received an incredible collection of wonderful second-hand books. Do come along and browse.
We are also very pleased to announce that John-Paul Flintoff will be doing a short talk at 12 noon on “The Art of Writing: The two best ways to make your writing compelling”. He will then be answering questions on the subject. Afterwards he will be signing his latest book “A Modest Book About How To Make An Adequate Speech”
John-Paul has written several other books including the very interesting “How To Change The World (The School of Life)”. He teaches people to communicate like fully human beings, and has done so on four continents. His talks draw on his work in journalism (as writer and editor, The Financial Times, The Sunday Times of London) and as a theatrical improviser. His online work has included racing against the clock to draw the Oscar winning actor Olivia Coleman which you can watch here https://www.flintoff.org/be-drawn
And to top it all there will also be delicious Traidcraft refreshments
Tuesday 31st August 2021
his weekend the church is taking part in Open House London, a London-wide (as its name suggests) initiative to draw people to the city’s beautiful buildings. Of course our church is open every day (and we hope soon, all day once again) but our listing on their website makes that know to a wider audience. Last year we were gratified at the number of people who came in just because they were so glad to find ANYTHING open. Who knows how many we’ll get this year. There are several other properties open in the area: The Friends Meeting House, Swiss Cottage Library, Keats House, Isokon, 2 Willow Road and 8a Belsize Park Garages (please someone go and see what that is!). What you don’t see every time you come to church is the selection from our Archives – the illuminated manuscript we featured on Church Chat a couple of weeks ago, and drawings and plans of proposed extensions, some of which I’m very glad weren’t accepted. We also have a transcription of the George Steevens memorial in the Lady Chapel – be honest, how many of you can read it from the ground? /p>
And of course, being HPC, there’ll be tea and coffee, so even if you’ve seen it all before, come and have a coffee with your friends
September’s music choices continue to reflect our changing liturgical patterns as we emerge from lockdown, as well as themes that arise from the lectionary. The location of the choir in the morning service should facilitate the performance of settings with organ once again, so on Sunday 5th we plan to sing Harold Darke’s Communion Service in E, and on the 12th Haydn’s Mass no. 7 in B flat, often known as the ‘Little Organ Mass’ due to the solo organ part in the Benedictus. Best of all, we look forward to welcoming the Junior Choir back with us at morning services from September 12th.
Performing the superb music of the classical masses by Haydn, Mozart, Schubert and others in today’s liturgical circumstances is far from straightforward, since the manner in which the Mass liturgy was conducted when the pieces were written required the composer to make some movements short and others long, not corresponding to the lengths of the texts: the Gloria and Creed were required to be short, whilst the Benedictus needed to be long. Composers even ‘telescoped’ the longer texts, with all the parts singing different texts simultaneously, so that the complete text could be sung with dispatch. Haydn’s Gloria for his Mass No.7 was so short that his composer brother Michael decided to remove the telescoping, and this is the version we will sing on the 12th. We will sing the Benedictus during the communion, in order to have time to include the extended soprano and organ solo. Some settings of the Agnus Dei in classical masses ended in triumphal style to mark the conclusion of the liturgy, and so seem ill-suited to use just before the communion today. However, Haydn’s Mass No.7 ends calmly, so fits well.
On the 19th September we are delighted to be giving the first performance of the Hampstead Mass composed by local composer Ben Ponniah with funds from the Hampstead Church Music Trust. Ben will be attending the service and we look forward to seeing him then.
Evensong continues as in August, but now with a visiting organist each week. There is a mini-theme in the form of the so-called ‘Dresden’ Amen, which will be sung as the Final Amen and which also appears at the end of Stanford in B flat and in a psalm chant by Thomas Armstrong. We observe the readings with the spiritual ‘Go down, Moses’ on the 5th, motets with texts concerning the law on the 12th, and two pieces describing the heavenly hosts on the 26th, anticipating Michaelmas (29th). Fans of Edward Elgar will be pleased to see one of his epic psalm-anthems Great is the Lord alongside the superb first movement of his Organ Sonata on the 19th. Amongst less well-known composers featured this month are Philip Radcliffe (1905-86) who for many years was a Lecturer in Music at Cambridge and composed his Preces and Responses for the Edington Music Festival in 1971 (I sang in the first performance as a treble!), and the Italian organist Tarquinio Merula (1595-1665) who spent most of his life working in Cremona, and was renowned for his lively and innovative works for both voices and instruments. His Capriccio cromatico was not of course designed to be heard in our splendid organ’s ‘equal temperament’ tuning, but there are plenty of suitably spicy-sounding options on YouTube…
(The photos show Ben Ponniah and The Hospital Chapel in Eisenstadt where Haydn's Little Organ Mass was first performed, with the composer playing the organ.
Friday 27th August 2021
Thursday 26th August 2021
Churches get given things. From the steeple cup presented by Mrs Susan Weedon in the 17th century (now safely residing and on permanent display in the V&A) to a small silver vase bearing the Girl Guide badge presented by Miss Grace Rush more recently. Items are catalogued, used or safely stored. Most items.
In a dusty envelope on the top shelf of one of the vestry cupboards has lain, for as long as I can remember, a most beautifully crafted Illuminated copy of the Holy Communion service from the Book of Common Prayer. It has no title page, no name, no one seems to know anything about it or who made it. Or why. An act of prayer almost certainly.
It will be on display during the Open House Weekend (4th and 5th Sept) – do come and see it.
½ cups of Kings IV, verse 22
½ lb Judges V, verse 25
2 cups Jeremiah VI, verse20
2 cups Nahum III, verse 12
2 cups Numbers XVII, verse 12
2 cups 1. Samuel, XXX, verse 12
2 teaspoonfuls of 1 Samuel, XIV, verse 25
6 Jeremiah XVII, verse 11
1 ½ cups Judges IV, verse 19
2 teaspoonfuls Amos IV, verse 5
A pinch of Leviticus II, verse 13
Season with Chronicles IX, verse 9
Directions in Proverbs XXIII, verse 14. Bake 1 ½ to 2 hours at 170°C Gas Mark 3.
N.B. You may use baking powder instead of Amos IV, verse 5.
Send us a photo of your Bible cakes. There are some great videos on YouTube
Saturday 14th August 2021
These photos were taken near the top. Don't let them go to waste!
Wednesday 11th August 2021
Creator, as I prepare to go into the world, help me to see the sacrament in the wearing of the cloth - let it be an ''outward sign of an inward grace''- a tangible and visible way of living love for my neighbours, as I love myself.
Christ, since my lips will be covered, uncover my heart,
that people would see me smile in the crinkles around my eyes,
Since my voice may be muffled, help me to speak clearly,
not only with my words, but with my actions.
Holy Spirit, as the elastic touches my ears, remind me to listen carefully and full of care -
to all those I meet.
May this simple piece of cloth be shield and banner and each breath that it holds
be filled with your love.
In your name and in that love, I pray. May it be so...Amen.
Yet again this was a huge success! It was very well attended and much enjoyed by all. The talks and presentations were greatly appreciated, coffee and biscuits went down well and the lunches were, as usual, delicious. A big vote of thanks to all who made this possible for their hard work. These are some of the things I remember-
Day 1 – John Willmer compiled and with his team read a series of wonderful Homecomings, including the Parable of the Prodigal Son and Mole and Rat’s return to Mole’s home in the Wind in the Willows.
Frances Spalding talked of John Betjeman’s and John Piper’s contributions to the Shell Guides describing the changing face of England. They posed the question “what to do?” about the heartbreak of changing the architecture of small towns with old architecture being replaced by housing estates.
Edward Humphreys talked nostalgically of the history of trams in London- particularly of those in the poorer areas, where tram fares were one third cheaper than bus fares. The first electric trams started in London in 1904, disappearing in 1952.
Day 2. –Stephen Clarke gave a hilarious account of his “disastrous” national service in the ranks, as with an Oxford scholarship, he felt and was seen as too intellectual to be an officer.
Tulip Siddiq MP gave a fascinating talk about her life as an MP. The most difficult thing about being an MP was selection. Her father’s recovery from a stroke made her a strong supporter of the NHS. In the Labour party she said that values were more important to her than policies
Stephen Tucker, warmly welcomed back by all his old friends, treated us to a wonderful collection of the origins, characters and historic recordings of Verdi’s Rigoletto, including a recording by Caruso.
Day 3-Sheena Ginnings gave a very moving account of her personal visits to some of the holy places in Israel and Palestine, and the spiritual value of silence and our personal experiences at these sites.
“Tea at the Ritz” at Henderson Court was a huge success. The sun came out, it was well attended, there were lots of wonderful cakes and Jeremy playing Beatles songs on his guitar- some 90 year olds even got up to dance!
Day 4- Wonderful readings on “Somewhere Else” compiled by Moragh Gee and read by her team. Two especially will stick in my mind - “The Selfish Giant” by Oscar Wilde and “How Long, O Lord?” by Keith Waterhouse, about building Noah’s Ark – with a twist!
Rupert Berryman’s talk on Wind Power emphasised the importance and limitations of offshore Wind Power – its huge cost and technical difficulties. Only a small contributor to our energy needs, we will remain very dependent on other sources.
Jeremy Fletcher pointed to the connection of the Memorial Painting after Filippo Lippi, hanging in the Clergy Vestry, with the Medici family, painted to identify members of the family with the saints to illustrate the divine justification of their authority.
Whilst the Vicarage Garden tea was rained off, a delicious tea was served in the Parish Rooms.
Day 5 – Gardeners’ Question Time with Jenny Bunn and Pen Linell produced many useful hints and tips for gardeners. Always water in the morning as evening watering encourages slugs – and never grow hostas!
Alex Bunn, a prison doctor, told us to remember those in prison. 30% of prisoners had been abused as children. The average reading age of prisoners is that of a 12 year old and reoffending is high and a major problem.
Graham Dunn – our new curate talked amusingly of his journey to Hampstead via various interesting jobs, including Vodaphone, until he became a mature student at Westcott House. Graham is particularly interested in Social Justice and the role of Christians in the work place.
In Part 1 we left Joanna as a 10 year old entertaining her friends with her own theatrical shows. Four years later, in 1776 Joanna’s father was appointed Professor of Divinity at Glasgow University, so the family moved to Glasgow, but that only lasted 2 years as her father died and she moved, with her mother and sister, to Long Calderwood in Lanarkshire.
Here she mostly educated herself, reading Shakespeare and the major British poets.
When she was 22, Joanna, with her sister Agnes, joined their brother Matthew, now a qualified doctor, to live in London and, 7 years later, the sisters moved to Hampstead – then definitely on the outskirts of London! Shortly after their arrival Joanna wrote a poem describing the then view from the heath:
It is a goodly sight through the clear air.
From Hampstead's heathy height to see at once
England's vast capitol in fair expanse.
Towers, belfries, lengthen'd streets, and structures fair.
St. Paul's high dome amidst the vassal bands
Of neighb'ring spires, a regal chieftain stands.
And over fields of ridgy roofs appear,
With distance softly tinted, side by side
In kindred grace, like twain of sisters dear,
The Towers of Westminster, her Abbey's pride;
While, far beyond, the hills of Surrey shine
Through thin soft haze, and show their wavy line.
View'd thus, a goodly sight! but when survey'd
Through denser air when moisten'd winds prevail
In her grand panoply of smoke array'd,
While clouds aloft in heavy volumes sail.
She is sublime — She seems a curtain'd gloom
Connecting heaven and earth — a threat'ning sign of doom. . . .
So shows by day this grand imperial town;
And, when o'er all the night's black stole is thrown,
The distant traveller doth with wonder mark
Her luminous canopy athwart the dark.
In London Joanna now began writing, intending to publish. Favourable reviews of her first collection of poems, published anonymously in 1790, encouraged her to continue writing and she published, still anonymously, a series of plays on The Passions.
What is now Rosslyn Hill Unitarian chapel, was in Joanna’s day a Presbyterian chapel where the minister was the Rev Rochemont Barbauld. His wife was the radical writer Anna Letitia Barbauld, and they made their home the centre of an influential group of literary people. When Joanna joined this group she didn’t tell anyone about her published works.
She was described as ‘a stiff, solemn Scotch girl — small and light in person,who sat demurely while her work was discussed.’
Lucy Aikin (niece of Mrs Barbauld and near neighbour in Hampstead, also buried in our churchyard) recorded —
‘I well remember the scene,she and her sisterarriving on a morning call at Mrs. Barbauld's; my aunt immediately introduced the topic of the anonymous tragedies, and gave utterance to her admiration with that generous delight in the manifestation of kindred genius, which distinguished her. But not even the sudden delight of such praise, so given, could seduce our Scottish damsel into self-betrayal. The faithful sister rushed forward, as we afterwards recollected, to bear the brunt, while the unsuspected author lay snug in the asylum of her taciturnity.'
A critic in the Quarterly Review described the sensation caused by this first, anonymous appearance of the Plays on the Passions: ‘The curiosity excited in the literary circle … the incredulity … that these vigorous and original compositions came from a female hand … the astonishment, when they were acknowledged to be by a gentle, quiet and retiring young woman.’
No doubt our church congregation well knows to never underestimate a quiet woman!
Sunday 1st August 2021
It is always a delight to see a composer such as William Byrd featuring in one of our national newspapers, even if the title runs “Was the great composer William Byrd secretly a traitor to England”, as recently in The Telegraph. Unlike other Roman Catholic composers such as Richard Dering and Peter Phillips who left England for the Low Countries, Byrd stayed at home and at the very least lived a complicated life as one of Elizabeth I’s favoured musicians. His musical legacy happily enriches both Protestant and Roman Catholic traditions, as will be heard this month at Hampstead Parish Church.
A few weeks ago we performed his dazzling motet ‘Laudibus in sanctis’, and this month we sing his ‘Preces’ & Responses each week, as well as his Short Service, and in the final week movements of his ‘Mass for Four Voices and communion motet ‘Ave verum corpus’. Evensong ends each week with a Final Amen taken from Byrd’s ‘Caroll for New-yeares day’ published in 1611 in his collection Psalms, Songs and Sonnets.
As we gradually emerge from compulsory Covid-19 restrictions, Byrd’s ‘Mass for Four Voices’ is one of the five settings chosen for August which are all fairly concise in nature.
In his notices at the 11 am Holy Communion on July 25th the Vicar explained that members of the choir would be returning to sing at the 11 am service in August, performing in one of the galleries in order to make safe use of the church space.
Most of the Mass settings are by Renaissance/Baroque composers, but the one exception is the ‘Mass in the Ionian Mode’ by Charles Wood (1866-1926), a kind of pastiche on 16th-century modal writing, though more chordal in style than polyphonic. Accompanying this Mass setting is the communion motet ‘Ecce panis angelorum’ by Samuel Wesley (son of Charles the hymn-writer and father of S. Sebastian Wesley) which delights in the subtitle ‘Transubstantiatorial Hymn’. The only modern work on the list for the morning service is the ‘Salve Regina’ by Francis Poulenc, helping us to celebrate the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary on 15th August.
The music chosen for Evensong includes two works that are settings of the readings for the day: on 1st August we perform William Boyce’s lively rendition of verses from Job, ‘O where shall wisdom be found?’, alternating solo verses with full chorus, first published in 1790,
and on 29th August we sing a setting of the Beatitudes by the great early 17th-century Dutch organist Jan P. Sweelinck (image below), ‘Beati pauperes’, in which the composer subtlety reflects the various attributes of the blessed.
Amongst other selections are two of Hubert Parry’s beautiful ‘Songs of Farewell’ on the 22nd, and the powerful ‘Second Service’ of Kenneth Leighton with its spiky organ part, played by visiting organist Richard Gowers, on the 15th. Contrasting with Leighton’s ‘Canticles’ on the 15th we conclude our Marian celebrations with the serene setting of ‘Ave Maria’ by Robert Parsons, a work that probably dates from the reign of Queen Mary. The calmness of the setting is partly due to the initial slow rise of the soprano line, gradually ascending the six notes of the hexachord, but by the end full polyphony is achieved in a glorious Amen.
The organ music chosen to top and tail our services often (though not always!) reflects either the musical repertoire of the service itself or the liturgical calendar. On the 15th, for example, we hear Bach’s ‘Fugue on the Magnificat’ in the morning (remembering the BVM), and Leighton’s ‘Paean’ in the evening (to complement his Second Service).
One rarity: I first came across Aguilera de Heredia’s ‘ensalada toccata’ when reading Willi Apel’s ‘The History of Keyboard Music to 1700’ as an undergraduate, where it is described as“one of the most valuable treasures of early organ music”. It has unfortunately remained very little known to this day outside Spain, but thanks are now due to Seville organist Juan A. Pedrosa who has just has put a fine edition of the work online. The description ‘ensalada’ (‘salad’) refers to the delightful mixture of different musical elements heard during the course of the piece. (There is an image below of the beautiful organ in Seville Cathedral)
Regular worshippers at Evensong will have noticed some minor changes to our pattern of singing at present. During these summer months I have planned the music so that we sing the same setting of the Preces, Responses and Lord’s Prayer during the course of each month, as well as the same Final Amen. This repetition allows regular attenders to experience something familiar each week in a service that contains so much varied music. For the singing of the Psalms we are alternating the two sides of the choir, Decani and Cantoris, within each verse. Many verses of the Psalms contain a single idea that is posited slightly differently in the two halves of the verse; this is thus reflected rhetorically through the interplay between the two sides of the choir. (Amongst the psalm chants this month is one by former Organist & Director of Music Martindale Sidwell.)
Finally, instead of singing an Introit every week, these will only be sung occasionally, when fitting well with a particular liturgical or musical theme.
Thursday 29th July 2021
We are having a Book Fair on 11th September from 11.00 am to 3.00 pm and we need books, CD’s and DVD’s.
Summer is a great time to go through all those books you haven’t read, or have read and won’t read again, or bought during lockdown and now don’t have space.
Or you may want to Spring clean and make more space for other books. So many reasons to go through your books and donate them to the Book Fair.
Please leave them at the back of church marked Book Fair.
If you have any questions or would like to help sort and sell books, please contact Sheena Ginnings through the Vestry
“Tell is what you did in the summer” we invited in last week’s email. On reflection that sounded rather like those essays that punctuated primary school years: “What I did in my holidays” – always a challenge for children who didn’t do anything much (and occasionally an embarrassment to parents when the truth came out – “I don’t know why Daddy didn’t come with us because he hasn’t got a job” made my mother cringe).
So --- having made the suggestion I thought I’d better start us off with my trip to Bekonskot Model Village, which ended in a thunderstorm at Marylebone and a whole new meaning to the expression “wet through”.
I went at the suggestion of my (grown up) daughter. I love models, and joy of joys, model trains – there’s a track runs right round the area with LOTS of trains. There were, of course, lots of children too, but also not a few unattended adults. It’s so well done – the models, the ingenuity, the scenery – even the bushes and the flowers were to scale and the lawns were immaculate. The cat, strolling along the railway line, not to scale and causing a few anxious moments for the onlookers as a train trundled towards it.
I rather envied the gardeners who must have access to all the little paths the public aren’t allowed to walk on, but goodness, keeping the grass so tidy must take some doing. Imagine having to lift all the models to cut under and around them.
A bit of history….*
Bekonscot Model Village and Railway is the world’s oldest model village, opening for the first time in 1929. It is now operated by The Roland Callingham Foundation Charity, continuing the tradition established by their founder of welcoming visitors to the village and supporting worthwhile causes by sharing the income with charitable organisations. To date they have donated over £5.5 million to various, mainly local, charities.
The brainchild of Roland Callingham, it all began in 1928 when Mrs Callingham made a short but moving speech which suggested that either the indoor model railway went, or she did. The model railway moved outdoors.
Local buildings and personal favourites of the staff provided much of the village’s inspiration. The Waitrose Building bears a striking resemblance to the actual Waitrose not far away. Bekonscot’s founder was never concerned with precision: it was, and always will be, eccentric, fun and full of character – and never meant to be taken too seriously.
Bekonscot has been through many changes in its history, the biggest coming in 1992 when it went from being kept up to date, with all of the latest cars, trains and planes, to being returned to a 1930’s time warp. The village has remained like this ever since, with new and refurbished buildings always in the traditional style. (This makes some of it quite painful; the zoo for instance, with its tiny, bleak animal enclosures, and the fox hunting scene, things we’d rather not remember.)
It’s easy to get to – if you can call Marylebone easy to get to – with fairly regular trains if the drivers haven’t been “pinged” (ours were – both ways) and not far from Beaconsfield station. And it’s not ridiculously expensive. So altogether a very satisfactory place to go and a thoroughly good day out. (I’m sure my shoes will dry out eventually.)
*From their website: https://www.bekonscot.co.uk/
Sunday 25th July 2021
The last three weeks have been a time of “firsts” for me as I settle into my new role here at Hampstead Parish Church. One such occasion was this week’s Leavers’ Service for Year 6 at Hampstead Parochial School.
It was wonderful to be able to welcome children, parents, and staff into church in person, along with colleagues from St John’s Downshire Hill. The service was livestreamed on Facebook for those who couldn’t be there.
There was a mix of music (some wonderful violin playing from several children plus hymns such as Be Bold, Be Strong and One More Step Along the World I Go), readings from scripture, poems written by staff and many memories read out by children themselves.
What struck me as the children were reading out their recollections of their time at school was just how powerful and important these years have been for them. The impact that their teachers have had (maths lessons involving M&Ms came up more than once) and the bonds of friendship that have been formed, shone through in all that they had to say.
The service was also an opportunity to say goodbye to a number of departing staff, among them headteacher Allan McLean. The transformative role he has played in the school and the love in which he is held was clear to see – not least in the incredible video tribute featuring staff, parents and children singing an appropriately reworded version of David Bowie’s Starman!
What was also powerful was the way in which the service marked both an end and a beginning. This is a key point in the lives of these children as they move on from HPS, with all the emotions that entails, to an exciting new future and all the possibilities that contains.
It was clear that the link between our church and the school was threaded through the experience these children have had and our core Christian values were evident throughout the service. One of the great privileges of church life is to walk alongside people at significant points in their lives and the service was definitely one such moment.
For all of us this year has been one of adjusting to changes, coping with difficulty, and adapting to new ways of doing things. It was obvious that our school pupils and staff have navigated through all of this with ingenuity, patience, and love.
As our children move on to pastures new, and as we all step into what the next few months hold, what better refrain could there be than the opening hymn at our leavers’ service: “Be bold, be strong, for the Lord your God is with you.”
Wednesday 21st July 2021
Judy’s chat article last week reminded me of the Literary Hour I did on Joanna Baillie way back in 2011 (I think!).
I’d never heard of her until I did one of the excellent ‘Tomb Trails’ being run during the conservation project by Camden & the Heritage Lottery fund. When the tour guide mentioned that Byron, Walter Scott and many other leading writers declared Joanna Baillie Britain’s best dramatic writer since Shakespeare, I knew she needed to be explored – immediately!
So, Internet to the rescue - it’s amazing what you can find in its obscure corners, using Google scholar. Here’s a very brief introduction to her childhood.
She was born on September 11th 1762 in the manse at Bothwell in South Lanarkshire. Her father, James, a Scottish Presbyterian minister, claimed among his ancestors the nationalist Sir William Wallace. Her mother, Dorothea Hunter (also buried in our churchyard), was descended from the Laird of Ayrshire. Joanna’s aunt was the poet Anne Hunter and her uncles were the noted royal surgeons William and John Hunter. So Joanna imbibed both creative talent and intellectual stimulus from the start. She was born a twin, but her twin sister died shortly after birth. She had an older sister, Agnes & a brother Matthew.
Joanna’s first teacher was her father, who was strong on ethics, but rather neglected the three R's. She was composing verses before she could read, and apparently astonished everyone by the amusing tales she invented.
When she was six, the family moved to Hamilton. Then, at aged ten, she was sent to boarding school in Glasgow, where she excelled in music, art, mathematics and reading and where she took to entertaining friends by telling stories and organizing her own theatrical shows. Clearly a talented child.
Below is an unattributed portrait published in The Scotsman on 11th September 2018, Joanna Baillie’s 256th Birthday when she received the ultimate 21st century accolade – a Google Doodle on her birthday
Further instalments to follow … watch this space.
William Taylor died on 17th June 1747. The “new”, ie current, building was consecrated on 8th October 1747. You don’t usually bury people in an unconsecrated building which was clearly a great disappointment to William, who was a Page of the Bedchamber to Kings George I and II (see a description of this role below). We know all this because it says so on his memorial OUTSIDE the church.
“Sacred to the memory of William Taylor Esq. who was several years one of the pages of bed-chamber to their majesties King George the First and Second; was always a careful, diligent and faithful servant. He died the 17th of June 1747 aged lxiii. By his will he left several annuities and legacies to his relations, servants and to the poor, and others; and in his lifetime gave fifty pounds towards the rebuilding of this church, and earnestly desired to be interred therein; but after his demise, although the utmost solicitations were made use of by his executors, that favour could not be obtained for his remains.”
So his remains lie under the path to the south of the church, near the memorial on the south wall. Sadly this memorial is now in a very poor condition and completely illegible but fortunately was recorded by local historian Thomas Barrett so we have a lasting memorial to one man’s disappointment.
Curiously, on 24th June 1746, John Padmore, Apothecary, was buried in a vault under the new (unconsecrated) church.
One wonders why.
*Pages of the Bedchamber 1660-c. 1822 (from Wikipedia)
The pages of the bedchamber originally waited without Doors, at the Back-stairs; but now [c. 1720] they wait within the Bed-Chamber, where they take care that every thing be ready, especially during the time of the King's Dressing; fetch Water for the Grooms of the Bed-chamber, which the King is to use, and other necessaries.
These places were in the gift of the groom of the stole. The procedures for swearing and admitting them to office were the same as those for the gentlemen of the bedchamber. They were usually six in number. During the reign of Anne the holders of the offices were designated `pages of the backstairs'. After 1760 this description was applied to a distinct body of pages. The pages of the bedchamber last occur in published lists in 1822.
The pages received wages of £2 13s 4d and board wages of £77 6s 8d amounting to £80 a year. In addition, they were entitled to livery of £47, fees of honour which yielded about £17 per annum under George I; and vails and gratuities from aspirants at the backstairs which have been estimated at about £120 per annum. After 1725, they received a further £365 apiece in lieu of diet.
Tuesday 13th July 2021
Shobana Jeyasingh was appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2020. The Covid pandemic delayed the official ceremony but on 8th July Shobana was presented with her CBE award by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal at St James’s Palace.
Shobana Jeyasingh is an internationally recognised choreographer who founded Shobana Jeyasingh Dance 30 years ago. She has created over 60 critically acclaimed works for diverse platforms including stage, screen and unconventional public spaces such as Palladian monasteries, fountain courtyards, city offices and even the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral as part of the Cultural Olympics in 2012. Her work is noted for both its intellectual rigour and its visceral physicality.
Over the course of a distinguished career she has collaborated with scientists, gallery curators, composers, film makers, digital creatives as well as dancers and designers to make bold multidisciplinary work. Her work has toured extensively to Europe, USA, India and the Far East and is now part of the national curriculum in the UK. Her recent dance works Material Men redux (2017) and Contagion (2018) were both chosen to be in the top ten dance works of the year by UK broadsheets.
Notable commissions include Rambert Dance Company, Ballet Black, Wayne McGregor|Random Dance, Beijing Modern Dance Academy, Contemporary City Dance company Hong Kong and most recently Opera National du Rhin France.
Shobana is the recipient of numerous awards for choreography as well for her contributions to the dance world though her writings and talks. She was a judge in the BBC’s Young Dancer in both 2017 and 2019. Shobana has honorary doctorates from the universities of Surrey, Leicester and Chichester. She was awarded the prestigious Woman of the World Award in 2017
Asked what this award meant to her Shobana said "Contemporary dance choreography with its history of disruption, equity and innovation has to still fight its corner in the world of arts. So accepting this award on behalf of all who bring contemporary dance into being is a matter of joy specially at this difficult time for art making”.
To find out more about her amazingly creative work have a look at her website https://www.shobanajeyasingh.co.uk/
Very many congratulations Shobana
Sunday 11th July 2021
I am always pleasantly surprised when the response to “That’s Joanna Baillie’s grave” is met with “I didn’t know she was buried here” rather than “Who?” Although, frankly, if there hadn’t been a picture of her in the parish office I might never have got further than Who? either. Until recently though the response to any mention of her grave might have been “Where?” so overgrown had the area become. It is, perhaps, a consequence of our not-very-summery summer that the undergrowth has become overgrowth, and it’s quite hard to find anything at all. Last week’s gardening group remedied that. The photos show her grave before the gardening group got to work and them after we’d cleared the weeds (including the nettles!)
Joanna Baillie was born in Scotland in 1762 and lived much of her early life there, moving to Colchester and then finally Bolton House, Hampstead in 1802. She was a neighbour and close friend of writer Lucy Aikin (their graves are side by side).
Baillie’s writings included poetry and plays. She seems initially to have only written for her own enjoyment but once published became a shrewd businesswoman, using her income to help other writers and charitable causes.
You can read about her in detail on Wikipedia from which I chose this paragraph:
“Few women writers have received such praise for their personal qualities and literary powers as Joanna Baillie. She had intelligence and integrity allied to a modest demeanour that made her, for many, the epitome of a Christian gentlewoman. She was shrewd, observant of human nature, and persistent to the point of obstinacy in developing her views and opinions. Her brand of drama remained essentially unchanged throughout her life, and she took pride in having carried out her major work, the Plays on the Passions*, more or less in the form she had originally conceived. Her inventive faculties were widely remarked upon by "practically everybody whose opinion on a literary matter was worth anything" and she was on friendly terms with the leading women writers of her time.”
*It’s sometimes suggested that Baillie wrote “A Passion Play”. She didn’t. Her Passions were Love, Hate, Ambition – sometimes comedies, sometimes tragedies. They were well received and Baillie herself thought them some of her best work and pushed for them to be published in one volume. Now available from such websites as World of Books and Amazon the strap line reads “A series of plays in which it is attempted to delineate the stronger passions of the mind.”
She knew and corresponded with Sir Walter Scott, was a friend of Lady Byron (she had a poor opinion of Lord Byron’s works), she was compared to Sappho, her plays were widely performed in the UK and USA, and her poetry translated into Singalese and German. An entry in the Camden History Society records describes her as the “most famous dramatist of her time”. And yet we hardly know her.
We recently celebrated the 80th anniversary of the death of Evelyn Underhill. One of her many talents was as a conductor of retreats. She led retreats for both laity and clergy and in 1927 she was one of the first woman to lead a retreat in Canterbury Cathedral which was attended by 50 other women. She is remembered in the cathedral in a very special place, the All Saints Chapel which contains a crucifix that used to belong to her. The Cathedral Archivist told me that ‘the figure was found in Florence in a 'junk shop' by Evelyn Underhill. It was used on the altar of her house, Lawn House in Hampstead. When Lawn House closed, it was acquired by A B Norman who presented it in her memory to the Cathedral for All Saints Chapel in 1965’.
She led the movement that encouraged Christians to spend time in silence and prayer and through her book ‘Mysticism’ encouraged the study of the Christian mystics, those men and women who, she wrote, ‘insist that they know for certain the presence and activity of that which they call the Love of God … They know a spiritual order, penetrating and everywhere conditioning though transcending the world of sense.’
This week I visited Canterbury Cathedral for the first time and went to find the All Saints Chapel. I ask several guides and even the chaplain on duty and no one could tell me where it was. Then I bumped into one of the senior vergers coming out of a lift and he told me the chapel wasn’t open to the public. I explained why I wanted to visit and he took me through a locked door, up a narrow winding staircase to a beautiful, simply laid out chapel with Evelyn Underhill’s crucifix behind the altar. Opposite the altar was a window looking down into the cathedral and he told me that Archbishop Runcie used to use this chapel as his private retreat space. I can understand why – it felt like one of those ‘thin’ places a sense that Evelyn Underhill would have understood well.
Wednesday 7th July 2021
“I will lead them up and down” says Puck, and that is what Jon Siddall did with his excellent team, both within and without. I don’t think we managed any wild thyme blowing, but the churchyard made a lovely sylvan setting. It was very interesting to see and hear so many new people – and indeed we heard much better than in the church. The costumes were a fun mixture, with elegance for characters like Emma Lyndon-Stanford (good to see her back) as Titania, and for the two very lively young men, Ulysses Wells and Ashley Collin, playing the two lovers. A charming touch was that one was dark and one was blonde – and the same with their ladies. We had to get our heads around an all female team for “Pyramus and Thisbe” but special applause for Hana Salussolia where I am sure English is not her native language, but who was as broad and funny as could be as Bottom. The fairies were one family show or rather two families, and before we know where we are young Rufus Pennock, who played the violin, will be wanting a gig with the Hampstead Collective. Was Oberon his mum? And old friends like Adrian Hughes and Matthew Williams were there, so no-one could say at the end that these shadows had offended!
Tuesday 6th July 2021
Last weekend was a special weekend for us and for our new curate Graham Dunn. On Saturday 3rd July he was ordained deacon in the splendour of St Paul’s Cathedral by the Bishop of London, The Rt Hon & Rt Revd Dame Sarah Mullally. Covid restrictions meant that the congregation was limited, but it was still, as Graham said, “a wonderful and joyous occasion”. Many of us watched the live stream of the service on YouTube.
Then on 4th July it was our chance to welcome both Graham (at all four services) and his wife Anouk. We were also pleased to welcome members of his family and friends who came to support him. A welcome with bubbly had been planned but Covid restrictions on gatherings don’t allow this just yet but - as Jeremy promised - we will make up for this later!
We are looking forward very much to getting to know both Graham and Anouk.
Monday 5th July 2021
Our series of mini-fairs continues into the autumn with a “Craft Fair” on 16th October (a date cunningly chosen to double up as a pre-Christmas Fair).
So what are we selling?
Well, that rather depends on you.
Did you discover a hidden talent during lockdown? Or resume a long-forgotten skill? Sewing? Knitting? Crochet? Pottery? Jam-making? If it was creating life-size elephants out of junk we may not have space for your creations, but anything else please offer for our sale in aid of church charities.
We plan to hold the sale in the church where the Friends of the Music will supply a Refreshment stall, and there will be a Traidcraft Stall selling - dare I mention the words – Christmas cards!
Start crafting now!
And please let us know what you can offer so we can plan the layout. firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday 3rd July 2021
As I approached the church for the concert I saw a car was parked blocking the door. I was only surprised it wasn’t a dog sled with team, with the state of the weather. However, a small ginger poodle was in the audience and behaved superbly. We had a word.
It may sound frivolous, but it’s such a pleasure to see the singers and the bands in proper concert clothes. It gives the whole thing such style! And there was plenty in the music. I’ve never heard the opening chorus of Handel’s “Dixit Dominus” at such a clip – and everyone survived. I hadn’t seen Aidan Coburn conduct before, and he has a very nice rapport with his team of singers.
A treat, for me, was Leo Duarte’s lovely oboe, and he and Jacob Garside, cello, almost breathed together.
Good to see Christine Buras back home, as it were, and she and her lady colleagues were all on form. Malachy Frame is a bit younger than most of the singers I know and he is making great strides with his voice. It always was a good one, but baritones, like a good wine, take time to mature. Ruairi Bowen is a find (and a tall tenor!) and for my money, he can sing for us any time. And on that (top) note, I’ll leave you!
Thursday 24th June 2021
If you’re looking for a rundown of the plot to A Midsummer Night’s Dream these two might commend themselves to you (for brevity if nothing else)
People get lost in the woods. Puck manipulates their romantic affections and (in one case) anatomical head-shape. They put on a play.
Four Athenians run away to the forest only to have Puck the fairy make both of the boys fall in love with the same girl. The four run through the forest pursuing each other while Puck helps his master play a trick on the fairy queen. In the end, Puck reverses the magic, and the two couples reconcile and marry.
In 1968 Peter Hall shocked Shakespeare lovers with a film version that might seem quite tame by today’s standards. The Bridge Theatre managed to shock me a couple of years ago by adding lines –as if we weren’t capable of understanding the nuances of Shakespeare’s language. I’m glad to say my annoyance was shared by the man in the next seat.
You’d think everything had been done that could be done, everything seen from every possible angle, and yet somehow every production does something new, some twist, some emphasis that makes you think “Oh, yes, I hadn’t seen it like that”. And I’m sure the Hampstead Players’ forthcoming production will be the same – we’ll go away realising something we hadn’t thought of before.
And if you don’t approve Shakespeare thought of that too
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumbered here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
If you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.
“Comfort”: the first word in Handel’s Messiah, sung by Aidan Coburn with beautiful expression, phrasing and tone, seemed peculiarly appropriate to re-open the Hampstead Collective’s concert series after some six months of live music drought. The Hampstead Collective grew up around the core musicians of the Hampstead Parish Church choir as they came together to bring music to the church remotely during lockdown. As restrictions eased over last summer they planned an autumn-long festival of solo recitals, ensemble pieces, sacred meditations and larger scale works with which we could “start the week” at 7 pm on Mondays, collaborating with the Hampstead Players for spoken contributions. And then in November a second lockdown intervened, the last five concerts had to be postponed, and could only be resumed at the end of May. The full-length Messiah had been intended as the gateway to the Christmas season. But it seemed equally appropriate to hear it as the church turned towards “ordinary time” having, since Advent, celebrated all the stages in the gospel story. The performance brought together eight singers and a small and extraordinarily high standard orchestra, directed from the harpsichord by Geoffrey Webber. The singers shared the solo parts and all sang the choruses, and the result was an illuminating experience, bringing out, at least for this listener, many of the intricate details of Handel’s rich score which massed choirs and large orchestras can blur.
The following week returned to the one-hour format, and a fascinating programme put together by soprano Elspeth Piggott from music written by Italian women in the seventeenth century. Much of it was written by nuns, whose convent environments opened up opportunities that were only rarely available to other women. However, Elspeth’s sensitive and engaging performance could not quite, for this listener anyway, avoid the impression that the nuns’ music was just a little constrained, compared with the pieces she gave us from two of the very rare women who were able to make their living as professional musicians and composers, Francesca Caccini and Barbara Strozzi. The following week, Christine Buras picked a very different soprano repertoire, linking songs by Messiaen, Barber and Howells. She grouped them under the heading “Joy has returned” and the closing song, a setting by Herbert Howells of Walter de la Mare’s poem King David telling how the king’s sorrowfulness was dissipated by a beautiful sound, sung with captivating feeling, seemed to epitomise this sentiment.
The last of the sacred meditations the Collective had programmed again involved eight performers, directed this time by Malachy Frame, and two readers, with a wonderful mix of polyphonic music and poetry read by David Gardner and, in Spanish, by Lorena Paz Nieto. It brought home yet again just how fortunate the church is to be associated with outstanding musicians. Jess Dandy sang in this concert, having also, the evening before, linked two great women mystics by providing an unforgettable introit by Hildegard of Bingen for the Evelyn Underhill memorial evensong. Now look out for Jess as one of only four singers performing in the First Night of the Proms on 30 July. Another distinguished musician, perhaps the best baroque oboeist of his generation, also has HPC connections, and we were lucky to have Leo Duarte playing a prominent part in the little orchestra for the final concert. The whole series should have been brought to a conclusion by a performance of Handel’s Theodora. That would have involved 40 performers, and the restrictions were not relaxed in time to make it possible. But we were given a foretaste in the 90-minute replacement programme that was hastily – and most successfully - arranged, with a performance by Christine Buras and Catherine Backhouse of one of the duets (Streams of pleasure ever flowing). Now we know what we have to look forward to, as the Collective are planning another season and intending to start with Theodora. This series ended instead with Handel’ s witty, innovative and energetic piece Dixit Dominus, written when he was only 22, a setting of Psalm 110. Aidan Coburn took it at appropriately energetic tempi, which the seven singers obviously revelled in, and provided an uplifting and heartening finale to a series which has been, in these difficult times, a blessing, a huge delight, and yes, a comfort.
In February Lucy Coleman, Jane and martin Bailey’s granddaughter, started a readathon to raise money for BookAid. She hoped to read 20 books in 4 months. Jane updated us on her achievement:
“Lucy finished her Readathon for BookAid International last week! Her challenge was to read 20 books in 4 months and she read 21 (the details are on her JustGiving page – see Lucy Coleman – Book Aid International - Lucy’s Readathon). She was amazed by the generosity and kindness of her supporters who raised a total of over £1,800! (with gift aid).”
You can see what books she read on her justgiving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lucy-coleman13.
(A typo led me to another of her justgivng pages - this young lady is clearly no stranger to fundraising!)
Saturday 19th June 2021
Hampstead Parish Church supports two foodbanks – one run by CARIS Haringey as well the Chalk Farm Foodbank . We have all heard about the increasing demand on the resources of food banks. I asked Adrienne who runs the Chalk Farm Foodbank to give us an insight into their work and how they have been affected by the pandemic, and how we can help them. Adrienne writes:
“In 2020, we fed 2260 people (766 children), compared to 1263 people (407 children) in 2019. That's a huge increase, with the number of children we're feeding nearly doubled. This is partly due to seeing more repeat visits where we suspect many of our clients are kept in poverty for longer due to the effects of the pandemic on lower income families and those with additional health complications.
The idea of foodbank is that it is a pit stop, a place to fuel up and go forward - making powerful, healthy choices from a place of resource, not lack. So, our aim is to direct people to other agencies and set them up for success so that they flourish and then no longer need a foodbank! However, due to a lack of access to public funds, we are currently seeing more repeat visits from people who are in crisis and desperately need our help. Sadly, some families are having to decide what is more important: food, clothes or rent. But all of these are basic essentials!
We work almost entirely on a donation basis, so we need continued food donations, funding and more volunteers. Donations we are consistently in need of are: juice, UHT milk, baked beans, and shampoo and conditioner. Since some of our volunteers are now returning to work as we come out of the pandemic, we need more people to volunteer just a couple of hours of their time each month to ensure that we can keep serving our community well. We are currently looking for a Volunteer Admin Coordinator, a few more Afternoon Helpers to restock our shelves on a Thursday, and Befrienders to check in on those that are using our service.
To donate money, please visit our website: https://chalkfarm.foodbank.org.uk/give-help/donate-money/
For more information on what food donations we currently need, please visit our social media pages below.
To sign up to our bi-termly newsletter, or for information on how to donate food / volunteer with us, please email: email@example.com
Chalk Farm Foodbank
Springtime for the Vicarage Honey Bees
While it is natural to sigh with relief when winter finally ebbs away, spring is one of the hardest times for both bees and beekeepers. This year's unpredictable and erratic weather patterns were particularly challenging for our Sage and Alma colonies in the vicarage garden.
Throughout the winter the colonies remained in tight clusters, maintaining the core temperature at around 32°C. With the warm February weather, the clusters loosened up and spread out, the queens returned to laying, and the workers had to work even harder to generate enough heat to keep the brood nest warm. The stores of precious pollen and honey they gathered so diligently during the summer and autumn months were rapidly depleting. As these old winter bees died off, and the ever-increasing brood numbers began to outstrip the number of carers, housekeepers, and foragers, our Sage and Alma colonies risked starvation. We helped sustain them by supplementing their feeding with solid sugar fondant, syrup, and pollen patties. They seemed very pleased with the handouts.
The brief window of warm weather at the end of March, after a cold and wet month, was a boon, and we welcomed the opportunity to carry out the first hive inspection of the year. After leaving them largely undisturbed for five months, we faced that first peek inside with great excitement, but also some trepidation. We were encouraged to note that both queens were laying- we saw eggs, brood cells and young bees, and they were just beginning to build up new stores of honey and pollen. But Sage was clearly the stronger of the two colonies with many more brood cells in all stages of development, and many young bees. We sensed the Alma queen was struggling, so we decided to even out the populations by stealing a frame of capped brood from Sage and giving it to Alma to adopt as their own. It seemed to work, and the smaller colony began to grow and thrive.
We were surprised that after several inspections we failed to find our Alma queen -marked with a blue dot to make her easier to spot. We did eventually find another queen (unmarked), indicating that at some point the colony decided to supersede her. This can happen when the queen is ageing or ill, has run out of genetic material needed to fertilize her eggs, or has died. To keep up the colony numbers, the bees produce a new queen to take over the responsibility of laying eggs. This new Alma queen seemed to be a strong replacement, and by mid April both colonies were flourishing.
Sage, in fact, was so successful that conditions in the hive were starting to get crowded. Although we had provided them with extra space to store their honey, it clearly wasn't enough. The workers were preparing new Queen cells, not to replace their fertile monarch, but in order to establish a second colony. She and about half of the bees were preparing to leave their former nest to find new lodgings. This swarming process is a perfectly natural and healthy activity in the life of a colony, but in urban settings it is not encouraged. We intervened by creating what's known as an 'artificial swarm'- removing our lovely Sage Queen, enough worker bees to support her, and several frames of brood and honey to a Nuc (a temporary hive). We then selected the healthiest looking Queen Cell back in the original hive, and destroyed all the others. This way our old Sage Queen was able to continue laying in her new space, while a new queen could take over in the old, much less crowded hive. We are now having new issues with both queens, but that's a story for another time...we are still waiting to see how the it all plays out,
It has certainly been an eventful time and a steep learning curve for all of us. These mysterious and highly sophisticated insects are creatures of continuous wonderment. The more time I spend with them, the less knowledgeable I feel about their curious workings, but I remain in complete and utter awe.
(In the three photos below one is of our Sage Queen (marked blue); one of a well-developed Queen Cell ready to hatch; and one of a healthy frame showing the classic pattern of stored honey and pollen around the top, and big patches of brood- older and younger, sealed and unsealed.)
Friday 18th June 2021
15th June 2021 was the 80th anniversary of the death of Evelyn Underhill a writer, poet, spiritual guide and retreat leader, whose writing still speaks powerfully to us today. She is one of 18 modern women commemorated in the Church of England’s calendar of Holy Days and she is is buried in our Additional Burial Ground. Until now her grave has simply described her as ‘Evelyn,’ the wife of H Stuart Moore and the ‘daughter of Sir Arthur Underhill’. There has been no reference to her achievements. With the support of 31 generous donors from the United Kingdom and the United States we have been able to commission a new ledger stone for her grave, designed by the artist Lois Anderson. Around the edge are the words “Evelyn Underhill 1875 –1941 - Christian - Scholar - Spiritual Guide - A Christianity which is only active is not a complete Christianity”.
Sheena Ginnings writes
“Sunday 13th June was special. We were celebrating the life of Evelyn Underhill. At the 11.00 am Holy Communion service we were privileged to have as a guest preacher The Right Reverend the Lord Harries of Pentregarth (a former curate) who preached on the life and work of Evelyn Underhill and the influence she had on so many people, including T S Eliot. Apparently they both liked cats! Among her many achievements Evelyn Underhill was the first woman to be made a fellow at Kings College, London and their present Dean, The Revd Dr Ellen Clark-King (see photo below of her at the grave) did a reading from Evelyn Underhill’s book ‘The School of Charity: Meditations on the Christian Creed’ (a book that Derek Spottiswoode recommended in his sermon on the 50th anniversary of her death).
One of Evelyn Underhill’s most important books was on Mysticism. Evensong started with a haunting Introit by Hildegard of Bingen, a twelfth century German mystic, sung from the gallery at the back of church by Jess Dandy. The beautiful anthem based on the Wisdom of Solomon 5.15,16 was by the female composer Oliveria Prescott (1842 -1919). And then another former curate, Ayla Lepine, preached on what we might learn from Evelyn Underhill on the importance of a spiritual life and the impact Evelyn Underhill has had on her.
(The sermons and the music have all been uploaded to the Hampstead Parish Church site on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/c/hampsteadparishchurch )
Judy East writes
“It rained on 15th June 1991. I remember because on that day we commemorated the life of Evelyn Underhill and the 50th anniversary of her death by planting an ‘Iceberg’ rose at the head of her grave. A few of us gathered round under umbrellas while Philip Buckler did the honours – with the spade and the prayers.
15th June this year was fortunately much nicer as a far greater number gathered for the dedication of the new ledger stone. Now she’s not “wife of and daughter of” but a person in her own right fittingly commemorated in her owns words.
Thanks were expressed to Barry Orford, Ayla Lepine and Jeremy who started the project off and to Sheena for running with it and making sure we had the money! It’s taken a while but it was worth it!
Then it was lunch outside the church – in the sun. I don’t recall what we did after the rose planting all those years ago – rushed off to get dry I expect.”
Tuesday 15th June 2021
It may not be generally known that Manley Hopkins, father of poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, was a member of our parish, a churchwarden sometime between 1877 and 1886, and a Manager of the Hampstead Parochial Sunday Schools, later to become our own Hampstead Parochial School. When he left in 1886 the school presented him with this handwritten and illustrated address:
“Hampstead Parochial Sunday Schools
To Manley Hopkins Esquire
We the undersigned teachers and scholars of the Hampstead Parish Church Sunday Schools, having heard that your connection with this neighbourhood is about to be severed, desire to make this the occasion of expressing our deep sense of the loss to be sustained by all the agencies of the Parish – and especially by the Sunday Schools – through the departure of yourself and your family, whose interest and efforts for the welfare of the Schools have for so many years been continually exerted
We would further record out high appreciation of the many services which you and they have rendered to these Schools by personal intercourse, teaching and superintendence, involving considerable sacrifice of time and convenience: and we desire to testy how much these services have been valued and how much we all have benefitted thereby.
During the many years that you have been going in and out among us many classes of scholars have grown up and passed away beyond the confines of the Sunday School room but believing, as we do, that the good that each man does lives after him, we are persuaded that your efforts to impart religious life and knowledge as well by precept as by example, still bear fruit among them, and that your influence will be felt long after you have left Hampstead
Such lasting good as is seen in elevated thought and bettered life is the best memorial a man can leave behind him, and is the memorial of your long sojourn in Hampstead, which you and your family, we feel, the most desire.”
Signatures follow – not all of them legible
- Arthur Wellesley Chapman
- ……………Superind. Boys School
- Mr W Buckler 1st Class
- Edw G Saunders 3rd Class
- Mary G Currie
- Silvia Field 4th Class
- C O Bartrum 4th class
- Edward Vandermere Fleming 5th class
- Alfred Taylor 5th class
- Lilian Craigie 6th class
- E Carlisle 6th class
- James Henry Thiethener (?) 7th class
- Bruce E Wakley (?) 2nd class
- Amelia Langmead Superint. Girls’ School
- Jessica B Champneys
- Annie J Nash 1st class
- Florence Essex 2nd class
- Mary S Nevinson
- E Maude Roberts 3rd class
- Violet E Wrightson 4th class
- Caroline D Saunders 4th class
- Sarah A Bürch 5th class
- Eunice (?) Emerson 6th class
- K Satchell 7th class
- Florie E Gay 8th class
- Florence Husband Infants Class
- Anne M Howard Infants Class
- Edith H Nash Infants Class
Manwell G Tracy (this name is separate so perhaps is the Head of the School)
CARIS Haringey, a charity based in Tottenham supporting homeless families, is one of the local charities supported by Hampstead Parish Church. CARIS stands for Christian Action and Response in Society. It is a non-proselytising organisation committed to expressing God’s love through social action. Its services are equally available to families of all faiths and none.
Hampstead Parish Church is thrilled that Gloria Saffrey-Powell, the Director of CARIS Haringey, has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, for her service to the local community during COVID-19.
Gloria’s determination, dedication and devotion have been the driving force of CARIS Haringey for many years. Under Gloria’s leadership the charity has been recognised for its work in the local community, receiving local and national awards, including The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2020.
Haringey has one of the highest numbers of homeless families of any local authority in the UK, with around 5,000 children living in temporary accommodation. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-homelessness
CARIS Haringey works to support these families by providing food, clothes and other essential items. They also work with clients to help address their long-term needs, through the provision of training, advice and advocacy. Services are provided to families living in temporary accommodation and unsecured accommodation across Haringey Borough.
“It is a great honour to receive the BEM award: this award is not just for me, it is for all the staff, volunteers and everyone who works within the voluntary sector, who sees working in the voluntary sector as their mission. It is a recognition of the value placed on being someone’s hands and feet enabling them to stand - a voice for those who believe they have no voice.”
We are so pleased that Gloria’s personal contribution and service are being acknowledged with this award and we have sent our congratulations
Thursday 10th June 2021
In this, the last concert in our 'Sacred Meditations' series, the Hampstead Collective explores the theme of light, from it's life-giving force in the natural world to it's powerful ancient and continued use in spiritual and sacred imagery. We are aware of the presence of light in our world by the effect it has on our surroundings, and by its absence in darkness, and this promises to be a special, atmospheric evening in Hampstead Parish Church.
This programme features incredible music by Gibbons, Victoria, Marais, and Purcell, interspersed with poetry by Emily Dickinson, Seamus Heaney, Pablo Neruda, Lope de Vega, Philip Larkin, William Wordsworth, Margaret Tait, and Gabriela Mistral. The concert ends with Bach's extraordinary 'O Jesu Christ, mein's Lebens Licht,' a motet for choir and orchestra.
We are delighted to be joined by David Gardner and Lorena Paz Nieto for this performance, who will be reading poetry in English and Spanish.
Tuesday 8th June 2021
For the last few months Angela and I (and sometimes the kids!) have been taking Saturday morning walks on the Heath. However low one is feeling it has become the ultimate fillip. We walk in the area of the Heath by Kenwood House. I’m reading a biography of Keats currently and he knew it as Caen Wood House.
My mother knew it as Ken Wood House. She loved the Heath and when she could she walked there almost daily - Parliament Hill and the Vale of Health being part of her usual circuit. There was a tree at the end of Lime Walk which she would occasionally visit to mull over some major decision in her life. Unfortunately it was one of the casualties of the October 1987 hurricane.
Angela and I have also fallen in love with the benches on our walks. There was once one at the foot of Kite Hill with the inscription: I was born tomorrow/today I live/yesterday killed me. Sadly it appears to have been moved.
We love the runners, the dogs and their walkers, the young and old couples, the families, and the coffee & croissants at the House... And ‘running into’ friends from HPC!
from Mum’s Memoirs:
The best thing of all about my new home [in Cannon Place] was its closeness to the glory of Hampstead Heath, for in that year a love affair started which lasted for ten years until I left the Garden Flat and moved into my mother’s house [in Thurlow Road] , which sadly was not close enough to the Heath for daily encounters, which are needed to keep a love affair going at passionate pitch. Hardly a day went by in those first years when I would not venture down to the Vale of Health pond, where Shelley is said to have sailed his paper boats, to feed the ducks. I learned to recognize many of the trees, the oaks and beeches, firs and sycamores, silver birches, ashes and limes and many many more. There is a stunning spot on a hill surrounded by cedars, where you glimpse Ken Wood House in the distance, and the temptation to walk across is almost irresistible. There are fine timber benches dotted about at convenient spots for resting or admiring views, most of which have been donated in memory of a loved one who had been a Heath lover. My ambition then was to have my own memorial bench, and I chose a very special spot in full view of what became for me a kind of shrine. This was the most immense and glorious copper beech tree I had ever seen. Its span was more than seventy feet. I told my secrets to this tree, leaning against the stout trunk and pouring out my joys and sorrows. It was a form of praying really, I suppose. Tragedy befell this wonderful tree as a result of the great storm, when it was weakened, losing some of its main branches, and finally had to be felled.
Despite it being half term our glorious clothes sale on 29th May raised over £2,000. It also had a serious sustainability theme reflected not only in its theme of ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ but also in the lives of many of the people helping at it. The theme was inspired by the numerous young people who are showing the way by refusing to buy new clothes. The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry after oil! Much fashion for the young now is about thrifting – shopping at charity shops (or church clothes sales) looking for interesting items at low prices and finding new life and new uses for them – and there was plenty to choose from at our sale. Wayne Binitie (on the left in the photo) led the way in a kilt and dinner suit purchased at the clothes sale!
Wayne is an artist exploring how through art we can engage with the climate crisis. He was recently interviewed on Radio 3 https://www.ukri.org/our-work/responding-to-climate-change/ukri-towards-cop26/green-thinking-podcasts-bring-new-approach-to-climate-questions/ If you want to hear what he said scroll down to “ Artistic reflections of the environmental crisis”. He discussed what it means to make art about the environment and whether artists can save the planet. He teaches at the Royal College of Art and his PhD, which was funded by Arup Engineering and the British Antartic Survey, was on ‘Polar Aesthetics: Art of the Arctic and Antarctic”. He works with mixed media and is known for combining sound and ice. And Solange Lion (in blue ) works in sustainable design .
The Radio 3 programme advocates that we
- tell stories
- bring together new ideas
- mobilise communities.
All this we tried to do on Saturday 29th May . Hampstead Parish Church leading the way .....
Our two burial grounds – the one attached to the church and the Additional Burial Ground across the road - are the final resting place of many famous people. Have a browse on the Tomb with a View website https://tombwithaview.org.uk/ and the history pages of the church website https://history.hampsteadparishchurch.org.uk/index.php and see who you can find.
The Additional Burial Ground also has eight Commonwealth War Graves - six of soldiers from the First World War and two from the Second World War, who died at home from their wounds. Read about these men on the Tomb with a View website on this page https://tombwithaview.org.uk/people/hampsteads-war-heroes-first-and-second-world-wars/ You can find out more about what life was like for the residents of Hampstead during World War One and the men who are commemorated on the various war memorials around the village on the Community@War website https://communityatwar.org.uk/
In addition to their historic importance did you know that in November 2003 the original burial ground attached to Hampstead Parish Church and the Additional Burial Ground were designated as a Site of Nature Conservation Importance (borough importance grade 1)?
As well as being important historic and scientific sites the burial grounds are also important havens for wildlife and areas of peace and calm for people in a busy city.
Would you like to help look after these two important spaces? The Gardening Team meets on the first Saturday of each month from 10.00 am to 12 noon under the experienced guidance of Jenny Bunn. Refreshments are also provided. If you would like to know more contact Judy East at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday 1st June 2021
Wednesday 9th June 2021 at 7.30pm
Yes, it’s 45 years since the Vicar of the time, Graham Dowell, his wife Sue and others founded The Hampstead Players/Friends of the Drama in 1976 “to promote the mission of the Church” through drama, the music of the church being very well represented by the Friends of the Music and our top-notch choir led then by Martindale Sidwell.
45 Years. I’ve been a Member for 40 of them, but it’s wonderful that we still have the important contribution of some from those earliest years, Judy East, John & Maggie Willmer, and Bill & Christine Risebero. Over the years we’ve had some professional input from Ian East, Bill Fry and Harry Meacher. We’ve also had significant contributions from those who believed that amateurs could indeed produce “drama to a high standard”, such as Pat Gardner and John Hester. And there have been some who “graduated” from The Players to be notable professionals, John Risebero and Ben Horslen with their company Antic Disposition, Matthew Parker (Matthew Stevens when with us) and Howard Hudson. Do Google their work!
We’ve performed in Church, in the Crypt Room, and in the Churchyard, but also ventured out to other churches, to Pimlico, to Ealing, to Winchester... and to South West France, where we took seven Shakespeare productions between 2001 and 2010.
And of course after our record-breaking The Sound of Music in Autumn 2019 it’s been lockdown, but we have still kept going with Zoom play and poetry readings; also meetings where a continuing bright future is envisaged, starting with a new outdoor production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1st to 3rd July).
We have performed a varied selection of plays over the years, many memorable, including Arcadia in 2005 and The Cherry Orchard in 2013 – do look at our website www.hampsteadplayers.org.uk. I remember those that had a real resonance in our beautiful Hampstead Parish Church: the two Murder in the Cathedral productions of 1990 and 2008, David Hare’s Racing Demon in 1997, and the Millennium Interregnum year 2000 production of Inherit the Wind. This last play had a cast of 22, including our new Churchwarden Sheena Ginnings, and a production team of 13... and all but three were members of Hampstead Parish Church.
So, on Wednesday 9th June, we shall be looking back over the years and remembering those men and women who supported us, and there shall be some pieces from those years performed by Players from our first ever Chair John Willmer to our current Chair Matthew Williams. We shall remember Graham Dowell and all the Vicars since who have supported us - Philip Buckler, Stephen Tucker and Jeremy Fletcher... and Father Stephen will be joining us for a favourite party piece of his and “to raise a glass to the Players”.
Saturday 29th May 2021
Friday 28th May 2021
On Sunday morning, 23rd May, we celebrated 'Messy Pentecost‘ at Bubble Church in front of the church. Maureen organized lots of fun and creative activities for the children. There were different arts & crafts stations where we made kites, windmills, holy spirit headbands, doves out of paper plates, etc. followed by a short narrated play 'The holy spirit comes‘.
We sang the wonderful song 'Soul on fire‘ - brilliantly performed by Father Jeremy on his guitar and had tea, coffee and food afterwards. It was all very reminiscent of spring fairs past and it was lovely to get together again in this way after a long time. Everyone braved the chilly temperatures (what could be more British than wearing a winter coat at the end of May??) and luckily the rain only started after the event. Time well spent on a Sunday morning!
The Hampstead Collective’s “Messiah” – a reviewSo the Hampstead Collective at last was able to perform “Messiah”, and how they showed what they can do with eight singers, who know what they’re at, and a small band which meant you got the colours of all the instruments! But I do wish we were allowed to know who was who! I had the advantage of being ex-RAM, and I was busy playing catch-up with the people I’d know there. Malachy Frame, of course, I still know, and Leo Duarte had been borrowed for the occasion, but Jacob Garside, the cellist, also ex-RAM was the ‘fixer’, and we even had the Principal’s son Tom on trumpet!
All under the excellent control of Geoffrey Webber at the chamber organ.
I didn’t know any of the ladies, who were all very elegant and very sincere. They really tried to convey the story, and the one who sang “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth” was particularly touching. (I wouldn’t have minded some of the dresses!)
It was our chaps to the fore! Aidan Coburn produced a beautiful effective “Comfort Ye My People” when he did crescendo and diminuendo on long notes. Malachy Frame was in fine form, especially in “The Trumpet Shall Sound” – what a pity the singer can’t play it too, as we know he does it so well on Zoom. I’d pricked up my ears when Ruairi Bowen first appeared at the Church, and they stayed pricked. Very nice indeed. And Alex Ashworth used his powerful bass-baritone to great effect.
Over the last year and more I think we have been the People that walked in Darkness! Now perhaps we can see a Great Light – classical concerts are starting again!
Sunday 23rd May 2021
I thought Playlists were all about music. Not so. Courtney has created wonderful accessible Playlists on the Hampstead Parish Church YouTube site of all the recordings that have been created since the beginning of lockdown. Just to give you a flavour – You can watch again Jim Walters thoughtful reflections for Holy Week in 2020; or the fascinating different ‘Objects of Hope’; or the whole of the moving 45 minute readings of the Stations of the Cross (first uploaded in 2020); or the occasions the Community Choir has sang as part of a service; or, if you missed it, you can watch ‘The Dream of the Rood’. It is all there as well as sermons from the beginning of lockdown given from living rooms and studies, HPS assemblies; and the sound or the Church Bells. And of course the many, many beautiful anthems by the choir. When I was putting this piece together I was moved by the voices of the choir and Malachy Frame on the trumpet singing and playing “Drop, drop, slow tears”.
Do explore. Go onto YouTube, search for Hampstead Parish Church, and click on the tab that says ‘playlists’. If you don’t see this you may see a tab ‘Filters’ click on this and select ‘playlists’. When you see the folder you would like to explore click on ‘View Full Playlist’ and it will bring up a list of all the recordings in that folder.
It is a treasure trove!
By an odd coincidence two books by members of the congregation were advertised in Red magazine this week. The best books to read this May (redonline.co.uk)
Emily Itami (better known to most of us as Emily Paine) has her first novel coming out this week – Fault Lines – described by Sarra Manning, Red magazine’s literary editor, as a “lyrical story about love and a fascinating look at the collision of old and new traditions in modern Tokyo” and by US publisher Francesca Main as “Brief Encounter set in contemporary Tokyo”. Hachette UK calls it “Alluring, compelling, startlingly honest and darkly funny, Fault Lines is a bittersweet love story and a daring exploration of modern relationships from a writer to watch.” From an Amazon review: “The story focusses on Mizuki, a Japanese housewife with a hardworking husband, two adorable children and a beautiful Tokyo apartment. It's everything a woman could want, yet sometimes she wonders whether it would be more fun to throw herself off the high-rise balcony than spend another evening not talking to her husband or hanging up laundry.” Emily has already been widely published as a journalist and travel writer for a number of papers.
No newcomer to fiction writing and also a successful journalist, Elodie Harper has just published her third novel, The Wolf Den (the first in a trilogy set in Pompeii before the eruption of Vesuvius), described as “A riveting tale of power, love, hate, privilege, female empowerment and friendships found in the most unlikely situations” and by Sarra Manning (Red magazine again) as “a one-off kind of historical novel, this is the story of Amara, a slave in Pompeii’s most notorious brothel. While she may be exploited Amara refuses to be a victim and is determined to escape her brutal existence. It is a mesmerising, richly detailed tale of sisterhood and courage.” Possibly not for the faint-hearted one review notes “Violence, sex and death feature heavily in The Wolf Den. Scenes depict women being beaten, raped and emotionally abused.”
And now for something completely different:
Many of us have already discovered Merlin Sheldrake’s Entangled Life which came out to much acclaim last year – who could resist a book on the life of fungi? His first book, it seems to have been an instant success across continents – the latest translation being into Japanese, so I’m told. As the Guardian review describes it “A book about how life-forms interpenetrate and change each other continuously. He moves smoothly between stories, scientific descriptions and philosophical issues” or to quote Waterstone’s “Entangled Life is a mind-altering journey into this hidden kingdom of life, and shows fungi are the key to understanding the planet on which we live, and the ways we think, feel and behave. The more we learn about fungi, the less makes sense without them.” Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, and Shape Our Futures — Merlin Sheldrake
A more recent discovery on my part, but close to my heart as a vegetarian (though I don’t see myself taking the leap into veganism any time soon), is How to Love Animals in a Human-shaped World by Henry Mance. You’ve got to admire someone who works in an abattoir to gain an insight into what he’s writing about. But our attitude to animals is, he claims, inconsistent. We idolise dogs and cats whilst happily slaughtering pigs, cows and sheep; whilst keeping wild animals in zoos – our relationship with animals is fraught with contradictions and governed wholly by tradition and inertia. How to Love Animals was Book of the Day in the Guardian on 1st May – for a full description of the book and Henry’s research do look up their review How to Love Animals by Henry Mance review – the case against modern farming | Science and nature books | The Guardian here
"Immediately after a pandemic" is the obvious answer, and that's exactly what The Hampstead Collective is excited about, with Monday's performance only a few days away. The work is often performed at Christmas and Easter, and at Christmas the bonus is that the only section of dramatic narrative of the piece ties in well, from the 'Pifa' to the sudden appearance of the angels (with distant trumpets) and their final disappearance into the clouds - the only moment of humour in the work. But Messiah's libretto encompasses the whole story of Christian salvation, from Isaiah to the Book of Revelation, and this summation arguably feels most appropriate at the end of the liturgical year. Although we've quite a wait until 'Christ the King' in November ('Worthy is the Lamb that was slain'), our performance is sandwiched between the last two major festivals of the calendar, Pentecost and Trinity. Rather like the anthem 'See, see, the word is incarnate' by Orlando Gibbons, which the church choir will sing at Evensong on Trinity I (June 6th), Messiah allows us to contemplate the liturgical year in one grand sweep. But the correct answer is of course, "any time!”.
The plan is to stream and have a distanced live audience as before
Wednesday 19th May 2021
Much sorting is going on in the gallery at the moment. On the grounds that you can’t achieve anything without first making a mess a group of us have turned out a whole lot of Hampstead Players’ costumes and spread them along the pews – not invisible from the nave unfortunately but it’s work in progress. The purpose is two-fold: the Hampstead Players are doing A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the beginning of July and the church is having a Clothing and Craft Sale on 29th May. Let’s hope for better weather than we had for the Plant Stall – but then again, a similar result would be very acceptable. Rain or shine Esther and her team will have a range of clothes, fabrics and crafting accessories to tempt you. And Sue Kwok and her team will have a range of cakes and coffee - more temptation!
Tuesday 18th May 2021
The Al Masri family is doing well. Monther has started a training programme, working 2 days a week with an organisation supported by the Roman Catholic charity Caritas. He is learning to do painting, decorating and tiling and is enjoying it enormously.
The photos below show Monther learning to do tiling, Aseel on her seventh birthday and baby Yousef having his first ride on a train on his way to Croydon to get his residence permit
A request for your help
The family needs to move by the end of September when their current tenancy comes to an end. They have lived in their current flat for two and a half years but baby Yousef is now 15 months old and they need more space. The Al Masri’s have been good tenants. They have always paid their rent on time, and the current landlords are happy to provide a reference confirming that they have been good tenants.
The family are looking for a three bedroom flat anywhere in North or Northwest London and are happy to consider a two-bedroom flat if it means they can remain in Camden near friends and the children’s current school. Rent payment will come from the Universal Credit housing allowance and as additional security, a guarantee may be negotiated.
If you have, or are aware of, a suitable property for this lovely family, the Community Sponsorship group would like to hear from you. Please contact Andrew Penny through the Parish Office
New English classes after Covid
During lockdown Monther couldn’t attend English classes and he struggled with online classes and Rahaf was tied up with baby Yousef . With lockdown easing and Yousef now 15 months old, it has been possible to set up new one to one classes.
Rahaf has two hours each week with Laura Bamford and Lucy Penny at HPC; the focus being on her practical needs, particularly shopping and communicating with organisations like the school and GP
Monther on his free days is continuing his English lessons at the Working Men’s College but in addition he is having three hours a week of lessons in Hampstead with John Barker, Laura Bamford and John Trimbos. These lessons are focussing on the vocabulary and language that he needs for his new job, asking and answering questions and taking instructions. There are also practical English sessions doing such things as identifying tools and taking and reporting on measurements.
We are incredibly grateful to this committed team of English teachers and Monther and Rahaf have both said how much they are enjoying their lessons.
The Community Sponsorship Group and the Al Masri’s would like to thank you very much for your ongoing support.
Sunday 16th May 2021
This wonderful rose over our front door, Rosa banksia lutea, is one of the first to flower, and will cover an eyesore, or a wall. Always flowering by the beginning of May, and it's evergreen.
Thursday 13th May 2021
The refreshment stall at the plant sale raised £163.20 which will go to Traidcraft Exchange whose work, helping support struggling communities around the world, is more important than ever during the pandemic. And not only did we raise money for a very worthy cause but many people said how much they appreciated, once again, being able to sit down and chat with friends over a cup of coffee and a slice of home-made cake, all made possible by the amazing bakers and willing servers at HPC.
Sandwiched between two very acceptable days was Saturday 8th May, the day we had decided to do a plant stall. Because we could sell plants outside, no need to worry about covid restrictions, we could have refreshments – we envisaged tables and chairs, people browsing the plants then sitting in the sun with their coffee and cake, having a socially distanced chat with their friends.
The best laid plans…….
To say it rained would be an understatement. It poured. It blew. We had to tie the gazebos down to stop them blowing away. “No one will come” we thought as we set up inside. “We won’t sell a thing”.
We were so wrong.
They came. They bought. They bought plants, they bought coffee and cake, tea and rolls. They chatted – possibly not quite as socially distanced as one might wish, but we had all the doors open and everyone wore the obligatory masks.
The atmosphere was – I think it’s not an exaggeration to say ‘electric’. We were back in church, we were raising money for our charities, it felt so like old times, something we haven’t been able to do for over a year. We saw people we hadn’t met for so long, were able to catch up, or just notice with relief that “we’re still here, still OK”.
Everyone had been so generous in giving us plants that we were still selling on Sunday morning!
We raised a wonderful £600. Whilst that was the point, to raise money, at the same time, it wasn’t the point, or it stopped being the point, once people got together. Just like our Spring Fairs the real point was community.
PS from Jenny Bunn
And I would like to thank all the wonderful helpers on the plant stall last Saturday, Judy, Gaynor , Meg and Lorna. It was a very successful day
Bubble Church Children’s Workshop at the plant sale was an opportunity to promote Bubble Church and meet new people in the community, and we did! Here are a couple of photos of the children’s plant related activities.
Bubble Church have also produced two new promotional postcards with information about Bubble Church on the back. One of the cards features a child’s picture of Daniel in the lion’s den.
The shelter closed on Maundy Thursday; we had a small celebration to thank some of the key players, but it was a slightly melancholy affair as the C4WS staff were exhausted and concerned about the fate of the five remaining guests, and the helpful and friendly hotel staff were sad as their jobs came to an end. The hotel will undergo a (much needed) thorough renovation.
Nevertheless, it had been a comfortable and mostly warm (icy dining room apart) home for the guests. In many ways much more comfortable that the traditional revolving shelter, as they did not need to find a new church each night of the week, did not have to carry their belongings around all day and slept in beds in their own rooms, which were much cosier, despite our, and other church’s efforts, than mattresses on the floor. The C4WS staff could see them for welfare meetings on site and the office in Lancing St was only 100 yards up the road.
So, the static shelter had many advantages, but it was harder to create a sense of community, both among the volunteers and the guests themselves who tended to spend the time in their rooms (although they were free to come and go during the day). The C4WS staff tried hard, and with some success; there were yoga classes, a gardening club (mostly in pots), bingo, film shows and more, but nothing creates a community like sitting down to eat together with a team of volunteers each night. A few teams did cook (or tried to, on the practically non-existent facilities) and the usual plastic packed dinners were surprisingly good but eating together was not possible.
Overall, the static arrangement was better for the guests; the casualties were the churches, for which there was inevitably little of the sense of common purpose involving such a wider section of the congregation (and more) which so characterised our efforts at HPS, and the same was true elsewhere. That was unfortunate, and it’s easy to forget that the shelter is run for the guests, not the volunteers! I am, however, very grateful to the small stalwart group of people who were able to volunteer and fill up our rota and I quite understand why so many felt they could not help while Covid raged.
We lost a month and half through disappointments in finding a hotel/hostel to house the shelter but were able to welcome 20 guests (previously only 16) and the total number was 54 for the season (usually more like 80) We were much less strict with the move on after 28 days rule as it was hard to find stable accommodation for many, and indeed we had not done so for 5 guests at the end of the season. These guests had no recourse to public funds. A recent decision in Brighton confirmed the local authority’s obligation to accommodate such people. Camden has refused to do so and with the help of Camden Law Centre (acting pro bono) we are seeking judicial review of its decision. Meanwhile, we have a grant to keep the guests in back-packer hostels, but that is an unsatisfactory long-term solution.
Refreshed by their post shelter break, the staff are now busy with the judicial review, writing reports and deciding what to do for the next season’s shelter. A static shelter again seems inevitable, and we hope to have identified a suitable location when Nikki Barnett our director returns from maternity leave in June.
Thank you to everyone who helped in any way with shelter this season; I wish more of you could have been involved and a major item on our agenda is to see how that might be achieved next season.
Monday 10th May 2021
The last year has undoubtedly presented challenges we could never have anticipated when the Coordinated Community Support Programme pilot began in August 2019. The pandemic has highlighted the vital importance of providing assistance to individuals and families facing financial crisis, as well as the need to coordinate Local Authority and Voluntary, Community and Faith Sector support within a local area.
With this in mind, we are delighted that the Coordinated Community Support Programme Year 1 evaluation is now complete and can be found on our website: https://www.coordinatedcommunitysupport.org.uk
Despite having to significantly shift their methodological approach in light of Covid, the external evaluation and learning team have done an excellent job capturing how the programme has developed in all four pilot areas - Oldham, Norfolk, Swansea and Tower Hamlets.
Highlights from the report include:
Coordination between services and provision does not just happen; it requires resource, capacity, funding and headspace for organisations to engage with each other and build networks
The CCS programme provided over £100k in grants to pilot site partners between March - October 2020. Funding was directed towards addressing issues including:
Organisational capacity - provision of infrastructure support and facilitating delivery of services (in line with WFH guidance)
Direct funding for those in need – distribution of emergency food, fuel, furniture items and data top-ups to those in need, including people with No Recourse to Public Funds
Service expansion – support to enable organisations to meet rising demand (i.e. family solicitor services in Norfolk)
The CCS Programme was found to have:
Acted as a local ‘asset-identifier’ by bringing together local partners around a common goal
Become a broker between VCFS Organisation and LAs, particularly with reference to small community and volunteer led organisations that, whilst small, are integral to the fabric of local crisis provision
Provided a flexible and solutions focused space to discuss immediate and emerging needs
Operated a flexible and needs-led funding approach devised in partnership with the local CCS network
Provided opportunities for partners to make valuable contributions to local and national policy related discussions, including The Children’s Society policy and campaigns work
Thank you for your continuing support
Wednesday 5th May 2021
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through the footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew.
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
Note: John Gillespie McGee Jr was an American spitfire pilot who joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1940. He died over Tangmere, Sussex in 1941. He was nineteen.
Saturday 1st May 2021
The National garden Scheme is now busy with gardens to visit throughout May and June Of particular interest may be Lambeth Palace which will be open in the evening to visitors on May 17th from 5.00 pm to 9.00 pm.
In addition to enjoying the gardens you will also be able to listen to The Secret Life Sax Quartet - people may remember they played at our last spring fair in 2019!
There is disabled access and you will be able to purchase wine and soft drinks to enjoy while you listen to the music and walk around the garden.
Lambeth Palace has one of the oldest and largest private gardens in London. It has been occupied by Archbishops of Canterbury since 1197. It includes a formal courtyard which boasts an historic White Marseilles fig planted in 1556, parkland style garden features, mature trees, and woodland and native planting. There is also a formal rose terrace, summer gravel border, scented chapel garden and active beehives.
Find out more about the garden on the National Gardens Scheme website https://ngs.org.uk/lambeth-palace-city-tranquility/
Rose is caught in a cycle of climate chaos. From severe drought to flooding, extreme weather robs her of what she needs to survive: a reliable source of water.
When she was a child, Rose remembers how often the rains would fall, giving fruit to the baobab trees and providing plenty of nutritious food to eat.
‘When I was a young girl, there was plenty of food,’ Rose says. Now, the rains are totally unreliable. The climate crisis has galvanised extreme weather and Rose’s community are feeling the brunt of it. For months at a time, Rose and her family lives with drought. ‘Because of climate change, I worry a lot about food. I pray to God that the rainfall will become normal like it used to be.’
Rose Katanu Jonathan.
Rose strives to provide for her grandchildren who live with her. She does all she can to give them happy childhoods, like the times she remembers when there was plenty of food. But the climate crisis is driving her to the brink.
In times of drought, Rose sets out on a long and dangerous journey every morning to collect water for her family. She walks on an empty stomach.
‘Because I am old, I can’t walk very fast. When I get home I just rest in the evening. I have no energy to do anything else,’ Rose says.
There is a nearby earth dam just minutes away from Rose’s home. It should be a lifeline. But it’s not wide enough or deep enough for everyone’s needs. Even when the rain comes it runs out of water too quickly. Imagine how dispirited Rose must feel watching the rain fall for days, only to find the dam empty just a short while later.
Even worse, if the rains are much heavier than they should be Rose’s community is at risk of flooding. But she has faith:
‘I believe God gives me strength and helps me persevere. I pray that God will help people to help me.’
With a reliable source of water, people like Rose would be free from long, painful journeys. They would be able to grow fresh vegetables to eat. And they would be able to protect themselves from the dangers of coronavirus. With such dire need, every last drop of water that falls in Rose’s community is precious.
This Christian Aid Week, will you stand with people like Rose and help them fight the climate crisis? Your gifts could help communities build better earth dams to harvest more water; sow drought-tolerant crops that grow even with very little rain; or set up an advocacy group to demand change at the highest level and put a stop to this climate crisis.
We can’t hand out Christian Aid envelopes in church this year so please donate at Christian Aid Week 2021 and help ensure people like Rose have the water they need to live.
“Rose’s story” is taken from the Christian Aid Week website christianaid.org.uk
Tuesday 27th April 2021
Brave primroses on the path up to Mount Vernon today.
Monday 26th April 2021
For a bit of exercise I walk up The Hill in Burford as far as the Catholic Church. I walk across the gravel car park to look at the little garden beside the door of the church. From its sheltered corner this has charmed me with an array of shrubs and bulbs which have coped with the vicious winter we have had here. It is next to the Notice Board on the church which I look at. It contains one sheet of paper with the Sunday readings and information about the week. My eye was caught by something I had been seeking - Making an Act of Spiritual Communion. When we are unable to receive Holy Communion in person this prayer can be said while the Priest distributes the Sacrament to the congregation.
I felt delighted to have discovered this prayer. As I did not know such prayer existed I had not looked on line, but now I know that this prayer, and others like it, are recommended for use by many churches, both Anglican and RC. It now means a lot to me. The Church of England on their website has published this guidance piece on receiving Spiritual Communion Guidance on Spiritual Communion and Coronavirus
The photos show the entrance to the church and the little garden. The prayer on the notice board is below.
My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love you above all things and I desire to receive you into my soul.
Since I cannot, at the moment, receive you sacramentally, come at least
spiritually into my heart.
I embrace you as if you were already there and unite myself wholly to you.
Never permit me to be separated from you. Amen
What does the word “Nepal” conjure up to you? Trekking amongst spectacular Himalayan peaks? Valiant Gurkha soldiers? I have to say that “ good food” wasn’t on my word association list until I was indulging in lockdown TV watching and saw Santosh Shah get to the finals of BBC’s Masterchef: the Professionals. Santosh grew up in a little Nepali village – there’s a stunning picture at https://www.chefsantoshshah.com/ - but had to leave at age 14 to work in India because the village couldn’t sustain its population. And with climate change that is becoming even harder. Practical Action (one of the charities we support, and so, as it happens, does Santosh Shah) quotes a local as saying “it doesn’t rain on time and when it rains it pours” (https://practicalaction.org/turn-the-tables/).
Practical Action are now undertaking a major programme to engage with governments as they prepare for the climate conference COP 26 in Glasgow this autumn, pointing out the need to develop resilience and sustainability amongst communities that are already facing the impact of climate change. But on a more practical level their local team of local people in Nepal have developed a five point plan for resilience and sustainability. But even straightforward and locally based programmes need resources and support, which our contributions help to provide. In Nepal their plan involves
- Developing more resilient seeds and farming methods for local farmers, allied to better, and more easily accessed, weather forecasting so the planting can be attuned to the weather conditions.
- Using solar energy and other ingenious engineering to ensure that water from rainfall and mountain springs is available for domestic use and irrigation when it is needed.
- Diversifying business opportunities and improving business skills, which involves communication and training.
- Advancing the opportunities and leadership skills of women in the villages so they can thrive.
5 Improving market access in a land where roads and tracks are very steep and prone to landslides. This is my favourite because it involves aerial ropeways. If you know a child who enjoys “Go Ape” you will know what I mean! I’ve found them ingenious and exciting ever since our daughter Lucy brought back pictures of the first ropeways from a Practical Action trip to Nepal in 2008. This is a recent Practical Action picture, not one of hers, but it gives a good idea.
So Practical Action expects that the villages can, for example, further their prosperity by not only growing, but also getting to market and perhaps selling to many high-end chefs, the colocasia leaf, which Santosh Shah says is “a spinach like leaf with a deep earthy flavour. One of his signature dishes the ‘Tandoori Octopus’ has the element of colocasia leaf; as he was growing up this leaf used to grow in his mother’s garden during the rainy season”.
Lucy, I may add, says, from personal experience, that Nepali food is particularly delicious. Encouraging the thriving of those who grow and cook it seems like an all-round win.
It is by furthering these sorts of practical approaches, drawing on the experience of local people across several countries across through their network of local offices, and impressing on governments and authorities the benefits of resilient and sustainable development, that Practical Action seems to me to implement the values which Hampstead Parish Church seeks to foster.
In the Seventies there were Palm Sunday processions through Hampstead, latterly to Parliament Hill to erect a huge cross, made from a telegraph pole, on that green hill not so far away. The cross in this photo (it's 1975 says Marian Ward) is a bit more modest, but the procession is still spectacular. Leading it (from left) are Lawrence Hill and Keith Ward who, as curates-in-charge, had brilliantly and unconventionally supervised the interregnum between Ellie Hall’s departure and Graham Dowell’s arrival. On the right is the recently appointed Graham, who brought a sea-change to HPC.
Keith reckons this was then a Deanery event, though later it was taken over by Churches Together in Hampstead. Thinking back, he wonders why he is carrying the cross. Maybe it was just Graham’s humility - or maybe Graham wanted himself as Jesus, and Keith as Simon of Cyrene. But, as always, Lawrence is the one who looks most like Jesus. In fact, we often had to persuade the children he was not.
It looks like Heath Street - in which case is the procession coming down from a service at Whitestone Pond? One of the clergy is Bob Coogan, then, I think, an Area Dean, but do you know the others? Judy recognises the vestments, but do you remember anything else about this event, or our Easter processions in general? Let Church Chat know.
Saturday 24th April 2021
I went into St James’s square to look at the beautiful cherry blossom and came across this powerful ‘Mother and Child’ sculpture by Rebecca Hawkins. It was commissioned to raise awareness of the plight of the Lai Dai Han in Vietnam. The Lai Dai Han, meaning ‘mixed blood’, are a group of thousands of men and women of Korean and Vietnamese ancestry who were born as a result of rape during the Vietnam war between 1964 and 1973. These individuals are still ostracised by their society today.
The artist says “These women and their children have faced an enormous trial of strength through adversity. They stand up again and again to tell these intimate stories of how their lives were turned upside down, with such courage and dignity… meeting people with this kind of strength of human spirit is both humbling and inspirational.” Mother & Child’ is based on the concept of the Strangler Fig tree, a parasitic plant which takes over a host tree by entwining itself around its roots, trunk and branches, and is common in Vietnam. The mother represents one of the Vietnam War’s many victims of sexual assault at the hands of the South Korean soldiers. The child represents one of the Lai Dai Han, born as a result of these acts.
This sculpture was unveiled by Nadia Murad, the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, at Church House, Westminster, on Tuesday 11th June 2019. It was always intended that it would be displayed outside somewhere in Central London. This beautiful location is a powerful contrast to the horrors it represents.
Thursday 22nd April 2021
Some years ago our churchyard was best known as the last resting place of the painter John Constable but times change. In 2005 Dava Sobel wrote “Longitude” and in 2007 it was made into a film. Suddenly everyone wanted to see the tomb of our “other” John - John Harrison, Carpenter and Clockmaker, who invented the marine chronometer, making it possible to tell the time at sea. Visitors can read his story on the sides of his tomb, which is situated outside the south door of the church. It’s a splendid tomb.
It’s not the original one.
Have you ever heard of “Grimthorping”? Defined as “to remodel (an ancient building) without proper knowledge or care to retain its original quality and character” it was named after one Baron Grimthorpe who apparently made a less than satisfactory job of certain restorations and the term has been applied since to work that destroyed medieval architecture simply because it wasn’t to the taste of the restorers! *
It seems that this may have been the fate of Harrison’s original tomb. In 1843 a watercolour by Thomas Gosden in his “Monumental drawings of Celebrated Persons” represented the tomb as in apparently perfect condition.
But in 1879 it was deemed to be not so much in need of restoration as in need of complete rebuilding. The Corinthian design in Portland stone with marble panels was replaced by the apparently (going by the watercolour) more elaborate build in Ketton stone with Sicilian marble panels and a plinth of Spinkwell Stone. The new slab on top was raised to allow for an inscription by the Clockmakers referring to the “reconstruction” – I don’t think anyone realised just how drastic that reconstruction had been. In broad terms what we would notice is probably the change in colour, from white to the current sandy yellow. (Remember this is on the south side of the church where it would catch the sun and, because Harrison died long before the extension of 1843 added the transepts, the tomb would have been much more prominent than it is now.) And then there’s the inscription. According to Gosden’s painting the original inscription was much simpler.
The new tomb was unveiled on 16th January 1880 to much acclaim no doubt, though the Ham & High, writing some three years later remarked “in the old churchyard by the southern wall (of the church) is the tomb of John Harrison … this has been renovated in execrable taste by the Clockmakers Company”. (The railings were removed in 1934)
Fortunately the more recent restoration by that same Clockmakers Company has much improved the appearance of the tomb and its legibility. And who knows, if we’d seen the original, we might not agree at all that it had been “grimthorped”!
- The term Grimthorping of course didn’t come into use until the 20th century – the work on St Alban’s which sparked the allusion being done in 1905.
I am indebted to Sir George White Bt, Keeper Emeritus of the Clockmakers' Museum, who wrote the article published in the Clockmakers' newsletter of 14th December 2020 which prompted this piece. - and to the Clockmakers for giving me permission to use it.
I finally had time in the recent lockdown to finish this cushion which I started in 1989! Some of you may have spotted me working on it during virtual coffee sessions on Zoom after Sunday services
A sunny day in St James' Park, not many people but lots of pelicans. I only saw five this time but there should be six. The have names - Isla, Tiffany, Gargi, Sun, Moon and Star. One of them has had a damaged wing for several years, there's half of it missing, but it seems to function perfectly well without it. Perhaps it has to paddle when the others fly. It can certainly dive without any trouble.
There have been pelicans in St James Park since 1664 - a gift from the Russian Ambassador to King Charles II. Although they don't generally stray far from the park they have been known to pop along to their cousins in the Zoo - and steal their fish!
(A couple of weeks ago Barry Orford wrote an article about the remarkable life of Evelyn Underhill who is buried in the Additional Burial Ground. Followers from all over the world come looking for her grave, but it is hard to spot because she is described simply as ‘Evelyn,’ the wife of Hubert Stuart Moore. There is no reference to her achievements and Hampstead Parish Church would like to create a fitting memorial for her, to provide a focus for those coming to honour her and to help new followers to connect with her. A ledger stone to be has been designed by Lois Anderson, a well-known local artist, which will incorporate the existing granite cross.)
Barry writes “Why raise money to improve the stone on a grave in our Additional Burial Ground? The answer is that it marks the resting place of Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941), one of the most important figures in the Twentieth Century Church of England. Yet you would probably walk past her grave unless you were familiar with her name and looking for it. The planned ledger stone is intended to give her the prominence she merits.
What is her connection with Hampstead? She and her husband lived near Holland Park, but with the coming of the Blitz they came to join friends in their home at Lawn House, Hampstead Square. Her health was rapidly failing, and a move away from the most intense bombing was essential. After her death on June 15th, 1941, her funeral was held at Christ Church before her body was brought to St John’s for burial.
In my earlier article I have suggested some of the ways in which this remarkable woman affected the life and thought of the Church of England. She deserves remembrance and honour for these alone. But her work was rooted in the person she became, and her impact lay not just in her writings but also in the witness of her life to the glory and the cost of Christian discipleship.
We can meet her only through her writings, but her body, through which the Spirit of Christ reached out to so many, deserves reverence. If ever a burial has made a place holy ground, it is here. The words of her friend T. S. Eliot remain true – 'There is holy ground, and the sanctity shall not depart from it … From such ground springs that which forever renews the earth / Though it is forever denied.'
Visitors who treasure the life and work of Evelyn Underhill do indeed come in search of her grave as a 'thin place', where time and eternity, earth and heaven meet because of the woman who lies there. It is right that they should find a commemorative stone worthy of her.”
The photographs show her grave and the proposed ledger stone. If you want to know more there is a link on the homepage of the church website to the Evelyn Underhill Memorial Appeal page or you can use this link https://history.hampsteadparishchurch.org.uk/mon_info/abg_p_080b.php
Donations can be made via the church’s web using this link https://www.hampsteadparishchurch.org.uk/data/donate.php quoting the reference "Underhill” or by cheque to Hampstead Parish Church, Church Row, London NW3 6UU. Please write “Underhill on the reverse of the cheque.
If you have any questions, or know of anyone else who might be interested in supporting a memorial for this remarkable woman, please contact Jeremy on email email@example.com
Wednesday 14th April 2021
Lent to Easter
Love Life, Live Lent was Bubble Church’s focus for Lent. We kicked off with our Pancake Party on Shrove Tuesday. Some people give up something for Lent, like chocolate, but our focus was showing love to others through small everyday actions. Children and families were asked to make a Lenten Tree. Each week they wrote one small act of kindness on a leaf and hung it or stuck it on their tree as a reminder.
We explored Fasting, Almsgiving and Prayer. We celebrated Mothering Sunday, Palm Sunday where children performed the Passion Play and Easter Sunday in church.
During this lockdown period, Bubble Church were delighted to have other members of the congregation join in our activities and worship with us.
Island Hospice and Healthcare is very fortunate to be one of the charities that receives financial support from Hampstead Parish Church through its charitable giving.
Founded in 1979 Island was the first hospice to be established in Africa. It is now a centre of excellence and charities from all over southern Africa visit to learn from them. Over the years it has had to adapt its operations to the changing conditions within Zimbabwe and to face new challenges as they presented themselves, the latest being coping with the Covid-19 pandemic. Currently the country is experiencing a further period of lockdown that is being gradually released, and a vaccination programme is being introduced for medical and healthcare personnel. Staff are alternating working from home and the office as they can.
Island does not run an in-patient hospice but provides a hospice service in the community, with a small head office in Harare and three other locations around the country from which these services are provided. In total there are just over twenty staff who are employed by the hospice together with a group of volunteers.
Below is a report from Zimbabwe that illustrates how Island have adapted to the situation on the ground. In the past Island staff would attend rural clinics and locals would travel to these clinics to receive palliative care medicines and counselling. A lot of these rural clinics closed over the years with the collapse of the commercial agricultural economy and staff would often see their patients walking long distances on the roadside heading towards the nearest clinic. Island came up with the idea of introducing roadside clinics that were introduced to cater for hospice and healthcare needs in the rural community where there is very little public transport, and where it does exist it is beyond the reach of many https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2ZvPU-2zx4&feature=youtu.be
These roadside clinics have been very well received and have also meant that many more patients have been able to receive the services provided by Island. Island staff arrange to meet their patients at prearranged times at designated stops on the road and palliative care is administrated.
Aside from these services Island is also engaged in various projects that are mainly funded from overseas grants, two of which are mentioned below.
As an indication of the importance of its work and the standard of care and quality of its operations, in February Island received a FCDO, UK Aid Direct grant for an 18-month project “Piloting a disability-inclusive palliative care service in Zimbabwe” which is believed to be the first of its kind and will be run out of the Mutare office in the east of the country. Island is also just entering its fourth year of a Jersey based trust funded initiative “Supporting Older People to become agents of their own change - a model for improving the health of older people in resource constrained Zimbabwe”.
Both of these funds support important projects but money is desperately needed for the day to day operation of its activities and Island is very grateful for the ongoing support it receives from Hampstead Parish Church.
Further information and details about Island can be found at http://islandhospice.org.uk/
Monday 12th April 2021
This year a holiday abroad may prove to be difficult to arrange, so we are delighted to announce that there is a holiday option close to home. This will be Holiday in Hampstead's 7th year and we are hoping to run a full programme of activities, as long as nothing unexpected occurs. If you are a member of the retired community and look forward to being informed, entertained and amused and enjoy proper cups of coffee and delicious lunches, this week is definitely something to look forward to. Full details of the final programme, together with the booking form, will follow in a couple of weeks but please make a note of the date and times now - and leave your foreign holidays until later in the year!
Dates: Monday August 2nd – Friday August 6th 2021
Time: 11.00am – 4.00pm
Place: Parish Rooms and Hampstead Parish Church
To find out more contact Diana Finning, Rosemary Loyd, Sue Kwok or Julia Scott c/o the Parish Office.
Sunday 11th April 2021
My mother was a fervent Royalist all through her life, three years older than our present Queen, of that great wartime generation, and she would have been deeply moved by the death of Prince Philip. Here is her account of a Royal occasion from a diary she kept in 1935, aged 11. Please excuse her spelling and punctuation – it did get better! David Gardner
May 6 Monday 1935 Bank Holiday in Scotland
The King & Queen’s Jubillee... Silver Jubilee
This is the day of the year, the day, to be remembered through out all the English History that is to come. Well, let us begin. After I have got up, & had breakfast, I start out for Joans’ at 7.o.clock! Arrive there, get ready to start for Q. Victoria St. Where there is an office window where everything can be seen; throug crowds we pass till we arrive at our destination. We have to wait over 3 hours before the procession comes from the St Pauls Cathedral. There is a raidio which gives us the service from beggining to end. At last the procession arrives, first, soldiers mouted, followed by the King & Queen. The latter dressed in pink looks wonderful, & so does the King. The Prince of Waels, the Duke & Duchess of York & Duke & Duchess of Kent all look fine. Princess Margaret Rose is so sweet, & so is Princess Elisabeth. Marina is holding on to her hat, in case it blows away. Every thing is so prettey & Historicle, after wards, we have a “snacky” lunch, & home againg. I play with J. for the rest of the afternoon, & am taken home in the car to the house, then to the Lodge, where we play cards, until we go to Hampstead Heath where we see search lights, & a huge bonfire. On the way back, we notice a beach tree all lit up with lights. The Kings’ speech is wonderful, & I am so proud to be a subject of King George the 5th. God Save our Gracious King
Tuesday 6th April 2021
We are thrilled that Monther, who was the gardener at HPC, has started a new job. We now have a new gardener, Saleh Alhulani. Sahel, his wife Amneh and their children Mohammad and Yousef are Syrian refugees sponsored by another Hampstead Community Sponsorship group, Welcome Syrian Families.
One of the photographs below shows Saleh, with his wife Amneh and Emily Woof the coordinator for Welcome Syrian Families.
Saleh and Amneh were living in Homs when the war in Syria broke out. Two months later their home was bombed and they had to move with their six children. For two years they moved their family around Syria trying to get away from the fighting. They moved about six times before fleeing to Lebanon where they lived for six years before coming to England. Life in Lebanon was also difficult. The Lebanese economy is bad and Syrian refugees are not welcome. They were constantly on the move because they had no money and there was little work. Eventually they moved to a refugee camp, but these too are difficult places.
One daughter is married and living in Idlib with her husband’s family. Idlib is currently at the heart of the fighting. Amneh tries to call her children every day. The day we met she said that when she called her daughter in Idlib she could hear the sirens in the background. Three of her other children are married and living in Lebanon. Saleh and Amneh are proud grandparents and we were shown photographs on their phones of their 9 grandchildren.
They miss their children and grandchildren terribly but felt they needed to try and make a life for their two youngest children, Mohammad who is 20 who would like to work with computers and Yousef who is 10.
Despite all this Saleh is an amazingly cheerful person, who the second time we met brought me some delicious falafel which he had made. In Syria he worked as a chef and would like to try and set up a catering business.
We are very pleased to have Saleh working for us. There is a lot to do keeping our two graveyards tidy. At the moment one of the big challenges is keeping the litter under control. As a result of lockdown the graveyards have become an important green space for a lot of people, who bring their takeaway meals to eat in the fresh air. As lockdown hopefully eases the brambles will be starting to grow! So much to do.
Of all the festivals in the church's calendar, Easter has inspired the most memorable poems. Many of you will know George Herbert's great poems "Good Friday", "Easter", and "Easter-Wings"
Less well known but equally deserving of your appreciation is this sonnet by Edmund Spenser (1552 – 1599)
MOST glorious Lord of Lyfe! that, on this day,
Didst make Thy triumph over death and sin;
And, having harrowd hell, didst bring away
Captivity thence captive, us to win:
This joyous day, deare Lord, with joy begin;
And grant that we, for whom thou diddest dye,
Being with Thy deare blood clene washt from sin,
May live for ever in felicity!
And that Thy love we weighing worthily,
May likewise love Thee for the same againe;
And for Thy sake, that all lyke deare didst buy,
With love may one another entertayne!
So let us love, deare Love, lyke as we ought,
—Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught.
Saturday May 8th would often have been around the date of our annual Spring Fair but alas, this year it’s not to be.
If you are suffering withdrawal symptoms take heart – we are running a PLANT STALL that day – outside, we can’t have too many people in the church yet – from 11am to 2pm.
Do you NEED plants? Do you HAVE plants you give us to sell on? We welcome cuttings, pottings, seedlings. If you have large herbaceous plants that are taking up too much space, divide them with a sharp spade. We can sell the other halves! And this benefits your plants too, because they’ll flower more profusely with this treatment.
Did I mention there would be Coffee? And Traidcraft refreshments? And Homemade Cake? How can you resist!
Tuesday 30th March 2021
This Easter garden was made my sister Caroline and my great niece Caia (aged 2).
On the path up to the columbarium, just behind Evelyn Underhill’s grave, is the grave of Ernest Chitty. On his tomb he is described as “Poet Priest Pacifist”. I suspect that, had they met, he and Evelyn Underhill would have had much to talk about. For many years he was the vicar of All Souls’ Loudoun Road, and then St Georges Bloomsbury. After he retired he assisted regularly at St Peter’s Belsize Park where he started writing poetry and expanding his ministry as a counsellor. This is one of his poems
Holy Week Diary
Chosen to be Judas
In the Reading of the Passion.
Palms are waving,
Christ is riding into town.
Brings me Piat d’Or
A welcome gift for any week,
For Jesus bitter herbs,
And bread and wine,
At a farewell meal.
Two at Church,
Each for half the time,
The rest pass by as
I lost my keys and
Jesus is crucified.
My team lost,
But should have won,
I and Jesus
In the tomb.
Lost an hour,
Where’s the saving?
Found my keys,
Flags are waving.
Easter Day, 1989
Sunday 28th March 2021
(There is a new memorial in the Lady Chapel to George Steevens, a one time resident of Hampstead and commentator on Shakespeare, which was created by John Flaxman)
William Blake had a short, disastrous term at the Royal Academy School in 1779, but he did make a lifelong friend. John Flaxman’s cool, Neo-Classical style was rather different from Blake’s, but Flaxman became a generous champion of Blake’s work, and helped support him and his wife Catherine by directing commissions their way.
Like Blake, Flaxman was born in humble circumstances and lacked a formal education. But he had an innate talent for drawing, and inherited his father’s skills as a plaster cast maker. At the age of 15 he entered the Royal Academy Schools and began to win prizes.
Early on, he worked for Josiah Wedgwood, designing and casting the low-relief Classical decorations on the firm’s celebrated blue stoneware. For some years he studied in Italy, earning a living making medallions and memorials in low-relief, and later, as he became more celebrated, sculptures in the round. There are examples in Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s and many other churches. He became known as one of the finest sculptors of the age, the British equal of Antonio Canova.
At the Academy, as Professor of Sculpture, he gave knowledgeable, if dry, lectures, many of which were published. So too were his many illustrations of classical literature. notably of Homer, Aeschylus and Dante, which his Neo-Classical style suited very well. Less interested in Shakespeare, he yet did some very fine low reliefs for the front of Covent Garden theatre, featuring Shakespeare himself and characters from The Tempest and Macbeth.
His memorial to George Steevens is a good example of his classically-balanced, beautifully-crafted style. More than merely academic, it has an element of ironic humour. A self-regarding Steevens lounges in front of his nervous-looking subject, ready to emend his work at will.
Tuesday 23rd March 2021
Beibhinn sends a huge "Thank you!" to everyone for the amazing support that she received for her fundraiser. We walked a total of 7.04km around Hampstead Heath and with Gift Aid, Beibhinn raised a total of £496.03 for the National Literacy Trust. We've been touched by not only the financial support, but also the kind words and encouragement we've received.
Courtney, Paul, Beibhinn, Teddy & Iris
There is still time to give
I am a collector of old cookery and household management books. My mother started the collection and I inherited her books when she died, over 20 years ago. For about a decade after she died, the books just sat on my shelves, but in the last 10 years I have been actively adding to the collection, and have expanded it considerably.
My collection now includes a few hundred books, dating from about 1720 to about 1980. The majority are printed books, but I also have a small but growing section of manuscript recipe, remedy and account books. These are possibly my favourite part of the collection. Another expanding area is food manufacturers’ pamphlets and advertisements. I have a particular fondness for Stork pamphlets from the 1950s and early 1960s.
There are several things I really like about cookery and household management books. One is that they are predominantly written by women, used by women, given as gifts by women and annotated by women. Of course, there are cookery books written by men, and I have several of these from the early nineteenth century, but they tend to be of the ‘Grand Chef’ variety, often with a frontispiece portrait of the great man. They are often more pristine than most of my books, suggesting that they have been less used by actual cooks.
I like the way most of my books show signs of wear. Unlike most book collectors, I am not overly concerned about condition – I like it when I can see what the former owners of books liked to cook, when books fall open on certain pages, sometimes even with splashes of batter or grease. One of my favourites, a small book from New England from 1848, has splashes of candlewax on the front cover.
Annotations are great. Sometimes a former owner has written in a margin a correction or addition to a recipe, or a comment on how it worked out. Extra recipes are often copied onto flyleaves at the back of a book. Sometimes margins or blank pages are used for scribbling accounts, lists or drafts of letters. This kind of informality shows that these books, often kept in kitchens rather than more formal rooms had a different relationship with their owners than books which were perhaps bought and kept more for display purposes than actual use.
Recently I have started posting about these books on Instagram. If you are interested, have a look @LVMHouseholdBooks
Sunday 21st March 2021
Sightsavers International is a charity perhaps best known for aiding impoverished people worldwide who suffer from cataracts, trachoma and river blindness. It was founded in 1950 by John (later Sir John) Wilson, himself blind. It operates in 33 underdeveloped countries, from Sierra Leone to India.
The hardships of the impoverished blind need no description. On the charity’s effectiveness, the American non-profit evaluator Givewell, focusing primarily on the cost-effectiveness of the organisations which it evaluates, includes Sightsavers as one of the top ten charities recommended by it.
Cataracts cause about 50% of the world’s blindness, and the World Health Organisation in their bulletin of 6th September 2011 described cataract surgery as one of the most cost-effective of all health interventions, requiring no follow-up and, once performed, conferring a lifelong benefit free of further cost to the charity. From its foundation to 2018 Sightsavers has supported 7,300,000 sight-restoring cataract operations.
Trachoma, the commonest cause of blindness due to infection, is caused by bacteria which bring about a roughening of the inner surface of the eyelid. This leads to a breakdown of the cornea. Some 1,200,000 have permanent blindness as a result. It is endemic in 51 countries worldwide. The commonest treatment is with a drug (Azithromycin) donated by Pfizer. Eight countries in recent years have made confirmed reports that they have eliminated trachoma. However it remains widespread, particularly in Ethiopia and South Sudan.
River blindness, the second most common cause, is spread by the so-called black fly, which bites humans, thereby spreading the tiny larvae that, on maturing into worms, can attack the cornea. About 17,700,000 are infected, some 40% in Nigeria, and about 270,000 permanently blinded. The most effective remedy is a drug called Ivermectin, donated by Merck & Co. It is inexpensive, needs no refrigeration and has a wide safety margin. Unfortunately it does not kill the adult worms, but someone taking it every six months will stay free of the larvae, and if it is administered to a neighbourhood for long enough - 15 to 17 years is the practice - it will cause the larvae to die out and with them the worms and the disease.
I am particularly drawn to Sightsavers, who up to 2018 had distributed over one billion treatments, since money donated to it is helping to free from trachoma and river blindness not just people alive now, but their descendants in perpetuity.
For more information visit them at their website Sightsavers
Saturday 20th March 2021
(a new memorial in the Lady Chapel commemorates this former Hampstead resident)
George Steevens (1736-1800), educated at Eton and King’s College, Cambridge, inherited a competence and a substantial house in Poplar from his father, a former ship’s captain and Director of the East India Company. He preferred to live in Hampstead, where he bought a house, formerly a tavern named the Upper Flask. His daily routine was to walk into London before 7 am, paying visits to friends, bookshops, and publishing offices before walking home in the early afternoon to pursue his studies.
He was a leading Shakespeare scholar, who attracted public attention with the notes he contributed to Dr Johnson’s great edition of Shakespeare (8 volumes, 1765), who paid tribute to his ‘diligence and sagacity’. Steevens was largely responsible for enlarging and revising Johnson’s edition in 1773 (10 vols.) and again in 1778 (10 vols.). After Dr Johnson’s death for many years Steevens collaborated on a friendly basis with the other great Shakespeare editor of this period, Edmond Malone, who published his own edition in 1790 (11 vols.). Feeling slighted by Malone, Steevens produced a new edition in 1793 (15 vols.), remarkably quickly. As a contemporary recorded, ‘he left his house every morning at one o’clock with the Hampstead patrol, and, proceeding without any consideration of the weather or the season, called up the compositor and woke all his devils [workmen]. The nocturnal toil greatly accelerated the printing of the work; as, while the printers slept, the editor was awake; and thus, in less than 20 months, he completed his last splendid edition.’
Steevens certainly possessed ‘astonishing energy’ and perseverance, the more remarkable given the absence of any libraries at that time. He built up his own considerable collection of rare books (sold at auction in 1800 for £2,740), from which he provided hundreds of notes illuminating the most obscure details of Elizabethan language and customs. Unfortunately, he also loved hoaxes. In 1783 he published an article describing the upas tree of Java, which could kill all life within a range of 15 miles, the authority being a completely fictitious Dutch traveller. The unsuspecting Erasmus Darwin admitted the upas tree to his poem, The Loves of the Plants (1789). Steevens contributed to his Shakespeare editions many bawdy notes which he attributed to some of his Hampstead neighbours. A certain ‘Mr Collins of Hampstead’ (unidentified) was credited with a note on Elizabethan beliefs in the aphrodisiac powers of the potato, illustrated with a remarkably wide of quotations. Steevens also wrote a note, expanded in successive editions, on the fact that stewed prunes were used in Elizabethan brothels as an abortifacient, which he ascribed to ‘Amner’. This person actually existed, the Reverend Richard Amner (1737-1803), ‘for many years the Minister of a Dissenting Congregation at Hampstead’, and Steevens would have derived pleasure from the fact that some of Amner’s notes have been unwittingly cited by modern scholars. On the other side, Steevens was praised for his generosity. He helped some people with gifts of money, such as Fuseli and Chatterton’s mother. For others he freely shared his considerable knowledge, helping Charles Burney with his history of music, but also Sir John Hawkins for his rival history. The help he gave Isaac Reed, historian of the drama, and John Nichols, biographer of Hogarth, was so great that he was in effect co-author. He was also a loyal friend, gaining my respect for visiting Dr Johnson on the day of his death.
I have included many selections from Steevens’s work in two volumes of my collection, Shakespeare, The Critical Heritage: Vol. 5, 1765-1774 (1979), and Vol. 6, 1774-1801 (1981).
Thursday 18th March 2021
There is still time to buy delicious Easter Eggs from Traidcraft, one of the charities supported by Hampstead Parish Church. Follow the link below
Tuesday 16th March 2021
During lockdown, Beibhinn has become particularly intrigued and excited whenever the post is delivered. Pre-Covid she wasn't home for this great excitement since she was at school, but over the past year she has thoroughly enjoyed running to check the post every day. For Christmas, I thought the perfect present for her would be a magazine subscription to The Week Junior, which she now receives every Friday and completely devours in what seems like minutes. To my surprise, she loves conversing about current events and stories from around the world. We've had great conversations about the US election, the Covid vaccination programmes around the globe and all sorts of various wonders reported weekly.
When last Friday's issue arrived, she read about an event taking place this weekend called the Where's Wally? Weekender! which is in support of the National Literacy Trust. Within moments she had me film a video asking for donations and she set up her own JustGiving page. Myself, Paul, Teddy and my Mum will be walking 5k with Beibhinn in the Heath to support her efforts, in our Where's Wally costumes no less. (Although my Mum is not quite convinced about the costume just yet, I'm working on it).
Beibhinn has been overwhelmed at the support she has received thus far, smashing her target of £100 and raising nearly £300. We couldn't be prouder of her enthusiasm and the initiative she has taken to do her part for a good cause.
Please do keep an eye out for us this coming weekend as we trek through the Heath creating our own real life Where's Wally tableau. Pictures to follow next week!
And if you do have moment to visit her JustGiving page, Beibhinn, and all of us, would be very grateful.
Monday 15th March 2021
Saturday 13th March 2021
(Pat Gardner (1923-2018) on her son Davy)
My mother left our family Diaries written daily from 1981 to 2013, her 90th year. They read well and cover much. One learns much about her... and also, as I discovered, about oneself!
The Eighties: Home to Davy – I’m sure I’d miss him a lot if he wasn’t with me... Why me – a peace-lover, has to put up with these aggro people? It could be the death of me... It’s a great pleasure to live with Davy. There’s so much to share & appreciate together... Davy makes the big sacrifice & shaves his beard off for Gran’s birthday appearance!... Always pleasant when Davy is home, though seldom quiet... How many times do I think to myself ‘Thank God I live with Davy’!!... Oh the joy of sharing one’s passion with a twin soul. Fate took one David [her ex-husband] away but gave me another... Lose temper with Davy. Always at me for not reacting exactly as he wishes to anything he reads, listens to or watches... Snow & ice still pretty treacherous but we make it safely to Judy’s party. Davy tends to hold the floor in the manner of his father – sometimes amusing, at others embarrassing... Davy a proper Jekyll & Hyde – all smiles, sweetness & light when he realises he’s gone too far... Mum’s 91st birthday, so visit Hampstead Cemetery. Pay my respects & ask them to help Davy if they can to find more fulfilment from life... Davy & I have made a pact. We are not going to quarrel any more. At any rate we are going to try very hard not to... Absurd spat with David. D rings sweetly to apologise & brings flowers in the evening. We are more & more like husband & wife – How awful!... Davy gets home, but totally motherless. How did we rear such bad mannered children?... Davy out drinking – Falls asleep in chair with full cup of coffee. Disaster! ...
The Nineties: D home late with black eye & smashed spectacles & not even he knows how!... Morning revelation – D spent the night in a police cell in Stoke Newington – having been picked up in ‘motherless’ condition!... Mother’s Day present from Davy! Casebook on 3 matricides!... It is alarming to realise that without Davy I could not keep up this house... His companionship means more than ever now... Perhaps I’m feeling a little bit insecure now that Davy is leading so much more of a social life than before – It’s as it should be of course, but I’ve got so used to having him around for the past 17 years as a companion, enjoying TV together, & theatres & meals. Anyway, I cheer myself with Hamlet & King Lear!... Feeling depressed about D’s entanglements – ‘It cannot come to good’... Davy & I agree how ‘mature’ we’ve become with one another & both feel that the church has much to do with it... Davy is keeping off smoking & cutting the drinking severely – Not happy with his growing paunch!!... If he would only cut down on the vices!
The Noughties:... Davy for ever ‘catching up’ with TV, newspapers, books, periodicals, videos & a dozen other concerns... Davy comes in drunk & says he’s lost his glasses AGAIN. 9 June 2000: The first audition for ‘Inherit the Wind’. Mary Ruth is available to play Rachel but Angela Bates was equally good... 25 September 2000: Davy is 46 today. Angela reads in for Mary Ruth – so well. She’s a honey... I feel my life to be caught in a whirlwind of change. Davy has met a lovely girl & it could be serious. Please Lord, guide us all aright... 1 January 2001: See the New Year in with Davy & Angela. Angela helped Davy all day with his Hamlet script on the computer... Davy is touchy & difficult. Embarrasses me when he’s like that in front of Angela... Angela brings out the best in him... A gem. Oh dear, he’ll have to pop the question soon... Mothering Sunday 25 March 2001: Beautiful card from Davy... Angela & her parents sat with us in church... Long may she love him... She is an angel & I long for them to get engaged... However did he manage without her? She seems to fit into his life like the glass slipper... Can’t wait for the proposal & please God, acceptance!... 6 June 2001: Davy rings to say Angela has invited us all to dinner on Saturday. How super – I tell him to get on with the proposal – so we can all celebrate... 7 June 2001: Oh joy! Oh rapture! Davy and Angela are engaged to be married! What can I say, my heart is so full – just thank you, thank you dear Lord for bringing them together... Haunted all night by the realisation of the changes about to happen in my life... 25 September 2001: Davy’s happiest birthday – 47 & last one as a bachelor!... I just hope A can cure him of his excessive imbibing. Sunday 5 May 2002: The Wedding Day. How is it possible to write of such a day? I have never seen Davy so happy, nor any bride more beautiful.
Friday 12th March 2021
One of the charities we have supported for many year is PSALM (Project for Seniors and Lifelong Ministry)
There are key issues that PSALM tries to address:
- The need for opportunities to think boldly and imaginatively about how to live well in later life.
- The need for confidence rooted in a mature faith as a source of resilience.
- The need for Churches to work hard to counter the traditional undervaluing of older people and seek to provide more engaging and enlivening opportunities for older people to reflect and contribute.
We do this by providing lectures, workshops and seminars with the specific aim of addressing matters of interest and concern to people over 60. Some may remember the two entertaining talks on ‘Decluttering’ that one of their speakers gave a Holiday in Hampstead a few years ago.
PSALM is one of the many charities that have found it difficult to operate during the pandemic and the different periods of lockdown
Beryl Dowsett reports that "sadly Psalm's future plans are on hold, in the light of the current pandemic and travel restrictions. As they deal mainly with workshops for older people it was inevitable but we hope they’ll bounce back when it’s safe to do so.”
In the Additional Burial Ground
Monday 8th March 2021
The Voluntary Rate is an appeal to people living within the parish boundaries to help maintain the fabric of the church. The money isn’t used for mission or development, wine or candles, it’s purely for bricks and mortar (and new lighting). But more than that it says “Hello, this is us and we’re here for you” to everyone in the parish.
For the first time since we began in 1986 the voluntary rate appeal has gone out without the need for any input from the congregation. Just as much work for Maggie (if not more) but not for us.
Originally the basic information needed to set up the Rate came from the rating list at the Town Hall and involved visiting to copy it all down – Pat Gardner helped a lot with that. Later we were allowed a printout to take home and later still the information was made available online. Maggie keeps an eye on changes in property - demolition, infill, new builds, conversions to and from flats etc. to keep our records as up to date as possible.
The very first VR involved everyone filling in the addresses on the letters by hand – yes, 4,500 addresses BY HAND. We did them in church, we did them in PCC meetings, we took them home. . . . we got them done.
The system got better. There were address labels. Now we only had to peel the sheets of labels apart and stick them on – in exactly the right place or they wouldn’t show through the envelope windows – and fill in the amount we were asking for according to a list – so much for each council tax band.
Then, joy of joys, the addresses came ready printed on forms and all we had to do was fill in the amount.
Finally, none of that was necessary and we only had to put the forms in the envelopes. Oh, did I not mention that? All 4.500 letters, forms, leaflets, flyers, reply paid envelopes, had to be put in window envelopes. It was actually a lot more fun than it sounds. OK, not the actual envelope stuffing, but working with a group of like-minded people, all dedicated to the continuance of our church in Hampstead. Refreshments were provided – coffee and most excellent biscuits by Gaynor Bassey-Fish, an equally delicious lunch by Elizabeth Beesley and her helpers – even last year when the pandemic was beginning to make itself felt we managed to meet, eat and work, suitably socially distanced, and get the letters out.
Delivery was another matter. Originally, in fact up to only 4 years ago, all the letters were delivered by hand. Canny people knew which streets to get and which to avoid, the ones with endless steps, the ones with pretty gardens. But eventually increasingly secure properties made it impossible to get a large proportion of the letters delivered and so we invested in a Royal Mail licence, the extra cost involved being more than offset by knowing that the letters would actually reach all those hitherto unreachable properties.
But this year, unbelievably, it’s all happened, as if by magic!
Sunday 7th March 2021
Thank you to everyone who has collected stamps for Support Dogs over the past year. HPC recently received a letter from the charity thanking us for our support:
"8th February 2021.
We would like to express our thanks to you for supporting our charity by donating stamps. The income we receive from stamps, although modest, is incredibly important to us especially in the current climate when fundraising is so hard.
Thanks to the kindness of people like you we are thrilled to say that we have seen a 70% increase in money raised for our charity through stamps in the past 12 months!
By supporting us you’ve done something really special. You have enabled a child with autism to be matched with the ‘best friend’ a support dog who be their safe place in a world they find frightening. An adult with epilepsy will now be able to live their life without the fear and danger of their unpredictable seizures. Disability will no longer define lives, rather people will live with dignity, independence and confidence.
We rely 100% on voluntary donation. Everything we do at Support Dogs is only possible because of wonderful supporters like you. Your generosity means the world to us, the children, adults, and their families we support and the dogs we train.
Community Fundraising Manager"
Please keep saving your stamps! There is a collection box at the back of church, or you can post them through the vicarage door – 14 Church Row.
For more information on Support Dogs see https://www.supportdogs.org.uk/
Saturday 6th March 2021
Congratulations to Handley and Anne Steven's celebrating their 55th Wedding Anniversary this weekend
- or rather, during my Monday morning cleaning
the crates arrived containing the very fine memorial to George Steevens (1736 -1800) sculpted by John Flaxman RA ( 1755 - 1826). Steevens was a parishioner of HPC, living at the Upper Flask (now the site of Queen Mary's House) from 1771 until his death. He had family connections in Poplar however, so was buried there. After that church was deconsecrated in 1977 the memorial was moved to the Fitzwilliam museum in Cambridge, where it has been in store for almost all of the last 40 years. The sculpture conservator from the museum who brought it to Hampstead said that his first task at the Fitzwilliam 40 years ago was moving it from Poplar to Cambridge. It is now fixed to the formerly very blank wall of the Lady Chapel, above the entrance to the clergy vestry, and will be well worth a good look as soon as the church can be fully open again.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the pleasure of signing up to Audible audiobooks and being able to plug in my headphones and listen when I can’t get to sleep or I don’t want to disturb anyone.
Below are two more audiobooks that I have enjoyed and can recommend.
‘The Mission House’ – Carys Davies
Set in a former British Hill station in contemporary South India this is the story of a man who travels to India to flee contemporary life in Britain. At first he find solace in simple pleasures and new friendships, but religious tensions rise and the mission house proves not be the safe haven it first seemed.
I found this book very accessible and enjoyed the setting. The story is beautifully crafted, and the characters are all very strong. ‘It is a deeply human fable of the wonders and terrors of connection in a modern world.’
‘Agent Sonya’ – Ben Macintyre
This book is described as ‘the incredible story of the greatest female spy in history’. A true story, Sonya Burton was a dedicated communist, a decorated colonel and veteran spy who risked her life to keep the Soviet Union in the nuclear arms race. For many years she lived a very quiet unassuming life in the Cotswolds, a mother, a wife and a secret agent all at once.
When I first started listening, I thought I had made a huge mistake. There were a lot of characters with difficult names to remember and the story jumped from country to country. However, I stuck with it, and was really glad I did. It is a totally fascinating story, meticulously researched about a subject of which I had little knowledge; definitely a book for Le Carre fans.
Tuesday 2nd March 2021
'Love Life, Live Lent' is Bubble Church’s focus this Lent. We kicked off with our Pancake Party on Shrove Tuesday. Some people give up something for Lent, like chocolate, but our focus is showing love to others through small everyday actions. Children and families were asked to make a Lenten Tree. Each week they will write one small act of kindness on a leaf and hang it or stick it on their tree as a reminder. They could hang more leaves on their trees if they wishe
Making your Lenten Tree
You will need a small tree branch, paper, string, a pair of scissors a jar or container.
For the leaves – cut these out from coloured paper or draw your own.
Draw a tree and have your leaves ready to stick on.
Each week: Write your act of kindness on a leaf and hang it or stick it on your tree.
The lovely acts of kindness that members of Bubble Church will be doing during Lent include “get my mum tea”, “give mummy lots of hugs”, “tidy and help my mum” and “share toys at school”.
Saturday 27th February 2021
22nd Feb to 7th March
During the two weeks of Fairtrade Fortnight, individuals, groups and companies come together to celebrate people in developing countries who grow much of the food we eat, but who are often underpaid and exploited.
At Hampstead Parish Church we usually hold a Big Brew after the morning service to raise money for Traidcraft Exchange, the charitable arm of the Traidcraft organisation. Last year we decided to hold this event earlier than usual and, thank goodness we did. As a result, we were able to send £332.24 to Traidcraft Exchange, before lockdown came into force.
Soon afterwards we had to stop holding our monthly stall selling Traidcraft goods. However, with the easing of restrictions over the summer, the church was able to hold a very successful Open House day when we set up a stall selling refreshments which raised £139.43. We are grateful to all those who have purchased from Traidcraft in the past and, by doing so, generously helped some of the poorest people in the world.
Throughout the pandemic, Traidcraft Exchange staff has continued their work supporting people in developing countries.
- In Tanzania the government does not accept that coronavirus is a threat and Traidcraft Exchange has continued its work supporting people with disabilities such as sight loss, to find work.
- In India coronavirus means that work has completely dried up for women who work in garment factories. Traidcraft Exchange has been providing emergency relief to many of these vulnerable households
- In Bangladesh communities have had to face the double challenge of Covid-19 and extreme flooding. Some coastal and riverside communities have lost homes, crops and marketplaces but Traidcraft Exchange has continued to run training sessions helping to support the long term sustainability of these groups.
This year the focus of Fairtrade Fortnight is climate change, and the growing problems this poses to farmers and workers within the Fairtrade community. Climate change is a huge challenge in countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia and Honduras; countries that have contributed least to the causes of climate change. Drought, crop disease, floods and heatwaves are among the challenges they face and with the emergence of the global COVID pandemic, the problems for farmers in developing countries are bigger than ever.
Choosing to buy fair trade ethical food and drink is a way to make a difference . Through fair trade, farmers and growers can earn enough to feed their families, send their children to school, provide a future for their local community and, helped by charities such as Traidcraft Exchange, they can look for solutions to the problems they face due to climate change.
This year Traidcraft have asked us to delay our Big Brew until later in the year. We hope that with an easing of restrictions we will be able to meet personally.
We certainly hope to resume selling Traidcraft goods once restrictions permit. In the meantime, purchases can be ordered direct from the Traidcraft Shop at www.traidcraftshop.co.uk and donations can
Friday 26th February 2021
Some church recycling
Thursday 25th February 2021
Parliament is a strange and unnatural place in lockdown. No bustling, purposeful corridors of people, no full chambers with lively interactions, no cross-party socialising in a bar – no alcohol allowed anywhere in the palace.
In the Lords there are only 30 allocated seats, all socially distanced. Very few peers actually attend and we are often in danger of not having 3 for a quorum. Most peers loom at us through the 10 Zoom screens around the Chamber. What would Barry and Pugin have made of this desecration of their priceless work? Actually neither of them lived to see it completed, so perhaps their souls rest in peace.
One Good Thing to come out of this is online voting. Peers often queue to go through voting lobbies at unholy hours of the night. Now we log on to our phones, computers, i-pads, possibly in our pyjamas (such sacrilege!). We cannot sit beyond midnight because of the tech teams, but I often find myself on the Jubilee line for a late train home.
But our work is seriously diminished with set speakers’ lists – no impromptu question to unsettle a waffling Minister, no chamber reaction to unacceptable answers. And because our expenses are now dependent on actually speaking, ever longer speakers’ lists fill with people who have no expertise and nothing to add, but who depend on allowances to pay their bills.
As a deputy speaker, I attend to sit on the Woolsack, and to see real people. Roll on a return to normality, perhaps to earlier nights and certainly to proper challenging, debate, personal interaction. Zoom and Teams are amazing tools but as humans we were not meant to live virtually.
In this photo Baroness Anne McIintosh is speaking
Postscript – I had thought the Jubilee line ran through the night and discovered when I got to the Westminster platform recently at 12.28 that the last train was 12.32. So all was well,. Was quite weary after a 12 hour day, so very glad my trusty tube got me home OK! I did wonder how many other 76-year old women worked such silly hours – but I do enjoy it.
Wednesday 24th February 2021
Two hundred years ago, John Keats died in Rome on 23rd February. He lived in Hampstead for the last few years of his life and the house where he lodged, Wentworth Place, in what is now known as Keats Grove, is now a museum in his memory. Hampstead Parish Church has a bust of the poet presented by American admirers of his poetry, just by the steps to the Lady Chapel.
John Keats was not an enthusiastic church goer during his life. But as I discovered when working in Hampshire last year, he is associated with another place of worship, the chapel at Stansted Park which straddles the Hampshire/East Sussex border. In 1958, the then owner, the Earl of Bessborough, published a short book on the history of the estate called A Place in the Forest Being the story of Stansted in Sussex which provides some interesting details of Keats’ visit.
The building, formerly a hunting lodge, dates back to 1480 but was rebuilt as a chapel in the early 19th century in Regency Gothic style by the owner of the estate at that time, Lewis Way. Despite his poor health, John Keats travelled extensively in England, Ireland and Scotland. Towards the end of January 1819, Keats and his friend Charles Brown were staying in Chichester and later in Bedhampton. He was at work on The Eve of St Agnes and The Eve of St Mark. It was probably in The Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle that he read that the chapel was to be consecrated on 25th January, the anniversary of the conversion of St Paul. They decided to attend although it was several years since Keats had renounced his Christian faith. His attention wandered during the very long service and he found inspiration in the arms of the Fitzalans and the Earls of Arundel, then depicted in stained glass in the three arches of the window opposite. Back at his lodgings in Bedhampton Mill-House, these are some of the words Keats recorded on a much-scored manuscript
A casement triple arch’d and diamonded
With many coloured glass fronted the Moon
In midst whereof a shielded escutcheon shed
High blushing gules…
(From The Eve of St Agnes)
The painted east window of the Stansted chapel is probably unique in being the only window in a Christian place of worship which is wholly Jewish in design and symbolism. Lewis Way dedicated much of his life and his fortune to converting Jews to Christianity and this chapel was designed to be the headquarters of his endeavours. Mrs JRH Moorman, daughter of Dr GM Trevelyan, was the first to suggest that this wonderful window with its seven lights was the inspiration of The Eve of St Mark.
The first stanza could be describing the entrance to the chapel which is unusually low
Each arched porch and entry low
Was filled with patient folk and slow
The second stanza of the poem goes on to refer to many of the features of the window including silver stars, cherubs, a menorah (seven branched candlestick) and the Ark of the Covenant.
Keats visit to Hampshire was a productive one. He completed one of the world’s greatest narrative poems. But he must also have had some first thoughts for The Eve of St Mark’s too.
Tuesday 23rd February 2021
Judy writes "I think this poem goes well with our Lenten altar frontal"
This is the place of prayer.
Here where the inward pointing nails
The ever-narrowing gate
when the world of time and space
yields up its measured form.
Here in the needle's eye.
Dark upon dark.
The aching, echoing void
of the hollowed heart
at the point of change.
(and that is the agony)
bearing the unknown
to the mystery
at the place of prayer.
Monday 22nd February 2021
This remarkable woman is buried in the Additional Burial Ground and you can visit her grave P 80
What is her claim to remembrance? Simply the fact that almost single-handedly she restored to the Church the serious study of the Christian mystics, those men and women who, she wrote, ‘insist that they know for certain the presence and activity of that which they call the Love of God … They know a spiritual order, penetrating and everywhere conditioning though transcending the world of sense.’
Her major study Mysticism (1911) remains a landmark in the literature on its subject. Through it she wished to make the experience and thought of the great mystics available, not for detached study but as a guide and inspiration to contemporary Christians. The mystics, she said, remind us that engaging with the realm of the Spirit is ‘not to know about, but to Be.’
In her books, she returned constantly to the assistance that the mystics can give to Christian life and devotion today. For Evelyn Underhill, the mystics were no more ethereal or ‘otherworldly’ (in the worst sense) than she was herself. She was a woman who combined deep Christian discipleship with an astringent mind, a keen humour and a down-to-earth character. Today’s vague talk about being ‘spiritual but not religious’, would have earned brisk dismissal from her. ‘No deeply religious person is without a touch of mysticism, and no mystic can be other than religious.’
Given the range of her scholarship, and her grasp of theology and philosophy, it comes as a surprise to find that she was largely self-taught in these disciplines, yet she was regarded seriously by professional scholars. She was concerned that theology should cease being a matter of arid speculation and study among specialists and return to being inseparably linked with Christian life and worship. Her second major book, written near the end of her life and reflecting her mature thought, was called Worship.
Nor did her activities end with writing. From 1924 onwards, she became known as a conductor of retreats. Many of her later books are based on material that she delivered during these retreats. Also, she helped countless individuals by her counsel. She was also engaged in ecumenical work, aimed at encouraging dialogue between Anglicans and members of the Orthodox Church. Everything she did reflected her abhorrence of narrowness in Christian life.
She achieved a prodigious amount of work, yet she did it as the wife of a solicitor, playing her full part in his life. To this, she added regular visits to the poor. She was clear that authentic Christian prayer should lead to awareness of social realities, and to action where necessary.
It must be stressed that though her work was concerned with the life of the Spirit, she was not someone to whom prayer and meditation and even belief came easily. Notebooks discovered after her death reveal that her path was frequently lonely and anguished, though this was never apparent to those she helped. It is her refusal to hide behind easy pieties and sentimentalities that make her a continuing encouragement and challenge to Christians.
We have much to thank her for.
Saturday 20th February 2021
Dogwood and snowdrops in the the Hill Garden near Golders Hill Park
One of the few bonuses of the Pandemic for many has been the time and opportunity to read more.
I often wake in the night, finding it hard to get to sleep again. I decided to sign up to Audible audiobooks and it has proved a great decision. I mostly read fiction, and some biographies and I wasn’t sure how I would get on with listening to a book rather than reading one, but after a few chapters of my first book it just seemed perfectly normal! Books are downloaded on to your smart phone or tablet and then you can listen to them out loud or through headphones. When I wake now, I just plug in my headphones and listen to a book. My only personal rule is that the story mustn’t be too exciting, or I don’t drop off to sleep! There is a sleep timer, so when you do go back to sleep the book doesn’t race too far ahead.
Here are two books I have enjoyed listening to recently:
‘Where the light enters’ – Jill Biden
A hugely readable book by Dr Jill Biden, wife of now President Joe Biden. It was published in 2018 so there is no mention of running for President at that time and is a very warm account of how Jill built a family – and a life of her own. Joe Biden lost his first wife and baby daughter in a car crash leaving him with two small boys to bring up. He then met and married Jill who had to learn to balance life as a mother, wife, teacher and political spouse.
I really recommend this book as a it describes the challenges Jill faced marrying into a strong Irish Catholic family, helping Joe to bring up the boys and supporting him in his political career. I found it a very genuine and honest account and a good background to what is now the US First Family.
‘A single thread’ – Tracy Chevalier
This book is set in Winchester in 1932 and tells the story of Violet Speedwell, who has become a ‘surplus woman’ having lost her brother and fiancé in the First World War. She is drawn into the life of the Cathedral broderers where she finds support and community. She is also drawn to a married bellringer, Arthur.
I found this book soothing and calming. The story paints a rich picture of history and social change in the inter-war years. It is well researched and the description of cathedral life, and all the issues often associated with small communities rang true for me after our time at York Minster. ‘The novel touches on issues of the position of women, of sexuality, of being an unmarried mother, of the importance of friendships, of identity, family, of love and art.’
The Digital Divide:
Prior to the pandemic, some older people were not interested in accessing digital services or getting online, however that is changing. Use of technology is now an important component for many people to keep in touch and access services so they can lead a thriving life and maintain their pre-COVID-19 independence.
Age UK Camden has continued to support those unable to access digital solutions by providing training & telephone support throughout the pandemic on a case by case basis. This has included distributing equipment, training and problem solving. From 1st February 2021, our one-to-one gadget clinics will be returning. These sessions will take place on Monday afternoons, and will be a dedicated time to learn or enhance digital skills, supported by a volunteer tutor. These sessions provide the perfect opportunity to help older people unlock their digital potential!
If you or someone you know needs help with learning how to use Zoom or WhatsApp, or if you were given a new smartphone for Christmas and want to know how to make the most of it, do sign-up to a Gadget Clinic by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 020 7239 0400 to book a place. For more information, visit: www.ageuk.org.uk/camden/our-services/it-training
How you can help us:
Fundraising continues to be a vital part of ensuring we can continue to do what we do. We have just launched our 'Donate a Cuppa' campaign, encouraging people to support our older generation by donating to our campaign: www.justgiving.com/campaign/donateacuppaAgeUKCamden
Quality Pre-loved items, donation drive! With our Charity Boutique now online and our Shop in Leather Lane shut due to the current restrictions we are asking those in and around the Hampstead area to donate quality pre-loved items to our drop off point at Henderson Court.
Items we need:
- Pre-loved designer clothes and accessories in a saleable condition.
- Leisurewear in good, saleable condition.
- Fashion, art and design, and autobiographical 'coffee table' books and magazines.
- Shoes and trainers in good condition.
- Vinyl records.
Due to limited space, please only donate one bag per person. You can drop items off at Henderson Court Monday-Friday between 3-4pm. Please do not leave items outside Henderson Court as they could be damaged or thrown away.
Do Stay in Touch: Please sign up to our regular newsletter – we would love to keep in touch with you. www.ageuk.org.uk/camden/get-involved/email/
And last but not least thank you again. You continue to support us on a daily basis and in addition there have been several times over this past year where we have turned to you for help and you have always been there. It has meant such a lot to us and to those we look after.
With best wishes,
Nikki (Morris)CEO Age UK Camden.
Thursday 18th February 2021
Our granddaughter Lucy, aged 13, has started a 'Readathon' to raise funds for Book Aid International. This charity sends books to disadvantaged and marginalised people across the world. Education by reading helps to empower people to change their lives for the better. It costs just £2 for Book Aid to send a book and in 2020 they sent over 865,000 books to schools, libraries, universities, hospitals and refugee camps in 19 countries. Lucy is aiming to read 20 books over 4 months. She has a page on the JustGiving website with the link https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lucy-coleman13 which gives further details. She would be very grateful for any support that you could give her challenge to further the work of this inspirational charity. With many thanks.
As some of you will know, Jeremy and Julia very kindly offered to host our two bee colonies in the vicarage garden. We are extremely grateful to them both for their kindness, openness, generosity and interest. During our post-service zoom calls, parishioners have been asking us what happens to bees during the winter months.
Winter can be a risky time for honeybees. Many other insects including bumble bees hibernate during winter, but honeybees hunker down inside their hives, and huddle together to keep warm and protect their precious queen.
Fewer bees are needed in the winter so colonies shrink in size. The queen stops laying eggs, and the male drones, no longer seen as essential workers, are banished. The all-female winter workforce, fed on a low fat, high protein diet when they were autumn larvae, are fatter, stronger and have a longer lifespan (4–6 months instead of only a few weeks) than their summer sisters. They need to survive the entire winter.
When outside temperatures begin to drop, these winter worker bees retreat to their hives and form a tight winter cluster. They shiver and vibrate their wing muscles to generate a survivable heat (32–37°C). The outer layer line up and face into the cluster to create a thermal barrier, while inner bees feed on their stored honey for energy. Though the queen is always at the warmest centre of the cluster, worker bees rotate their position from the outside to the inside, so no individual gets too cold. The colder the weather is outside, the more compact the cluster becomes.
To sustain themselves and the heat, the cluster moves in formation around the hive to reach their reserves of honey. For most of the winter, the cluster stays intact, but when temperatures outside rise, the bees will take 'cleansing flights' and eliminate body waste. They never defecate inside the hive.
The queen is waited upon and fed and groomed, and spreads her pheromones to keep her colony happy. She only resumes her egg-laying in January or February in order to strengthen the size of the colony for the season ahead. This new brood will help to replace the bees that have died during the winter, and to ensure there are enough bees for spring foraging.
The colony's ability to survive the winter depends in part on the stores of honey they have built up during the warmer months, and a careful beekeeper should ensure they have more than enough reserves to last them the winter. Our two colonies had limited stores this year, so we decided not to take any honey from them. So far they seem to still be thriving, though they have several more weeks to get through. Dampness in early spring is another big threat, so we are hoping they will make it.
The Vicarage fox
Wednesday 17th February 2021
For Passiontide 2020 we were preparing to put up Essy Sparrow’s Stations of the Cross in church. But it was not to be – lockdown intervened and instead Ayla made them into a video for YouTube. This year, having learnt how to manage lockdown, we will be making them available for prayer and reflection in church. There will be restrictions on numbers, if necessary, and the usual instructions about face masks and sanitising, and a one-way system will be in operation.
By way of introduction we repeat here extracts from Ayla’s interview with Essy which was printed in the April 2020 Parish Magazine and is still available in full on this website under Magazines.
Thorns, Tears, Truth: Essy Sparrow in conversation with Ayla Lepine
Ayla – The Stations of the Cross focus on how alone Jesus is, even when he’s surrounded by people. The first Station, with Jesus in the Garden at Gethsemane is the only one where Jesus covers his face.
Essy – It’s a mix of both prayer and fear …… Sometimes we see Jesus in the garden as a holy figure who doesn’t look particularly tormented……... For me, Gethsemane and taking up the cross, feel very tied together. They’re connected through the pain of being betrayed by someone you love. That’s a unique kind of grief.
Ayla - The Station covered in text is interesting too, because it’s so densely packed and tense.
Essy – I was flicking through the newspaper and thinking about the story in relation to the news. People were yelling, but nothing added up. Their arguments didn’t make sense. Pilate didn’t know what to do. That felt like so many of the stories that we read……. about a girl who got attacked because she was Chinese. People thought she had Coronavirus. Her friend stood up for her, and she got knocked to the ground. Those kinds of stories, where people are willing to stand up for each other are important situations to watch from a power dynamics point of view. In this story, the attackers’ friends just left her on the ground. They did nothing.
Ayla - Thinking about how you’ve looked at the crucifixion in your series. You made two different images. Why is that?
Essy – The first one is a self-portrait; that’s me in my orange jumper.
Ayla – Why did you choose to make the second one?
Essy – I also wanted to make something for someone to meditate on, if they wanted to have a different experience.
Ayla – When we move through the story of Good Friday, even if we’ve heard the story thousands of times, we inhabit it again, and it changes us in new ways. How did you feel after you finished making the Stations?
Essy – I had a big cry. …….. It was a really intense experience to have. The art is exactly how I felt.
Sunday 14th February 2021
Friday 12th February 2021
It's quite handy knowing an international baritone because thatis how I found out about this book. And he may be called Deutsch but he's Viennese! This was my choice for a Christmas present from a friend, in the original language.
I read on, fascinated by how rude he could be! It's divided into chapters about various famous singers he has played for, mostly from the German speaking areas. He tells you how wonderfully they sang whatever it is - and then he tells you what he didn't like. And this can extend to beer and sausages after the concert, rather than a posh meal. My sympathies were with a well known singer who, when asked why he didn't work with him any more, replied "Oh, Helmut's such a Prima Donna!" He had a Japanese wife who went back to Japan. I wonder why?
Op>f course, Germans's a great language to be rude in. I wondered what he'd think of an up-coming CD where the singer is actually English and the pianist comes from some place called Wales? Thinking of "Tom der Reimer" carried off by the Queen of the Elves with bells on her harness, the rising singer says he wouldn't allow anyone but his duo pianist to tinkle his bells! That's the spirit!
The first time I prayed the Rosary, it was a mistake. Well, not a mistake, but it wasn’t entirely intentional. I had been on a walking pilgrimage, with the British Pilgrimage Trust. One of the people I met, walked with and (at the end, at Westminster Abbey) prayed with was a friendly woman who told me she worked at St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Soho Square.
And one lunchtime I was doing work nearby, so I popped in. She recognised me, seemed very pleased to see me, but said, “We’re about to start the Rosary. Would you like to join us?” This, by the way, was before I started going to church regularly at Hampstead, or indeed anywhere. As you can guess, from the fact that I went on that pilgrimage, I was curious - but joining the Rosary suddenly plunged me into anxiety. It promised to be yet another of those things that people do in church that cause me to wonder if I will ever know what’s going on, and how to do it. What if I do it wrong? Will somebody be offended? But on balance I thought it was worth the risk. I followed Lucy into the church and kneeled beside her, and did very little else for the next however long because I didn’t know what I was doing. There seemed to be quite a lot of repetition. But it was restful. I enjoyed it.
Fast forward a few months, and I was by now popping into HPC quite regularly, including for Morning Prayers and Evening Prayers. One day Ayla (our curate until last year) said that she was doing a Rosary group on Thursday mornings. I was pleased, and slightly surprised. I had no idea that Anglicans pray the Rosary. Surely it was too “high” - like trying to pray from the top of the steeple? Apparently not. I joined the (then live, in person, Zoomless) group, and quickly got into the rhythm of it. Once again, I found the repetition helped me to ground myself in a prayerful way. And the rotating cycle of Mysteries provided a different contemplation each time.
Cycle? There are four sets of Mysteries: Joyful, comprising the early life of Jesus; Luminous (His ministry); Sorrowful (you can guess); and Glorious (the Resurrection and beyond).
When Covid came, our small but perfectly formed group transitioned quickly into Zoom. Then Ayla left, and we have had to lead ourselves. It’s been my privilege to do that fairly often.
When Sheena asked me to write this, I felt surprisingly daunted. I’m not a theologian. I can’t make a robust intellectual argument in favour of praying the Rosary. Happily, I realise I don’t need to. You can find that kind of thing elsewhere, I’m sure. (Have you met the Internet?)
What I can assure you is that I continue to find it extremely helpful in creating a prayerful space, and have missed very few weeks. Others in the group would say the same. To be honest, I quite like the small size of our group just as it is, but at the same time I would be ecstatic if, by writing this, I were able to persuade you to join us.
We meet on Thursday mornings, every week, at 8.30, and finish at 9. Perhaps we’ll see you there.
After a rather sedentary January (including 10 days of quarantine for the Gardner household), a team Step Challenge with work colleagues is just what I needed to boost my energy. Week by week in February, four teams of four are battling it out to be at the top of the leaderboard.
As the oldest participant by some margin, I also feel I have a point to prove! And so I am starting each day, regardless of the weather, with a brisk walk. This morning however, I had to stop in my tracks to admire the most beautiful sunrise over Hampstead Heath. How wonderful!
Tuesday 9th February 2021
At Hampstead Parish Church, what we do is underpinned by our mission: Building an inclusive community of Christian love, faith, witness and action.
As set out in our Mission Action Plan, we are committed to seeking justice and welcoming all.
Last summer, following the tragic death of George Floyd in the US and the Black Lives Matter movement that followed, we witnessed a new and urgent impetus for scrutiny around issues of racial injustice, a need for deeper understanding, and a commitment to effect real and lasting change.
At Hampstead Parish Church, as in many organisations, we felt a need to talk, listen, reflect and take action. This is not merely about celebrating Black History Month in October, and then continuing as normal for the rest of the year. This is about examining our behaviours and actions, and being open to hear and learn from the experiences of others, however uncomfortable that might be, and then taking action to dismantle barriers and create a truly inclusive church.
We have therefore established a Racial Justice Working Party:
- To listen to the perspectives and experiences of others, and take steps to build our awareness and understanding on matters of race or ethnicity
- To raise awareness of the issues associated with race in society today and use every opportunity to promote equality and inclusion
- To promote multi-culturalism and the richness this can bring to our community and our worship
- To recognise injustices and more subtle inequalities and micro-aggressions, and to call them out
- To aim for a more complete telling of the history of our church and parish, one which includes the contribution of all races and reflects diverse historical perspectives
Wondering how you can help make a positive difference?
We are looking for people who can bring diverse perspectives, lived experiences and cultural understanding to this Working Party. If you would like to find out more, please contact Angela Gardner or the Vicar via email@example.com.
Racial injustice is a complex matter and we recognise that many of us have much to learn. To help build our awareness and understanding, we encourage you to use the resources which you’ll find on the website here. And do, please, share your feedback with us.
Dear Parishioners of Hampstead Parish Church,
A big thank you to you all for your support over this last year. We have really appreciated it. You have supported us practically (responding to our shout out for items when we’ve needed them, often at short notice), financially (we have needed to provide more services for people at a time when income has been challenging) and emotionally – your wonderful encouragement has really kept us going – thank you! We couldn’t have achieved all that we have without you! You have made such a difference to some very vulnerable people, many of whom have never had to ask a charity for help before.
I am so proud that Age UK Camden has been at the forefront of the local community sector response to the pandemic and has worked closely with local partners such as yourselves to provide effective and comprehensive support for the borough's most vulnerable residents.
During the past year we have had to be flexible, helping with a wide range of practical and emotional concerns which have arisen because of the pandemic and the restrictions. As you know in lockdown 1 we had to respond with providing food for people who had no other means of receiving food. After a time the Council stepped in to support us with this as the numbers in need were so high across the borough. All of our services have continued throughout the pandemic and we have made use of the phone and the internet if we haven’t been able to meet with people face to face. And with the support of the Council and Public Health England our Hub at Henderson Court has continued to offer support and a safe space for some of the most vulnerable, such an important service.
Services that people are finding particularly beneficial at the moment include:
- Online and telephone support – advice, information, befriending and counselling.
- Streamed musical recitals. Listen here: Age UK Camden | Lunch time concerts
- Book group. Join our book group here: Age UK Camden | Book Club
- Community Connectors service – social prescribing to stay engaged with the local community and help with confidence for people to come outside for exercise when they have been isolating for so long.
If you know someone who would benefit from our services please do share our website with them or direct them to our Information and Advice phone line 020 7837 3777 10am-4pm Monday to Friday. There is always room for one more!
With best wishes,
CEO Age UK Camden.
There was mention in Church Chat a few weeks ago of Julian of Norwich’s 'Revelations' as a source of comfort during the lockdown.
I too, have been finding the work of this 14th century visionary something of a go-to. Struggling to reconcile my feeling that ‘staying safe’ at the expense of others is decidedly un-Christian while abiding by the socially responsible rules of ‘staying home,’ has taken a toll on what I can only call my principals. How can we be grateful for our comfort and safety with others imperiled? Is this what it means to “experience a wondrous mix of well and woe?”
One theologian who has recognized Julian as a prophet for the 21st century Is Matthew Fox, who has written a short and accessible guide: Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic—And Beyond. Fox positions the anchoress as a ‘fully woke woman,’ a visionary whose wisdom should resonate with us on more levels than her ability to shelter in place while simultaneously embodying compassion for her community: Julian spoke about patriarchies, environmental sustainability and (most anachronistically) – the theology of optimism.
Fox organises his study of Julian into seven lessons – all of which, through his lens, are indeed ‘woke,’ 21st century, and exceedingly wise in the era of Covid. My particular favourite is chapter three, which ‘calls us to deep reflection on the divinity to be found in nature, and in all beings that dwell in nature.’
Some nights ago, with Julian set aside, wide awake at three am, I went to the shelves and pulled down a book that I have been carrying around for three decades, unread, simply because it has my grandmother’s handwriting on the front cover. This book, written by a woman who lived for some time in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia, about twenty minutes away from where I was brought up, is one of the most beautiful celebrations of the wonders of the natural world I have ever read.
That’s what I thought on page one. On page three, came an even more miraculous recognition, because on page three, the author writes:
An anchorite’s hermitage is called an anchorhold; some anchor holds were simple sheds clamped to the side of a church like a barnacle to a rock. I think of this house clamped to the side of Tinker Creek as an anchor hold. It holds me at anchor to the rock bottom of the creek itself and it keeps me steadied in the current, as a sea anchor does, facing the stream of light pouring down. It’s a good place to live; there's a lot to think about.
Fox sees Julian the anchoress' worship of a creative divine alive in the work of Emily Dickinson. I see it in Annie Dillard’s A Pilgrim of Tinker Creek.
May you all find much to think about in your reading this winter…
(unsurprisingly, the UK edition of Tinker Creek is published by Canterbury Press Norwich)
"Have you any holiday plans?" Even asking this question seems a distant memory when the most exciting outing most of us have had recently has been to the local park. However, Wade Davis's book about the River Magdalena allows you to explore with him Colombia's vital artery of commerce and culture that runs a thousand miles from the mountains of Southern Colombia northwards to the Caribbean. The book is peppered with facts about this beautiful country, with its unequalled abundance and diversity of biological life. 1,932 species of birds, including 165 distinct humming birds, and 26,00 native species of flowering plants for a start. Most of all, it is a series of personal encounters with some extraordinarily brave and resilient people who have survived appalling periods of violence, cruelty and sudden death and have shown enormous courage and hope for the future.
Two anecdotes in particular stuck in my mind amongst the many reported in this book. One is an account of those who managed to transform Medellin, from the murder capital of the Americas when Pablo Escobar ruled, to a beautiful city with parks, libraries, a university, science museum, Metrocable and famous botanical garden. The other is the story of Jose Manuel Zapata, known as Morita, who became the guardian of his small town. He was so outraged by the guerrillas who had rounded up all the locals at gun point and marched them to his hut, where he was watching the World Cup football, that he ordered them to let the people go immediately - and ended up letting the guerrillas watch the football with him. Asked how he could face down killers he said "I have a father who is called God who walks with me everywhere".
Read this book and you will feel that you have visited Colombia from your armchair!
Still flush from the triumph of our 2019 summer performance of Vivaldi's Gloria and then our Christmas Lights concert, we enjoyed starting the new year getting to know our new music director, Aidan Coburn. Unfortunately, like everything else, in late March we had to put away our music with the hope that restrictions would be lifted and rehearsals would resume within a few weeks.
By Easter it was obvious that things were not going to return to normal any time soon so it was decided to start our summer term meetings on Zoom. Many choirs have struggled with the challenge of singing on-line at the mercy of 'variable' internet connections (the word cacophony springs to mind!). So we allocated part of our meeting to singing songs that we had sung before (muted of course apart from Aidan!) and spent the rest of our time listening to memorable pieces of music chosen by members of the choir. Some of us still harboured a vain hope that we could put on some kind of summer concert but it was not to be. Never mind, we thought, we can still practice some wonderful pieces for our Christmas Concert!
What a joy in September when briefly we were able to meet again in church on a Thursday night (extra careful to follow the 'hands, face, space’ rules). . . but not for long. By the end of October we were back on-line but this time feeling more confident about the new music we had been practising. We did manage to record a few pieces, Ave Verum Corpus, Panis Angelicus, Crimond, Litany and Wiegenlied - one of which was played to the congregation in December.
So, 2021 sees us back on Zoom but we are ever hopeful that this summer, or maybe in the autumn, we will be able to demonstrate our joy of singing and perform for you in church because we really do love singing in the Community Choir
Saturday 6th February 2021
or rather, during my Monday morning cleaning… the crates arrived containing the very fine memorial to George Steevens (1736 –1800) sculpted by John Flaxman RA ( 1755 – 1826). Steevens was a parishioner of HPC, living at the Upper Flask (now the site of Queen Mary’s House) from 1771 until his death. He had family connections in Poplar however, so was buried there. After that church was deconsecrated in 1977 the memorial was moved to the Fitzwilliam museum in Cambridge, where it has been in store for almost all of the last 40 years. The sculpture conservator from the museum who brought it to Hampstead said that his first task at the Fitzwilliam 40 years ago was moving it from Poplar to Cambridge. It is now fixed to the formerly very blank wall of the Lady Chapel, above the entrance to the clergy vestry, and will be well worth a good look as soon as the church can be fully open again.
Wednesday 3rd February 2021
- A compliment is uplifting
- A little praise so worth while
- Especially when reworded with a thankful smile.
- It cost nothing
- To acknowledge a good deed
- Or a simple task.
- To someone, who is there for you,
- And will do, almost, anything you ask.
C H U R C H
- C - is to Care for people
- H - is to Help each other
- U - is to try and Understand each other
- R - is to Respect them too
- C - to Care can feel very rewarding
- H our Hearts can be strong - but at times so weak that can change from you and I.
When Graham and Sue Dowell left Hampstead in 1986, he had been our Vicar since 1974, they retired (!) to their home in Clun. After Graham died Sue moved to a different house with field behind but in the centre of the village. She has sheep grazing on the field and now has acquired 2 donkeys which arrived on 20th January.
Meet Bella and Kamala who love visitors and the attention they get from them.
Each Tuesday lunchtime a group of women from our congregation meet to pray for an hour. Inside Out was formed in October 2019 in response to requests for a church prayer group for women. We actively pray together for each other, the activities, mission and ministry of Hampstead Parish Church, seeking the flourishing of our own spiritual life, and that of our church and the wider parish.
In normal times we meet in the church Lady Chapel but when Lockdown happened we moved on to Zoom. As soon as this was lifted, we met in the Vicarage garden through the summer and then went back on to Zoom as Autumn and the colder weather approached. Apart from short breaks during school holidays this remarkable little group has met every week without fail and we continue to meet! Not everyone can make it every week, but we are committed and look forward to our hour of prayer together. p>We have shared our joys, our sorrows, and our frustrations. We have prayed for our children, friends, family members, our church our parish and more. We have seen wonderful answers to prayer and through praying together we have got to know new people and experienced a strong bond of fellowship.
Inside Out is open to all women. We meet from 12.15 - 13.15 every Tuesday for a time of open prayer and fellowship. If you would like to join us, the Zoom link is in the weekly Wednesday church e- mailing; we would love you to join us.
Sunday 31st January 2021
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
This is the writer's first novel, which was short listed for the Women's Prize for Fiction in 2019. She subsequently won thriller book of the year at the British Book awards, seeing off Lee Child and Val McDermid. The title of the book may be off putting to the average reader who is not looking for a blood & gore novel or a violent one. It was actually the working title for the book which somehow stuck.
The writer's childhood was in Nigeria and the U.K. before she returned to Lagos. The action takes place there.
The main characters are Korede who is the sensible and plain one and her sister Ayoola who is the opposite and has a knack of attracting any man she chooses. Korede is a nurse at the local hospital and her sister is a designer of clothes online when she isn't spending time manipulating others to amuse herself.
The action opens with these words 'Ayoola summons me with these words - Korede, I killed him'. What happens next draws Korede into a web of deception which then explores the relationship between the sisters and the mother and father. All is not as it seems on the surface and soon the undercurrent of local customs and misogyny begins to appear.
It does have some amusing moments and in fact, I did not realise until I was deeply engrossed in the novel, that she cleverly draws you into an insightful portrait of a dysfunctional family. I very much enjoyed this snapshot of aspects of life in Lagos, the food and the language. At 223 pages it isn't a heavy tome, but it has a lot to say. I can't wait for her next book to appear, but it is the sort of book you want to re-read.
I have been sparing with details of the plot, so it does not spoil the enjoyment of reading the book, but would emphasise that it isn't a conventional murder mystery.
Thy Will Be Done, by Stephen Cherry
I came across a review of Thy Will Be Done in King's Parade, the magazine for alumni of King's College Cambridge, where Stephen Cherry is Dean of Chapel, and Ayla Lepine is the College Chaplain. So we have some nice personal connections.
The review included an extract which looked promising. The topic of the book, an extended study of the Lord's Prayer, was itself attractive, since it is of course deeply familiar to us all, but not something we have studied together recently. The length of the book is not too daunting (some 200 pages). It is conveniently structured for Lent, in six parts - Heaven, Earth, Bread, Forgiveness, Temptation, Glory - and each part is broken down into six short chapters which can either be read day by day or all together once a week before the group meeting. The extract was enough to convince me that the style and content would be both readily accessible and at the same time sufficiently stretching to engage the attention of a thoughtful and well informed congregation.
So I recommended it to the Vicar, who has agreed that it would be suitable, and he will shortly be using the weekly worship e-mails to invite us to sign up for one of the three groups, to be led by himself, Jan and me, which will meet on Zoom at different times during the week. Stephen Cherry himself has very kindly promised to join us on Zoom at some point, and meanwhile he has helpfully provided a set of questions to stimulate our discussions. We haven't ever run a study group on Zoom before, and it will be sad not to meet in person, but it will be good to take part from the comfort of our own homes, and I hope that it will prove a good Lenten experience for all of us. Lent starts on 17 February, so if you want to get a head start, you can order the book now from the Church House bookshop, or from an online supplier such as hive.
Our theme last Sunday was Fishers of Men. Maureen told the story with props. Afterwards, children made invitations to friends, inviting them to Bubble Church.
Jesus asks four fishermen to come with him to learn to 'fish for people', to become Jesus' disciples. First he walked beside the sea of Galilee. He saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea and asked them to follow him. Then he walked a bit further and saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat; preparing their nets. Jesus called them. They all immediately said 'Yes'! They left their father in the boat and followed him.
Children's fish-shape invitations to Bubble Church
'Come and follow me!'
Monday 25th January 2021
"If Candlemas be fine and clear there'll be two winters in that year"
Before there was Groundhog Day there was Candlemas. And before Candlemas there was Imbolc - the pagan festival of the coming of spring.
It seems there has always been a need to celebrate the coming of spring as soon after midwinter as possible. The date is supposedly midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox - not sure the maths quite works but perhaps it did before eight days were chopped out of the calendar in 1582.
But what is Candlemas? It's the day on which churches used to bless all the candles for use during the year. Somehow it's not the same blessing bottles of candle oil (and one tradition states that only beeswax candles should be blessed anyway). In the days when we used wax candles we did bless the whole year's supply (candles burn better if they're old so we always had at least that many in the building).
February 2nd is also The Presentation of Christ, being the day Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple, along with their offering of two doves or pigeons (Leviticus suggests a sheep but presumably they couldn't afford that) and seems to be one of the oldest of the Christian festivals. After the Presentation, according to Luke, the family went back to Nazareth (not Egypt, as in Matthew).
Snowdrops were known as Candlemas bells and there was a superstition that they shouldn't be brought into the house before Candlemas.
Candlemas was also the absolutely last day of Christmas - after that we start counting down to Lent and if you kept your decorations up any longer there were dire consequences:
Ceremony for Candlemas Eve
Down with rosemary, and so
Down with the bays and mistletoe;
Down with the holly, ivy, all
Wherewith you dressed the Christmas Hall;
That so the superstitious find
No one least branch there left behind;
For look, how many leaves there be
Neglected, there [maids, trust to me]
So many Goblins you shall see.
Ceremony for Candlemas Day
Kindle the Christmas brand, and then
till sunset let it burn;
Which quench'd, then lay it up again
Till Christmas next return.
Part must be kept wherewith to tend
The Christmas log next year.
And where 'tis safety kept, the fiend
Can do no mischief there.
End now the white-loaf and the pie,
And let all sports with Christmas die.
Note: We keep Candlemas/Presentation of Christ in the Temple on the nearest Sunday which this year is 31st January.
Seen on Hampstead Heath
Sunday 24th January 2021
To Die But Once by Jacqueline Winspear was one of Susan Woolf’s favourite lockdown books. The book opens in 1940 against the background of the evacuation of British troops from Dunkirk. Maisie Dobbs, the principal character tries to help a local pub landlord and his wife who are concerned about their son who has not been in touch for some time. Young Joe Coombes, a happy-go-lucky young man, who is not yet sixteen, has been working away from home—he is an apprentice to a painting and decorating company with a lucrative government contract, and the work requires a crew of painters to work away from home, and Joe is the youngest on the crew. His father tells Maisie that Joe had been acting strangely of late, and complaining of headaches. Could the lad have been enjoying his first taste of freedom a little too much? Or is there something more serious at the heart of his lack of contact.
Other elements of the story include 'a well-known' London family involved in organized crime (and one member who will not hesitate to resort to extreme violence), and Anna, an orphaned evacuee who is living with Maisie.
Susan Woolf says " the author is reliable and I like her central character, Maisie Dobbs. I always learn something about London in the early twentieth century. Unlike many authors, Jacqueline Winspear does not put in excessive details about meals and tea."
At the end of December there was a ring on our doorbell at about 9 am. Outside there was a very evident smell of gas, and I was greeted by a gas engineer who said they thought the leak was coming from next door (they'd been alerted by the paper delivery service from Anne's Community Store) - they'd tried the bell but no response (not surprising as the house seemed empty). I gave the engineer the landlady's mobile phone number. About half an hour later the road was full of gas & electricity vans, all services in the area had been switched off and a locksmith called - it was then discovered that the front door was bolted on the inside; so the police and fire brigade came with added assistance - finally, the fire brigade achieved entry!
It was discovered that the entire property was being used as a cannabis farm! Quite amazing - and not surprising that they were the quietest of neighbours!
On a very sober side, the criminals had illegally tapped into the electricity supply and this cabling had overheated until finally it had melted the mains plastic gas pipe - hence the smell of gas - and the potential for a catastrophic explosion.
(the photograph, taken by one of my neighbours, shows the inside of one of the rooms after the police removed the plants!)
Friday 22nd January 2021
Taken on a very wet day but these birds have been regular visitors for the last couple of weeks. My book tells me that they are Redwings
Another photo taken 10 days later
Wednesday 20th January 2021
Spotted on a walk this week, signs of hope - spring bulb shoots outside the Vicarage!
Four years ago - in that previous life of somewhat hazy memory - I devised the January Literary Hour on Invisible Women - Significant Writers (NB: 2 years before Caroline Criado-Perez seemingly 'borrowed' my 'nvisible Women' title for her book!).
Mostly I focussed on women writers who'd been first in some way, but had been somewhat neglected, side-lined or forgotten, that is, had become invisible.
One of my selected writers was Julian of Norwich, who had in fact chosen to be invisible, by becoming an anchoress. What made me think of her again now, is realising she lived through another deadly pandemic, the mid 14th century Black Death, yet she managed to retain her trust in a divine wisdom that 'All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.'
'Julian' became not only invisible, but also anonymous. No-one knows her birth name as she assumed the name of the Norwich church to which her anchorage was attached. A manuscript copy of her writing, dated 1413 (now in the British Library) began:
"Here es a vision schewed be the goodenes of god to a devoute woman and hir name es Julyan that is recluse atte Norwyche and zitt ys on lyfe anno domini millesimo ccccxiii"
This was the shorter version of her later book 'Revelations of Divine Love,' written in middle-English around 1395, which was the first book in the English language known to have been written by a woman. Her manuscripts were carefully preserved and copied by Benedictine nuns and were later published by a Benedictine monk in 1670. However, this book remained generally 'invisible' until 1901, when the longer version was translated into modern English by Grace Warrack.
Perhaps we could see Julian as not only a mystic, but a medieval proto-feminist, given that she sometimes referred to 'Mother God... mother in grace and mother in nature' = "moder substantial" and "moder sensual."
During a grave illness in 1373 she suffered a near-death experience in which she received sixteen "shewings" - ie visions or revelations. She said heaven opened to her, and she wrote:
"God said not, 'thou shalt not be tempested, thou shalt not be travailed, thou shalt not be dis-eased ... but said 'thou shalt not be overcome"
If ever there was a time to hang on to these words it is now, remembering and praying for all those presently suffering from this 21st century pandemic.
Let us truly hope that All Shall Be Well.
As a parish we have supported Christian Aid for many years. Their work continues in spite of the pandemic.
Put soap* at the top of your list to save lives, urges Christian Aid
* Not literally buy them soap! As online shopping continues its meteoric rise, Christian Aid this year has expanded its digital gift selection to include a Charity Gift https://charity-gifts.christianaid.org.uk enabling supporters to help train more women to make soap for £15 or provide clean water for £30. It doesn't sound like much, does it? But it makes a big difference to the communities.
The humble bar of soap has morphed into a key tool in the global fight against coronavirus and Christian Aid is urging the public to put it at the top of their list.
Christian Aid has provided soap for almost 250,000 people worldwide since the outbreak began and CEO Amanda Khozi Mukwashi is appealing to the public also to buy the traditional gift of soap for the world's most vulnerable people.
Refugees living in crowded camps are particularly vulnerable to disease. Since April 2020 Christian Aid partner organisations in Bangladesh have provided over 40,000 bars of soap for Rohingya families and the local host community.
In Ethiopia, where coronavirus is an additional threat to lives on top of the climate crisis and the locust swarms of 2020, Christian Aid partners are training women to make soap from the drought resistant aloe vera plant. The soap not only protects the women's own families but provides a vital source of income.
Ms Mukwashi said: "This has been a year when we in the UK have experienced vulnerability in a way we haven't for many generations and have been given an insight into what it is like to not be able to fully protect our loved ones from outside forces.
"But we have tools at our disposal. We can wash our hands with soap and water and this year we are appealing to the public to help put those critical tools in the hands of some of the world's most vulnerable people."
NHS Consultant Dr Paul Grime of St Thomas' Hospital, London, who travelled with Christian Aid to rural Ethiopia said: "We mustn't underestimate the importance of soap and water. These may seem like basic and simple resources to us, but they can make a huge difference to those who don't have them. Making them available gives people the chance to protect themselves and their loved ones, control the spread of the virus and other infections in their communities and avoid the devastating impact that infections like coronavirus have on the poorest members of our global community."
Wednesday 13th January 2021
Here we go again!
Bubble Church resumed smoothly on Sunday on Zoom with love, appreciation, and sense of fun. Bubble church at home has all the elements worship alongside stuffed animals and real ones too. Dressed is . . . appropriate! Our new addition was a kitten. We missed Jeremy and his guitar, but we enjoyed recorded music with well know songs like, One more step along the way and Peace like a River. The theme was a New Beginning based on Jesus' baptism in the River Jordan. Children were asked to think about a time when they had a new experience and whether it was what they had expected.
We drew pictures of Jesus in the River Jordan receiving the Holy Spirit. We talked about our own baptism as a new beginning.
We ended with the usual big wind up AAAAA. . . men!
Tuesday 12th January 2021
Sometimes known as the Octave of Prayer, this runs from January 18th to January 25th. Though it's not in the Anglican lectionary, January 18th is sometimes kept as the date on which we acknowledge St Peter's Confession and the 25th, which we do keep, is the Conversion of St Paul. Hence we commemorate two pillars of the early church, martyred for their faith.
The origins of the Week
In 1908, a Franciscan Friar, Father Paul Wattson, proposed an octave devoted to Christian Unity. The point then and now is to address reconciliation of all branches of Christ's Church.
In 2021 the material has been prepared by the Monastic Community of Grandchamp* in Switzerland. The theme that was chosen, "Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit", is based on John 15:1-17 and expresses Grandchamp Community's vocation to prayer, reconciliation and unity in the Church and the human family. The usual printed resources have not been issued this year, instead the material is all online at Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2021 (ctbi.org.uk)
Introduction from the material for the Week
Our spiritual well-being is as important as our physical well-being. In the past year both of these have been seriously challenged: the COVID-19 pandemic has caused us to be careful about our own health, taking precautions such as washing hands and wearing facemasks and maintaining social distance. Some of us have been ill or have lost someone close to us. Meanwhile the working lives of many have been disrupted and families kept apart, often at huge personal cost. Perhaps it has made us all more anxious about our health and more aware of our vulnerability. Opportunities to worship and pray together have been seriously curtailed. We may well be feeling a sense of isolation from God as well as our neighbour.
Lockdown has caused us to think again about our priorities and the things and people that we value, that make our lives whole. The long periods of absence from family and friends, and the inability to share a meal together or celebrate a birthday or a wedding, are examples of this.
When it comes to our spiritual life, what is it that is most important for our well-being? What does it mean to be part of the one Church, the Body of Christ, when all we see of our sisters and brothers are on the screen of a laptop?
Show your support for Christian Unity by posting unity messages to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Twitter wall - simply add the #wpcuwall hashtag to your Twitter post (note there is a delay before they appear). You can also find updates about the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on Twitter by following the #wpcu2021 hashtag.
*If you'd like to find out more about the community at Grandchamp see
Community | Communaute de Grandchamp
For some years our Parish has partnered BASR, the Betlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation. Occasionally, our parishioners have visited this modern little hospital on the outskirts of Bethlehem in the West Bank. It has become a centre of excellence in the Middle East, while still remaining embedded in the local community. It addresses both physical and mental well-being, especially among children - though its doors are open to anyone in need.
It is difficult enough to live in the West Bank. Through arbitrary restrictions on movement, house demolitions, the appropriation or destruction of farmland, and by sheer physical violence, the occupying forces impose an intolerable burden on Palestinian everyday life. BASR's specialism in physical and mental trauma derives directly from this.
And now there is Covid to deal with, which is drastically affecting both the West Bank and Gaza. The Occupied Territories aren't given access to Israel's supply of vaccines. The demand for BASR's services has never been greater. Against the odds they work tirelessly to bring food, PPE and medication to the people of this beautiful, impoverished city and its refugee camps. Their current target is to support some 700 vulnerable people living with disabilities and 400 inpatients and frontline staff.
Edmund Shehadeh, the Director, has sent us his Christmas greetings and wishes us in Hampstead a blessed New Year. We normally offer BASR a share of our Christmas collections, but that has all changed. But we can still respond practically by contributing through the following link: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/help-basr-counter-covid19/. If you have any questions you can always get in touch with me through the Vestry
Monday 11th January 2021
A few weeks ago I wrote a piece on why you need to sort what you have and maybe declutter. That word that we now hear so often. I thought you might like some hints about how to do this.
De-cluttering is surprisingly tiring so select one drawer or one room or part of a room at a time. When sorting paper or small items, handle each just the once. Take the decision whether to keep it or dispose of it. File documents and find a logical place for objects. Resist the temptation to just put them back on the pile! Boxes labelled 'keep'/'recycle'/'charity shop' might be helpful and keep a big rubbish bin to hand. The following questions might be helpful as you make up your mind about each item:
When did you last use it?
Will you need it again?
Is it replaceable?
Is it useful/beautiful/especially significant to you?
Here are some of my favourite tips
- Store out-of-season clothes in a suitcase until you need them again
- Any clothing that doesn't look good on you/doesn't fit (and is unlikely to ever fit) or you can't imagine wearing again, should be put aside to go to a charity shop
- Clear out newspapers and magazines at least once a week
- 'One in one out' is good advice. It is hard to get rid of certain items, for example books. Personally, I usually keep non-fiction but with fiction I keep a book only if I definitely know I should like to read it again or I want to gift it to someone
- photographs- identify individuals before you forget who they are. For groups, trace around the figures using a soft pencil and tracing paper and write in the names.
I hope that I have inspired a few New Year Resolutions!
Thursday 7th January 2021
The shelter opened on 14th December, six weeks later than usual, in the County Hotel, in Upper Woburn Place, hundred yards or so down from Euston Station. Having decided that a rotating shelter, in a different church every night, was not feasible within the Covid restrictions, we had great trouble in locating a hostel or hotel able to house the guests and reasonably accessible for volunteers. The C4WS staff worked like Trojans to find a venue, and several locations were on the point of being signed up when some hitch prevented it.
Although found late in the day, the County Hotel is in many ways an ideal for location and accommodation, and its owners, Splendid Hotel Group, really seemed to want to help us. Each guest has his/her own room and although they do not have en suite bathrooms, we have taken on three rooms on each floor, so that each guest has a communal bathroom to his/herself. The hotel cannot be described as splendid; it is, to put it politely, "tired"; it has not been redecorated for, I guess, 50 years. Brown melamine tables match the yellowing (once white) paint and pub pattern carpet. But is basically clean, and some bits, such as the catering kitchen (in which one cannot cook!) are a good deal cleaner for the attention of some of HPC's volunteers. It's warm (in fact tropical in the rooms unless the window is open), and the beds are luxurious. I have spent two very cosy nights there myself.
Guests can come and go or stay in their rooms; they do not have to leave a church hall with their bags at 9 am and not return to a different church at 7pm. We can take 20 guests where before we were stretched to sleep 16. A decent hot meal is provided by the hotel, via airline caterers in the evening and unexciting but adequate cold lunch and breakfast. A casualty of these arrangements is, however, that there is not much of the community feeling of the old shelter model; the guests do not eat or sleep together and while some friendships have developed and quite a few games are played, most prefer to stay in their rooms. Social distancing and masks make it difficult anyway to build up much of a communal atmosphere.
There was, however, a good feeling at Christmas and New Year. For Christmas a team organised by Rosslyn Hill came to cook a Christmas dinner and there was a short concert and film all well received as were the Christmas "stockings" and a fine array of woolly hats and scarves (both supplied by members of HPC). An industrial oven had been hired for the meal, but alas, proved to big to fit in the lift (and weighing 80kg, it was not getting down stairs any other way) Harry, C4Ws' resourceful Shelter manager quickly contacted Linda Gilson, deacon at the (fairly) nearby Kings Cross Methodist church which as well as hosting Mandarin and Cantonese congregations, also runs C4WS' Friday Lunch Club. Linda was happy to lend her voluminous ovens, and turkey and roast potatoes hurried back and forth along the Euston Rd. Some of the guests are still sporting paper crowns on their woolly hats; It was an evening worth remembering.
The advantages of the shelter in a hotel come at cost. Splendid Hotels have given us a good deal, but it is still much more expensive than using the free churches and their halls. We have received some grants towards the cost but more is needed. Many people who had volunteered for the shelter last year asked if they could make a financial contribution this year instead and others may wish to as well. The easiest way to do so is to visit the C4WS homeless Project website and on the home page (top Right) you will find a Crowdfunder button, which will also allow you claim gift aid, if appropriate. Thank you!
Monday 4th January 2021
It was no surprise to find the text of one of our earliest Christmas hymns, While Shepherds watched, in our Carol service order of service. Hymns were common in reformed churches elsewhere from the reformation onwards, but not in the Church of England. What did exist, encouraged by the puritans, was the singing of metrical paraphrases of the psalms, and While Shepherds Watched, published by poet laureate Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady in 1700, is very much in that tradition. Much more of a surprise was the music, sung by the female voices of the choir, and the attribution to Jane Savage, 1752 - 1824. A female composer, at that date? That she was little known was less surprising; female composers tend to be obscure.
This work, I now discover, was unearthed and edited, and published by the Church Music Society just in time for Christmas, by an MA student at the University of York, Rachel Webber, who was looking into the musical life of the eighteenth-century charity institutions for girls and women. She said 'when I was looking at the one 1785 collection of music for The Asylum, I was shocked and thrilled to see an extended piece with the popular hymn/carol text of While shepherds watch'd their flocks by night by a 'Miss Savage'." ( https://www.york.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2020/research/hymn-student-savage/ ).
The slightly Handelian flavour of Jane Savage's music perhaps picked up on family tradition. Her father, William Savage, was a soloist for Handel, both as a boy treble and an adult bass, and sang in the first London performances of Messiah, itself associated with a charity institution, the Foundling Hospital. The music of churches and cathedrals was a solely male preserve, but music in the charity institutions could, and did, involve women. According to Rachel Webber, "it's interesting that whereas cathedral music at the time tended to hark back to the baroque style of composers such as Handel, the music for the hospitals was more progressive, looking forward to the classical style." Miss Savage was apparently a talented harpsichordist and singer, performing only in private, and her music mostly written for the family home. Alas, she seems to have given up composing after the death of her father in 1789 and her marriage in 1793. The performance by our choir, predating that by the Ely Cathedral girls' choristers two days later, must, excitingly, have been just about the first for over 200 years. How good that HPC has assisted one female composer, however belatedly, to achieve credit and recognition.
The best laid plan. . . this article should have followed on from the Vicar chalking over the main church door, and even have been accompanied by a photo of him precariously balanced on a step ladder as he did it. However Covid intervened and the service was removed to the vicarage hallway. But the chalk was blessed and we were invited to provide ourselves with chalk or crayon to make our own marks over our doors.
So what is it all about?
In previous years passers-by have been bewildered by this chalking over the main door of the church which last year read 20 + C + M + B + 20 and which, from Epiphany this year (6thJanuary but we celebrate it on the nearest Sunday which is 3rd), should read
20 + C + M + B + 21
Never having done it at HPC until Jeremy arrived many of the congregation were somewhat bemused as well.
Clearly the 20 and 21 make up the year - 2021 - but what of the C M B?
Think Epiphany, think Three Wise Men, think legend rather than bible - Caspar, Melchior, Balthazar. That's a start.
But it's on the church door - it's done with chalk blessed during the service - it has + between each letter.
There must be more to it.
There is. The letters stand for- Christus Mansionem Benedicat - Bless this House. Apparently done to ward off evil, I think today it has a more positive feeling, much in the same way that people sometimes ask a priest to bless their homes.
From the order of service at the Eucharist for Epiphany Jeremy's words were:
"Peace be to this house, and to all who enter here. Amen.
followed the star of God's Son who became human
20 two thousand
21 and twenty one years ago.
++ May Christ bless our home/office/school/shed
++ and remain with us throughout the new year. Amen
"May all who come to our home this year rejoice to find Christ living among us; and in everyone we meet may we seek and serve that same Jesus who is your incarnate Word, now and forever. Amen"
After your blessing the inscription on the door should read as above
20 + C + M + B + 21
So go ahead with this delightful tradition - and bewilder your neighbours.
Tuesday 22nd December 2020
On a table just as you come into church there is a beautiful small Nativity made by Chris Money entirely from recycled materials. Even the stable is recycled. It is made from a box in which paper for the photocopier is delivered.
If you come after dusk the beautiful cedar of Lebanon to the right of graveyard is lit up.
This tree has seen Hampstead through two world wars and now two pandemics. We thought its steadfastness would make a good Christmas tree. Lighting it was a challenge until Jayne Gill, a member of the flower team, met Rupert Nash, a landscape designer and member of our congregation. With Rupert's help we lit up the tree.
The graveyard is adorned with different gifts. In the trees are giant size gifts like those we are given. Also hanging from the trees are other decorations. All of these are made from recycled materials or items picked up on the Heath.
Coming from the East (through the front gate) are the Magi. They brought gifts to the Christ child. It is believed they came from Persia where the religion at that time was Zoroastrianism. These 'wise men' were mathematicians, alchemists, and astrologers.
Crowns and words on acrylic mirrors represent the three wise men. They brought Gold `(a rare element - which was incorruptible), Frankincense (a resin associated with deity and ritual) and Myrrh (a resin that is used in healing and embalming) .
There will be a signpost to Bethlehem on corner of church, but you can also follow the stars.
The Christ Child is God's gift to us at Christmas. The Holy Family is in a tent round the side of the church. In the tent are shepherds represented by mirrors with words describing their qualities. The tent is surrounded by angels represented by convex mirrors with words that describe the qualities of angels and their earthly manifestations - people like nurses, doctors and care workers.
We hope that people in seeing themselves in the mirrors will be able to identify with the personalities in the Christmas story.
There are many challenges right now, but there is always hope. Maybe guided by the Zoroastrian philosophy of 'good thoughts, good words, good deeds keep chaos at bay' and Christ's love, wisdom and compassion as described in the gospels we can meet and overcome these problems and challenges.
The decorations in the graveyard were made possible by the help and support of Andrea Taylor, Paul at First Aid Wheels of 174 Mill Lane who spray painted the shapes, Rupert Nash and Matt@dotbespoke.co.uk who cut, coloured and help to shape the decorations and Sophie at PolyStar Reading who donated the bright recycled plastic and scaffolding net for the presents. We are grateful to all of them.
The very first known depiction of the nativity scene dates from a 4th century catacomb under Rome and Mystery plays enacting scenes from the Bible date back to the 5th century. But it is St Francis of Assisi who is credited with creating the first Crib. Being St Francis of course he used real animals (and people) to bring the Bible story to life.
Our crib figures were made by the Loehr family and given to the church several years ago. This year, whilst we have all been in lockdown, they've been on holiday with their makers and have been beautifully refurbished by Alf, Nicola and Makena. You will notice some additions to our tableau - two female shepherds have joined the group; others have had a change of clothes and hairdos. Joseph is a completely new figure. And two splendid angels have flown in, one with actual feathered wings. The stable too has had a much-needed makeover. It is, I believe, the structure made by Ken Clarke some 40, or even 50, years ago, so it's stood the test of time, but was becoming alarmingly rickety!
We are most grateful to the Loehrs for the work they've put into refreshing our figures and imaginative new layout.
Not sure yet how the new Tier 4 restrictions will impact our ability to visit the crib but isn't it reassuring to know that the figures will be there throughout the Christmas period, bearing witness, even if we can't.
The creation of the Holy Family and their resting place in the week before Christmas felt a lot like T S Eliot's 'Journey of the Magi'. It was a hard birth. It took 5 helpers working on and off over 3 days (from Thursday to Saturday) to create it. It rained, the wind was strong, and it was cold. Jeremy's gazebo kept threatening to blow away, a guy rope snapped and at one point the gazebo actually lifted!
On Friday Monther came to do his job at HPC and when he saw the tent he told us he had lived in a tent like this for two years in Jordan and proceeded to suggest ways we could make it more secure. Esther and her friend David persuaded some nearby builders to give us some solid concrete blocks (the stones from the graveyard which we had been using had not been very effective at keeping the tent sides down) - these with some sand bags left by the electricians did the trick of holding down the gazebo. Esther and I made figures for Mary and Joseph. All seemed to be going well on Friday evening. Monther said he would come back on Saturday to help some more. We didn't think we would need him but we did! On Friday night we think foxes knocked over Mary and Joseph (possibly attracted by some food in the gazebo). The papier mache heads that Maureen Smith had made had fallen off and were crushed.
Monther was really needed on Saturday. Monther and Jane (Hinde) decided Joseph should kneel rather than stand so he would be more stable. They remade Mary and Joseph. Then Monther was adament that the old blankets I had in the corner should go on the sides to provide insulation from the cold (although I had to persuade him not to cover up Esther's angel behind the Holy Family). Jane produced black tights for the faces so we had a black holy family that we were all very happy with. Then we had to make baby Jesus. Jane made the body and we found some swaddling cloth (we were very grateful to the Hampstead Players wardrobe). Monther took it from me and said he would show us how he wrapped his baby. So what we have is a genuinely wrapped Middle Eastern baby! Monther's time, his commitment and sharing his personal experience was his gift to us.
The gazebo and the Holy Family may not survive till Epiphany with all the rain predicted but creating 'it was (you may say) satisfactory'.
The season of Advent calls us to slow down, to watch and to wait. However, in 2020 it might feel like we've been doing this all year already, forced to be at home, watching for news, waiting for it all to go back to normal.
Like many of you, our Christmas plans this year are looking very different from those we originally envisaged. Due to the all the various restrictions, Anouk and I will be spending Christmas in our flat at Westcott House in Cambridge, where I'm training for ministry.
Whilst we'll be sad not to see more family and friends, one thing I am looking forward to is being in charge of the cooking for Christmas.
I've always found making food a great way to relax - it's something practical to do and, usually, you can see the end result of your work which isn't always the case in life!
The kitchen in our flat is rather small, as is the oven and I imagine cooking Christmas lunch, even for just two of us, will be a bit like a cross between playing Jenga and solving a Rubiks Cube, but I know it will also be fun.
Aside from the traditional stuff, I suspect I will also attempt one of my favourites on Boxing Day which I can't take credit for - it's Nigella Lawson's ham in coca cola https://www.nigella.com/recipes/ham-in-coca-cola I usually do a version with cherry coke with a cherry jam glaze which tastes great and is also very festive indeed. It's definitely worth a try.
Whether you'll be in the kitchen over the coming weeks or steering well clear, my best wishes and prayers are with you as we look forward to Christmas, which reminds us as we wait and watch, that there is always light in the darkness.
Sunday 13th December 2020