I’d been wondering what is in the little room over the Church Porch. It’s an interesting location – like a tiny little office or maybe the sanctum sanctorum of some previous vicar when he needed some peace.
But after Evensong yesterday I got Jeb to unlock the door to the stairs, had a climb up and a gander.
At first all it seemed to be was junk. Tons and tons of junk. But then Jeb came up and explained and it all became clear.
It contains everything that has ever been given to the church, which cannot be thrown out for fear of offending someone. Which, when you think about it, is a lot of stuff.
- Old carpets from the chancel, removed when it got tatty and the vicar pointed out that the freestone floor is rather beautiful. But since someone’s granny donated it, it’s up here for when it’s needed.
- Three half-pews, sawn off in the “improvements” in the 60s, each with an illegible donor’s name.
- The Big Book of Godly Play and associated non-action figures.
- A cardboard box full of half-burnt tea lights and altar candles.
- “Bach’s Fugues for Beginners”.
- The old harmonium, complete with woodworm and rot.
- A dead bat. This may not have been a donation.
- An award for the Christian New Media Conference of 1863 – for best sermon sent by electronic telegraph.
- Three Wise Men plywood life-size figures. Chewed by mice.
- A set of fifty “Sounds of Living Waters”. Each with the name of the donor, some of whom are still alive.
- A moth-eaten donkey, used for Easter and Xmas in the 1950s.
- A Flannelgraph set (unused since the War. The Civil War).
- An acoustic guitar with no head, a Casio keyboard missing some keys and a snare drum with a broken skin. I wish I’d been at that “Informal Worship”.
- A sofa which somebody bought a replacement for in the 70s, but thought the Church might be able to use it. Goodness knows how they got it up the spiral stairs.
- Gareth Gates.
- A flip chart. An OHP with a plaque – “For the use of the Renewal Service, in Perpetuity”. A load of acetates with handwritten choruses by Graham Kendrick and Wayne Drayne.
- A set of broken thuribles, going back to the days when the Oxford Movement was all the rage. Along with a box of incense, apparently from the same time.
- The mummified remains of the Sydney Carter fan club.
- The photocopied service sheets from the installation of a vicar in 1981. “Ah, we all loved Father Herbert. He had time for everyone, knew everyone in the village. Course, he just had the one church. And he had a curate.”
- Some broken, chipped or otherwise useless candlesticks.
- A complete set of tie-dye altar cloths. All with moth holes and candle burns.
- A photograph of a former vicar. The one they never found when the Building Fund went missing.
- A New English Bible.
- Three radio mics and a base station, in incompatible frequencies.
- A lectern in Art Deco style.
- The bottle of advocaat that everyone keeps giving back after winning it in each raffle.
- The former vicarage cat. (Stuffed).
- The things the Holiday Club made and exhibited in 1998.
- Every GIft Aid envelope that has ever been put into the collection tray and opened. Which the Stewardship Officer is keeping “just in case they ever check”.
- A 9-foot statue of St Aloysius, from another former Anglo-Fatholic phase.
- A full set of Alternative Service Books (each with its donor’s name written inside).
- A postcard from the Lost Tribes of Israel, letting us know where they are.
- A slide projector with a collection of slides entitled “My Trip to see the Missionaries of Malawi”. The last slide being a sunset over the village rooftops.
- Three jars of mincemeat, from the Christmas Fayre in 1981.
- A porcelain nativity scene with all the extremities chipped off through wear.
- A signed photograph of Cliff Richard, and another of Donald Coggan.
- There it all sits, being added to year by year – the useless, battered reminders of years gone by, which can never be removed. I remarked to Jeb that one day, the junk will fill the main body of the church, and we’ll have to hold services in the Porch Room.
“Yep,” he said, “ probably.”
“And doesn’t that worry you?”
“Oh yeah. It’s gonna be murder, getting that sofa back down.”