Letters to the Church Magazine – June 2015

Dear Sir

The Vicar was most effusive in his recounting to us last week of the suspected “holy well” he found, when he discovered rubble while digging up the garden at New Rectory.

Well, I can confirm that it is indeed a former so-called “holy well”.  It was filled in by the brave soldiers of the New Model Army after the Civil War skirmish know locally as “the Battle of Tremlett”. At the time, the Puritan Vicar of Little Tremlett – my 12-greats-grandfather, Azariah Butts – instructed the Parliamentary soldiers to knock down the brick well cover surrounds and throw it into “St Mary’s Well”. The vicar of Great Tremlett, Charles Kettering, had been making money for years out of the papist superstitions with which he had been deceiving pilgrims.

If the latest vicar, as he has been suggesting, gets the well excavated by archaeologists, it will be as if the Royalists had won the Civil War. Did Oliver Cromwell die for nothing?!

Yours etc

Martin Moraine, “Purity House”, Little Tremlett


Dear Sir

I would like to thank everybody who helped run the “Everything for a Pound” sale in the Church Hall. I am pleased to announced that we raised £213.42 for church funds.

Yours etc,

Fennel Bailey, The Old Orchard House.


Dear Sir

I would like to apologise for the shock I inadvertently caused to the vicar – and indeed the Mothers’ Union – at the latest meeting.

I had always believed that the vicarage was a part of the church’s belongings – that the reason such a decently-sized house is provided, is so that church meetings, or, if such things arise, exorcisms can be held there.

So naturally, when we needed a location for our “Adventures in Art” session with the renowned local artist, Nosher Reynolds, we arranged for it to take place in the vicarage on a Tuesday. In retrospect, maybe I should have informed Rev Nathan in advance.

I believe that his confusion and indeed anger probably were justified. When an off-duty vicar walks into his study naked to get a book to read in the bath, he doesn’t expect to find nine of the Mothers of the benefice painting still-lives of fruit

On the bright side, Hermione’s work, “Adam realises his mistake” won first prize at last weekend’s Art Show in Banbury. Though personally I think the belly button was unscriptural. And she could have placed one of the apples more carefully in the foreground.

Yours etc

Dolores Measle, “Chafing”, Old Street, Woodby


Dear Sir

My grandson Obadiah has shown me the Church website on his Android Tablet. Disappointingly, although there are a few pictures of the buildings on the page, there is a dearth of really well-researched material on the memorial plaques. It all just seems to be contact names, service times, and photographs of people at church events.
The memorials at Little Tremlett, in particular, are of great interest. The pre-Reformation ones survived because the King’s Men, looking for Popery, could not believe anybody could live in such a dank forest. Thus we have a treasure-trove of ancient monuments.

In particular, the plaque to Ezekiel Enwright (MCCCXV – MCCCXCVIII) is of a particularly interesting limestone, native not to Woodby but to a small disused quarry about four miles away. When a sliver was chipped off during the Alternative Service Book Riot of 1982, we sent it to a notable geochemist for analysis. He sent me a 75-page breakdown of its chemical composition, with many interesting facts about the micro-fossils in the stone. It turns out there is an unusually high composition of silica in what you might otherwise assume to be a slab of pure calcium carbonate! And some of the isotopic breakdowns differ slightly from what might be expected, as described in the copious appendices.

I have forwarded a copy of the document to our Social Medium, Doris, for keying into the Internet. I should stress that if it is not all put on the webpage – including decent copies of the diagrams – I will not be offended at all. Much. Although clearly I won’t be going to church anymore.

Yours etc

Chesney Peterson, Walnut Grove, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

What a pleasure it is to see the children in our church every Sunday! To see their smiling faces is a joy, and to hear their childish prattle – ideally before and after the service – likewise.

But which fiend from Hell itself invented the concept of an “All Age Service”? To allow them to spend an entire service in the church? Children are meant to go to Sunday School. That is why my great-great-grandfather’s generation went to the trouble of building the “Sunday School Room”. I know the smaller children dislike the walk when it is raining, or indeed deep snow. But it is only a mile from the Church.

Mark my words. Although it is currently “only once a month”, if we do not stop the rot we will have these hyperactive, stumpy attention-seekers in the Church every week. The next thing you know we will have puppets, balloons, popcorn machines, bubble blowers and – dare I whisper it – clowns in Church. We have set out down a slippery slope, making Church “accessible”, “enjoyable” and “comprehensible”.

Yours etc

Ciara Meringe, The Old Stables, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

I was going through the recycling pile this morning when I found the hymn sheet from Christmas. What a lovely service that Nativity was!

I really hoped to get to the Easter Day service but, that being on a Sunday, it was too difficult. We like to get away on sunny days and we went to visit my Aunt Dorcas in Little Tremlett.

Still, having been reminded by memories from Christmas I look forward to attending again very soon!

Yours etc

Jasmine Jones, “Chitterings”, Wheezy Lane, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

This morning I started to get bored during the vicar’s sermon, and had a flick through the pew Bible.

What a remarkable book! Exciting stories, battles, remarkable moral teaching by someone called “Jesus”. It strikes me we should start to use it in church.

Particularly interesting in the early chapters was the talking snake. I saw one once in the Federated Malay States. Although it went away after I stopped the malaria pills and stuck to Gin with ice.

Yours etc

Major J Dumpling, “Rodney’s Rest”, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

As the trees look almost embarrassed under the weight of their new greenery,, I have once again been moved to poetry. I have composed the following – “Cast a Clout”

Cast a Clout
for May is out!

The hedge bedight
with blooms so bright.

The tadpoles swim
in ponds full to the brim.

The sparrows match.
Their children hatch.

All nature sing
to our glorious King!

The fox smells meat
and bunnies sweet.

The badgers dog
the doomed hedgehog.

The mink, vile race,
after ducklings chase.

Death, death death death!
Death, death death death!
Death, death death death!
Death, death death death!

Wishing you all a glorious summer.

Yours etc

Mellissa Sparrow (Mrs), The Hollow, Grilsby-on-the-Hill 


Dear Sir

Jeb has been gravedigger in the benefice for 26 years now. And I accept that his dental hygiene is his own affair. It is Jeb’s mouth. But surely, as well as his pay for digging the graves, we could club together to get him some false teeth?

Either that, or at least encourage him not to dig graves at twilight. When Jeb’s face appears out of his latest excavation, with those prominent canine teeth but no incisors, it is enough to give anyone a start. After Miss Ebb’s “episode” when she saw him at work last month, Jeb was accused of trying to generate more business.

Yours etc

Chalfont Presley, Sheep St, Grilsby-on-the-Hill

Letters to the Church Magazine – May 2015

Dear Sir

A lovely Easter Sunday celebration. Although somewhat spoiled for me by the choice of font for the Service sheet. Does the vicar really think that a 12 pt “Calibri” is suitable for the celebration of the resurrection?

I used to be in the Ministry Division. We would never have tolerated this. 

Yours etc

Chas “Charlie” Charkles, Hanged Man’s Close, Gt Tremlett.


Dear Sir

I would like to apologise for my behaviour on Easter morning.

I had panic-bought a lot of Cadbury’s Creme Eggs on Easter Saturday, realising that we were at the end of their sale season. The Dumpling family have an old tradition of sitting up “watching” from sunset on Good Friday until sunrise on Easter Sunday. And the time hangs slowly, so I decided to eat one of the eggs. And then another. Until I had eaten four display boxes.

Hence when I arrived on Easter Sunday, it is fair to say I had what I believe is called a “sugar rush”. I would like to apologise for throwing all the toys out of the children’s corner, shouting “why can’t we play with these? Don’t discriminate against us old people!”

No member of the Dumpling family has been thrown from a church building since my Great Uncle Arnold was caught impersonating a vicar. Thus ending his eight years as incumbent. I can only apologise to Revd Joanne, who I accused of having murdered the Easter Bunny. And the choir (whose robes I set fire to with a candle), and the bell ringers, one of whom I believe is still hiding in the tower.

I will never behave like this again in an act of divine worship.Those Church Wardens have a very strong grip on one’s elbow.

Yours etc

Major J Dumpling, “Rodney’s Rest”, Lt Tremlett


Dear Sir

The new “Trim Valley Prayer” group resumes after our Easter break. During Lent, we met every Tuesday to pray that, like our Lord, the vicar might go into the wilderness for a new vision of where and what his calling might be.

Although myself and Dr Ireland have invited the Vicar to attend, sadly it continues to be his day off.

In May we shall be praying for the Lord to send the following on our congregations:

5th : “At this time of elections, a vision of how God rejects ungodly leaders”.

12th: “Discernment between strong and weak leadership”

19th: “An understanding of the parable of the wolves in sheep’s clothing”

26th: We shall be reading Acts 27-28 and using this as the basis for our discussion theme: “Adrift, helpless, rudderless and heading for the rocks”.

Yours etc

Mellissa Sparrow (Mrs), The Hollow, Grilsby-on-the-Hill


Dear Sir

The old days have sadly passed. It is a long time since Great Tremlett celebrated the ancient feast of “Squirreltide”. In the days between Low Sunday and Ascension, the young boys of the village would roam the hedgerows, catching squirrels for the grand “Squirrel Supper”.

The vicar of Great Tremlett in 1884, my great-grandfather Obadiah Snodgrass, had to suppress the celebration after evidence mounted that the annual treat had led to a disease called “Squirrel Brain”. But that was the red squirrel. Surely we can, on a good scientific basis, catch and eat squirrels just like the old days?

Let the feast begin! Squeak!

Yours etc

Solomon Snodgrass, Station Road, Gt Tremlett.


Dear Sir 

One again, the PCC has refused to accept my offer for them to come and join in our May Day celebration.
I realise that, at the advanced age of most of the PCC members, dancing naked in the dews of Beltane Dawn may not be appealing. But surely, if a Church claims to be in favour of the Ecumenical movement, it cannot reject a tradition that has been in these islands since at least 1983, when I founded the Tremlett Coven on the basis of reading “The Golden Bough”?

It is too late for May Day now, but maybe the church could consider joining us for our Midsummer festivities? The goat is fattening nicely.

Yours etc

Mildred Flossett (Mothers’ Union Branch Secretary), Jasmine Road, Gt Tremlett


Dear Sir

Every Easter Sunday, the date changes. This results in us having to print new service sheets for what is, essentially, the same service every year.

I have calculated that, if we printed the next 100 years of service sheets off in advance, and simply wrote in the date, we could save up to £44 over the century. This would of course preclude us ever using any new hymns for 100 years. So that is two great gains over the current system.

In the course of driving to many local printers to back up my investigations, I have of course incurred some expenses. I therefore include an invoice for the treasurer to the value of £74.22.

Yours etc

Norbert Dranesqueezer, Chester St, Grilsby-on-the-Hill


Dear Sir

I’m too sexy for my shirt. Too sexy for my shirt. So sexy that it hurts.

Yours etc

Samantha Giblings, Church Green, Woodby


Dear Sir

It is often said that rural churches – such as we in Grilsby – are behind the times. Unable to adapt. Solemn and staid.
Well, no more. On 12th May we at Grilsby will be entering a new era. Challenging stereotypes. Balancing on the leading edge of extreme sports.

Yes, “Hassock Jenga”. Can you remove the hassock from the 12-foot high stack without bringing the whole pile crashing – or, rather, squidging – down on your head?

It has been suggested that 45 years of accumulated dust since the hassocks were sewn – during which the folk of St Audrey’s, Grilsby have resolutely refused to kneel under any circumstances – might mean that there is a serious risk of allergy-related hazard in our game. Well I say – bring it on! If there is no danger of a sport bringing on a case of incapacitating coughing, what’s the point of playing?

Yours etc

Tom Cobley-Anhall, “Tweezers”, Grilsby-on-the-Hill


Dear Sir

On Easter Tuesday, it suddenly struck me that nobody has adequately explained how the Resurrection relates to the First Law of Thermodynamics.

Whom would one phone in such a tricky circumstance? Obviously, the vicar. So I dialled Revd Nathan, leaving a 10-minute explanation of the issues concerned on his voicemail. Naturally I assumed he would return my call.

In the event he phoned me back the following week, to discuss my issue. Now I know that he had been quite busy with school services the week before Holy Week, and the round of four or five services a day during Holy Week was busy. Especially five “meditations at the Cross” on Good Friday, and the children’s workshop. And then he did take services at 7pm Holy Saturday at Gt Tremlett, 9pm at Woody, 11pm at Woodby Chapel End, the sunrise service on Spy Hill, the 8am at Woodby, 9.30 at Great Tremlett, 11am at Woodby Chapel End and Evensong at “Great” again.

And, of course, the 2am “Watch through the Night” service here at Grilsby.We have always loved the 2am “Watch through the Night”. It is part of the fabric of the parish – a living tradition that goes back 300 years.

But everybody had Easter Monday off! How did he need a whole week? I didn’t waste my time phoning Revd Joanne to ask her my question – she knows about physics, and just tells me not to be so stupid. But back to the vicar. Apart from anything else, I know that nobody turned up at the “Watch through the Night” service. So he could have cut the sermon short. He should learn to have some flexibility.

Yours etc

Dolbey Noize-Reduction, Red Barn Lane, Grilsby-on-the-Hill


Dear Sir

Once again the gremlins have struck the advertisement I put in the Social Committee section of the church magazine.

The event at Woodby Grange was on train-spotting, not “witch-ducking”. That tradition died out in 1983. Still, amazing to see how much water was absorbed by the anorak of our guest speaker, Mr Burton Dasset!

Yours etc 

Tom Chancellor, Primrose Path, Woodby.


Dear Sir

Dear Sir – at the days lengthen in this blessed springtime, my thoughts go back to the old days in the village.

On May Eve, the young girls of the valley (though not young Mildred, who used to be up on Spy Hill dancing in the nude) used to go into the woods to pick bluebells, to determine who would be their husband. Many maidens would marry their young man during the July of that year – and the birth rate at the end of the following February would always sky rocket. Oddly, these children were always remarkably bonny for premature babies, and would often look a lot like the Squire. It was a tradition for the Squire to go into Banbury at the end of April, and withdraw a lot of ten pounds notes from the bank. Nobody every knew why.

Ah, the old ways pass away.

Yours etc

Dicky Vickers, Church Rise, Grilsby-on-the-Hill