21st December 2014. The twenty-first contribution to the Village Advent Calendar Windows, in the Church of St James the Less.
More pictures on the next page.
Sunday 21st December. The Church welcomes villagers and visitors to the Christmas Carol Service.
The children bring the figurines from the altar to the empty crib:
Appropriately, the baby Jesus is handed up by the youngest….
….and the nativity scene is complete:
Later in the evening, Father Christmas arrived in the village by aerial sledge, appropriately collecting donations for the local Air Ambulance Service!
One of the earliest memories I have of the Church is taking part in a ceremony known as “Clipping the Church” in 1946 when I was eight years old. The Vicar at the time was Rev Pakenham-Walsh, a veritable patriarch as can be seen from the above picture. He was in fact a very kindly man; indeed it would be fair to say that he was saintly. He was patient and generous towards we children of the village and only his firm, ever-watchful wife prevented us from taking advantage of him!
“Clipping the Church” was an easter-time custom which involved parishioners holding hands to form a complete circle around the church and then walking around it.
On one occasion, the BBC sent a tv crew to film the ceremony. At that time the vicar was the only person in the village to own a tv set. The broadcast took place early one evening and the village children were invited to the vicarage to watch the programme. It was very unusual for us to gain access to what was for us a rather grand and forbidding Victorian building. We stood in a nervous row, probably clutching our caps, for all the world like the carol singing mice in “Wind in the Willows”.
We gazed in wonder at the tiny, flickering screen and all too soon the performance was over. We were reluctant to move and as something of a spokesman (or spokesboy) I politely asked if we might see some more. The vicar looked in Radio Times and said “I’m afraid there’s only ballet on now, children” to which I naturally replied “….we all love ballet, Vicar….” and so we were allowed to stay a little longer!
See a video of a “Clipping the Church” ceremony in 1990. (Courtesy Jim Oakley)