Re-Opening of St Mary’s Church, Slindon

Following the Government’s easing of restrictions, we will be resuming services on Sunday 5th July with Matins at 11.00am followed by Holy Communion.  This is great news: however, strict protocols are required and we will be limited to a maximum of 30 worshippers due to social distancing rules.  No singing is allowed; but the organ will be played.

While we are keen to welcome everybody back, people who fall into one of the categories considered “vulnerable” should consider carefully whether to attend: we will continue with the online services and extended pewsheet for those who continue to shield themselves at home.  Face masks are not required: but if you feel safer using one, please bring your own with you.

We hope to follow our normal pattern of services in the weeks and months ahead, accepting that safety restrictions will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

The key features of the required protocol are:

  • Entry to the church will be supervised to maintain spacing and attendees will be shown to a pew after they have used the hand sanitiser on the way in and have picked up a green service book as they pass the rack.  Alternate pews will be roped off to ensure appropriate distancing.  Family groups can sit together.
  • The congregation will remain seated throughout the service and should speak quietly during the communal elements of the liturgy.
  • Communion will only be in one kind.  Philip will bring the communion wafers to the congregation in their seats.  He will have sanitised his hands before blessing the wafers and will wear a mask while bringing them to those taking communion.  The host will be placed into your hand, avoiding physical contact.  Only the priest will receive wine from the chalice on behalf of the congregation.
  • Following the blessing, you will be asked to leave in an orderly and spaced fashion as specified by Philip.  You are encouraged to use the hand sanitiser on your way out.  Of course, we recognise that people will be keen to chat with those they may not have seen for some time: weather permitting, this is best done in the churchyard with appropriate distancing.  You can also admire the lovely new bench in honour of Kate Proctor.
  • Contact details for all those attending will be logged for 21 days for the purposes of “track & trace” in the unlikely event of any infections being reported.

This is all very different and prescribed: but I’m sure you understand the reasons why.  We hope as many of you as feel safe will join us on Sundays – but fully understand if you cannot.  The church will be open every day for private prayers and worship.

Helping the Homeless, Stonepillow Collection – Each Moth of the Year 2020

Stonepillow is a Chichester based organisation which helps the homeless. Slindon residents make monthly  donations of non perishable food and toiletries each month which are collected from  The Forge, and Sue Woolger’s home in Bridle Lane.

Thank you for your support over many months.

 

A Passion for Modernity: The Victorian Restoration of St Mary’s.

This article was written to promote a history afternoon which took place in March 2018.

The coming History Afternoon includes a tour of the church investigating the 1866-67 restoration by the young architect Thomas Graham Jackson. Here, one of our speakers, Martin Jones, specialist in Victorian church architecture and the work of Jackson, offers a preview. The Victorians changed the look of the English church, and not just because of the many new ones they built. Few were the ancient churches they did not ‘restore’. The scale of what they did is easy to miss and misunderstand. Repairs were just the start. Restoration meant modernisation. Modernisation followed fashion.The right ‘look’ was essential.

Overhauling St Mary’s: a passion for modernity
Buildings need maintenance. St Mary’s was known to need repairs and further problems were uncovered once work began. Restoration became rescue. Concrete underpinning stabilised pillars and walls. Buttresses held the chancel. Damp and cold were also targeted. Drains and heating were installed. Draughts were cut, ventilation controlled. Hygiene and comfort dovetailed conveniently in Victorian drives to improve public health.

Keeping up with neighbours and competitors
The church was the most important public building in a village. As restoration became more common, parishes did not want to be left behind. Four neighbouring churches, including Binsted and Madehurst, had just been restored or currently had the builders in when Rev. William Chandler Izard was instituted. He got things moving quickly and appointed Thomas Graham Jackson. His upgrade also made the church rather grander. This was not parochial vanity. Round the corner was brand new St Richard’s, contesting Slindon’s religious identity in a way not seen since the Reformation. Izard would meet the rising Catholic presence head-on.

Preserving old St Mary’s?
Jackson tried to preserve ancient work, but not everything ‘old’ was valued equally. Post-medieval work was usually ripped out. That was the fate of St Mary’s Jacobethan East window. Similarly, painted Biblical texts ‘only’ 200-300 years old were destroyed to reveal 12th Century wall decoration underneath. Restorers also put back medieval features that were missing. St Mary’s had lost its chancel arch so Jackson put one in. Today, we notice its carving and miss the significance of its width. St Mary’s was an Evangelical parish. Nothing must interrupt the congregation’s ability to see and hear Common Prayer.

The seating revolution at St. Mary’s
Ejecting box pews and a gallery made a massive visual impact. The real transformation came, however, when Izard simultaneously abolished ancient seating arrangements. No longer would the parish sit each in their proper place. Henceforth, anyone could sit anywhere. In an age obsessed with hierarchy, the Victorian clergy used restorations to execute a profound social revolution.

Redefining gothic in the high days of the Gothic Revival
Young Jackson was exploring what “gothic” meant. Pushing the boundaries, he adopted a free interpretation for fixtures and fittings. In his ideas for the reredos, he brought 13th Century Italy to Slindon. With his pulpit, he took Sussex parishioners to 6th Century Byzantium. Rather than calling the Middle Ages back, the Victorians revealed themselves in their version of gothic.

Come and find out more at the History Afternoon. There is lots we still don’t know, especially about how the village reacted to these massive changes. Can you help?

Martin Jones

First published March 2018