Author Archives: valerie

March services including Holy Week

Morning Prayer is normally said at 8:30am in Catsfield on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and, in Crowhurst, on Wednesday. Evening Prayer is normally said in Catsfield at 5pm Monday to Wednesday.

In term-time Crowhurst School holds a weekly Wednesday service at 9:10am in St George’s



1 S. David, Bishop of Menevia, Patron of Wales, c 601, Holy Communion, 9:30am, Catsfield


4 The Third Sunday of Lent

Parish Communion, 9:15am, Catsfield

Parish Communion, 11am, Crowhurst


7 S. Perpetua, Martyr at Carthage, 203, Holy Communion,  10am, Crowhurst


8 Edward King, Bishop of Lincoln, 1910, Holy Communion, 10am, Crowhurst


11 Mothering Sunday

Holy Communion, 9am, Catsfield

Family Morning and Parade Service 10am, Catsfield

Family Morning and Parade Service, 11am, Corwhurst


14 Holy Communion, 10am, Crowhurst


15 Holy Communion, 9:30am, Catsfield


18 Passion Sunday

Parish Communion, 9:15am, Catsfield

Parish Communion, 11am, Crowhurst


21 S Benedict, Abbot of Monte Cassino, c. 550, Holy Communion, Crowhurst, 10am


22 Holy Communion, 9:30am, Catsfield




Palm Sunday 25th March

Joint Parish Procession with Donkey, Palms and Family Communion; Discoverers (Sunday School) also meets, 10am, Crowhurst

(procession starts at 10:00am, on the grassy area, nearest the church at the entrance to Forewood Rise)

Monday 26th March

Compline (Night Prayer), 8pm, Catsfield


Tuesday 27th March

Stations of the Cross, 7:30pm, Crowhurst


Wednesday 28th April

Holy Communion, Crowhurst

Litany and Compline (Night Prayer), 8pm, Catsfield




Maundy Thursday 29th March


There is no 9:30am service of Holy Communion, since there should only be one celebration this day.  However Morning Prayer will be said at 9:30am.


Evening Eucharist of the Lord’s Supper And Watch, 7:30pm, Catsfield  (Holy Communion will be finished by 8:30pm.  We then keep a watch in church, until midnight, when we keep vigil as Christ did in the Garden of Gethsemane.  People come and go as they wish during this.)


Good Friday 30th March

Good Friday Liturgy, 9:45pm, Crowhurst

Watch of the Passion; ‘The Three Hours’, Catsfield

(We remember the three hours that Christ spent on the cross through readings, hymns, reflections and prayer.  People are invited to come and go and to stay for as much as they wish. Hot cross buns afterwards in the Village Hall)


There will be a children’s act of worship, but at the time of going to print this has yet to be settled.


Easter Even 31st March

Morning Prayer, 9am, Catsfield

Evening Prayer, 5pm, Crowhurst




Family Communion, Catsfield, 9:15am

(Easter Egg Hunt afterwards)

Family Communion, Crowhurst 11am

(Easter Egg Hunt afterwards)

Evensong, 6pm, Catsfield



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March letter

All Creatures Great and Small


One of the more extraordinary stories of the British Isles is the account of the sea voyage of the sixth century monk Brendan.  After hearing rumours of an earthly paradise, across the sea, he set off with seventeen brother monk in a boat made out of cowhide on a wooden frame.  From the account of his journey it remains highly likely that he did cross the Atlantic Ocean, sailed through the fog of the Newfoundland banks, and made it to North America.


In a direct line from England, Newfoundland is the closest point to us. From Penzance (haunt of the famous pirates!) it is a mere 2116 miles!  Even in these days of frequent air travel I still thought it showed a degree of dedication when I recently met a Canadian priest, who had travelled from his Newfoundland parish, to join a group of us on retreat in Norfolk.


Newfoundland may be the tenth province of Canada, today, but up until 1949 it was a separate British Dominion.  One of the most moving war memorials I have seen from the Great War is that at the Newfoundland Memorial Park, on the Somme. It shows a caribou calling into the sky, as it sounds its tribute to all the Newfoundlanders who laid down their lives on behalf of Britain.


Another haunting call you may well hear in Canada is that of the loon bird.  The Canadian Church actually refers to it in its own verse of that popular hymn All Things Bright and Beautiful.


The rocky mountain splendour

The loon bird’s haunting call,

The great lakes and the prairies

The forest in the fall.


The original hymn was written by Mrs Cecil Frances Alexander, wife to the Archbishop of Armagh, in the mid nineteenth century.  Her hymn was part of a much wider attempt to explain the opening part of the Apostles’ Creed where we stress our belief in ‘God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth.’  Mrs Alexander was remarkably successful to judge by the enthusiasm with which the children of Catsfield and Crowhurst School still sing it.


Newfoundland is certainly rich in wildlife with its mouse, caribou and black bears on land and the whales and dolphin in its waters. Whilst a Dominion it actually had its own version of the Red Ensign, the flag of the Merchant Navy, which included a  representation of a fisherman offering the rich harvest of the sea to Britannia.


It was Charles II who officially endorsed the Red Ensign in 1674 and there lies the second connection with the hymn All Things Bright and Beautiful.  The tune to which we normally sing it is called Royal Oak.  We have our own Royal Oak Lane in Crowhurst, which was probably named because it led past an inn of that name.  The term Royal Oak became a popular term for hostelries after the restoration of the monarchy on the 29th May 1660; it commemorated the fact that the young Charles II had once had to hide up an oak tree to escape his pursuers.


Every 29th of May top show your loyalty to the newly restored monarchy you were expected to wear oak leaves.  You would probably also have enjoyed dancing to the tune named Royal Oak.  Royal Oak was the tune to a patriotic ballad, in praise of the returning House of Stuart, called The Twenty-Ninth of May.  Martin Shaw (1875-1958) the English composer was so enchanted with the tune that he adapted it to fit All Things Bright and Beautiful.


So next time we sing All Things Bright and Beautiful you can firstly ponder the wonders of God’s creation in our own land and beyond.  You can also remember that beauty is a quality of God. Wherever we find beauty, be it in art or music, it is always a good thing to deploy it, as Martin Shaw did, for the worship of our Heavenly Father.


Father Michael

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February services

Morning Prayer is normally said at 8:30am in Catsfield on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and, in Crowhurst, on Wednesday. Evening Prayer is normally said in Catsfield at 5pm Monday to Wednesday.


1 Holy Communion, 9:30am, Catsfield


4 Sexagesima

Family Communion, 9:15am, Catsfield

Children’s Service, 11am, Crowhurst


7 Holy Communion, 10am, Crowhurst


8 Holy Communion, 9:30am, Catsfield


11 Quinquagesima

Parish Communion, 9:15am, Catsfield

Parish Communion, 11am, Crowhurst


14 Ash Wednesday

Holy Communion and Ashing, 10am, Crowhurst

Holy Communion and Ashing 6:30pm, Catsfield


15 Holy Communion, 10am


18 The First Sunday in Lent

Holy Communion, 9am, Catsfield

Family Morning Service, 10am, Catsfield

Parish Communion, 11am, Crowhurst


21 Ember Day, Holy Communion, 10am, Crowhurst


22 Holy Communion, 9:30am, Catsfield


25 The Second Sunday in Lent

Parish Communion, 9:15am, Catsfield

Parish Communion, 11am, Crowhurst


28 Holy Communion, 10am, Crowhurst

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February letter

Fill-dyke February


February doesn’t receive the best of presses from our English poets and authors. Shakespeare speaks of a ‘February face, so full of frost, of storm and cloudliness.’  Then there is the poet William Barton:

February fills dikes, overflowing fields

And streams, turns paths to slippery ooze.’

February does, of course, boast St Valentine’s Day on the 14th, but this year it also clashes with Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent.  On the face of it this doesn’t seem to be a very happy coincidence, since it is hard to tell your beloved that you won’t be receiving chocolates this year, because you ought to give them up for Lent.


On the other hand St Valentine’s Day does link in with Lent through its celebration of life. As well as celebrating romantic love St Valentine’s Day is the day that birds traditionally start to mate.  It is a celebration of the start of new life after winter.  William Barton in the second stanza of his poem rejoiced in all the green shoots, buds and stems that February brings.


The term Lent literally means spring, which is why Eastern Orthodox Christians sing enthusiastically how, ‘The spring-time of the Fast has dawned, the flower of repentance begun to open.’ Spring is my favourite time of the year, because everything seems to be growing again and there is hope; the snowdrops, Candlemas bells give me especial pleasure


These days I also feel enthusiasm about Lent as a special time in which to grow in my love of God and neighbour.  Jesus believed fasting was a good thing, which is why it has been linked into Lent.  Sometimes we don’t take that as seriously as we should; one thinks of the parishioner who proudly announced that not only was he giving up lemon in his gin and tonic, but the tonic too! Neither should we avoid any suggestion of fasting by announcing that we have taken something extra on.


A good keeping of Lent, for most of us, involves putting something down and taking something up.  Some moderation in food or drink remains a good thing, but there may be many other things we can put down for a while.  I can’t help feeling that a bit of time off social media might encourage people to talk to those who are in the room with them.


The keeping of the forty days of Lent is based on the forty days Christ spent in the wilderness.  He made time to be open to growing in God’s will.  When He came out of the wilderness He was ready to preach the good news.  Lent gives us the opportunity to confront what may be wrong in our lives and to start the springtime growth that will help us flourish.


Father Michael


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Reading list January – June 2018

Readings List: January to June 2018


Date Reader Phone Old Testament Epistle
07 January Children’s                          
14 January Lindy Butters 830293 2 Kings 4:1-17 Romans 12:6-16a
21 January Derek Norgate  892374 2 Kings 6:14b-23 Romans 12:16b-end
28 January Sarah Tomisson 830497 Malachi 3:1-5    Galatians 4:1-7
04 February Children’s    
11 February Alison Lewis 439994 Genesis 9:8-17              1 Corinthians 13:
18 February Hilary Langdon 830244 Genesis 3:1-6 2 Corinthians 6: 1-10
25 February Jennie Yeo 838157 Jeremiah 17: 5-10 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
04 March Peter Armstrong 428262 Numbers 22:21-31 Ephesians5:1-14
11 March* Children’s                
18 March Frances Hamson 830461 Exodus 24:4-8 Hebrews 9:11-15
25 March < Valerie Mighall 830246 Zechariah 9:9-12           Philippians 2:5-11
01 April #  Richard Windred 830725 Exodus 12:21-28 1 Corinthians 15:1-9
08 April Derek Norgate 892374 Ezekiel 37:1-10 1 John 5:4-12
15 April Muriel Scott-Wood 830585 Ezekiel 34:11-16a          1 Peter 2:19-end
22 April Margaret Philcox 830258 1 Maccabees 2:59-64 Ephesians 6:10-18
29 April Lindy Butters 830293 Job 19:21-27a James 1:17-21
06 May Children’s  
13 May Jenny Yo 838157 2 Kings 2:9-15 1 Peter 4:7-11
20 May Sarah Tomisson 830497 Deuteronomy 16:9-12 Acts 2:1-11
27 May Alison Lewis
Isaiah 6:1-8 Revelations 4:1-11
03 June** Children’s  
10 June Hilary Langdon 830244 Genesis 12:1-4  1 John 3:13-end
17 June Richard Windred 830725 2 Chronicles 33:9-13 1 Peter 5:5b-11
24 June Peter Armstrong 428262 Isaiah 40:1-11 Acts 13:22-26


  • Candlemas  < Palm Sunday  *Mothering Sunday   #Easter Day   **Whit Sunday                                                                                                                                                                                                                      



If you are unable to make one of the dates, please kindly contact another reader on the list to arrange to swap.



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January Services

Parish Kalendar



For baptism, weddings and funerals please contact the rector.

Confessions are by appointment.

Morning Prayer is normally said at 8:30am in Catsfield on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and, in Crowhurst, on Wednesday. Evening Prayer is normally said in Catsfield at 5pm Monday to Wednesday.








 1 New Year’s Day and the Feast of the Naming of Jesus

Holy Communion, 10am, Crowhurst


3 Holy Communion, 10am, Crowhurst


4 Holy Communioin, 9:30am, Catsfield


7 January, The Epiphany

Family Communion              Catsfield                     9:15am

Children’s Service                 Crowhurst                 11:00am

10 Holy Communion, 10am, Crowhurst


11 Holy Communion, 9:30am, Catsfield


14 The Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Parish Communion, 9:15am, Catsfield

Parish Communion, 11am, Crowhurst


17 St Anthony of Egypt, Hermit, Abbot, 356, Holy Communion, 10am, Crowhurst


18 St Prisca, Martyr at Rome, c 265, Holy Communion, 9:30am, Catsfield


21 The Third Sunday after the Epiphany

Holy Communion, 9am, Catsfield

Family Morning Service, 10am, Catsfield

Parish Communion, 11am, Crowhurst


24 Holy Communion, 10am, Crowhurst


25 The Conversion of St Paul, Holy Communion, 9:30am, Catsfield


28 The Presentation of Christ in the Temple (Candlesmas)

Parish Communion and Procession, 9:15am, Catsfield

Parish Communion and Procession, 11am, Crowhurst


31 Holy Communion, 10am, Crowhurst




1 Holy Communion, 9:30am, Catsfield


4 Sexagesima

Family Communion, 9:15am, Catsfield

Children’s Service,11am, Crowhurst

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January letter 2018

Some London Stations


I enjoyed seeing the evocation of gracious train travel on the recent film version of Murder on the Orient Express.  It is all based on Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel about Hercule Poirot, the famous Belgian detective, and his efforts to solve a murder, which takes place on the train.  Just in case you don’t know the story I won’t spoil it for you, but all the incidental details showing the dining car and the assiduous attendants shows what a pleasurable and glamorous experience (murder apart!) a train journey can be.


It is not quite the same on our local train line; we don’t even have the trolley service we used to enjoy. The reduced train service, which accompanies bank holidays and festivals, can also be frustrating. ‘Woe betide’ those who thought they might travel by train on the first day of January 2018.


Nevertheless large numbers of the English still have a romantic affection for the railways and the buildings which go with them. Some of the stations really are very splendid. Norwich (Thorpe Station to the pedantic cognoscenti) looks like a French chateau and York like a many aisled cathedral with metal vaults.


Indeed a visit around the stations of London is a bit like a religious history of England. Charing Cross is named after the memorial cross erected by Edward I to his beloved wife Eleanor of Castile.  Outside in the taxi ranks you can see a Victorian recreation of the original.  Then there are the stations named after saints.  There is St Paul’s, near Wren’s famous cathedral or Marylebone, which is an abbreviation of St Mary on the banks of the bourne (bourne being an old word for a river).  Some of the references are more subtle such as Blackfriars, which remembers the long departed priory of black habited Dominican friars at the bottom of Ludgate Hill, or Temple, which commemorates the Mediaeval order of fighting monks known as the Knights Templar.


St Pancras looks like a Gothic cathedral and is named after an early Roman boy saint. Pancras was only fourteen when his refusal to abandon his Christian faith led to his death at the hands of the Roman Empire in 304AD..  His death moved many because of his youth and many churches are dedicated to him.  St Pancras, Old Church, London, which is not far away is probably one of the earliest sites of Christian worship in this country.


Just as the railways are everywhere in Britain, so the Christian faith, as a cursory look at a few stations shows, has moulded and shaped a nation. In 2017 we would do well to recover those roots and to nurture them so that so many of the declining humane values such as service to others may begin to flourish more vigorously. So in the power of the Holy Spirit, the breath of God, it is full steam ahead into 2018.


Fr Michael


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Jane Austen weekend.

Click on the Social tab at the top of the Home page for a write up of our Jane Austen weekend.

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Jane Austen weekend October 2017

The Jane Austen Weekend


We seemed to have gone back in time as a series of bonneted ladies and men in breeches meandered their way to Crowhurst Village Hall. It was of course the Jane Austen evening as we marked the bi-centenary of her death.


The hall itself had been transformed into a gracious Regency Drawing Room with attractive curtains, silver candelabra, floral displays and silhouettes of Austen’s principle characters displayed around the room.  Up on the stage Sandra Hunt has also arranged a small writing desk for the writer herself.


Jane Austen did put in an appearance, when Elizabeth Hone read from some of her letters, but mostly we heard from her characters. John and Katie Spall made a splendid Mrs and Mrs Bennett and Liz McCall, as Lizzie Bennet, turned down the marital proposal of the obsequious Mr Collins played by Richard Day. Chris Newton became the snobbish Sir Walter Elliot with narration read by Anne Auger.  Jo Crouch then read the part of Mary Elliot. Fr Michael went military for the night and as the anguished Colonel Brandon recounted the moral indiscretions of Willoughby.  Jan Stewart then concluded the readings with a passage from Emma.  Presiding over all the literary readings was Mike Stewart, looking highly rustic in his smock. He introduced each section where we were both informed and entertained regarding Jane Austen’s life and writings.


We enjoyed a period menu drawn largely from recipes used by Martha Lloyd, Jane Austen’s friend and housekeeper, at her Chawton home. We began with a cold platter and moved on to Mr Darcy’s Beef Steak Stew or Henry Tilney’s chicken one pot.  The Regency period didn’t much go in for potatoes, so we had it with a generous portion of herb pudding.  We were rather spoilt for puddings with syllabub, apple pie, plum pudding and all sorts of variants on bread and butter pudding. Valerie Mighall and Frances Hamson produced the first two courses and Ray Grayson and Pam Thomas co-ordinated the puddings.


Towards the end of the evening the Crowhurst Regency Dancers performed a gracious reel up on stage. Rather like the Generation Game volunteers were then invited to have a go with hilarious results. The evening concluded with the famous clip of Mr Darcy, played by Colin Firth, diving into the lake at Pemberley.


On the Sunday a special commemorative service was held at St George’s. Many of the congregation went into costume again.  If you had looked inside the tower you would have seen three ladies in poke bonnets furiously pulling the bell ropes.


Jane Austen is rightly rated as a gifted novelist.  Her wise and witty observations of love and romance, virtue and failure are as pertinent as when she first penned them.  The novels abound in clever turns of phrase and memorable characterization, which have translated very well to the world of film and television.  What is perhaps less immediately apparent is that her Christian faith was an important part of her life and lies behind many of the theme explored in her novels. She was born into a Vicarage family and had numerous clerical relations. Two of her brothers ended up as clergymen as did four of her cousins and her naval brothers also seem to have been known as devout men.  Frank took his obligation to lead prayer on board seriously and was known as ‘the officer who knelt in church.’


We took the Prayer Book Service of Morning Prayer and followed it pretty faithfully.  The exceptions were the use metrical versions of psalms, since it is more likely that these were used in a parish setting.  We also included a couple of hymns contemporary with Jane Austen, although she is unlikely to have sung any.  The singing of hymns was regarded as showing signs of religious enthusiasm, so would have been frowned upon within the Church of England two hundred years ago.  Famously Jane wrote to her sister, Cassandra, on the 24th January 1809 that ‘I do not like the Evangelicals.’ However she seems to have changed since only five years later in a letter to her niece Fanny Knight she wrote, ‘I am by no means convinced that we ought not to be all Evangelicals, and am at least persuaded that they who are so from Reason and Feeling, must be happiest and safest.’


The Crowhurst Choir sang the Te Deum beautifully. We were very grateful to Jane and Linda Ireson, from Catsfield choir, who performed ‘The Good Old Way’ for the anthem. 


Austen’s novels explore all sorts of moral issues, so we had readings from both Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice paralleled with biblical passages.  We were also able to draw upon the three prayers, in the Prayer Book idiom, which she wrote for private family devotions.  Her prayers encourage spiritual self-examination, thankfulness for blessings received and intercession for family, friends, neighbours and the wider world.


Austen enthusiasts may ask why we held a weekend in Crowhurst.  Sadly there is no evidence that Jane Austen ever visited Crowhurst although she did know members of the Papillon family, who had connections with the village. She did stay in Sussex at Worthing and had relations at Shoreham.  Her unpublished novel, Sanditon, was also set in a fictional seaside village not far from here.  Possibly her naval brothers knew Captain George Hardinge (1781-1808) who is commemorated in the church. Hardinge was considered another Nelson after his victory against the French ship Piémontaise in 1808.

The main reason for the commemoration was simply that the works of Jane Austen continue to give a great deal of pleasure to those who read them and provoke much discussion.  There was certainly plenty of that when everyone gathered post-service, in the Parish Room, for Bath buns, yeast cake, spa water or a Regency cup of tea or coffee in fine china.




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December letter 2017

Travel on a Train


On the way to a preaching engagement in Oxford I had to travel by underground to Paddington Station, the home of the famous bear. On the underground people seem to have perfected the art of blanking the world out.  A group of very enthusiastic buskers entered the carriage with their brass instruments and drum.  They clearly noted my clerical collar and gave us a good blast of ‘When the saints go marching in’.  I felt obliged to look enthusiastic and put some money in the cap being passed round. Everybody else in the carriage pretended nothing was going on.


At the next stop the cheerful buskers left and a beggar entered the carriage. He announced that he was cold and had nothing to eat and would be grateful for any spare money.  I didn’t give him any, because I could see he had a bag with food in it.  I was the exception, however, since nearly everybody else came to life and gave him something. I felt the carriage’s disapproval of my meanness.


I do believe in helping those in need, so I find it difficult ignoring those begging for money. Sometimes I do give money although I prefer to give time to listen to someone, buy food, or to contribute directly to a charity. In the story of Paddington Bear he is simply left at the station with a label saying ‘Please look after this bear’ and the Brown family do exactly that. For most of us life isn’t quite that simple.

Nevertheless the coming of Christmas should challenge us to reach out to others. It is a time when we celebrate God reaching out to us by becoming one of us in the manger at Bethlehem.  We are called to love others as God loves us, so that does mean reaching out to others.

It can be a minefield navigating how to help others. If you suspect somebody may do something unhelpful with the money you give are you right to give it?  On the other hand what if you ignore someone who is genuinely cold and hungry and has no one else?  It is a difficult one to sort out.  All I can say is that the principle of active love to others is right, but how we do it is for us to decide; sometimes we may need to show tough love.

At many of our Christmas services we do give the collection away; sometimes to charities in this country and sometimes to those overseas. It is a gentle reminder that at Christmas God reached out to all the peoples of the world and we are called to do so today.


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