Author Archives: valerie

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


Posted in Father Michael's Letters | Comments Off on January letter 2018

Jane Austen weekend.

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

Posted in Featured | Comments Off on Jane Austen weekend.

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.




Posted in Social | Comments Off on Jane Austen weekend October 2017

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.


Posted in Father Michael's Letters | Comments Off on December letter 2017

December Services including Christmas 2017

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.




3 Advent Sunday

Holy Communion, 8am, Crowhurst

Family Communion, 9:15am, Catsfield

Children’s Service and Baptism, 11am, Crowhurst

Advent Carol Service, 6pm, Catsfield


6 St Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, Holy Communion, 10am, Crowhurst


7 St Ambrose of Milan, Holy Communion, 9:30am, Catsfield


8 The Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 6:30pm, Catsfield


10 The Second Sunday of Advent

Parish Communion, 9:15am, Catsfield

Parish Communion, 11am, Crowhurst


13 St Lucy, Martyr at Syracuse, 10am, Crowhurst


14 St John of the Cross, Poet, Teacher, Holy Communion, 9:30am, Catsfield


17 The Third Sunday in Advent

Holy Communion, 9am, Catsfield

Family Morning Service, 10am, Catsfield

Parish Communion, 11am, Crowhurst

Carol Service, 6pm,   Crowhurst


18 Senlac District Scout Carol Service, Crowhurst, 7pm


19, ‘Carols in the Village Hall, 6:30-8pm, Catsfield


20 Holy Communion, 10am, Crowhurst


21 St Thomas the Apostle, Holy Communion, 9:30am, Catsfield

24 Fourth Sunday of Advent

Holy Communion, 9:15am, Catsfield

Holy Communoin, 11am, Crowhurst


24 Christmas Eve

Crib Service, 3pm, Catsfield                                   

Christingle Service, 4:30pm, Crowhurst




MIDNIGHT MASS              Catsfield                     11:30pm


25 Family Communion                     Crowhurst                 10:00am


26, St Stephen, Holy Communion, 9:30am, Catsfield


27, St John the Evangelist, Holy Communion, 10am, Crowhurst


28 The Holy Innocents, Holy Communion, 9:30am, Catsfield


31, The First Sunday of Christmas

Parish Communion                  Catsfield                     9:15am

Parish Communion                  Crowhurst                   11:00am




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

Holy Communion, 10am, Crowhurst


7 January, The Epiphany

Family Communion                Catsfield                     9:15am

Children’s Service                   Crowhurst                   11:00am





Posted in Services | Comments Off on December Services including Christmas 2017

Photo of Jane Austen service. Open read story to view.

Posted in Services | Comments Off on Photo of Jane Austen service. Open read story to view.

Intercessions November -May 2018


Tel. No


6th Children’s Service
12th Remembrance Sunday Fr Michael


Derek Norgate 892374
26th Lindy Butters 830293


3rd Children’s Service
10th Frances Hamson ** 830461


Margaret Philcox 830258
24th Valerie Wellard 830039
25th Christmas Day – Fr Michael 892988
31st Peter Armstrong
7th  Children’s Service
14th Baptism (Fr Michael) 892988


Muriel Scott Wood 830585
28th Derek Norgate 892374


4th Children’s Service
11th Lindy Butters 830293


Frances Hamson 830461
25th Margaret Philcox 830258


4th Jonathan Webster (No children’s service this week 830768
11th Mothering Sunday Children’s Service**



Valerie Wellard 830039


Peter Armstrong


1st Easter Sunday Valerie Mighall


8th Muriel Scott Wood ** 830585
15th Derek Norgate 892374
22nd Fr Michael (St George’s Service) 892988
29th Jonathan Webster 830768



Children’s Service

Lindy Butters**

20th Margaret Philcox 830258
27th Valerie Wellard 830039


**PLEASE NOTE: If you are down to do the intercessions on the second Sunday of the month could you please read the names from the first Sunday as well as the second Sunday as they are not read out at the Children’s Service.  Thank you.

Posted in Cubs | Comments Off on Intercessions November -May 2018

November 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 All Saints’ Day, Holy Communion, 10am, Crowhurst


2 All Souls’ Day,

Holy Communion, 9:30am, Catsfield

Holy Communion, 10:30am, Crowhurst


5 All Saints’ Sunday (The Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Trinity)

Family Communion, 9:15am, Catsfield

Children’s Service, 11am, Crowhurst


8 The Saints and Martyrs of England, Holy Communion, 10am, Crowhurst


9 Margery Kempe, Mystic, c 1440, Holy Communion, 9:30am, Catsfield


12 Remembrance Sunday (The Twenty-Second Sunday after Trinity)

Parish Communion and Act of Remembrance, 9:15am, Catsfield

Remembrance Sunday Service, 10:50am, Crowhurst


15 St Machutus, bishop, Apostle of Brittany, c. 564, Holy Communion, 10am, Crowhrust


16 St Margaret, Queen of Scotland, 1093, Holy Communion, 9:30am, Catsfield


19 The Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity

Holy Communion, 9am, Catsfield

Family Morning Service, 10am, Catsfield

Parish Communion, 11am, Crowhurst


22 St Cecilia, Martyr at Rome, c.230, Holy Communion, 10am, Crowhurst


23 St Clement, bishop of Rome, Martyr, c. 100, Holy Communion, 9:30am, Catsfield


26 Christ the King

Parish Communion, 9:15am, Catsfield

Parish Communion, 11am, Crowhurst


29 Day of Intercession and Thanksgiving for the Missionary Work of the Church, Holy Communion, 10am, Crowhurst


30 St Andrew the Apostle, Holy Communion, 9:30am, Catsfield


3 Advent Sunday

Holy Communion, 8am, Crowhrust

Family Communion, 9:15am, Catsfield

Children’s Service and Baptism, 11am, Crowhrust

Advent Carol Service, 6pm, Catsfield




Posted in Services | Comments Off on November Services

November letter

As dim as a Toc H lamp’


Anyone who served in the Armed Forces up until the late 1960s is likely to have heard someone lambasted for being ‘as dim as a Toc H lamp.’  Toc H is an international charity dedicated to serving others whose roots are in the First World War.  In 1915 an army padre, the Rev’d Philip Clayton, set up a rest home for the troops in the town of Poperinge.  It was named Talbot House after Lieutenant Gilbert Talbot, who had been killed earlier that year. Whatever the formal name it soon became abbreviated to Toc Aitch, which were the predecessors of today’s phonetic letters T – Tango and H- Hotel.


Tubby Clayton created what he referred to as an ‘oasis in a world gone crazy’, which could be a place of rest for all.  Famously everyone was treated exactly the same once they were inside: ‘All rank abandon ye who enter here’ was the motto.


There was a popular reading room, a pleasant garden, tea on the constant go, singalongs around the piano, concert parties and treats for the local children.  Right up in the loft was a chapel known as the Upper Room.  The attendance was always voluntary, but the services were packed and there were usually men standing all the way down the stairs and on the landing too.


After the war had ended Tubby Clayton wanted to do something to keep alive the keen sense of fellowship that they had felt at Talbot House and to promote service to others.  Toc H was born.  At the start of a Toc H meeting an ancient world lamp (think Aladdin’s lamp) is always lit to symbolize the light of service to others, which can break down all barriers.


The Toc H lamp isn’t actually very bright so it is not difficult to see how the expression likening someone’s intelligence to its dimness developed.  But a little light can still achieve a great deal and make all the difference.


On Remembrance Sunday we will remember the dark tragedy of war along with showing our gratitude to those who fought for freedom.  We also commit ourselves to working for that better world where the light is never extinguished and the darkness might be totally driven away.


At the opposite end to the actual flame a Toc H lamp has a cross.  The design is based on the Cross of Ypres, which is an historical reminder that Talbot House served those who fought on the Ypres Salient.  But the cross is also a reminder that the cross is the ultimate sign of God’s service to us and that out of that dark tragedy came the resurrection of Jesus Christ.


We are committed to making this world the best we possibly can, but we also have the hope that our ultimate home is with the risen Lord.


Fr Michael

Posted in Father Michael's Letters | Comments Off on November letter

October services



1 The Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity (Harvest Festival at Crowhurst)

Holy Communion, 8am, Crowhurst

Family Communion, 9:15am, Catsfield

Harvest Thanksgiving Service, 11am, Crowhurst


4 St Francis of Assisi, Holy Communion, 10am, Crowhurst


5 Holy Communion, 9:30am, Catsfield


8 The Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity (Harvest Festival at Catsfield)

Family Communion for Harvest Festival, 11am*, Catsfield

Parish Communion and Discoverers (Sunday School), 11am, Crowhurst


11 Holy Communion,10am, Crowhurst


12 St Wilfrid of Ripon, Bishop and Missionary to the Kingdom of Sussex, Holy Communion, 9:30am, Catsfield


15 The Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity

Holy Communion, 9am, Catsfield

Family Morning Service, 10am, Catsfield

Parish Communion, 11am, Crowhurst


18 St Luke the Evangelist, Holy Communion, Crowhurst


19 Holy Communion, 9:30am, Catsfield


22 The Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity

Parish Communion, 9:15am, Catsfield

A Service of Commemoration for the Bi-Centenary of Jane Austen, 11am, Crowhurst

(Discoverers Sunday School, will still be meeting at 11am too)


25 St Crispin, Martyr at Rome, Holy Communion, 10am, Crowhurst


26 Holy Communion, 9:30am, Catsfield


29 Feast of the Dedication of the Church

Parish Communion, 9:15am, Catsfield

Parish Communion, 11am, Crowhurst


31 All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween), Procession from Village Hall for Service of the Light in the Church, (6pm start from the Village Hall)


Posted in Services | Comments Off on October services