Chairman's Autumn Newsletter 2019Mid year updates
Back in April 2018, during a conversation with fellow Council member, George Staple,we speculated if it would be possible to persuade a member of the Royal family to visit the Marsh and a few of our splendid churches. With her Kentish connections, Her Royal Highness, Princess Alexandra was the obvious choice and following discussions over a number of weeks andalso contact the with Lord Lieutenant’s Office in Maidstone,a proposal was put together for consideration. Early in the New Year, we received confirmation that a visit had been agreed and planning began in earnest.
By 26 June, the day of the visit, everything was in place and we were all hoping for decent weather. Thankfully, our prayers were answered and starting at the headquarters of Romney Tweed, Her Royal Highness was able to visit Old Romney followed by Brookland, where the children from the Primary School turned out in force to greet the Princess. It was then on to Fairfield where she was able to stop and admire this little church, dedicated to Thomas Beckett, from the roadside. Finally to Ivychurch where refreshments were waiting and she was able to meet representatives from the Marsh churches.Fittingly, the Princess’s departure was marked by George Staple’s granddaughter presenting her with a posy. Altogether a highly successful visit and a great team effort. Particular thanks must go to George who was instrumental in suggesting the visit and was an unfailing support during the preparations. Also to John Hendy who cleverly managed to scurry from church to church to give brief histories of each of the churches visited and finally to Ian Hamilton who acted as official photographer.
In May, we returned to Dymchurch for our Annual General Meeting and an excellent an erudite talk from Richard Oldfield, Vice Lord Lieutenant of Kent. A copy of his address accompanies this newsletter. As usual, the AGM itself was well attended although numbers at the lunch beforehand were a little disappointing. I am conscious that for some members the cost of the lunch may prove a barrier and I am looking at ways of reducing that cost.
Grants so far this year have included £25,000 to All Saints Lydd for a number of repairs and improvements following their most recent quinquennial, the most significant of whichwere additional window guards (£9,000), an upgrade to the lightning protection for the church (£7,000) and masonry repairs to the west window (£7,000). £2,400 was awarded to Burmarsh for electrical repairs and approximately £6,000 to St Augustine, Snave for work both inside the church and also the churchyard. Recent visitors to Snave may have seen the remnants of a huge ash tree which was struck by lightning and came down during a storm in July. Fortunately, the tree missed the church itself and the minimal damage in the churchyard is easily repaired.
Thanks in part, to some very welcome publicity on BBC South East News, attendance at our annual Thanksgiving Service at Snave in September was at a record with standing room only. As in previous years, Nick Hudd provided an excellent choir and the service itself was taken by Canon John Dilnot who also preached a highly relevant sermon. Two weeks later, we welcomed the Latin Mass Society for a traditional Tridentine Mass and once again, Snave played host to a near full house. I have mentioned it before but it is worth repeating; the acoustics in this church are quite exceptional.
Our tour season is now at a close and thanks must go to all those involved. To John Hendy who has organised and taken the majority of the tours on behalf of visiting groups and of course to Elizabeth Marshall and Joan Campbell who take the two Members Tours which are always so popular.
It is getting towards that time of year again and also enclosed with this Newsletter is our order form for our Christmas cards. A photograph of Snave, by John Hendy, a painting of Snargate by John Doyle and a set of five cards depicting the Angels at East Guldeford from photographs taken by David Campbell.
Finally, for those who are more technically minded, may I commend to you our website — www.romneychurches.org.uk. Much effort has gone into updating it during the course of the year and as with any website, it remains work in progress, I do urge you to take a look at it from time to time. There is an order form for Christmas cards and guide books and also an application form for membership. Please tell your friends!