Making a donation

If you are able to help by making a donation, please contact Claire Peters, our Parish Secretary on 01297 32135 or send a cheque made payable to the account below.  Please include your name and address.

NatWest Bank

‘PRCDTR St Michael & St George Restoration Fund’

Sort code: 56-00-63

Account number: 46900322

Please remember the prefix ‘PRCDTR’ and the office address is: The Parish Office, The Priests House, St Mary’s Church, Lyme Road, Axminster, EX13 5BE

Our community very much appreciates your support in helping to restore our much loved church in Lyme Regis with its attendant general history.

Please note: Funds raised by this appeal will create a ‘restricted fund’, and will be accounted for as such. If for some good reason the appeal project cannot be completed or if a surplus arises, the remaining funds will be used for general charitable purposes for the parish.

Our Church in Lyme Regis is part of the RC Parish of The Most Holy Trinity and part of the PRCDTR registered charity number 213227

The Parish website:            

Restoration Update



We had some good news; Historic England through the Cultural Recovery Fund upped its grant by £41,468 to make a total grant offer of £182,368.  This was in recognition of the higher contractor’s quotes and increased costs encountered in the restoration works beyond the figures estimated at the time our application was made.  The total assessed costs are now approximately £230,000 including professional fees (but excluding VAT which we are reclaiming) and the difference around £50,000 is covered by the monies that have been advanced from the Diocesan Central Investment Funds.

The increase in grant offer has freed up monies in the Restoration Account that we had raised through your generous donations and fundraising which can now be used towards the repairs and redecoration of the interior of the Church.  The cost of these works is assessed at £22,000 to include scaffolding, decorator’s charges, materials, rewiring of the rather ancient electrical circuits and provision of emergency lights plus professional fees.  Against this can be set a grant kindly made by Allchurches Trust Ltd. of £4,500 leaving us a balance of about £17,500 to pay out of the Restoration account.

The scaffolding is due to be erected on the 9th April with the electrician, Vince Rattenbury, commencing on the 12th April and the decorator Andy Crossley starting on the 19th April.  The time schedule is five weeks so the work should be completed during the week commencing 24th May with the scaffolding being removed thereafter.

The exterior works being carried out by Daedalus Conservation have run past the original completion date of the 31st March due to the additional repair works required in particular to the Bell Tower where the roof windows were found to need extensive repairs as well as work on areas of the main walls of the Church where the blue lias stone under the rendering had crumbled.   You will be interested to know that on one pinnacle above the pathway on the South side of the Church, the decorative stone on the top was not fixed in any way and was merely resting in place and another pinnacle had a large crack down one side; these could have broken loose at any time!  Our consultant, Sam Wheeler of Philip Hughes & Associates has spent a good deal of time and energy in agreeing remedial works for the problems that have arisen and his work is much appreciated.

It is envisaged that the Church will be clear of contractors in relation to both the external and internal works by June which will be the cause of much celebration!

Finally, I know Fr. Anthony would like to express his appreciation to all of those who have contributed so generously to the cost of restoring this wonderful Church through your donations and Pledges.

Richard Salt

Catholic Church in Lyme


It all started with £100….

Catholic Church of St Michael and St George

In the 1830s Lyme Regis was a fashionable resort (as it is now!) and its Catholic families met for Mass in some of the larger houses, such as Coram Court in Pound Street, where Monique Bellingham lived.  She was widowed and had five daughters and a son, who died while serving in the Army in India. After his death, she found £100 in his desk (worth about £13,000 now) and decided to use it to start a project to build a Catholic church in Lyme, which would have been illegal only a few years earlier, before the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829. The scheme was enthusiastically supported by the new Catholic parish priest at Axminster, Father Charles Fisher, who bought a plot of land at Silver Street for £275 in 1835, and commissioned a leading architect from Bath, Edmund Goodridge, to design a magnificent church – in which he is now buried.

The Tower

The church is Neo-Gothic, influenced by Salisbury Cathedral (particularly the roof vaults), and the original design included an elegantly tall and thin octagonal spire. This was a new challenge for the builders of Lyme, so a less ambitious tower was eventually built in 1855 and this had to be rebuilt in 1936, after it was badly damaged in a storm. Sadly the bell it houses needs repairs which we cannot yet afford.

Our Saints

The first mass was said here on 27th August 1837 – just 2 years after the foundation stone was laid on St George’s Day (23rd April) 1835. A fitting day because the patron saints of the church are St Michael and St George, who are depicted on the seal of Lyme’s royal charter of 1284… and in stained glass above the altar.

The Sanctuary

Another saint is associated with this church because within the High Altar (designed by George Goldie) lies a relic of St Francis Xavier. He was a 16th Century Jesuit priest who brought Christianity to many parts of India, Malaya and Japan. The altar was moved forward in 1972, to allow the priest to face the people during Mass. The Gothic stone reredos and arcading on the altar were originally painted and gilded, which were lost as the stone decayed. There is also a fine neo-Norman octagonal baptismal font at the foot of the Sanctuary.

The Font

The Presbytery                             

Overlooking the Sanctuary on the right is a gallery which connects to the priest’s home (Presbytery), which is beside the church. This was designed by Edward Welby Pugin, another famous Neo-Gothic architect who designed over 100 Catholic churches. It was built in 1839, followed soon after by the old School building behind the church, which originally had three storeys and provided education by nuns for a century…until it fell into disrepair. In 1993 it was restored as a parish social room.

The Lady Chapel                                 

The Lady Chapel

The Lady Chapel with its two lovely windows of the Annunciation and two others of St. Cecilia and St. Monica was built in 1851, the gift of Burnard Farnell in memory of his wife who was one of Mrs. Bellingham’s daughters. The Lady Chapel contains a family vault where Mrs. Bellingham and her daughters are buried.  The Lady Chapel also has plaques to the memory of parishioners who fell in the Two World Wars, and one commemorating Admiral Sir John Talbot GCB, who lived nearby at Rhode Hill, Uplyme. He and his wife Juliana (nee Arundell) were generous benefactors of the Church and are both buried under the aisle below the Sanctuary, with their son Reginald being buried in a grave to the South of the door to the Church.

The Stations of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross were also installed in 1851, and are made of unusual papier mache in bas-relief.

The Stained Glass Windows                  

The stained glass windows over the High Altar were donated by Mrs Ann Wray in 1883, a convert to Catholicism. The centre light is a figure of “Mary Immaculate” and in a small medallion below is St. John on the island of Patmos.  Below the side lights depicting St. Michael and St. George are scenes of the Visitation and Nativity. These windows are the work of Westlake, Lavers & Co. of London.  Ann Wray is buried in a grave to the North of the path leading to the main door of the Church.

The Organ                                             

The current two-manual and pedalled organ has a wonderful tone, which is heard every Sunday morning. The original organ had to be replaced in 1978.  It had been donated in 1909 by Alban Woodroffe, who was Mayor of Lyme and started the Woodroffe School, and was a stalwart of the parish.

Salt and Wind                                    

With its exposed position above the town, and the sea air and strong winds, the Church buildings require frequent maintenance and re-rendering.  Because the church and presbytery are Grade II* Listed buildings, no work can be done without the approval of the Historic Churches Committee and supervision of heritage architects, ensuring that historic materials and standards are maintained… which makes maintenance very expensive.

The last major restoration was carried out in 1990-91. This was led by General Sir David Mostyn KCB, CBE, who lies buried in a grave with his wife Diana, outside the Church. He was Admiral Talbot’s great great grandson, and Alban Woodroffe’s great nephew.

Further restoration of this beautiful and historic church is already overdue, particularly to the exterior, roof and guttering, which are fast deteriorating. Grants are being sought from national organisations and charities, but the proportion of the funds that this small parish must still find is substantial – about the equivalent of £500 in 1835!

AUTHORS: Richard Salt and Philip Mostyn

Catholic Lyme Regis

By Philip Mostyn

Catholic Lyme seems to have begun in about 770 AD when the West Saxons were converted to Christianity – which of course was Catholicism. According to the earliest history of Lyme that I have found (G Roberts 1823), the town was probably used as a harbour and supply station by the Romans, and more recent archaeology supports this.  But its name and prominence dates from 774 AD when Cynewulf, King of the West Saxons, gave to the Abbey of Sherborne a plot of land on the west side of the river Lym where it meets the sea, to make salt.  Salt was vital for preserving food, and the sea at Lyme is particularly saline.  So the Saxons boiled sea-water in pans there and sent it inland to Sherborne, which explains why Sherborne Lane in Lyme is so-called.

Lyme Regis approximately 1830 from a painting by G. Hawkins

The Domesday book records 27 salt-workers, fishermen and small-holders at Lyme, and the original Catholic church of Lyme, on the east side of the river, had apparently been in existence since Saxon times. The church was enlarged by the Normans in about 1120. In a Papal bull in 1145, Pope Eugenius III confirmed the grant of the Church at Lyme to the Abbey of Sherborne, who retained it until 1284. The church was dedicated to St Michael the Archangel in 1405, it is believed.

The Church of St Michael the Archangel

In 1284 the royal title of ‘Regis’ was granted to Lyme by Edward I, partly perhaps because while fighting France he sheltered his fleet in the newly built wooden harbour known as the Cobb, but also possibly because the revenue from the town would go direct to the crown – Lyme was by now an established trading port. The Royal charter given to Lyme was witnessed by the (Catholic) Archbishop of Canterbury, 4 bishops, 3 earls and Prince Edmund (brother to the King).  It granted considerable independence to Lyme, which only lost its status as a borough in 1974. One of the privileges that came with the royal charter was that Lyme had two members of Parliament, which it retained until 1832. The royal seal of the charter had St Michael on one side of it (for Lyme’s patron presumably), and St George (patron saint of England) on the other, which probably explains why our new Catholic church in Lyme has these saints as its patrons.

In about 1295, a priory was established in Lyme for ‘White Friars’ of the order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, which paid rent of 15 shillings and 10 pennies to the King annually. This is said to be where Stiles House now stands, above Langmoor Gardens. By 1336 there was a hospital for lepers in Lyme, dedicated to St Mary and the Holy Spirit.  We know this because in that year Pope Benedict XII granted indulgences to collect donations for its repair (now there is a fund-raising idea for the current church maintenance needs!).

The original church was improved again by the Tudors in around 1506, and it contains a tapestry made in around 1500 recording a royal wedding, probably of the future Henry VII. So Lyme’s loyalty to the Crown was strong at this time, and it is not surprising that when Henry VIII broke with Rome in 1534, the loyalty of Lyme to the crown was greater than to the Pope.  Less than 20 years later, Henry’s daughter Mary became Queen and tried to re-establish English Catholicism. But Lyme remained “that heretic town” in the words of Queen Mary.  After becoming increasingly Puritan from around 1600, Lyme’s opposition to both the Church and the Crown reached its height in the English Civil War when Lyme was Parliamentarian and Protestant, and suffered a bitter and long siege in 1644, which it survived.  Lyme’s hostility to Crown and Catholicism explains why the Duke of Monmouth landed there in 1685 in his unsuccessful attempt to replace his uncle King James II, the last Catholic king of England. Perhaps Lyme’s hostility to the King contributed to it seldom using the ‘Regis’ part of its formal name until very recently. Jane Austen always described it just as ‘Lyme’, and coastal town of Lyme in Connecticut (USA) was named after it (Lyme’s Disease is so-named because it was first diagnosed in that American town in 1975).

Lyme remained hostile to Catholicism for most of the next 200 years.  Which makes it all the more remarkable that in 1835, only 6 years after the Catholic Emancipation Act, work began on building the current Catholic Church in Lyme, which is the oldest post-Emancipation Catholic church in this area.  For most of the previous three centuries, the few Catholics in and around Lyme sustained their faith by secretly attending Mass in hiding and in safe houses.  Apparently the ruined chapel of St Gabriel’s on the west side of Golden Cap was one such site. The most prominent centre of underground Catholicism was Chideock. Of the 360 men and women martyred for Catholicism in England between 1535 and 1681, 8 were from Chideock.  Among them was Father Hugh Green who was arrested in Lyme in 1642 and hanged, drawn and quartered in Dorchester. He was beatified in 1929.

Even before Emancipation, Catholicism was quietly tolerated, particularly amongst people who had influence. John Knight had a Catholic chapel in Hilary House in Axminster from as early as 1763. His family funded the building in 1831 of the original St Mary’s Church on the site of the current church built in 1862. Over time, and as Emancipation became a future possibility after the loyal military service of Catholics in the Napoleonic Wars, local Catholics became less secretive: my great, great, great grandfather, Admiral Sir John Talbot, had a Catholic chapel in his house, Rhode Hill, in Uplyme.  He married Juliana Arundell from Wardour in Wiltshire, which had been a Catholic stronghold for centuries, and both are buried in the nave of our current Lyme church. 

Before the current Lyme Catholic church was built, mass was being said in the old Vicarage, owned by Edward Hebden, just 75 yards south of the Catholic church, and at another site near the Cobb harbour. Mass was also heard at Corum Court, about 100 yards west of the current church, this being the home of Mrs Bellingham, who started the fund to build the current church – using £100 she found in the desk of her dead son. She and her daughter are buried in the Lady Chapel.

The foundation stone of our current Catholic church of St Michael and St George was laid on St George’s Day (23rd April) 1835 by Father Charles Fisher, who had been appointed to St Mary’s Axminster less than a year earlier, and whose tomb is in the church. The first mass here was said on 27th August 1837 by Father Joseph O’Dwyer, and in 1838 Father William Vaughan became our parish priest.  He had the Presbytery designed by the renowned Catholic architect Welby Pugin, and built the church school, a three-storey building of which the remaining ground floor is now our parish room.  He later became the second bishop of the Diocese of Plymouth. By 1851 it is recorded that mass in Lyme was regularly attended by 60-80 people.

Catholic Church of St Michael and St George

The church school was run by an order of nuns who arrived in 1890, the Servants of the Sacred Heart, and when they moved on, they were replaced by a small community of the Holy Child. The last order of nuns to run the school were the sisters of Christian Instruction, who survived until the late 1960s, and one of our parishioners remembers being taught by them.

Lyme has had three Catholic mayors: John Talbot (grandson of the Admiral), Alban Woodroffe (John Talbot’s brother-in-law) who was made a Papal Knight of St Gregory by Pope Pius XII, and John Broderick who ran the Volunteer Inn and was a stalwart of our parish. Lyme can be more proud of the 6 vocations to the priesthood from amongst its parishioners (Bishop David Mathew, Canon Talbot, Monsignor Dewey, Monsignor Mostyn, Canon Bethell and Dom Ralph Russell).

Walking the Pilgrim Routes

By Judith Burke

2002 “The Camino Santiago”.  I was walking half of the ancient pilgrim route with a friend.  The first day after registering at St Jean Pied de Port you are recommended to follow “Route de Napoleon”, a strenuous uphill walk of 15.6 miles with injury likely on the steep downhills to Roncesvalles.  It is longest and most arduous route but most beautiful and spectacular.  It was brutal and we were carrying 10 Kilos packs!

By Judith Burke

2003 return to “The Way of St James” to complete the 500 miles / 800 kms. We encountered various conditions of peoples’ feet.  Pilgrims were nursing sore feet and my friend and I would often stop and either gave advice or treat blisters.  In Santiago quite a number of pilgrims came up to us and thanked us for treating them as they had completed their pilgrimage having often travelled from the other side of the world.

Judith Burke

The British army massage their feet with a smear of Vaseline.  Should a blister occur, burst it, remove the dead skin and immediately apply zinc oxide tape onto the raw area, within a week – Voila new skin!

That year, two days before Santiago we walked through forests of eucalyptus. That aroma will always remind me of the Camino.

2014 I returned to the “Camino de Santiago” same French route – Camino de Frances but on my own.

Three elderly men came out of a pub in a back street of a small town.  On seeing me and without warning one started to sing an “aria” accompanied on rudimentary instruments.  It was incredibly beautiful, I was in tears and even the tenor who managed to hit the high notes, shed a tear.

The Camino has become incredibly popular since the film “The Way”.  It is very busy, full of litter and has lost some of its reverence.  I needed space.  I walked one night under a full moon it was so bright I couldn’t see the “milky way”.  I left behind the built up environment and entered the relative wilderness of the Meseta, walking on earth tracks across the peace and quiet of endless fields of crops.  Around the hills above Burgos, I was stunned by flashing lights, they happened to be attached to the ends of turbine blades of windfarms!

At night I heard the deafening sound of cicadas.  I passed through one village about midnight, the women were still sitting on their doorsteps and a gentleman (the Mayor maybe) came towards me.  I don’t speak Spanish so I mimed what I was doing.  He mimed back walk straight don’t veer right or left and gave me the thumbs up.

My daughter told me about “Four of the World’s Loveliest Pilgrim Trails”, an alternative to the Camino de Santiago.  One is in Japan “Kumano Ko” another “Mount Kailash Circuit” in Tibet, both a step too far.

2017 the third loveliest pilgrim trail which I walked alone in six days is the Tuscan leg of “The Francigena” the main pilgrim route from Canterbury to Rome.  It was empty!

I was having a picnic lunch surrounded by rolling hills topped with Cyprus and Chianti vineyards when a tall lady in shorts with a dog stopped and said in perfect English “Hello”.  She continued “I’m Russian and I am married to an Italian and have four children and I have lived here since I was 20 years old”.

“Oh yes” I said, stunned.  I asked her what she did in this “off the beaten place”.  She said she was an embroider; the reply was so unexpected my heart fluttered and she continued that her greatest wish was to see the embroidery in the V and A in London.  I didn’t take her photo, dam! 2017 Finally, the fourth loveliest pilgrim trail is “St Cuthbert’s Way in Northumberland from Melrose to Lindisfarne.  Walking across rich wild landscapes, up high hills with “epic” views and wading in bare feet 2 miles across the sand to Holy Island.  The route wasd quiet and the facilities were limited.  However, one night my sister and I stayed in a “Land Army Hostel”.  We were allocated Eileen Slater’s room; her photograph and biography were on the door.  At the time it was very poignant.

Eulogy for Jo Enright

With thanks to her sons Jake and Sebastian

Josephine Mary Enright

Jo. – beloved mother, grandmother, sister, auntie and friend – was born in 1947 to Eddie & Mary, the 3rd of their children, sister to Brian, Rosemary, Kate and Clare. She spent the first couple of years of her life in Stanmore before the family moved to Southgate, where they would live until she left home many years later. She grew up close to a much larger extended family – aunts, uncles, cousins and her great aunts who had raised her own mother after she lost both her parents at a very young age. In many ways hers was a fairly typical suburban, post-war childhood, but even during her early years her qualities that were loved by so many – fun loving, determination, and a concern for the wellbeing of others – were there for all to see.

She spent her first holiday in Lyme in 1948 – the start of a lifelong love for the town – and at the age of 5 started at Vita et Pax school where she was one of 3 Josephines in the class, one of whom would become a lifelong friend. Always bright, though by her own admission not necessarily the keenest to apply herself, she was nevertheless made house captain in her final year, due in part – so they say – to some enthusiastic lobbying of fellow classmates by her sister Kate.

A little later on she attended St Michael’s Grammar school until the age of 16 when she went to work as a nursery nurse at Camden House children’s home in Southgate, where she had already been volunteering in her spare time. Countless children were lucky enough to be cared for by her during this time – she still spoke very fondly of them decades later – and remained lifelong friends with one of them – Victor – who had been in her care from a very young age.

In 1970 she gained a place on a Social Administration course at LSE, where she met Roger, and they were married in 1972. Shortly afterwards they both qualified from Newcastle University as social workers and their work took them initially to Northamptonshire, then Bristol for 3 years during which her 2 eldest sons, Nathaniel and Jacob were born, before finally settling back in Northamptonshire in 1979. In 1981 the family was complete when her youngest son Sebastian arrived on a snowy day, Jo waving to her older sons through the hospital window as they built a snowman for their new baby brother in the park across the road.

As a mother she was the most loving of people who did everything she could to set her children on the right path in life, never spoiling them but if they really wanted something she’d always do her best to find a way for them to work hard and earn whatever it was. She had a wonderful nurturing side – for example recording herself reading bedtime stories so that she could still be there at bedtime when she had to work late.

She was also the life and soul of the party as many friends and relatives will tell you – her high kicking on the dancefloor, not to mention her unique dress sense and infamous multi-coloured boots often leaving 3 mortified teenage boys!

Since she passed away many former work colleagues in the home finding team at Northants County Council have paid tribute to her, all commenting on what a pleasure she was to work with even if her infectious laugh did cause one or two to complain anonymously on occasion!  She was a great manager who led by example, not to mention a loyal friend to her colleagues in times of need. The number of lives she must have positively impacted during her time working in foster care is immeasurable; one particular source of pride for her was the culmination of years of hard work leading to her finding a family to adopt 4 sisters and enable them to remain together through their childhood, a truly remarkable achievement.

After more than 25 years in Social Services the opportunity to leave the world of work presented itself and she moved to Lyme Regis. Far from taking her foot off the pedal however she soon settled in and began volunteering with vulnerable adults at the Connect centre in Bridport, as well as the Gateway social club that many of the same adults attended in the evening. She also set up the Lym Zim Link charity with her sister Kate, due to their brother, Brian’s links with Zimbabwe. For the first 7 years, mainly through selling their own crafts as well as the monthly Lym Zim draw, they supported the Leonard Cheshire home, a residential school for children with physical difficulties near Harare. Initially they paid to equip the home’s bare physio room, but eventually they were able to go even further and fund the construction of an entirely new residential block, transforming the home into one of the best facilities in the country for disabled children. The impact of this really can’t be understated – for some children having access to these facilities really was the difference between being able to walk independently or not; being able to return to live with their families or remain away from them in a residential school.

Perhaps with a sense of ‘job done’ at Leonard Cheshire, the charity then moved on to support girls at the Emerald Hill School for the Deaf, covering the fees for impoverished children who might otherwise be unable to receive an education. It also helped to improve the living conditions for deaf children at the Pedro Arrupe Centre, a home for 25 children with hearing impairments in rural Musami, paying to install water and electricity at the home and replace the thatched roofs of various buildings. An amazing legacy & something to make those who knew her feel immensely proud.

In her later years she was thrilled to become Granny to 7 grandchildren – Daniel, Evie, Leo, Oliver, Louis, Grace and Benjy – and loved nothing more than having them to stay for trips to the seaside here in Lyme, just like her own children, and indeed herself, had enjoyed in days gone by.

Her 3 sons, as well as their wives and partners, recall with fondness her help, advice and patience during some of those difficult moments that all new parents face. Although her health prevented her from being as active with them as she’d liked in the last couple of years, she nonetheless played the role of Granny with typical love and enthusiasm, whether through Skype calls, homemade cards and other treats that she loved posting to them, and watching their joyful faces as they spent hours in her house discovering many of the same toys that she’d enjoyed her own children playing with many years earlier.

Her life and the mark that she left on the world can best be summed up in the words of her older brother, Fr. Brian Enright: “Her life-long concern for the marginalised, whether deprived children in North London and Northamptonshire, or vulnerable adults in Lyme Regis, was truly remarkable.  She was a kind, generous and loving person and her death leaves a huge gap in our lives.”

By Roger King

If Sunday is for praying, what about the rest of the week?

I can remember, a long, long time ago, when I dutifully went to Church with my parents with the idea that this would set me up for the rest of the week. In those days praying apparently involved kneeling beside your bed with your hands clasped together, this did not come easily to me.

Then came school, the war, air raid shelters and a closer look at what life was all about. I was also lucky enough to have a headmaster who talked to his sixth form about the historic theories about the existence of God. So, maybe, here the mustard seed was planted, what it grew into is work in progress!!

Although I was bombed and machine gunned whilst still a schoolboy, in a long military service, I never had to fire a round at an enemy target. Furthermore, in a relatively short time, we were standing with our previous enemies against a new huge threat.  I was aware of the adage “you don’t find atheists in foxholes” and of the horrors of the trench warfare and he blitz; more serious thoughts came to mind.

At last, the penny began to drop, you did not go to Church to be with God, He is with you every moment of your life; if you do your best to follow his example of selfless love for all things and accept whatever befalls you as His will, you can take whatever comes and begin to know His peace.

Do not think that He is in your pocket or o your back; you have to ask Him in to help you tackle whatever it is concerning you. You do not have to get on your knees to ask for his help, He probably knows what you need already, but you have to ask.

A bloke called Fenelon, of whom I know nothing, writes

“If you are with God in faith and love you are in prayer”  Nobody said it was easy.


When Walsingham came to Plymouth

By Doreen Baker

Walsingham – England’s Nazareth – a-a-h! That’s the place my late husband and I visited several times during the 80s and 90s. We’d always stay for a couple of weeks covering the Feast of the Assumption (August 15th). That day was like no other. With bunting flying, a certain feeling descended on the place with everyone looking forward to the finale which started late afternoon with a short service at the parish church with its floor strewn with crushed lavender – a heavenly fragrance to begin with – then a grand procession round the village, stopping at various points for prayer and hymn singing, finishing in the dark back in the church grounds for food and fireworks.

Most days we would join the midday procession which walked the Holy Mile from the village to the Slipper Chapel reciting the Rosary en-route. Other days we would go visiting, and what great places to visit, such as The Lavender Farm at Heacham, the worlds collection of theatre organs, Wurlitzers and steam engines at Thursford, West-facing Hunstanton for its glorious seas, Houghton Hall, built for Sir Robert Walpole, and where outside one would find heavy horses, ponies and peacocks strutting the lawns and spacious park. The National Trust property at Blickling Hall with its fabulous Long Gallery; Holkham Hall, built in the Palladian Style ad home of the Earl of Leicester and containing Gainsborough, Rubend, Van Dyck and others: West Runton for its Shire Horse collection and churches too numerous to mention but mostly all steeped in pre-reformation history. I could go on but last of all I must mention the coastal town of Blakeney where we visited its Seal Island, where I bought a very expensive dress in a very posh shop and where I leaned that Baroness Orczy got the inspiration for the surname for her “damned elusive pimpernel”.    

Back to Walsingham and its Holy Shrine; sadly, during the time we were going there, the golden crown from Our Lady’s statue was stolen and a plea went out to members of the Walsingham Association to donate any old pieces of jewellery they might be prepared to part with. These could then be sold on to help pay for the replacement. I remember having quite a large silver snuff box and stuffing it with a gold bracelet, a chain and a few other odd pieces and sending it in.

Now- come our weekly newsletter here at Seaton when I read in church that Our Lady’s Statue was coming to Plymouth Cathedral as part of her Dowry Tour I immediately thought I must go! I spun around in my pew to tell the person behind me – and that turned out to be a newcomer to our church – Paul Bennett. I really gave him an earful, telling him all about the crown, my connection with it, as much as I could about Walsingham and my need to get to Plymouth and the dear man promised to get me there if all else failed. A notice appeared at the back of church for names to go by coach. We put our names on it, but no-one else did. Father Anthony then told us to contact Joe Harrison for he was going and offering seats, so that is what we did.      

Well come 7am on the 18th May slowly up my drive purred one Audi Quatro. Wow! What a sight! How I wished my neighbours were up early enough to see it, but they weren’t. Joe turned off the engine while we discussed where we were picking up Paul, turned it on again and away we purred to Seaton. Paul got in and away again quietly until we picked up the A38. Now I had only known Joe as the quiet, gentle “incense swinger” who served on our Seaton Altar on High Day Vigils. Mind you, he created such a fug some of us at the back had to fan ourselves to stay alive! However, once he hit the A38 he became like a madcap racing driver, swerving, cutting in and letting nothing overtake us. I hung on to my Miraculous Medal for dear life thinking we’d never make it- but we did and in good time.

At 9am the Exhibition opened with a guide explaining certain artefacts and relics and whilst I was writing out a petition, I became aware that he was telling the story of the crown theft and the people who donated jewellery to help get a replacement. It was then that good old Paul shouted out “There’s a lady here that was one of them!”. Well, that did it. The guide was on me for all I could tell him and asked if I would remain behind at the end for a photograph.

The program for the day included the Rosary, sung litany of the English Saints and Martyrs, Adoration of the Bless Sacrament (reconciliation available), an extremely interesting talk on the Dowry of Mary given by Monsignor John Armitage who is the Rector of the Walsingham Association and with whom I am very privileged to be photographed.

As requested we remained behind while all the Tour items were packed away into a van. I was placed in front of certain staging expecting just to be photographed when on to my hand was placed the crown. I could hardly believe what was happening to me until, looking away from the camera I looked again at the crown and thought to myself “this is nothing like the crown I contributed too. It can’t be a real one. Its too flashy, too many so-called jewels on it. It must be a mock up just for show, not genuine! Yes, that is what I thought.

Well, I picked up a booklet from the souvenir table and at home later that night I opened a page and quite by chance read, “fortunately – if it can be put that way- it was the “daily” crown and not the precious one which is only used on Great Feasts. “Yes, it was the daily crown I had donated to and not the precious one which I had never known about. Finally, in a phone call from HQ I just had to find out which crown I had been photographed holding and was told it really was the Precious one – and the value of it? I dare not tell you.

Thank you, Joe and Paul, also thank you Blessed Mother.

St Augustine of Hippo

By Rev’d Ed Standhaft

First published in The PALS Magazine No. 23

The problem with St. Augustine is that there are two of them who have prominent positions in the history of the church, each being important but in different ways. Take heart if you are already experiencing theological confusion: you will not be the first – or last. Medieval historians frequently mixed up Augustine of Canterbury (6th century) with Augustine of Hippo (5th century) and even today we are not always sure about which one they are writing about!

Augustine of Canterbury who died in May 26th 604 is best known to readers and those who have visited Canterbury cathedral. He was a Benedictine monk, sent by Pope Gregory the Great to convert the English, establishing his monastery at Canterbury, and who later became the first Archbishop of Canterbury. Augustine was soon revered as a saint and this tradition continues both in the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches.

The other Augustine, also considered a saint in both Catholic and Anglican traditions was Bishop of Hippo a pastor, a theologian, and is revered as a Doctor of the Church, despite what today we might consider as holding some views, unorthodox even unacceptable. It is about this Augustine that I want to write, if only briefly.

Hippo is in North Africa, present day Algeria, and by the 5th century Christianity in its various forms was exercising a growing influence in that part of the Roman Empire. I say this because Catholic Christianity was but one branch of the faith along with Arianism and Manichaeanism and possibly others, with competing theological views.

 Augustine was born 13th November 354 and died 28 August 430. He is best known for his views on sex, his mistress with whom he lived for over 15 years and their son, Adeodatus whom he loved throughout his life. But his sexual exploits as a young man, important though they are, form an important but not all- consuming totality to his thinking.

Augustine, by birth, therefore, was an African and was proud of his African heritage: how interesting that one of Christianity’s greatest thinkers should come out of Africa! Monica, his mother was a devout Christian and his father converted in later life.

Before coming to faith himself, Augustine, furthering his education highly intelligent and gifted, was influenced by the great thinkers in Carthage: while maintaining his hedonistic life-style he decided to become a Manichaean, which in its Christian form began to draw him into faith. However it was in Milan that Augustine’s Catholic theology began to take shape, particularly under the influence of the preaching of Ambrose, bishop of Milan.

 Ambrose was a spectacular orator and it is impossible to overestimate the influence of this great bishop had on Augustine. He wrote of Ambrose “that man of God received me as a father would and welcomed my coming as a good bishop should.” The influence of this pastorally-minded, intellectual bishop, along side Monica’s Christian faith and his friendship with a Christian student led Augustine to seek Baptism at the age of 31, along with his son. Later priestly ordination and eventually episcopal ordination led him back to Hippo where he became this bishop.

Many people remember Augustine for two things: first his famous saying “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.” And the other, hearing a child’s voice say “take up, and read” (the Bible): the reading was St Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 13 verses 13-14, which includes the phrase “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Augustine did and it changed the church.

More on what he wrote and Augustine thinking that shaped the church, Protestant as well as Catholic for well over 1000 years may be found in a later edition of the magazine.

From the Head Teacher

The Easter Story for modern times

Palm Sunday is the final Sunday of lent.

It was the day of celebration when people lined the streets of Jerusalem to welcome the now famous Jesus.

As he entered the city on a donkey people waved palm leaves.  This was a way to show respect.

In church on Palm Sunday, palm leaves are shared and these are turned into crosses which are kept through Eastertide. 

Some of these same palm leaves are kept and then the next year will be burned and the ashes used for the Ash Wednesday service.

During this week we will consider the journey from joy on the Sunday to Jesus being arrested and then dying on a cross on Good Friday. 

On the Thursday Jesus gathered his closest friends to him and told them that he would be leaving.  He reassured them and gave them a last reminder of his most important message:

Good Friday is not a sad day in the church tradition.  Good Friday is re told through 14 pictures or stations, retelling the story of the journey of Jesus from capture to dying on the cross.

We retell this each year in school with the children.  All children are invited to reflect on this journey. Our older children reflecting more deeply.  By reflecting on each image and what was happening we can be strengthened by the love and courage of those who were with Jesus.  Amazed by his ability to draw on love and not become embittered. 

The Easter story is a powerful mix of joy and pain.  It is a story of life: do we fall into the sadness of the challenge or rise above this and remain hopeful and positive, despite the difficulties. 

Easter is a great reflection for the Covid journey.  Just when we think we are through the difficulties we have been faced with more. Each of us challenged in different ways.

How do we get through this?  Certainly, we are strengthened by being lights for each other, by acts of kindness of seeing goodness around us….in the smallest of things.

We are helped by those that give rather than take. By smiling rather than falling into the sadness of what we may have lost.  By noticing what we have rather than what we haven’t.

Easter people are people of hope. They choose to see the good and to be the good wherever they can. That doesn’t mean that we have no right to be challenged. It doesn’t mean if we are in need of support we should not ask. It means that we should not actively work to bring unnecessary challenge to others.

Be a person of hope and see the good in others.    It is like switching on a rainbow in your world.

Follow this link for a re write for the Easter Hallelujah.

Wishing you every blessing at this Easter time.


In the meantime on behalf of all at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School I send you our warmest wishes.  

Elaine Mannix

March 2021