Comfort and Joy, Hinton Ampner

“Comfort & Joy”

Sad to relate, I forget just how many times I’ve been built on and added to over the centuries, but ever since Ralph Dutton left the Big House to the National Trust, I meet and greet a steady stream of visitors every day.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about my neighbour on the other side of my wall!  So, let me introduce myself, I’m All Saints, some people call me Hinton Ampner Church and I read your “Church and Village” magazine every month.  There’s always a copy at the bottom of my bell tower for visitors, so I like to write the occasional article to keep everyone abreast of events up here on my hill.

You put an Angel Tree in my font again this Christmas, but I’ve quite lost count of the number of thoughts and prayers my visitors have hung on its branches.  I expect you think an old church like me shouldn’t comment, but one branch was so weighed down, that the angel at the tip of the branch was only inches from the floor.  Wonderful idea and I know you will choose some prayers to read out at our Monthly Service of Prayer and Praise.  Some prayers bring a tear to my eye, while others make me want to shout out with joy.  All of them make both me and my angels thankful and proud to have brought such “Comfort and Joy”!  It even makes us want to sing out the Good King Winceslas carol.  The one about Charitable Giving.

You shut my door last autumn and put a big notice outside saying, “NO ENTRY.  Then you stuck big metal poles and planks in my nave and choir.  All most disconcerting.  So I had a reassuring chat with St Simon and St Jude down the road.  As you know he’s got metal scaffolding too.  Anyway Bramdean told me not to worry.  He’s been swatting up on the Faculty Rules and the 30 forms in ChurchCare.  He says I won’t have to appeal to my Canterbury friends down at the Court of Arches for my new lighting and Bramdean will even get his church organ moved as well as a new wall!

I’m done now, it’s wonderful!  Some lights even come on by themselves.  I can see at last and my congregation can see me too, all the way up to the rafters!  My windows look so much prettier under spotlights and my path’s even got automatic night lights.  No need to tell you that my old pews have been onto the Church Wardens about the Health and Safety out there for several centuries!

Which reminds me can someone please let me know me when pew renting ended at All Saints?  Even better when did it cease across all my Benefice?  I know the practice continued all the way up to WW2, but my congregation was unwilling to pay well before that!  At least my current congregation have come up with much more innovative ways of paying my way, so I’ve added a picture of my new Tea Towel for you.  It’s designed by Retta and they plan to sell them all the year round to help pay for my upkeep and my fantastic new lighting of course.  So thank you to everyone who has bought my beautiful cotton Tea Towels and to all who bought my latest Christmas Cards too.  I must tell you that I’ve already sold 63 Tea Towels as well as nearly 2000 Christmas Cards these past three years.  You all helped, but my special thanks goes out to the Kilmeston Christmas Bazaar in aid of my friend and neighbour St Andrew and his grave yard works.  Also, to everyone at Cheriton Stores next to my dear friend St Michael and All Angels, for their free advertising and selling.

What will 2019 bring me?  I’m praying for a new Rector.  As you know I’ve had quite a few!  And whatever else you do please select the right one again for me.  I know I can be quite, fickle and so can my Benefice Church Friends, but when all is said and done I need to keep up my congregation’s good works!

Will write again soon because my PCC have a number of ideas to keep me both happy and content.  Thank you everyone for looking after me so well this past year and “A Peaceful New Year from me at All Saints”!