Celebrating 800 Years

Lively weekend kicks off off church birthday celebrations

Although to some extent, the events of the 13th century are shrouded in the mists of time, it is believed that building work on St Mary’s Church, Ivinghoe, effectively began in the year 1220.

With that date in mind, a whole programme of celebratory 800th birthday events was originally planned for last year. As with most events anticipated in 2020, those plans were scuppered by Covid19. But the community has not had too long to wait in the big scheme of things, and the church was buzzing over the weekend Of 9 and 10 October.

First up, over the full weekend, a most impressive art and crafts exhibition filled the church with works by local people. The exhibits included watercolours, work in acrylics, ink pen, pastel and ink, oil, charcoal and gouache. There were also lino cuts, prints, photographs, and much more besides. Tabletop stalls featured pottery, quilting, photography, needlecraft and sewing.

Amongst the adornments to the church for the event were an angel tapestry designed by Louise Emlyn Jones and stitched by her and her helpers; and a stained glass window canvas designed by Anne O’Brien and painted in acrylic with the children at Messy Church.

There was a display of work by local artist, the late B O Wright, in the Lady Chapel, whilst a selection of signed prints by Carol Tarrant was available, in exchange for a donation, in the south transept. Also on sale were Christmas cards and a range of merchandise commemorating ‘St Marys 800’.

It all made for an array of vibrant colour as befits a birthday party. Naturally, refreshments were available.

And so on to the evening of Sunday 10 October and a special celebration service led by Rev Canon David Holloway, with Rt Rev Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford, as the preacher.

In his introduction, David Holloway said it was the first time he had been part of a capacity crowd since his beloved Bristol City played Manchester United. The congregation represented all sections of the community, and so did participants in the service. Readings were by Esther Taylor, Brookmead School Headteacher and, Andrew Woods, the local group scout leader. The Beacon Community Choir were there along with the church choir, and the former performed ‘Yvingho’, and anthem from ‘Yvingho Tales’, a reimagining of the events surrounding the building of the church, specially written by Judith Sheridan and Dave Sivers as part of the celebrations. The entire work will be performed in the church at the end of November.

Nobody who was present in the church for any part of this joyous weekend could fail to have noticed the depth of Talent within the community and the enthusiasm and affection for this lovely Old Church at such a special time. I’m almost sorry I won’t be around for the 900th birthday!

Dave Sivers