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From the Vicar - May 2016

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Last month we held our Annual Parochial Church Meeting.  Here is the Annual Report which I presented at that meeting.

  It gives you an outline of the many things that the PCC has achieved over the last year.

Church Attendance

There follows the numbers attending services in the past year; for the sake of comparison, the 2014 figures are included in brackets in the following sentences. The average weekly attendance counted during October 2015 was 19 (39).  Attendance on a normal Sunday averaged 24 (26). However, this number increased at festivals, 38 (60) attending worship on Easter Day, and 71 (98) attending worship on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. During the year there were 3 baptisms and 2 wedding held in the church and there were 3 deceased for whom a funeral service was held in the church followed by burial and 1 interment of ashes.

Review of the year

The PCC met on four occasions with an average of over 90% attendance. Reports were received from the PCC representative on the Fete Committee and from the representative on the Deanery Synod. There was no occasion for the Standing Committee to be formally constituted or meet during this year. The PCC met for a planning meeting in January from which they set up their strategic vision for the year. A Fabric Restoration Sub-Committee met in January and October 2015. The Vicar met regularly with a Churchwarden.

Building and Heritage

In 2015 we were able to celebrate the completion of two projects whilst we continued to put a great deal of preparatory work and thought into planning future major restorations.
(1) WAR MEMORIAL: Faculty and planning permission having been obtained, the mediaeval village cross was successfully moved in September/October from near the west porch to a site on the green, very close to its original location. The work was carried out by John Guest of Oxford Lime Mortar. Plans were drawn by John Cook who, with Gilbert Howse and Robert Wilson, had designed the restoration and adaptation of the remains of the old cross to a village war memorial. A bronze plaque listing the names of those who gave their lives in the two world wars was set into a new piece of Clipsham stone, built into the second step of the cross base. The memorial was dedicated at a moving service by the Bishop of Dorchester and the new Principal, Bishop Humphrey Southern on Remembrance Sunday, 8th November.
This was in the context of the Parish Council having received a grant of £10,000 from Heritage Lottery specifically related to the centenary of the First World War. The grant was obtained and managed by Kathy and Keith Hawley and it enabled extensive research to be supported, a village archive to be set up, a play to be held and the cross to be moved and refurbished as a war memorial. The PCC acted in partnership with the PC for this project and supplemented the grant.
On the evening prior to the dedication of the War Memorial, the church was the venue for a major community event: a performance of ‘Cuddesdon at War’, a play written by Kathy and Esme Hawley and performed by members of the village community.
(2) HATCHMENT: The hatchment of the Hon. and Rt. Rev. Edward Legge (Bishop of Oxford 1816-27 and Warden of All Souls College, Oxford 1817-27) had been restored during 2014. It was finally hung in the nave over the north door in February 2015. On July 24th the PCC hosted an evening party at which the restoration of the hatchment was celebrated and brief talks were given by John Hawkins, who had first drawn our attention to the importance and uniqueness of the this hatchment, and by Robert Wilson. Susan Palmer expertly managed invitations and catering for the event, which was very successful.

(3) HERITAGE LOTTERY GRANT: In December of 2014, we were admitted to the Development Phase of a grant of about £200,000 for restoration of the South Porch, restoration of the Chancel and installation of a toilet in the North Transept. This meant that we have had some £25,000 available this year from Heritage Lottery, under their Grants for Places of Worship Scheme, for developing the exact details of the restoration programme. After inviting tenders, the PCC appointed Robert Montgomery as architect for the project and a range of specialised reports and investigations then ensued. Towards the end of February 2016 we submitted a second round application which, if successful, will admit us to the Delivery Phase, during which the restoration of porch and chancel will be carried out and the toilet duly installed. It is hoped that this work will be carried out between September 2016 and March 2017.
A condition of all Heritage Lottery grants is that the recipients make the heritage more available to visitors and wider communities and this has been an important element in our application, masterminded by Keith Hawley and the Fabric Sub-Committee.

(4) BELLS: In a project managed by Waveney Luke and Keith Hawley, a great deal of thought and research has gone into considering a restoration of the bells and the raising of the considerable but necessary funds. In early March 2015, three members of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry Ltd carried out a full day’s survey and made adjustments to the hanging and ringing mechanisms and, during a peal in the evening, checked all aspects of the effects of vibration on frame and tower. A detailed report indicates that though the bells are safe to ring with care, reinforcement of the frame and restoration/retuning of the bells are strongly advised. Keith and Waveney have been successful in raising funds towards the considerable costs of removal and restoration and in establishing a ringing team that is now practising regularly.

(5) LIGHTS: Because of the failure of old light fittings it was agreed that all the remaining old fittings in the nave and aisles should be replaced with new LED fittings and this was carried out in February 2015 at a cost of £2,275.

(6) WATER GOODS: During the summer, Rayners of Abingdon checked all roofs, drainpipes and gutters for potential leaks. Subsequently, heavy rain towards the end of the year, caused a roof leak in the north transept and a puddle collected near the tower door. Rayners carried out a repair to the lead on the N transept roof and this seems to have sorted out the problem and, in spite of subsequent heavy rainfall, there has been no ingress of water anywhere in the church, apart from leakage from leading on the west windows. It is recommended that we continue to ask Rayners to check roofs and water goods annually.

(7) CHURCHYARD and FLOWERS: Messrs Gordon and Colin Dimmock continue to maintain the churchyard to a very high standard and we are grateful to the Parish Council for their grant of £500 towards the overall cost of around £1,800 for keeping the churchyard in good order. Jean Mackintosh and other ladies continue to decorate the church most beautifully for festival services and we are very grateful to them.

Worship and Education

The monthly pattern of church services has remained the same as in the previous year and we said farewell to a number of our servers in May, presenting them with copies of the Book of Common Prayer.  The agape supper was held in the Hub at Horspath on Maundy Thursday and the parish congregation joined with the college for Good Friday addresses by Rt Rev’d Tom Butler. We enjoyed a harvest weekend with a fine Harvest Supper in the Village Hall followed on the Sunday by a Harvest Festival for which the church had been very well decorated. Donations went to CEF (Community Emergency Foodbank). The Advent Service was beautifully mounted by members of the college with readings from parishioners and there was a well-attended and much enjoyed Christingle Service and Crib service. Carol singing around the village took place before Christmas. It raised a donation for the Children’s Society, as did the Christingle Service. The collection taken at the Crib Service went to Christian Aid.

The Monday evening Bible Study continued to meet in the college.

The church was packed in early July for the BRF and Oxford Diocese Festival of Prayer, in the organisation of which Emma takes a leading role.  In our desire to be a church which promotes prayer a new Julian contemplative prayer group was also started in collaboration with Leanne and Darren Bell and meets every second Thursday in the month at 2 pm in the Edward King Chapel.


We continue to accomplish our Mission Action Plan priority to reach out to college families and visitors the very successful tea party in the Parish Hall, held in September for newly arrived college families. Thanks to Waveney and Jean and all who helped organise it. The regular monthly coffee mornings in the Village Hall, particularly for elderly or isolated parishioners, continued most successfully. The Vicar’s Notes, regularly appearing in the Parish Magazine, continue as a much-appreciated outreach into the wider community of the parish.

An initiative this year which has sought to reach out to those under- represented in our current congregation is the founding of a Messy Church which meets every second Sunday in the Village Hall and brings together families from across Cuddesdon in fun, faith centred activities.

The fete held in the grounds of Ripon College raised yet again a good sum: £6,000 was deposited in the Fabric Account and General Fund. Our grateful thanks go to members of the Fete Committee for all their hard work in its organisation, to all who helped on the day and to students and staff of the college. This is a significant community effort that brings together villagers, members of the college and church members for a hugely enjoyable and successful occasion. We have indeed cause to be thankful for the support that comes to our church from various sources.

Finally, the PCC thanks most warmly all you who give of your time, energy and money to decorate and care for our church, and support all aspects of its educational, spiritual and pastoral work. We especially thank Mark and all other clergy who have led services during the year. We thank those who have arranged flowers and decorations for festivals, who have made donations of money, who have organised rotas or acted as sidespeople, readers and intercessors, especially to Keith Randall our organist, who have counted the collection money, made the coffee and maintained the week by week running of services and other events. Among all these we include thanks to our Churchwardens and to our Sacristans, Clive Watts and Karen Charman, for their attention to the details of services, careful maintenance of records and care of the church and its furnishings, and we wish them every blessing in their future work.