Helene Stainer

From the Vicarage summer 2023

Firstly, thank you all for the responses and further questions about last months letter. I am always happy to talk about the practicalities of funeral planning (secular or religious) and to support those who grieve as well as finding creative and meaningful ways to say Goodbye when the deceased has opted for a “direct cremation”.

In Milverton, on this very subject, you may have noticed some changes in the churchyard. A safety inspection resulted in us laying down 20 headstones that were, to be honest, balanced on thin air and were very precarious. Any family whose stone has been made safe are very welcome to arrange for a monumental mason to re-mortar and restore their monument.

I was sat in a local church for a service this week and was reflecting on the windows, each depicting a Biblical story or a saint. There were ancient memorials dedicated to local well known families, and the sense of history was inspiring.

Our church buildings offer visitors the opportunity to reflect on the history, wonder and peace of our church buildings. There is no central funding to keep our churches safe and beautiful, this work and responsibility is in the hands of our church Wardens and Parochial Church Council and funding comes solely from donations. We are very, very grateful for their commitment and hard work and for the generosity of our communities.

In this Benefice every church is open every day…Milverton has their incredible Pew Ends, the subject of research and production of a guidebook by Peter Hutchinson. In Ash Priors we have lovely Stained Glass telling stories and showing events from The Bible. Fitzhead boast an ancient Screen once decorated in reds and golds and an ancient, recently restored Lantern Cross in the churchyard. Halse has areas where the church was once covered in wall painting throughout the church…and as well as the history, each reflects a sense of God’s peace and stillness.

This Summer; visit any of our buildings, be reminded of their history, the stories they tell, and experience the cool, calm, interior and you may sense God’s presence and reflect on the comforting words of Jesus “I will be with you always, to the end of time” (Matt 28:20)

Fundraising events to support our churches include our table top sale on Saturday 16 September 10am to 1pm in St Michael’s Church, to find out more and to book a table email or phone 01823 400305. Fitzhead Fete is on 22 July raises a proportion of funds for St James Church.