As well as attending services people have different reasons these days for walking or driving along Church Lane; for instance, the cleaning and the arranging of flowers are done by a rota of village volunteers and the churchyard is maintained by a group of volunteer gardeners, who carefully leave the edges of the property in a natural state for the benefit of wildlife.
Entries from our Visitor’s Book covering the period from 1978 to 2003 show that a good number came to ‘find the grave of an old Digger mate’ and lament the fact that there are war graves of so many Australians from 1914–18 who died ‘so far from homersquo; .
Some came for practical reasons.
Stonemasons and plumbers note the repairs they have made to the fabric of the church and brass-rubbers express their pleasure at the excellence of the memorial brass. Workmen from the Whitechapel Foundry recorded the removal and re-hanging of the old bells after their re-tuning, together with the hanging of the new sixth bell in 1980.
Bell ringers also noted their visits, including the occasion when they rang a full peal in anticipation of the late Queen Mother’s birthday in August 2001
Church Visitors’ Book
In giving us an insight into the reasons for visits, the Church Visitors’ Book is a valuable social historic document in itself. Who the visitors were, where they come from, their range of ages and why they have visited our church, all make fascinating reading Many come for personal reasons. Some because they, or members of their families, were christened, confirmed or married here. Others came to visit family graves, to try to trace ancestors, or just to reconnect with a place where they were happy:
‘Tracing my great-grandparents’
‘Fond memories of happy times in the village’
Then there are those who have no particular affiliation to our church but, like so many of us when we are on holiday, have sought out the local church as a place of interest. Many remark on the beauty and peace of the area, or how well the place is cared for. A theme that is constantly repeated is that of gratitude that the church is open, so that the visitor can meditate and pray in such a beautiful setting:
‘You are fortunate to have such a beautiful church to worship in’
‘So lovely to find an open church and to be able to take time to pray’
It is the comments of such casual visitors, who have no personal emotional association with our church, which underlines the important place that religion still holds in many people’s lives.
Of equal importance in this more secular age are visitors who come to research the ‘history in stone’ that a local church and its surroundings represent:
‘Interested in the history’ – Jethro Crabb, researcher and historian.
Our old Church Visitors’ Book is a historical treasure trove for such visitors. Our current Visitors’ Book continues to record not only major events in our villagers’ lives, but the comments of all who wish to express their thoughts on visiting our church. Thus is the record kept up for the benefit of all those who come after us.