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Prestbury Parish Magazine

December 2016 / January 2017

Download the PDF version (6,806KB)

Cover photograph:
A Christmas Cake in a Shop Window
by  Brian Wood


Waiting on God’s future
An update on Bishop Michael’s health
Family Favourites
During the Restoration Works in St Mary’s
Reflections on Harvest Festival at Prestbury URC
Our new Archdeacon of Cheltenham
The Diocesan Synod - 5th November 2016
Book Reviews
Granny Tinker’s Christmas pudding
A Family Favourite
Creating Family Favourites at the Library this Christmas
Marle Hill WI
Prestbury WI
Goodbye to Jessie
Breathing Space
Light in Midwinter

To see the Diary,  Calendar, Registers and Advertisements please download the PDF version (6,806KB)

Waiting on God’s future

IT SEEMED A LONG time since Mary first received the news, and the weeks leading up to his arrival weren’t easy, but they supported one another and as the time grew closer, there was a sense of expectation, despite uncertainty about the exact date on which the promised event would take place.

In God’s good time, the waiting of Advent gave way to Christmas: Emmanuel, God with us! They began a voyage of discovery. Things were different, but became easier as they got to know the new arrival. With Epiphany, the child was revealed for all to see. Unexpected visitors brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Unusual gifts for a little boy, but they symbolised a future yet to be revealed.

We too are looking forward to a promised event, and coming to the end of a time of waiting. It’s not been very long, but sometimes hard work, especially for those who’ve kept everything ticking over. But we’ve supported one another, and there’s a sense of expectation as we look forward to the arrival of our new Team Rector. And unlike a new baby, we already know the exact date on which this will happen!

When we welcome Father Nick Bromfield and his family, they will immediately be caught up in Carol Services and Christmas, as we rejoice in God’s gift of himself in his Son. All too soon, it will be out with the old year and in with the new. We will look back on all that we have shared in the life of our Team and ask for God’s guidance and blessing on our future.

A change will be taking place and things may feel strange at first. It will take time to build relationships and get to know one another. But we are looking forward to a new phase in the life of our Team, and to new opportunities as we learn to work together.

All that God has in store for our future is yet to be revealed, but we can be sure that Father Nick will bring his own gifts to be shared with us, in worshipping, serving and growing, and in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ, for all to see.

We pray for a blessing on our new Team Rector’s ministry, that he may help us discern where God-with-us is already at work in our lives, and will enable us to combine our own particular gifts with those which he himself will bring, to the praise and glory of God and in service one to another.

May the peace of the Christ Child dwell within our hearts, and may we know God’s presence with us, at Christmas, and throughout the coming year.

Deacon Jennifer


An update on Bishop Michael’s health

Please pray for him and his family


The Right Reverend Michael Perham

The Old Mill, Bleadney, Wells, Somerset, BA5 1PF


28 October 2016

Dear Friends of the Diocese of Gloucester

I think it is maybe time for an update on my health. Excuse an email to so many people at once.

But first thank you for all the letters, emails, cards and other messages and the prayers. We have a wonderful sense of being encouraged, supported and upheld, for which I am grateful every day. One of the things that hasn’t got much better is my ability to type, and even more to write, which means that not all emails and letters are getting a reply, for which I am sorry, but I am reading them and engaging with them carefully and gratefully.

Alison and I had a good consultation this week with the oncologists at the Bristol Royal Infirmary. The outcome, based on the decision that I would prefer quality of life to length of days, is that I will have a short three-week course of radiotherapy combined with chemotherapy beginning on 10 November. The longer six-week course is gruelling, time consuming and induces considerable fatigue and, although might achieve more longevity, this might not be of sufficient quality to make it worthwhile. We hope the three-week course will achieve some good outcomes, with less overall cost, and should enable me to continue to do some work and to enjoy the time that I would otherwise spend in prolonged treatment. Any further surgery has been ruled out.

November into early December will be tough, but by Christmas and then into the New Year life should look up and be more comfortable and fulfilling, perhaps for several months. We know I am unlikely to survive a year and that the best quality is likely to be from January and February onwards, but that there will be a decline as time continues. I’m really up for the cycle of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent and then Easter, which will be an amazing journey to make for the last time, with words and music that I’ve loved over the years, and there are some family celebrations on the way too, not least our Anna and her Tom’s wedding in February, and lots for which to be thankful.

I hope “Living well and dying well” doesn’t sound pretentious as a description of how I might be able to play the next stages in my life. I know Alison and our family want me to be able to do that and will help it happen. There must be some challenging moments ahead, but I am still with Julian of Norwich and “All shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well”.

We’ll keep you posted and we rejoice in all the prayers.

With much gratitude and affection


Bishop Michael will be pleased to receive messages via e-mail and cards, but does not want phone calls or visits.


Family Favourites

From 1955 to 1984 there was a radio programme designed to link families who were parted. It was presented by two famous radio voices - Cliff Michelmore and Jean Metcalf.  This two-way programme linked British Forces posted overseas with their loved ones at home and a popular piece of music was shared    When I was in my early 20s, I remember half listening to it on several occasions.  It was a heart-warming and feel-good programme. In the days before instant communication between anyone who owned a smart phone or small computer,  it was thrilling to talk across the miles. The people who took part enjoyed the contact and the choices of music helped them feel together although miles apart.

The power of music is extraordinary.  When I was in charge of a primary school, I became more and more aware of the way music has the power to pull human beings together.  I thought then, and still think, that music is an absolutely essential part of the curriculum.

Making music is heart-warming and productive of a positive feel-good atmosphere for singers and listeners.  My wife and I are fans of choirmaster and broadcaster Gareth Malone and the way he encourages ordinary people to sing and make music in groups. This brilliant musician is well known for his television appearances in programmes like The Choir.   These highly enjoyable programmes focus on singing and introducing choral music to people, old and young.  Gareth describes himself as an “animateur [someone who animates others], presenter and populariser of choral singing”. 

Why was the programme Two Way Family Favourites so popular and successful as it brought parted families together?  I reckon that one reason is because of the power of music to help individuals bring people together and develop.

I think, too, that singing hymns and worship songs as a congregation helps foster togetherness and the feeling of being part of the great fellowship of Christian believers.  That is being part of the body of Christ. 

Ralph Griffin


During the Restoration Works in St Mary’s

The restoration works in St Mary’s started on Monday 26 September 2016 and should be completed mid December in time for the Institution and Induction of the Revd Nick Bromfield, our new Rector.

No weekday services were possible in St Mary’s but on some Sundays the Eucharists were held.


These pictures were taken at the eleven o’clock service by Ken Bradbury on 23 October.


Reflections on Harvest Festival at Prestbury URC

Now is the time for Harvest Festival and on Sunday I went along to Prestbury United Reformed Church for their annual celebration. Theirs is the red brick building in Deep Street, which was built in 1866 as a Congregational chapel and became United Reformed on unification in 1972.

They are a small band of loyal workers who are affiliated to St Andrew’s Church in Montpellier. The Minister is the Revd Maz Allen, a dynamic lady who was all ready to go when I got there at half past ten.

Still room for more but a warm welcome. We launched into an old favourite “Come ye thankful people come” which you could either sing from the hymn book or from the large print projection on the wall.

Harvest is a real time for old favourite hymns which I remember from my early years at St Luke’s Church in our village of Tutshill. Those were the days when the building would be decorated with piles of fruit and vegetables, a huge sheaf of corn made by the baker and flowers in every nook and cranny. Now the decorations are few and requests are made for dried goods for the local food bank and contributions to WaterAid.

Readings were taken from the Old and New Testaments and then Maz decided it was our turn. She wanted us to remember what harvest had meant to us, especially in our earlier years. She had been surprised when one man had said “radishes” was his earliest memory. It was when he was five years old and his father had given him a small part of the garden which he could look after himself. He cleaned it and pulled the dirt over and then planted the seeds he was given. It was the sheer delight when the small shoots grew up and the first plant he could pull and eat – radishes.

The older members of the congregation were soon off with memories of the old ways of ploughing with cart horses and later harvesting the crop and turning the wheat into bundles that could be stored for winter feed. The woman next to me remembered gleaning which was going around the edges after the main event as corn was allowed to stay for the women and children to collect for feeding the chickens and hens.

There were stories of the city children who were evacuated during the war to the country and were amazed to find where the food came from, which for them was only bought in the shops. Many of them could not wait to get away fast enough but there were others who stayed and took to the country way of life.

The prayers were followed by the taking of communion, for which you stay in your seat as the elements are brought around. A small pile of bread squares of which you took one and then all ate together. This was followed by a tray of small glasses which again you drank at the same time.

The church has a kitchen and small social room where they have coffee mornings etc but today it would be the setting for a harvest lunch to be served. I had to be on my way as I was so say looking after two black and white creatures and bid Maz a hearty farewell.

Then out into the sun lit street when I met a friend who was saying he has lived here most of his 78 years and thought how lucky we are.  With the harvest service behind me I could only agree.

Tudor Williams


Our new Archdeacon of Cheltenham

Bishop Rachel has announced the appointment of the new Archdeacon of Cheltenham, the Revd Canon Phil Andrew.

The Revd Canon Phil Andrew and his wife, Sue

The Revd Canon Phil Andrew and his wife, Sue

Phil will come to us from Surrey, where he is currently the Vicar of Reigate Parish Church. He is married to Sue who is a GP and they have three adult sons, Tom, Dan and Josh.

Phil will start his role in March 2017 and is looking forward to getting started. He said: “I am thrilled to be joining the Diocese of Gloucester at this exciting time in its journey, with the new vision, LIFE, taking shape across the Diocese. Jesus’ promise in John Chapter 10 of ‘life in all its fullness’ is one that has always been significant in my own journey of faith.

“I look forward to working with churches and individuals to see this offer of Jesus become even more widely understood and received across the towns and villages in the Diocese. I am particularly looking forward to getting to know and working with the churches of the Cheltenham Archdeaconry, in all their diversity, as we seek to focus around the mission and ministry priorities within the vision statement.”

Bishop Rachel is hugely excited by this appointment. She said: “I am delighted that Phil has accepted my invitation to be the next Archdeacon of Cheltenham. He will bring valuable gifts and experience to this role and a fresh perspective for how we share the transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ in our worshipping communities. I am greatly looking forward to working alongside him.”

Phil was born in Kenya, but returned to England to attend secondary school. He studied Mechanical Engineering at Nottingham University, which was followed by 16 years mainly working as a Chartered Engineer in the UK water industry, before he was ordained in 2002.

In his spare time Phil tells us: “I have the travel bug and enjoy travelling and exploring different cultures, especially when combined with walking and trekking. I enjoy a variety of sports, though increasingly from the armchair or terraces! I enjoy running on a regular basis and have recently taken up cycling.

“I am a (fair weather) supporter of Nottingham Forest and still remember their glory days when I was at University in Nottingham.  I am a real ale fan and look forward to sampling Gloucestershire’s finest ales!”

Phil will be licensed and installed as Archdeacon at a service in Gloucester Cathedral on Saturday 11 March, to which all are welcome.



Our grandmother, Sarah Jane Williams, lived in the Monmouthshire town of Chepstow, which was about a mile away from our own village of Tutshill. Most Saturdays, until my teen years, we would go down the hill and over the bridge and spend the day at her home. It was a little rented house in Bridge Street, almost opposite the castle, and where she lived until she died aged 91.

We would not be the only visitors, as several of her surviving ten children had not moved far from town, so there would often be aunts, uncles and cousins, calling in. She made us all welcome and was always willing to help solve our problems.

As I was the youngest of twelve grandchildren, I always knew that she would be on my side – for instance, in negotiations with my father over an increase in pocket money. I was sorely aggrieved when my brother, four years my senior, had a substantial increase to a shilling a week, while I stayed at the three-penny bit level. Through skilful negotiation between his mother and my father, I arrived at the princely sum of a sixpence piece – which kept me quiet for a while.

Our mother died when I was 4 and Gran had told her daughter Florence to leave her job as cook at the vicarage and become her brother’s housekeeper to help bring up his two young sons. Naturally, on a Saturday, she was only too willing to return to her home in Bridge Street and take us with her. Thanks to the generous nature of our Gran, it was something we never resented.

I could not remember her husband, though he was about when I was born, and it was with him that she had borne 13 children, ten of whom had lived. They had run a bakery in Moor Street but I think that had failed and was the reason she lived in the rented house at the bottom of the town.

It was a funny old place, with a front room just off the pavement and then a step up into a large kitchen. It was there that Gran sat in her wicker armchair, dressed in her widow black with a jabot of white lace at her neck.

Her white hair became very thin and she had a sore place at the side of her head which was always treated with boracic powder, but it was never any problem to kiss her. She always wanted to know our news and about what we were doing at school.

Besides us, there might be a daughter living at home: the youngest one after leaving service under a cloud, or an older sister who had become almost crippled with arthritis. The old kitchen range was always burning away but for quick hot drinks there was a small free standing gas fire which her plumber son had installed.

There was no problem about feeding us all on a Saturday. The fish and chip shop was not far away and orders would be taken up to Scarrots, where the formidable daughters ran the boiling hot fryers and ladled out the sizzling food. I loved to go up with an older person to get the order, until the great day came when I was entrusted to go to fetch the food by myself. I rehearsed my piece all the way there, but had to resort to the list in the end.

Her son, who had served in the trenches in the First World War, had the garret bedroom. He was Uncle Perce who would take my brother to Newport in the afternoon. There they would watch Newport County play and then go on to the market for a meal of faggots and peas. How I envied my brother, though I am not sure why, as I am not really interested in football and later found that I was not struck on faggots either.

To make up for it, I found my love for the picture house up the street and if someone would accompany me in, I was quite happy living in a Hollywood dream world. And so began my love affair with the pre-war cinema. Gran would slip me the entrance fee, and a few acid drops from the bag she always had.

Another bag was “Granny’s Bag”, which was several bars of sweets which would be bought from the nearby sweet shop and then given to us as we left for home, but not to be eaten until after we had finished our Sunday dinner.

One Saturday night there was a terrific thunder storm and my Aunt was convinced that it was the end of the world. She made us all gather in the one bedroom as we awaited our fate. Suddenly my brother was missing. He was found and came in clutching something. It was “Granny’s Bag”. Obviously, if we were going to go, then at least we would all be chewing a bar of chocolate at the end.

Our other cousins were treated just as well, though Granny did find the changing fashions for the girls hard to swallow. They became fans of the latest trends from Hollywood and she was appalled at the shaven, pencilled eyebrows and the bobbed or permanent waved hair styles.

Sometimes her sons would have differing political opinions but if there were ever any dispute, one would be told to go one way and the other the opposite. The two elder daughters were also very different and if it were suggested that they came home for a holiday, she always made sure that it was one at a time.

I did not quite understand, that when the old lady took to her bed this would be for the last time. Her daughters cared for her and the visitors’ voices were hushed. After she died, the old home was not the same but she left that fine example and warmth which is hard to copy — she made us all feel special and wanted.

Tudor Williams


The Diocesan Synod - 5th November 2016

We met for the first time at St John’s, Churchdown. This is the rather “New England” style church standing attractively in its own grounds right by the traffic light controlled cross roads on the old Gloucester road, Churchdown.

It is a modern church with a hall, kitchen and reception area linked directly to the church itself - and a huge car park!

We began with a Sung Eucharist which always sets the morning off well.

The usual formalities were swiftly dealt with, together with the news that Gloucester Diocese had passed the National Audit on the Safeguarding of Children and Vulnerable Adults with great success. Bishop Rachel congratulated everybody involved. We moved on to sit in the church hall.

Bishop Rachel then told us of the work accomplished in her “LIFE Vision” project so far. She stressed emphatically that this has been a listening project. She and her team have been asking, talking and listening to peoples’ life experiences and carefully recording everything, apparently thousands of letters and “Post-it” notes. Literally everything has been sifted, registered and tabulated so that they can find out what people really feel and worry about in everyday living.

She insisted again and again that this must never to be a top down operation by those in Church House, with the parishes and people in congregations being told what they should be doing but the opposite.

If we are to be an effective part of modern life we must reach out and share our lives with the communities around us; work out what we, as those who believe in Christ, can do to share our lives with others so they can also experience His support and love. We must tell the diocese what we have found and want to do and they will then support us in doing it.

I found it so reassuring that we are now working on the idea that the Church of England is ordinary folk who worship in our churches, and that our thoughts and feelings are being taken really seriously.

She told us to go out, turn the volume up because we are playing fresh “Music”. Don’t get shy about it because we want people to stop and listen to what we are talking about. We are to think of people of all ages but must not get bogged down in masses of new initiatives, think of a straightforward idea and then go flat out on it. The fact is we have got to be looking and working to reach beyond our cosy circles and not be so busy within them saying, “This is good but I can’t get involved because I’m doing so much already.”

To stress this chief aim, Bishop Rachel has chosen to launch her great venture not in a big church or the Cathedral but in a secular venue, we are all invited to join her at a huge all-age party at Francis Close Hall, Swindon Road, Cheltenham. It is going to be a real party with lots to interest and entertain all ages. This is happening on the 26th November from 4pm to 6.30pm and we must get as many people as possible to join the fun. If you have not met Bishop Rachel, now is your chance. Do take it.

We then moved to the church hall and were seated around tables covered in paper tablecloths. A pot of new felt tip pens sat in the middle of each and we were asked to recount what we were doing in our own parishes and write this down on the table cloth! Each table had a theme: worship, mission, schools, and many more topics. You could move about but only to an empty chair. The idea was to find out how other parishes were coping (or trying) to solve these challenges. The table clothes were collected up at the end of the session and all entries recorded. Life with Bishop Rachel is certainly 21st century - different!

After a coffee break, we were updated on the progress so far in holding shared conversations on Human Sexuality. This is to be addressed more fully in the next synod.

The Budget then came up together with some lively discussion. Be assured that the floor of the Synod was very determined to see fair play. I think after this round it was a draw! The Board of Finance was made aware of our concerns and is trying hard to understand and maintain a sensible budget.

After a reading of the formal delegation of powers and responsibility of the Bishop of Tewkesbury and the Bishop’s Council Update we were rewarded with a pleasant buffet lunch and time to meet each other and catch up on all the news across the county.

During the morning we were told of the sad illness of Bishop Michael Perham. He has an inoperable brain tumour and except for a course of radio therapy to try alleviating his symptoms, he is having no further treatment. He is placing his trust in God to live his remaining life well and die well with God’s support. He does not anticipate being with us by this time next year. Please remember him and also his family in your prayers.

Lynda Hodges, Diocesan Representative


Book Review

The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of a Window and Disappeared

by Jonas Jonasson

Translated by Rod Bradbury

Allan Karlsson was not at all happy.  He was faced with the prospect of having to endure a party organised to celebrate his 100th birthday but didn’t want to go. Instead, he climbed out of the window of his retirement home in his slippers and walked to the nearest bus station to see how far the money in his pocket would allow him to travel.

At the bus station, Allan helped a desperate-looking young man with a cumbersome suitcase, boarded the first bus scheduled to be leaving, and unexpectedly ended up stealing a fortune in drugs money on its way to a big deal.

The story then twists and turns, following the police force’s rather low key investigation into the disappearance of what the retirement home believe is an absent minded geriatric, and the criminal gang’s more desperate search for him and their money. 

On his travels, Allan picks up a rag-tag band of followers and they set off with a rather strange pet on an adventure together, trying to escape from the criminals, not realising that the police are also searching for them all.   

I enjoyed the flashback episodes in this book which cut to Allan’s past life and how he became the resourceful person he is.    Without wishing to spoil any of the story, it weaves together Allan’s inadvertent impact on 20th century history - the atom bomb, the Spanish Civil War, the Russian and Chinese Revolutions, he had a hand in them all.

This is a very funny and entertaining book.  My yardstick of how much I have enjoyed a novel is whether it gets put back on my shelf for a re-read at a later date or whether it gets put in the charity box.   This one didn’t get put back on my shelf; I put it back on my in-pile and will be coming back to it again sooner rather than later.    Although I read it during the summer holidays, the mainly Swedish setting would make it a lovely book to curl up with, in a cosy armchair, over the Christmas break. 

Miriam Barnes


Book Review

The Lives Around Us: Daily Meditations for Nature Connection

by the Revd Daniel Papworth

(Christian Alternative, June 2016)

Paperback, 232 pages

ISBN: 978-1785352560


“A book of surprises and challenges, making fresh and often unexpected connections that deepened my self-awareness, strengthened my vision and provoked me to pray in the midst of this amazing but too wounded world.”

The Revd David Runcorn, Associate Diocesan Director of Ordinands (Gloucester Diocese)


Review by the Revd David Cole

Life is all around us. Wherever you are, the living world is there to discover and learn from on both natural and spiritual levels. Learning from nature has been part of Christian tradition from the beginning: from Jesus’ “Consider the birds” (Matthew 6:26-30); Paul’s declaration about God’s power in nature (Romans 1:20); through the early saints to the present day. The 6th century St Columbanus wrote that to truly know the Creator we must know creation. This theme was picked up by later mystics such as the 14th century Meister Eckhart, and today we see the rise of the ‘Eco-Church’ movement launched in 2016 by Rowan Williams and Ruth Valerio, of the Christian environmental charity A Rocha.

The Lives Around Us invites us to rediscover those wild edges of the church that we have lost sight of. Filled with thoroughly-researched information, the reader learns about birds, insects, mammals, flowers, trees, fungi… Many of these we see every day, but they have become strangers in an over-busy and increasingly technological world. Each chapter includes words of scripture and suggestions about how to turn thought into prayerful action.

Whether you are new to the concept of nature connection for Christians, a well-practiced spiritual naturalist, or anywhere in between, this book will take you deeper into the world in which you live and create opportunities for you to encounter God there.


Available in paperback and as an e-book from bookshops and online retailers.

Fr Daniel was Team Vicar in North Cheltenham from 2008 to 2013.   Fr David Cole, author of Celtic Prayers and Practices, is a priest and retreat leader in the Diocese of Winchester.


The Big Sleep out 2017

The Big Sleep out will be happening again at St Mary Magdalene.

I will be sleeping out in the stable that is being constructed outside St Mary Magdalene. I will be doing this from Friday evening 30th December to Sunday 1st January 2017. I hope to get around all of the churches in the team during Advent so all the congregations know me before the event. This sleep out will be raising funds for The Children’s Society and Church Urban Fund.  I am Ian Richings and  regularly attend St Mary Magdalene.

Ian Richings


Granny Tinker’s Christmas pudding

This recipe dates from the beginning of last century when Christmas feasting was so looked forward to, and produce was enjoyed in season.  It seems now we are over indulged year round on every front.

Granny Tinker - not my granny in fact - had six surviving children and a husband returned from the trenches.  Baking was a regular Friday job throughout the year, but Christmas dishes were prepared in advance where possible, jars of mincemeat, piccalilli and red cabbage, loaf cakes wrapped in greaseproof paper and stowed in a tin trunk in a cold room (plenty of choice there).  Turkey was largely unknown. Shoulder of pork was the usual Christmas dinner, and for the following days maybe rabbit or pigeon pie and sausage rolls with hand raised pork pies.

But throughout the extended family it’s the Christmas pudding that is still the preferred recipe, over and above any other,  including Betty’s of Harrogate or Fortnum and Mason.  I shall be in trouble this year as I haven’t made time for it.

So here it is, it makes three sizeable puds, cost negligible.  The carrot and potato with the sugar take the place of alcohol;  neither eggs nor liquid required.  A small helping will stand to the ribs !

1lb plain flour sifted
1lb suet, grated
1lb currants
1lb raisins
1lb sugar
1lb potatoes, grated
1lb carrots, grated 
1 whole nutmeg, grated
4oz candied peel
Pinch salt

Editor’s note for those who prefer to use metric measurements:
for 1 lb use 500g, for 4 oz use 125g


Stir thoroughly, fill three large basins, cover and steam for 4-6 hours.  Reheat on the day.

We like it with thin brandy sauce (sorry, NOT a packet mix) but I’m sure you’ll choose your personal favourite to serve.

If there is one left over it can be substituted for Black Bun at New Year or frozen for Easter!

Anya Jary


A Family Favourite

I would imagine that everyone’s family favourite is Christmas so I’ll bypass that and go for another great get-together immensely enjoyed by my wife, Pam, myself and the immediate family.

Many years ago when the children were toddlers (1961-66) we took them on summer holidays to Preston Sands in the centre of Torbay and adjacent to the seaside town of Paignton.  We stayed with life-long friends who lived a little inland from the coast.  While the children of both families played in the sand, supervised by their mothers, Don and I sneaked off for a pint of best in the “out-patients” department of the Redcliffe Hotel.  This bar, open to non-residents, was called The Wardroom, the walls of which were decorated with floor-to-ceiling murals of a tempestuous sea.  So life-like was it that one did not need a drink or two to feel unsteady.

As the children grew, so the visits to Preston Sands became less frequent and in 1970 they stopped altogether.  Some twelve years ago Pam and I had reason to visit the Redcliffe once again and immediately fell in love with the place.  Since then we have stayed for a few days every June and a few more in August.  We discovered that Dick Francis, jockey to the late Queen Mother and world-renowned thriller writer, also stayed at the Redcliffe and had been doing so since the 1950’s, even though for the second half of his life he lived in Florida and Grand Cayman where he had a lovely home on Seven Mile Beach (very different to Preston Sands!)  Such was the attraction of the Redcliffe Hotel.  Not only that but for the whole month of August he hosted his entire family there from when his children were little until they were in their fifties with their own children, right up until he died four years ago.

This made an impression on Pam and me so, for the last dozen years we have done the same.  Not for a month but for a few days and not always the whole family.  On the occasion of a special birthday, a golden wedding and a diamond wedding then it is the whole family – and what fun we have had.  The Redcliffe is most definitely a family favourite as far as we are concerned.

Gone is The Wardroom Bar for non-residents.  That is now a fitness centre and a great favourite with our two health-conscious grandsons.  The indoor pool, Jacuzzi, and sauna are a magnet for our grand-daughters, whereas I prefer the outdoor pool or, indeed, the sea itself reached by underground tunnel from the hotel bar to the beach.  This feature they all find great fun even though they have long grown out of childhood.

The hotel was built in 1852 by Colonel Robert Smith as his retirement home and is a most unusual design.  It is very “Indian”, originally had minarets and was the only house on the Torbay seafront.  Because of it, Paignton was established as a resort.

The Colonel, whose life-size portrait hangs on the grand stairway, served in the Bengal Engineers spending all his time in India where he designed bridges, railways, churches and palaces.  He was also a talented artist.  Pam and I always stay in the tower which is adorned externally with Maltese Crosses and symbols of St George and is where the Indian architecture is most prominent.

The tunnel to the beach originally led from the Colonel’s dressing room to his plunge pool built into the rock face and which filled with fresh sea water at every high tide.  It was destroyed in a mighty gale in the1880’s but the tunnel, of course, remained.

When Colonel Smith died in 1873, the property which included five acres of gardens, was purchased by Paris Singer (he who invented the sewing machine).  When he moved out in 1904 the house was converted into the Redcliffe Hotel.

One of the joys of the place is that there is no road between hotel and beach like all the other hotels.  It is right on the sand and at high tide the waves bash against the mighty walls that separate the grounds from the elements.  The dining room, hung with chandeliers has lovely uninterrupted views of the whole expanse of Torbay from Torquay and Thatcher Rock to Brixham and Berry Head.  In the corner is a white piano upon which is played gentle relaxing music by Derek Upson, a retired concert pianist.  He sells CD’s of his music in aid of his church in Preston.  We have a copy and when played we are transported back to the Redcliffe with the family.

The Redcliffe Hotel is certainly, for Family Parkin, a real FAMILY FAVOURITE.

Bernard Parkin


Sacristy Team Social Gathering

In October the sacristy team met at the home of Lynda Hodges for a lovely afternoon of chat, tea and cakes. It was so nice to take time to be all together and also to share the most wonderful and sumptuous afternoon tea which had been prepared by Lynda and helpers.

We also used the occasion to acknowledge the work of two of our retiring members - Linda Matthews and Rosemary Bradbury who, between them, have clocked up over 40 years of faithful, behind-the-scenes service at St Mary’s. Linda and Rosie were each presented with a bouquet of flowers and a card, on behalf of the whole congregation, to express our heartfelt thanks for all that the ladies have done.

All in all, a super afternoon which we hope will be repeated before too long !

Helen Mann


Creating Family Favourites at the Library this Christmas

The little Christmas treeDid you join us for the switching on of the tree lights for the first time last year?  We’re returning to this and others ‘new’ family favourites at the library this Christmas. Come and join us in the library this season – inside and out!

We’d also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported the library in 2016, particularly our hardworking team of volunteers who look after the gardens, help with computer support, Baby Bounce, Library Club as well as day-to-day help with books and customers. Thank you all very much for your help and time.

Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, from everyone at Prestbury Library!

Jo, Karen, Laura, Becky and Tessa

Christmas Tree Lights - look out for details in the library to confirm our switch-on evening.

Christmas Crafts – Saturday 10th December is our fun and festive children’s craft morning. And any time during December please come along to help us make decorations for the library. All events are free – no need to book.

Christmas Books – Our Christmas books are always popular. Many favourite adult authors have a story set amongst the snow and celebrations. Children can read family favourite such as The Snowman and we have lovely illustrated versions of the Nativity. For hands-on inspiration, find a book on Christmas cookery, knitting and crafts.        The nativity play

Our Knitted Nativity

Our beautiful knitted Nativity scene made its first appearance last year and was appreciated by so many customers. Thank you so much to our talented library craft club who made all the figures. They also made the Remembrance poppies that you will have seen in the gardens. Do look out for the Nativity scene again this year – a lovely addition to our Prestbury Christmas.

Santa Loves Libraries

Of course, at Prestbury Library we know all the right people. If you’d like to write Santa a letter (or maybe a younger member of the family does!) drop it off in our special letterbox inside the library. All letters posted by Saturday 17th December will get a reply from Santa before the big day.

Opening Times:  The library is open with its usual hours over Christmas apart from being closed on Tuesday 27th December



Another November and another Annual Meeting.  The year seems to have flown by since the last one.  The evening started with the usual monthly business meeting before a coffee break with a chat, and a browse at the book stall and then, having sung ‘Jerusalem’, we proceeded with the Annual Meeting.

The Annual Meeting went well with various reports for the year and thank-yous.  Sue Davies was elected as the President and we wish her well in her new post.

We have had a busy month.  The Group Meeting was a Soup and Pudding Lunch with a choice of four soups and then a table of delicious puddings to choose from, forget the diets for one day!  A few members enjoyed a crafty day with a Christmas theme at WI House.  On Remembrance Sunday we laid a wreath at the Memorial in Swindon Village.  I hope some people noticed the knitted poppies in the Promenade, there were also some in Gloucester Cathedral and outside around the trees near the memorial.  There were over 6,000 poppies made by WIs from the county.  Our Birthday Party meal was at the Everyman this year.  A trip to Aston Pottery to see, and spend, at the Christmas Shop with lunch laid on by Little Compton WI afterwards, was much enjoyed.  The retiring Committee had their customary lunch at Cotes, more food!  The Craft Club have been busy collecting ideas and items to decorate our tree at the Christmas Tree Festival at St Lawrence Church.  A day at the Races and some County walks have also been on the programme.

We are looking forward to a Christmas Lunch at the Farmers Arms again this year and the County organised outing to Tyntesfield to see the house ‘Dressed for Christmas’.  I must not forget to mention the Annual Christmas Concert in the Town Hall where the return visit by Laura Wright as guest artiste is by popular demand.  Wendy is again hosting a Christmas Lunch for the Solo Club.

In January there is an afternoon for ‘The Archers’ fans when scriptwriter and producer Joanna Toye will be at the Pump Room.  On a different note, there is a Hand Embroidery Workshop at WI House in Gloucester.

John and Hugh are coming to our meeting on 5th December with their ‘Sounds of the Sixties’.  This sounds like a rather nostalgic evening.  On 9th January Naomi Boast and Harry Shenton will be telling us about the Star Centre.  If you would like to join us on either occasion at 7.30pm at St Nicolas Hall you will be made most welcome.

May I take this opportunity to wish all our readers a very Happy Christmas and all good wishes for the New Year? 

Sara Jefferies


Prestbury WI

On Monday 12th December Steve Rowley will talk about the history of the Mummers in Gloucestershire from the 14th century to the present day and how it has changed in that time. Steve has been involved with his family since he was young boy and now enjoys it with his own family.  This promises to be an interesting evening with audience participation actively encouraged!

On Monday 9th January Janet Dowling will be giving us an interesting talk on stress management and the importance of sleep, which could be a perfect opportunity for guidance to help you achieve one of those New Year Resolutions!

Visitors are always welcome at our WI meetings. They are held on the second Monday of each month and start at 7.15pm in the WI Hall on Prestbury Road.

For further information on WI activities please contact Hilary Brick on 01242 517964.


It has been a long time since Prestbury Women’s Institute members have laid a wreath at the War Memorial on Remembrance Day. This year the members have been busily knitting poppies to make our own remembrance wreath and Sheila Beer laid the finished wreath on our behalf.

Hilary Brick



Goodbye to Jessie

We said a sad ‘goodbye’ to Jessie Strawson on Sunday 13 November. Jessie has been in Cheltenham for many years but has decided to sell up and start a new life in Guiseley, South Yorkshire. She has been a valued member of the St Nicolas congregation for many years, but is now moving nearer her daughter, granddaughter, grandson and four lovely great grandchildren.  Marcus Steel, churchwarden, presented her with a plant and card signed by us all, and we all enjoyed cake and coffee after the service.  We will miss you, Jessie, and wish you good luck for the future and send you off with love from all at St Nic’s.

Marilyn Powell


Breathing Space

The Children’s Society works with children living in poverty and teenagers at risk. As you can imagine, this covers a broad range of work. Each month we are bringing you a story from one of the areas of our work. Last month we talked about some of our research and how Bishop Rachel has been working with young people in the county around the issue of body image. This month focuses on an aspect of one of our campaigns called the Debt Trap and the idea of offering breathing space to families in need.

Families across the country face a daily battle to pay their bills, and meet their mortgage or rent payments. For some families – particularly those on low incomes – debt repayments and creditor demands can spiral into unmanageable situations that can devastate lives. All it takes is one mistake for families to fall into the Debt Trap.

Our front line work with families across the country tells us that children see, hear and feel what is going on around them. They feel debt’s sharp effects and are often left sad, confused and scared. Parents have told us that they are lying awake at night, worrying about how to provide their children with the very basics. They are stressed and fearful for their children’s future.

Our recent report has found that children living in families struggling with debt are five times more likely to be unhappy than children in families who don’t have difficulty with debt, putting them at risk of developing mental health problems. Debt has negative effects on a child’s mental and physical health. It can undermine their relationships with their peers and their school experiences and cause long term harm to a child’s life. Our campaign lifts the lid on the damaging impact debt has on children.

We know that nine out of ten parents in problem debt have had to cut back on essential items for their children within the last year so they could keep up with repayments.

We are calling for breathing space for families, giving them time and space to repay their debts free of rising fees, and visits from intimidating bailiffs and the space to get support for their mental health problems. Ministers need to take action, or risk the impact of mental health issues scarring families for years to come.

You can help us by emailing your MP today to ask them to support the most vulnerable families. There are more details on our website. 

Your donations, actions, prayers and time enable our work with children and young people who are living in families with problem debt. struggling with mental health issues.   If you would like to read our report
on how debt can damage children’s mental health please head to  Thank you.

Roseann Thompson



The light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not understood it. (John 1:5 NIV)

THREE THINGS DOMINATE the months of December and January; the Winter Solstice, Christmas and the New Year, of these three events only the first is outside human control.

No one knows when Jesus was born but the tradition of celebrating this on 25th December probably began in the first half of the 4th century and was made official by Pope Julius in 350 AD.

The New Year has always been celebrated at different times in different cultures. In England before 1752 the New Year began on the Feast of the Annunciation, Lady Day, on 25th March. A look at old parish records will show that, for instance, 24th March 1749 was followed by 25th March 1750 and that January and February came at the end of the year rather than at the beginning - a real trap for family historians!  

On the other hand the Winter Solstice depends on the tilt of the earth’s axis as it orbits the sun. For us in Prestbury this means long dark nights and short days with the sun low in the sky. For several days around the 21st December there seems little change in the sun’s midday position (solstice comes from the Latin solstitium meaning ‘the sun stands still’) but by the time the next magazine comes out the days will be getting a little longer as the planet unwaveringly follows God’s laws of gravity and motion (discovered and described by Sir Isaac Newton).

Just as there is a variation in daylight throughout the year so there is a variation in our spiritual lives. Sometimes we may feel that our faith has grown dim and that our path no longer seems as clearly lit as it was once.  Changes to our spiritual lives are to be expected. C. S. Lewis, in his Screwtape Letters, talked about the Law of Undulation. He argued that human beings are half spirit and half animal and as such they experience a series of troughs and peaks as they swing between their two natures. Lewis makes the point that God often uses the troughs rather than the peaks to help us to grow into the sort of creatures He wants us to be.

Something like this occurs in nature, with many plants requiring a time of cold and darkness. During the winter, deep underground and within apparently lifeless trees, small changes are occurring which will enable them to spring into abundant life as the days grow longer.

As we travel through the troughs we need to hang on to the promise Jesus made that He is always with us. (Mathew 28:20) Jesus is our light shining in the darkness and He will lead us out of the darkness and into brilliant day.  As we look forward to the long summer days we know that they will eventually become short winter ones again but Jesus promises that, when we come into His kingdom, the light will last forever.

When Jesus spoke again to the people he said ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.’ (John 8:12 NIV)

Clare Wyatt


Forthcoming Events


Prestbury URC Christmas Fayre –
Saturday 3 December 10.00-12.00

The Prestbury URC Annual Christmas Fayre will take place on Saturday 3rd December from 10.00 until noon at the church. Lots of gift ideas and necessities will be on sale including wrapping paper and gift bags, cards, jewellery, books, toys etc.  There will also be refreshments, tombola, cake stall and a raffle.

All are most welcome !


Christmas Tree Festival

St Lawrence Church, Swindon Village

Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th December, 11.00am to 5.00pm

Live music at 2.30pm.   Free admission




Food for Thought

St Nicolas Church,  Saturday 3 December at 7.00pm

A talk by Dr Mark Jackson :  Christian Dilemmas in Medical Practice




St Nicolas Patronal 

Saturday, 10 December 7pm,  St Nicolas Church Hall,   Swindon Lane

with ‘Bags of Brass’   and lots of puddings!

Tickets: £6     Tel: 523942




Musica Vera Christmas Concert

Saturday 10 December 2016 at 7.30 pm.

St Mary’s Church, Charlton Kings, Cheltenham GL53 8JJ

Admission £12 to include refreshments, at the door, free to children under 16

Music by Boyce and Handel, and carols for Choir and audience conducted by David Dewar. 

Concert in support of Winston’s Wish.

Further details / tickets:  01242 517258

Angela Walker
Secretary, Musica Vera




Art and Soul

Art in its various forms plays an important role in all our lives.  As part of Abbeyfield’s 60th birthday celebrations we are celebrating the artistic achievement of our Prestbury residents by showcasing their work at a Winter Exhibition to be held on Wednesday 14th December 2016 from 10.30-12.00 at Abbeyfield House. 326 Prestbury Road, Cheltenham GL52 3DD.  Please join us to view their amazing artwork and meet the artists over a cup of coffee or two.  Entry is free.

Nikki Browning, Administrator, Abbeyfield



NCTM logo

The Churchwardens would like to invite you to the

Institution by the Bishop of Gloucester

and the

Induction by the Area Dean of Cheltenham

of the

Revd Nicholas Bromfield

on Thursday 15th December 2016 at7.00 pm

at St Mary’s Church, Mill Lane, Prestbury, Cheltenham, GL52 3BQ

     RSVP by Friday 9th December: Kate Bestwick at the Team Office,

Tel: 01242 244373 Email: admin at




Celebration of Christmas

Monday 19 December at 7pm,  St Nicolas

Please join the Celebration of Christmas at St Nicolas Church on Monday 19th December at 7pm: carols, candles, Christmas readings and refreshments.  A warm welcome to all.



Carol Singing at Cheltenham General Hospital

Wednesday 21 December at 7pm

Organised by the Department of Spiritual Care
Please meet at the chapel.  There will be refreshments afterwards.
If you need to know more please contact spiritualcare @ or 0300 422 4286.


Rain or Shine Theatre Company presents


Meet the world’s most famous of detective, Sherlock Holmes, as he is called upon to solve the greatest mystery of all time... that of the Hound of the Baskervilles, for an unforgettable evening of mystery, comedy and suspense, transporting you from 221b Baker Street to the wilds of Dartmoor in search of who - or what dunnit !

Comments from our 2015 tour of “A Christmas Carol”

“...such an engaging, entertaining and professional performance.”

“I’ve seen Christmas Carol every year and this is the best version yet!”

“An evening’s entertainment which amused, thrilled & warmed the heart in equal measure.”

“Another great evening’s entertainment for all.”

Ring 01452 521575 to reserve your ticket – pay at the door

Please visit our website and tour dates page:


Epiphany Supper in St Mary’s

On Friday 6 January 2017 immediately after the 6.30pm Epiphany Service in the newly restored church there will be a two-course supper with wine. Tickets will cost £10 and may be obtained from Lynda Hodges at St Mary’s or Brian Wood at St Nicolas.




Prestbury URC Coffee Morning –
 Saturday 7 January, 10.30-12.00

Please join us for our monthly coffee morning on Saturday 7th January from at 10.30 am -12 noon. As usual there will be a raffle, book and cake stall. Teas, Coffees and the notorious toasted teacakes will all be served! All are most welcome.




Burns Night Supper and Ceilidh

Friday 20 January 2017   7.00 for 7.30pm    in Uckington Village Hall

In aid of St Mary Magdalene Church.   Dress code :  tartan.

David Williams




A Christian ‘Last Night of the Proms’

Royal Albert Hall

Saturday 22nd  April 2017

Cost approx. £47 (depending on numbers)

Coach travel, leaving Cheltenham 4pm and returning approx. 1am

A £40 deposit per person is required by 17th December 2016.  Send to Revd Maz Allen, 19 The Oaks, Up Hatherley, Cheltenham GL51 3TS along with your contact details.

This is a wonderful experience and the LAST ONE Maz will organize.  Don’t miss it!!

Revd Maz Allen



Prestbury Parish Magazine - December 2016 / January 2017

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The Parochial Church Council of the Ecclesiastical Parish of St Mary and St Nicolas Prestbury Cheltenham - Registered Charity No 1130933

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Last modified: 29 September 2017