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Prestbury Parish Magazine

July / August 2017

Download the PDF version (6,873 KB)

Cover photograph:
Prestbury Open Gardens 2017 
by Brian Wood



Prestbury Parish Magazine
Life in all its fullness
“Remove the flack before you hit the sack”
Village Voice
The Village of Prestbury
The Wedding of Anna Cozens and Michael Minihan
Revd Maz Allen
Village Life
Kampenkoret at St Nicolas
The Brownies at St Nicolas
Stanton, Laverton and Buckland
Frampton on Severn Walk
NCTM Pilgrimage to Walsingham 2017
English Village
Marle Hill WI
Prestbury WI
St Marys Cake / Produce Stall
We’re Bigging Up The Bill
Lady’s Maid
An Icon at Novgorod

To see the Diary,  Calendar, Registers and Advertisements please download the PDF version (6,873 KB)


Prestbury Parish Magazine

This month our theme is Villages. Our regular contributors have written something for us.  Each is on this theme of villages but each is very different.

Revd Liz tells us about LIFE.  Fr Nick gives us married folk some good advice. We say farewell to Revd Maz Allen as she prepares for her retirement.  There is a picture from the wedding of Anna Cozens and pictures from the Walsingham Pilgrimage.  Margaret tells me they are worked hard at the prepared programme and they deserve their moments of relaxation when most photos are taken.  The Brownies came to St Nicolas for their sleepover.  The following morning they joined us in the service.  They, with help from Fr Nick and his culinary delights, gave the congregation much enjoyment.

As I write these notes the waiting for our Open Gardens is almost over and the weather forecast is good.  I hope there will be something to read about them in the next issue.

This double issue gives notice of the events for the next two months.  We take a break now.  Your next magazine will be ready for you by the weekend before September.  The theme will be Teams.  All of us are in a team or maybe several.  Why not write something about your team?  The deadline date is printed on the inside back cover.

In the meanwhile, whatever you are going to be doing, enjoy the summer.

Brian Wood


Life in all its fullness

         ‘I have come that they may have life, and life in all its fullness’     John 10

I’m sure by now those who attend services at Prestbury will be aware that our diocesan vision is to share the good news of Jesus Christ in our communities, that they may have life in all its fullness.

LIFE.  Leadership, Imagination, Faith and Engagement. 

It challenges us to explore each of these areas within our own context.  It will mean different things in each of the parishes within our team.

Leadership within our churches is something we have been exploring for some time.  How is each of us called to serve God in our community – the place where we spend our time Monday – Saturday?  What does ministry look like in multi parish benefices?  How do we encourage lifelong learning and discipleship?

Imagination – how are we to explore our faith through sport and the creative arts?  How are we to look at developing new ways of worshipping alongside the traditional ways?  How are we to use our buildings in creative ways so that they are a community resource?

Faith – how do we nurture faith, and encourage baptism families on the amazing adventure of faith? How do we share our faith in new and imaginative ways, including through digital media?  How do we put our schools at the heart of our mission? 

Engagement – how do we become agents of social justice?  How do we engage imaginatively with new housing developments?  How do we reach out to young people in ways that are attractive and engaging?

People from our team are involved in implementing this at a diocesan level as well as local.

I am the leader of the priority that looks at ways of sharing our faith in new and creative ways including through digital media.

Andy & Sharon Macauly are the leaders of the priority looking at how we reach out to young people.

Mary Turner is part of the group looking at how we engage baptism families on the amazing adventure of faith.

In the church’s year we are now in the period we call ‘ordinary time’.  The colour we use on our altar frontals and vestments is green – that is because ordinary time is not ordinary in the sense of mundane and routine.  It means order – or marked out.  We use the colour green because it is the opportunity for growth.  Why not use this period of the summer months, the growing season, to explore how you may engage in some of the questions and activities that bring life in all its fullness to those among whom you live and work, as well as our church community?

Revd Liz


“Remove the flack before you hit the sack”

It’s the wedding season and we have many weddings in our five churches again this year. The charity Care for the Family has some words of wisdom on marriage. They ask if you were given these words of advice when you got married: “Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath”. Or, as somebody has summarised it: “Remove the flack before you hit the sack!” It means we shouldn’t go to bed with hurts still sore but it’s hard to talk to God when you’re not talking to each other.

Saying: “I’m sorry”

It might be hours before one of us will make the first move and mutter: “I’m sorry.” Only then will we begin to talk and find that the whole argument has got out of hand. Like a bad recipe, poor communication is usually partly to blame, plus a dose of selfishness and a touch of pride, and before we know it – conflict!

The incredible thing about rows in marriage is that if you resolve them quickly, a day later you can’t even remember what the fuss was about. But if you don’t sort it out, the bitterness can stay with you, corrosively.

Some marriages have no means to resolve even basic conflict. These couples go through years of married life sleeping back to back, huffing and puffing and pulling at the duvet thinking: “I won’t give in on this”, “It’s up to him/her to make the first move!”

Openness is crucial

We’ve all heard the reasons people give for separating. Often the causes can be summarised by phrases such as: “We just can’t live together” or “We don’t love each other anymore.” But often behind those weighty issues there are, in fact, numerous small conflicts that were never resolved and have been left to fester down the years.

Resolving conflict means letting the other person know that they’ve hurt us or that what they are doing is driving us nuts!

Don’t fester!

The way to learn to resolve the big areas of disagreement is to deal with the small things that can dissatisfy or disappoint us. Conflicts like these cluster together in our minds until frustration turns to dislike, and dislike, even to hate. We need to sort them out!

A Checklist

  • Don’t be too proud to be the first to ‘give in’. Remember: one finger pointing at someone is four fingers pointing back at you!
  • Tell each other how you feel.
  • Winning isn’t everything – particularly if you’re the articulate one because the other person will still be bitter, even more so. Back off a little, listen and hear what the other is saying.
  • “Remove the flack before you hit the sack” – agree between you to try hard never to go to bed still feeling angry with each other.

Fr Nick


Village Voice

Not long after I retired 30 years ago, the Gloucestershire Echo announced that it would publish a new supplement called ‘Village Voice’. The idea was to include local information from the different villages which might not be of general interest in the main paper. For instance, a whist drive in Leckhampton might not be of much interest to us, equally one of our coffee mornings to them.

I agreed to become the writer for Prestbury and the columns appeared for some time every Monday, with an occasional break for bank holidays. There was a snag. They needed the information a fortnight in advance and I seemed to be forever juggling with the calendar. The decision to publish was a popular one and I began to receive information from the different organisations in the village, and I realised how active the ladies are with their different groups.

The churches of St Mary, St Nicolas and the Prestbury United Reformed Church are always busy with the weekly services and special events. At that time there was also a Roman Catholic meeting off Priors Road. The Parish Magazine has always been a great source of information with a number of events spoken of well in advance.

The Prestbury Parish Council meetings varied from two or three members of the public to a totally packed out Women’s Institute Hall. The movements of the Gloucestershire County Council were closely watched as they negotiated with various builders over the old rugby ground and Starvehall Farm. It has since meant that a nearly new village has been built along New Barn Lane.

A protest was made which led to a meeting in the Cheltenham Borough Council chambers where a part of one of my columns was used in evidence, much to my embarrassment.

The flooding in various parts of the village made it into the nationals but that only lasted for a few weeks.

For a while the supplement was inside the Saturday issue and the new title of ‘Where I Live’ appeared but then we went back to Mondays.

It has always been interesting to see what other contributors find of interest and Paul, who used to be at the Park Stores, does a weekly news from his part of Hatherley.

Over the years we have seen the name of a baby being christened, confirmed and then married – a bit like ‘This is Your Life’.

It has been an interesting time and it has meant that I have known more about the other parts of the village than I might have done. But I decided that it was time to change and my contribution for June 15 would be my last one. Thanks for all the help.

Tudor Williams


The Village of Prestbury

One of the pleasures of living in Prestbury is that it still is a village.  Although our boundaries have been reduced and blurred, and the green belt between Prestbury and Cheltenham covered with brick and concrete, we still experience Prestbury as a village.  The physical core is still present and we have been able to retain many of the essentials of a village community – church, school, post office, pharmacy, stores, library, pubs, W.I., Scouts etc.  I moved to Prestbury just eleven years ago and I remember our first visit to the Parish Church.  At the point in the service when the Gospel was read from the Nave the whole congregation physically turned to focus on the reading, it was to me a strong experience of being a community.   The sense of community was enhanced by knowing that our village forefathers had worshipped in that same spot for about a thousand years.

As I got to know the village and its unique and quirky layout I found myself pondering how the village got to be as it is. How did Prestbury village come to be?  How long has it been here? Why is it where it is? In ‘An Exploration Into the Beginning and Early Development of the Village of Prestbury’ (Prestbury Past & Present Volume 2) I have tried to find the answers to these questions.

My conclusions are that the village was a Saxon creation of about 1000 years ago.  Before the creation of the village Prestbury was a Saxon estate belonging to the Bishops of Hereford. The estate would probably have included the Bishops’ own farm and a spread of small farm settlements.  These would have been mainly family groups whose rents for their land provided income for the Bishopric.  Somewhere around the turn of the first millennium a decision was taken, probably by the Bishop and in line with a widespread movement, to create large open fields in which each tenant had multiple strips of land.  I presume that the arguments for this revolution were that it would be a more efficient use of the land and would bring greater productivity (exactly the same arguments which would be used seven centuries later to get rid of the open fields!). The obvious consequence of putting this decision into effect was that the dispersed farms were broken up and the people moved together into a community – hence our village.

The site chosen for the new village was not at all surprising.  Lynda Hodges, in ‘The Life story of our Church’ makes the case for a Saxon base for the church.  The builders would have been drawn to the present site because it is on a prominent high point and because there was very probably already a growing settlement at this spot around the Mill Stream and an early mill.

The two focal points of the Moated Manor at Shaw Green and the Church/Mill eventually grew to include The Burgage in the 13th century when permission was given for a market and a borough, and over time gradually incorporated the settlement of Noverton.

It is the combining of these four loci which gives us our network of roads and the physical structure of the present village.

Prestbury Local History Society has recently published ‘Prestbury Past & Present’ Volume 2. In addition to ‘An Exploration Into the Beginning and Early Development of the Village of Prestbury’ the volume also includes: a study of the history of Home Farm which the author links with the Home Farm of the 13th century moated Manor House; the history of the Lower Mill, the oldest of the two mills which were once operating in Prestbury; and ‘Prestbury Field’ which is a fairly detailed account of the nine open fields, their boundaries and history. The book costs £10.

Volume I, by Michael Cole, is still available.  The contents include a study of ‘The Lost Buildings of Prestbury’ such as Cakebridge Farm, the Weighbridge and eight others. ‘Masters, Servants and Tradesmen’ is an analysis of Victorian Prestbury. ‘Prehistoric Prestbury’ looks at some of the discoveries and archaeological finds in the area. The book costs £10.

The earliest of our publications is also still available.  ‘Prestbury: A Walk Through Time’ by Roger Beacham is a guided walk around the centre of the village with plenty of historical notes.  It costs £2.

Copies of Volume 2 are available at the Post Office and the Library.  All publications are available at the regular meetings of Prestbury Local History Society, from the authors, or by post (add £2.50 p&p), via email to

Norman Baker



Defined as ‘a small collection of dwellings.’ Having grown up in a city with a population of over 300,000, I have about the same qualifications and knowledge about the subject matter as a pixie has of piloting an Avro Shackleton, which is nil, because they were all scrapped years ago …

From a young age I had a romantic notion of what village life was like. A church with a square tower, a pub or two, a pond with geese and maybe cattle or sheep being herded by the local farmer. Oh, and a distinct odour which I would describe as a manure smell! And one more thing, the sun was always shining. In reality this was nonsense. Take Bishops Cleeve, said by some of the locals to be the largest village in the country with a population of around 13,000 souls.

Our mother used to describe to us children what a village community was like. Her father was a farm labourer and she and her three siblings were born in four different counties around the country. The reason for this was because when work was slack their father was fired and they moved on to another farm elsewhere where his services were in demand. I recall her describing about how she was pressed into service at a farm in Berkshire and this anecdote serves to reinforce my conception of village life. After school my mother and an elder sister were expected to go to a nearby field, catch a horse and harness it up to a cart of some sort. Then they loaded a number of milk churns, full up of course, no mean feat and drove to the nearest rail head, which in this case was Challow station on the GWR mainline between Swindon and Reading. So yes, this reinforced my perception of village life.

When I was older and played cricket we ‘townies‘ frequently found ourselves playing against village teams. The ground was quite often owned by a local farmer and the farmer sometimes played in the opposing team. Why are farmers who play in a cricket team nearly always spin bowlers?

I now had some admiration for our country cousins. Why, well because they were mostly uncomplicated souls with, so it would appear, no real worries. Life in a village was quaint, un-political, (how wrong I was) and just very straight forward. Village folk, I used to believe considered us ‘townies‘ as somehow superior to them and they thought we were a bit ‘upmarket ‘ which again was not so. The village vicar would often appear to watch the game dressed in a cream lightweight summer jacket and black trousers. Village vicars were seldom country folk as they could converse in such a manner as to make one realise they had experience of working in towns.

On the subject of village life and cricket, I loved to retire to the pavilion at tea time and be provided with tasty village type food laid on by the ladies of the community. Homemade jam, bread made from locally produced wheat (bread is made from wheat isn’t it?) I could go on. The wives and mothers of these village folk fed us royally and one wife once said to me, ‘You look as if a good meal would kill you love, here, have some more cake!’ .... Yes please.

Did you realise that the number of villages is diminishing albeit very slowly and has been for over a century? This is because many are swallowed up or integrated into sprawling conurbations. Also, younger inhabitants leave for the bright lights and the village community dies. Some villages are destroyed by coastal erosion. Conversely, some villages are enlarging with new build houses but the inhabitants commute away to nearby towns.

We were once taken on a school trip to visit a village. When we arrived we looked for a village in vain. The teacher went on to explain that once there was a village but that all the inhabitants perished in the period of the black death, and because nobody survived the village also died, and hundreds of years later all that was left were a few crumbling buildings barely recognisable as dwelling places.

Finally, to conclude this story of villages, some of our readers will recall the name of a village called Imber situated on Salisbury Plain. The village was taken from the inhabitants in WW2 by the military to practise manoeuvres in advance of the Normandy invasion in June 1944. The village is to this day still in the hands of the army and used for target practice and other activities we ordinary folk are not privy to.

Nigel Woodcock


The Wedding of Anna Cozens and Michael Minihan


The wedding took place at St Thomas’ Church, The Groves, York on Saturday 27 May.

Linda Biggs took this picture of the bride and groom
with (right to left) Fr Michael, Gill, Gill's father Eric, and Simon.


Revd Maz Allen

As many of you will know, Maz will be retiring from her post as Minister of Cheltenham United Reformed Church at the end of July. She joined us in the spring of 2007 from Hampshire and has been a popular, enthusiastic and sympathetic minister. Maz considers Pastoral Visiting a joy and a privilege and has been a devoted Visitor to the members of her three congregations (Prestbury, St Andrew’s and Warden Hill). A former teacher, she enjoys working with children and like the Clergy from St Mary’s she regularly takes services at the Infant and Junior schools. Another enthusiasm is music, which led to the founding of the C4 Children’s Choir here in Prestbury for children of Primary School age. For many years we enjoyed their Christmas and summer performances of musicals, both religious and secular. One Easter they even gave us a very moving Oratorio which left many biting back the tears.

Many in Prestbury will have come across her in relation to her Kenya Projects charity but will also have sampled her excellent cakes which have been the mainstay of the URC coffee mornings and fetes. For the 90th Birthday Celebrations last year on The Burgage she single-handedly produced 60 cakes!

Maz will be leaving Cheltenham for retirement in her home town of Stafford. Her last service in Prestbury will be on Sunday 23rd July at 10.30 and naturally any friends will be most welcome to join us. There will be a lunch afterwards to enable Maz to say goodbye to her Prestbury congregation and friends and if anyone would like to come along I do need to know in advance for numbers. We will certainly miss her.

Fiona Hall (01242 511143 or


Kenya Projects (UK) – Thank You for your support !

I would like to thank all at St Mary's and St Nicolas who have supported Kenya Projects (UK) during the ten years I have been here. Thank you also for your love and support. It has been my privilege to know you and work with you. 

Much love,


(Revd Maz Allen, URC)


Village Life

When I left home in the 60's for North Devon I experienced my first taste of village life.  A colleague's niece had been looking for someone to share part of a large house. I wasn't sure what I was getting into but went along for a look.  As we approached the main cobbled street I couldn't help feeling intrigued.  The TV ad for Hovis hadn't yet been invented, but for anyone who remembers it, Pilton had the same steep slope and low cottages with a pub and a small shop, a very picture-book setting.

At the bottom of the slope was a tiny ford crossing the road, which could occasionally leave you with wet feet.  We drove on up a winding lane, heavily wooded with steep sides until we came upon an unmarked driveway, deeply rutted, past a small paddock with an old horse and round in a wide sweep to a Georgian house on a rise.  We were met by the butler cum handyman and shown around the rooms we were to rent.  I was stunned into absolute silence. It seemed an unlikely stroke of luck!  It did turn out to be the grandest home I would ever have, and it left me with a taste for a lifestyle I could never afford again.  At the time, at £6 a week all-in, I decided it would be silly not to indulge and see what happened.

We had a panelled drawing room, use of tennis court, a studio for my "flatmate's" A level painting works, and logs were for the picking-up in the grounds.  Georgian wine glasses, Victorian scrapbooks, black Wedgewood, antique furniture, we could hardly take it all in.  The lady owner didn't like grapes so we were welcome to as many as we could reach in the greenhouse.  The butler offered his services whenever the Aga went out, the only rule being we must never, ever, attempt to clean the chandelier.

The walk to work was a daily treat with sights and sounds of birds and hedgerows, and everyone nodding or stopping to chat.  I learned not to mention bull finches to Guy as it would set him off on a rant about half pecked fruit buds, the garden being another of his responsibilities.  On the other hand when I spent my wages on knee high boots he kept me supplied with cabbages until the next pay packet.  Once a week a pannier market was held in the town with fresh produce from the surrounding areas, and further along was a fishmonger with an open shop front of sloping display slabs.

The flowers I like to grow now are those I discovered that summer in Devon, Chaenomeles, aquilegia, alchemilla and stocks; sadly no room for wisteria, or grapes!

Later that summer I had my 21st birthday party there, with full blown roses sculpted from butter for the buffet, and a huge decorated chocolate mousse, all courtesy of Guy.  His talents were endless, even fashioning a hat from Guinea fowl feathers (he had bred the Guinea fowl first) for our landlady to wear to a wedding.

I have never again enjoyed the privilege of a butler, but I do consider myself very lucky to be back in a village.  It has to be the most contented way to live life, just as much so in my little end of terrace, with wine glasses by Sainsbury.

Anya Jary


Kampenkoret at St Nicolas

On Sunday 4 June Colin Smith (one time organist at St Nicolas) and 19 ladies of Kampenkoret from Oslo, Norway, presented a programme of mainly religious music to an appreciative audience in St Nicolas.


The Brownies at St Nicolas

 Picture by Jerry Spence

Mars bars, Neapolitan ice cream, hard-boiled eggs and 3-in-1 oil.  Something for everyone as Fr Nick addressed the Brownies after their sleepover on 10 / 11 June in an effort to explain Trinity Sunday.

In return the Brownies gave everyone a rose, a beautifully-decorated card with a teabag inside to show a little cup of Friendship, and a song.  They had been up all night watching Beauty and the Beast.

Pictures by Karen Walker


Stanton, Laverton and Buckland

On Monday 15th May, despite a dull, damp day, we had a most interesting and enjoyable walk led by Janet Waters.

We started our walk in Stanton Village and walked along footpaths, over assorted stiles and across fields to Laverton, on to Buckland and then back, via a different route, to Stanton where we enjoyed a most welcome lunch at The Mount Inn.

During our walk we watched an amazing flying display by swallows, passed a busy stable yard with many horses and ponies, walked through several fields with ewes and their lambs who watched our progress with interest, crossed fields full of buttercups and daisies, enjoyed the lovely scent of May blossom, saw lots of wild garlic growing alongside the footpath, interrupted a tabby cat on his morning hunt and enjoyed the far-reaching views.

In Laverton we stopped to look at a well preserved red phone box which is now a "Book Exchange" and full of books waiting to be swapped.

We went inside St Michael's church in Buckland. It dates from C13 and has a beautiful painted interior wooden roof and a stained glass window restored by William Morris.

A lovely day out. Thank you Janet!

Hazel Langley


Frampton on Severn Walk – Saturday 10th June

Saturday 10th June saw nine of us setting out from St Nicolas' Car Park at 9.30am in two cars and travelling along the M5 and A38 to arrive at Frampton on Severn. We all had waterproofs with us but fortunately we only experienced two very short periods of drizzle and therefore didn't don them.

We enjoyed a leisurely walk of just over 4 miles alongside the Gloucester to Sharpness Canal where we saw one of the bridges open to enable a boat to continue its journey and saw swifts, butterflies and horses, one horse having a very long fringe which covered its face so we didn't know how much he could see.

At the junction of the Sharpness canal and the Stroudwater canal
  Picture by John White

We passed two churches, the one at Whitminster was locked but we visited the church at Frampton on Severn where the ladies arranging flowers showed us the smart new porch extension with a toilet. The first incumbent was Stephin in 1228 and the last two were female.

After walking back through Frampton Village with its long village green, the longest in England, we enjoyed a very good lunch at The Bell.

Thank you, Margaret, for leading us on a very enjoyable walk.

Marion Godden


NCTM Pilgrimage to Walsingham 2017

If you have never been on pilgrimage to Walsingham, perhaps a little scene-setting may be in order. The Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham nestles in the picturesque village of Little Walsingham in East Anglia, almost a small village in itself as several of the ancient cottages form a comfortable residential accommodation around the beautiful Shrine Church, the Holy House and the modern dining hall within its lovely gardens.

If your view of a pilgrimage is of a rather austere time, you will be surprised by the generous catering arrangements — indeed, you will probably need to let your belt out by a couple of notches by the end of your time here. We all enjoyed the chance to get together at mealtimes, and mix with fellow pilgrims from other parts of the country.

A wonderful weekend full of friendship and warmth set in beautiful surroundings, a time for restoration of the soul. People came with the problems of the world on their shoulders and were able to lay them down at the feet of our eternal tender Mother in her Holy House. It's a busy schedule, lots to do but with no obligation to do it all, maybe you just need rest and peace.

Somehow it all fits into this small space — the first visit, the candlelit procession of Our Lady, the sprinkling at the Holy Well, the gentle laying on of  hands, the procession of the Eucharistic host and benediction, learning the rosary, Sunday Mass in the Parish Church.

Afterwards, tired, we assembled in the Norton Room for wine and good company till late — laughter and healing talk, fellowship, friendship are formed and deepened.

All too soon the weekend has passed. Beds stripped, cases packed and we depart on the journey home, refreshed, inspired and with our faith strengthened.

It is so hard to describe exactly how the Walsingham magic works — a heady mix of piety, prayer, wonder, mystery, beauty and the sense of being involved in something so much bigger and deeper than oneself. Grateful thanks, of course go to all who make this retreat possible, especially Fathers Stephen and Mike for guiding and helping us; and to Colin and Margaret Holman for taking care of all the exacting domestic arrangements, to our driver for a safe journey and to the staff at the Fox for our half-way meals. All much appreciated.

If you have never taken part in the pilgrimage I certainly strongly recommend it. Apparently the reservation for next year has already been made and I would advise that you have a word in good time as many who came this year have already booked for 2018.

Brenda Lawson

[If you are interested in joining next year's pilgrimage – speak to Colin Holman, or speak to the Wardens.]


Pictures by Colin & Margaret Holman


English Village

Centuries ago Oliver Goldsmith wrote this as part of his famous longer poem:

Sweet Auburn! loveliest village of the plain,
Where health and plenty cheered the labouring swain,
How often have I paused on every charm,
The sheltered cot, the cultivated farm,
The never-failing brook, the busy mill,
The decent church that topped the neighbouring hill.

The Deserted Village is a poem by Oliver Goldsmith published in 1770. The poem is a piece of social commentary.   Goldsmith was condemning how people were leaving country villages to rural depopulation and going in pursuit of excessive wealth.

I have seen much change during my life.  I was fortunate to live for two years when I was a boy in a lovely village in North Hampshire during the Second World War.  The experience of growing up in this lost environment changed me for life.   When I returned recently to my boyhood haunts I found a village much changed from the one I knew.    As with many villages the people who moved into the old cottages have improved them.  The village I knew has been ‘gentrified’.

Now, although it may seem like it, I am not complaining.  The most famous village series of Ambridge has charted the changes in a fictitious community and enriched people’s knowledge of English village life.  In our ‘green and pleasant land’ villages have exemplified the quality of life in the English village.

It has been estimated that there are over 10,000 villages in Britain.  Almost all have an historic village church.  Even in the suburbs of a town a vestigial nucleated settlement may be described as ‘the village’.   Swindon Village lies on the edge of Cheltenham.  It was once called simply Swindon.  I’m told the inhabitants chose to change the name of the place where they live.  They were often getting mail intended for Swindon in Wiltshire.   Calling the place Swindon Village stopped all this.

I am fascinated by history.  To know something about the local history of a place is to open our eyes.   Villages don’t just happen - they have a history.   “Most medieval villages contained only two or three buildings of any permanence: a church, a manor house and sometimes a tithe barn.”  (The Batsford Companion to Local History)

The way the land has been used has changed.  In our area there are still reminders of the old ‘open field’ system of ownership in the ridge and furrow markings.

I have been so fortunate to experience life in an English village in a bygone era.  I am so fortunate to live in Gloucestershire. 



Marle Hill WI

A change of speaker for our June meeting meant that Ged Cassel gave a very interesting illustrated talk on ‘Florida and the Everglades’.  He said that the best way to observe the wildlife was to travel by canoe, as it was less disturbing.  Ged had taken many photographs of turtles, snakes, various ibises, egrets and herons and a strange snakebird that swims under water with just its long neck and head visible.  We learnt the difference between alligators, which do not normally attack people and can be found in the everglades, and crocodiles, which can be dangerous, and that vultures are the only birds with a sense of smell.  Mockingbirds, hawks, eagles, pelicans and gulls were some of the other birds seen.

Unfortunately, we lost our Skittles Trophy match against Benhall WI (I have heard that since then they have beaten last year’s winners), so we now are booked to play Tibberton and Taynton WI for the Plate.  At the WI Fair at Alexandra Palace Sue Davies won some tickets for Highclere Castle, so she and I spent an enjoyable day there living the ‘Downton Abbey Experience’.  Other activities included a meal at The Royal in Charlton Kings, a coffee morning at Jenny’s and the Book and Craft Club meetings.

Several members went to Liverpool to the National Annual Meeting.  Two interesting resolutions were debated and passed, one on ‘Plastic Soup’, that mainly concerned micro fibres getting into the oceans and thus entering the food chain, and the other on ‘Loneliness’.  Some members spoke to say joining the WI had helped them overcome the problem and that it was a shame men did not have a similar organisation they could join.  The guest speakers were Jo Fairley, journalist and co-founder of the organic chocolate brand Green & Black, and Susie Dent from the ‘Dictionary Corner’ on Channel 4’s Countdown.  Susie’s passion is words and their meanings and she pointed out unusual meanings and the links between words.  The National Chairman, Janice Langley, was retiring after four years in office.  We had a group, called The Retros, entertain us with music from the 70’s that saw thousands of WI members singing and dancing in the aisles!  Quite an experience and a fantastic note to end on!

As I write this we are hoping for fine weather at the Royal Three Counties Show, where it is Gloucestershire’s turn to run the WI marquee.  Members have volunteered help with the catering, bake cakes, demonstrate crafts and man the stalls.  We should have time to see some of the rest of the Show as well.

In July there are Croquet and Bowls Taster Days, a trip to Harvington Hall and Webb’s of Wychbold, a talk on ‘Prehistoric Astronomy and Ritual’ and various walks.  We have a meal out to look forward to, a visit to Neal’s Yard for an evening of pampering and Wendy F. is hosting an afternoon tea.  Wendy C. has invited us to her house for our annual August American Supper, which usually proves very popular.

Our talk on Monday 3rd July is about ‘The Ifakra Bakery Project’ by Eugene and Margaret Schellenberg, when we are also inviting members from the other WIs in the Cleeve Hill Group to join us for the evening.  On Monday 7th August, as we do not have a normal meeting, we are going for a conducted walk around Northleach, led by John Heathcott, and lunch.

Visitors and new members are always made welcome, we are known as the ‘friendly WI’.  We meet at 7pm at St Nicolas Hall, Swindon Lane.

Sara Jefferies


Prestbury WI

On Monday 10th July  Chris O’Grady will be visiting us to give a talk on “A walk to Rome”. Intriguingly this is sub-titled “One man, four pairs of pants and 1,000 miles”….

Chris will be telling us about his 4-month pilgrimage from Pershore to Rome where he met some amazing people and was touched by people’s trust and kindness; this promises to be an entertaining evening.

Our WI coffee morning is being held on Saturday 15th July. Doors open at 10.00am with refreshments from 10.30am. Cost £2. Book stall and bring & buy.  All welcome.

On Monday 14th August we have our Bring & Share social evening.


Other WI news

Sally Alexander hosted our annual WI Quiz Night on 19th May. As usual, a bumper attendance enjoyed a variety of questions for everyone topped off with a Ploughman’s Supper.

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

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

Hilary Brick


St Mary's Cake / Produce Stall

This has now been re-instated and will be held in St Mary's Church on the third Sunday of the month after the 11am Eucharist.  The money raised from this stall goes to a variety of different charities; contributions of cakes, garden produce, preserves etc - anything that is sellable - will be most welcome, and can be brought to the church on the morning of the sale.

Many thanks

Margaret Waker and Team


We’re Bigging Up The Bill

The Children’s Society works with some of the most disadvantaged children in England and Wales. 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 council tax exemption for care leavers. This month focuses on how we are working with the police for better outcomes for children and young people.

Our Big Up The Bill campaign was created by a group of young people and aims to highlight good examples of police work and recognise those who make a difference.

For a vulnerable young person, encountering a police professional who shows empathy, listens and understands children can be a catalyst for a positive change in that young person’s life. It’s vital all police professionals learn how to best work with the children and young people they encounter through their work. That’s why the Big Up The Bill campaign group has created tips for police on how to work better with young people.

The campaign aims to share these tips widely so that all police staff develop the skills, knowledge and behaviours that will make them better at working with children – especially vulnerable children.

Here’s what some of the young people who are part of this campaign said about their experiences with the police:

“She took time to listen to me, even if it took me four hours to explain”

“There was an incident with my anger at home where he ended up coming. But instead of shouting at me or threatening to arrest me, he sat with me while I cried and made sure that I was calm. He came to see me the next day to make sure that I was alright.”

Some police staff realise that teenagers can get angry and upset because they have a lot going on in their lives. The best examples of police working with young people are where the young people have been listened to, respected, and time has been taken to build a relationship. Sometimes just a smile and introducing themselves can make a difference.

To see our tips and get involved, please visit our website  and type ‘Big Up The Bill’ in the search bar. We want to share the tips with Police and Crime Commissioners across the country and you can help us to do just that.

Your donations, actions, prayers and time enable our work with the group of children and young people who have created this campaign. Its aims are far reaching and could impact on children and young people in all villages, towns and cities across the country. Thank you.

Roseann Thompson


Book Review

Lady’s Maid

Margaret Forster - published  by Vintage Books. ISBN 978-0-099 47848-5

When I was given this book as a birthday present last year, little did I realise that I had ‘met’ Margaret Forster many years ago, as the pen behind the novel and subsequent film ‘Georgy Girl’. Although Georgy became the name on the tip of so many tongues in 1965, it is the 1990 historical novel ‘Lady’s Maid’ that is often considered to be Forster’s best work.

I was absolutely gripped by this story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s runaway romance, as seen through the eyes of her maid, herself an Elizabeth-shortened to Lily. Wilson, as she was referred to, was a real person, born in 1820 in or near Newcastle upon Tyne and she did travel to London in April 1844 to become the other Elizabeth’s maid. Two most welcome pages in fact appear as an ‘Afterword’ when we are treated to the separation of fact and fiction. How clever of the author to know that we wouldn’t be quite ready to close the book without them.

Timewise, the seventeen year ‘reign’ of the two Elizabeths is divided into three unequal parts, the first lasting a mere two years, but a time of detailed letter writing from Lily to her mother. ‘The first she had ever written in her life’ vividly describes the anxious journey to London, Lily’s introduction to the Barretts of Wimpole Street and in particular the frail Miss Elizabeth, ‘a poet of some acclaim’. Assuring the ‘very pretty’ Miss Henrietta, Elizabeth’s sister, that she was of a ‘Quiet, Kind and Cheerful’ disposition, Wilson soon becomes an indispensable maid and companion and ‘One thing was certain: there would be a great deal to write home about’.

The ‘great deal’ encompasses getting to know all the upstairs and downstairs characters, the exciting meeting between Elizabeth and Mr Robert Browning and the shocking plan not to spend time in the country as was Miss Barrett’s father’s wish, but rather to marry the man she loves and begin the part of her life that turns on its head her earlier view of marriage as ‘lifelong subjection to a man, that is all.’

The following eleven years see the newly-weds, accompanied by Wilson and the much loved dog, Flush, make Italy their home. Part Two begins with Wilson feeling ‘disorientated the moment she left English soil’, with memories of her own romantic attachments that were now in the past, together with her annual two-week holiday in Newcastle.

So much happens in Italy. Ba, as she is affectionately known by her husband, enjoys much improved health and indeed gives birth to a son; Wilson has romantic attachments of her own; the family visit England. Every chapter is absorbing, surprising and beautifully written.

By the time the third part begins, Wilson, now a mother herself, who has been a ‘maid, nurse, housekeeper’ and seamstress is about to become a landlady. I strongly recommend that you discover what led her to this new life and why ‘She had not the energy for it, for anything’.

The following four years see her come to the conclusion that ‘her part in the Browning’s life was peripheral’. Nevertheless, her days were full and ‘bit by bit, Wilson became aware that she had some small skill in the matter of keeping a boarding house’.

Reminding myself of how this fascinating story is so movingly told and how fitting an ending lies ahead, I have it at the top of my re-read list. I had no idea that the 1934 film could have continued beyond the confines of No 50 Wimpole Street. What a discovery that life behind that particular front door was just the beginning!

Carol Gunn


An Icon at Novgorod

As he was going, and as they were gazing intently into the sky, all at once there stood beside them two men in white who said 'Men of Galilee, why stand there looking up into the sky?’       Acts of the Apostles, 1: 9-12

This is an icon at Novgorod; it was made in the 15th century. The word icon is Greek; it means a holy image or picture. Through the use of an icon a petitioner could make direct contact with the sacred figures represented. Good fortune and miraculous healing were frequent subjects of petition.

In this icon we see Mary (Christ's mother) and two angels in white surrounded by the twelve apostles. The white robes are a symbol of the angels' purity. Behind them are rows of white tombstones. The arms of Mary and the angels are outspread, as if they are explaining the empty tomb. The disciples look almost identical to each other; their robes are brightly coloured. At the top of the icon we see two angels supporting a circle of light (a mandorla). In the centre a golden-robed Christ with arm held out in welcome or blessing is seated in glory.

Some theologians think the writer of the Acts of the Apostles was St Luke. If this were so, what do we know of St Luke? He was a second-generation Christian; he had many opportunities to spend time with those who had first-hand knowledge of the gospel stories. Being a Gentile, with a good knowledge of the Greek Old Testament and in the ways of the synagogue, Luke wanted other Gentiles to know how, since the crucifixion, Christianity was evolving. He was interested in matters of health and had a great sympathy for those in trouble.

In C.S.C. Williams' book entitled, 'The Acts of the Apostles', we read that, following Christ's crucifixion, the disciples were expecting the arrival of a material kingdom. They had not yet been blessed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, so their minds were, to some degree, closed to new ideas. Luke possibly thought that the New Age would begin in Jerusalem with a great feast, before spreading around the world. With the account of the Ascension the disciples knew Jesus' time on earth with them was over. He had been raised from the dead, and is present in the glory of God.

Through his writings of his Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, St Luke's intention was to prove that Christianity fulfils the religious hopes of the Old Testament, and that it is an international religion, available to every single one of us.

Lord, we give thanks that through the death and resurrection of Jesus,
you have opened for us the hope of eternal life.  Amen.

Jenny Mead


Forthcoming Events


Our Next Walk –
Saturday 1st July

Drive to Sapperton and enjoy a 3½mile walk through the Golden Valley, featuring an ancient village of mellow stone, wonderful woodland and the remains of an old canal. There will be a coffee stop at the Crown Inn and lunch in Sapperton after visiting the local church. We will be meeting at St Nicolas’ car park at 9.30 am.

Contact: Jean Johnson



Coffee Morning at Prestbury URC –

Saturday 1st July from 10.30 till Noon

The monthly coffee morning will take place on Saturday 1st July from 10.30 to noon. As well as teas, coffees and teacakes, there will be books, cakes and a raffle. Plenty of conversation will be guaranteed!




Musica Vera

St Mark’s Methodist Church, Gloucester Road, Cheltenham

Saturday 1st July, 7.30pm

Musica Vera celebrates the Summer and the Countryside in a concert on Saturday 1st July.  The Choir will be joined by Tenor Callum May, and Flautist Alex Waterman, finalist in Gloucestershire Young Musician of the Year 2017.  The Concert, which includes music by Elgar, German, Thiman, Vaughan Williams and others, will be conducted by David Dewar.  Admission £12 at the door, to include refreshments, children under 16 free.  Proceeds to the St Mark’s Methodist Church Organ Fund.

Angela Walker



Blues & Boogie-woogie Evening

Moat House, Uckington, Friday 7th July, 7:00pm for 7:30pm

Great News! Back by popular demand – an evening of music with rhythm, an infectious beat in the bass and rapid riffs.  Come along to the Moat House to hear Dino Baptiste, the London born pianist, vocalist & entertainer. Tickets £30, to include food and a glass of bubbly.  Proceeds to go to Carers, Gloucestershire – an organisation dedicated to providing a better life for carers in the county – plus a donation to St Mary Magdalene Church.

Carers Gloucestershire, 01452 386283



Strawberry Fayre

Moat House, Uckington, Saturday 22nd July, 2:00pm

A lazy afternoon with strawberries & cream, scones and cakes - all set within the delightful grounds of Moat House. Add a blend of entertainment, vintage cars & tractors and various stalls and you have the perfect opportunity to chill out and just relax. Admission £5 (adult) and £2.50 (children under 12 years), to include full cream tea/coffee. All proceeds to go to St Mary Magdalene Church.

David Williams, 01242 680277



Coffee Morning at Prestbury URC –

Saturday 5th August from 10.30 till Noon

The August coffee morning will take place on Saturday 5th August from 10.30 to noon. As well as teas, coffees and teacakes, there will be books, cakes and a raffle. We would love you to join us; new faces are always most welcome!





Ride+Stride 2017: Explore our historic churches & help us look after them

Saturday 9 September

It’s that time of year when the team at the Gloucestershire Historic Churches Trust (GHCT) start dusting off the walking boots, pumping our bike tyres or getting together with friends to plan a driving tour around some of our wonderful local churches.

We’re asking anyone who appreciates our region’s historic churches to consider taking part in GHCT’s sponsored Ride + Stride event on September 9.

It’s a great day out when people travel between churches, exploring the area and discovering unique historic buildings. The money raised is split between the Trust and your nominated church – so you’ll be raising money directly for your chosen church.

“Our online map now features nearly every church in Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire and North Bristol, and will be regularly updated to help you plan a route between churches that are open on the day”, said Glenn Duff, County Organiser. “Those offering a welcome will be highlighted, along with organised groups of walkers or cyclists that people can join.”

Ride + Stride welcomes cyclists of all abilities, as well as walkers, horse-riders and drivers. Just as important are those who take part welcoming others to their church – perhaps getting sponsored to play music, clean the church or mow the churchyard. If your church doesn’t have a Local organiser, perhaps you could co-ordinate the activity?

Contact Glenn if you’d like to know more about taking part, to order a banner advertising the event or to update the information for your church: or call 01452 538271.

Full details of the event can be found at







Prestbury Parish Magazine

is published on the last Sunday of the month.

The deadline for copy is the Sunday 2 weeks before this.

Copy may be sent in a clearly marked envelope to
‘Prestbury Parish Magazine’
c/o 2 Honeysuckle Close, Prestbury, Cheltenham, GL52 5LN

or, preferably, by email to


September Magazine Deadline: 
  Sunday 13 August 2017

         Future Themes:
           September Teams
           October      Schools





Prestbury Parish Magazine - July / August 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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